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Old 09-28-2003, 01:59 PM   #1
Ari Bolden
 
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Natural movement of beginners

As years go by and we continue our aikido (or MA), we move in a fluid and predictible pattern (to protect our bodies).

Common observations made by people are "he/she is JUST falling down for the aikido person. It even LOOKS fake."

Now, understanding how to fall is of course one of the things that saves our bodies on the mat.But, too many times, advanced aikidoka ignore the pleasure of NEW students and how they naturally twist and move.

This should be a wake up call to observe and learn human behavior and movement.

Aikido is not static. Readjusting is part of the game. If someone moves in an "alien way", you MAY have to readjust your kamae or maai. Heck, you may even have to change to a completely different technique.

Study to movements of beginners. Feel how they resist. Understand their body posture and how it differs from aikidoka with some experience.

Improvise. Adapt.

Food for thought.

Cheers

Ari B.

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Old 09-28-2003, 03:30 PM   #2
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Just had this debate with a fellow Aikidoka on the phone.

Evolution of thought and dynamic movement are, in this 3rd Kyu's opinion, centeral to Aikido.

Being able to "follow" your Uke's, Nage's or Opponents movements and react to them are the true mark of ability.

"Minimum Effort, Maximum Effciency."
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Old 09-28-2003, 04:11 PM   #3
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Natural movement of beginners

Quote:
Ari Bolden wrote:
Aikido is not static. Readjusting is part of the game. If someone moves in an "alien way", you MAY have to readjust your kamae or maai. Heck, you may even have to change to a completely different technique.

Study to movements of beginners. Feel how they resist. Understand their body posture and how it differs from aikidoka with some experience.
As a constant advocate of breaking comfort zones I think this is very important to one's training. Aikido forms looks so beautiful when practiced by skilled Tori and Uke, but may lose some of its grace and fluidity when one trains with the beginner who may react unpredictably, with tension, resistance and the natural fear of falling.

I think this is where one learns to adapt technique on the move, to fit the situation as uke's posture and reaction changes. It also emphasises the importance of effective kuzushi, since an off balance uke has fewer options to dictate the result of a technique than one who is more in control of his centre and balance.

IMHO it is equally important to be able to "feel" or "follow" uke's movement, as well as dynamically position oneself to be slightly one step ahead of that movement so as to dictate uke's response options. In this way, not only does Tori train his own technical sensitivity and proficiency, but safety in training is also maintained as beginner Ukes are not given the option to react or fall in ways that may prove dangerous to them in the end.

Just a few thoughts.

L.C.

Last edited by L. Camejo : 09-28-2003 at 04:14 PM.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-28-2003, 06:56 PM   #4
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Dear Chris,

One of my first aikido teachers (and style) was Ki Aikido (ki fed of UK) under a man named Tim Philips.

I used to listen to his stories about Sensei Williams (the first dojo was over a pub).

Moved to aikikai and shin shin toitsu aikido after.

Just thought I'd say hello (relatively small style ki fed of uk...so it was nice to see).

cheers

Ari B.

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Old 09-28-2003, 11:46 PM   #5
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Larry, couldn't have said it better myself.

I don't enjoy the falsehood of a 'comfort zone'. My senior instructor told me long ago that he believed new students would be my best teachers. As far as I can tell, he was right.

*Phil

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Old 09-29-2003, 10:27 AM   #6
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Hey there Ari, I'm one of Sensei Williams Students, as well as his wifes and another commity member.

Yea the Ki Fed is pretty small, but some 2000 members aint bad. Plus its just such a cool style of Aikido to study, with all the aspects of Ki training but not losing sight of a good kicking now and again.... lol.

I'm just recovering from an 8 hour session to raise money for a childrens hospice, I never knew so many kokyunages existed!

I'll ask about Tim Philips next time I see Sensei. Its great to finally meet someone that knows about the Ki Fed.

So why did you change style?

"Minimum Effort, Maximum Effciency."
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Old 09-29-2003, 10:45 AM   #7
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Ari,

Just went to your website and that Aikido Vs Kicking video was great!

Was it like a set of movements or random randori style? Also was that a variation of Ikkyo Undo you used against those first 2 kicks before you entered for Sumi Otoshi?

Just goes to show that Tai-sabaki has an answer for everything.......

"Minimum Effort, Maximum Effciency."
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Old 09-29-2003, 11:01 AM   #8
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All,

I'm a little uncomfortable by this line of reasoning.

Here's an example: new students invariably turn away from nage during ikkyo omote. Their natural inclination, when their balance is being taken, is to step forward with the same leg as the arm that's being taken. This is fine from nage's point of view because uke's back is toward nage -- uke is very vulnerable and nage can easily push uke away, strike him, or continue into a different technique. What nage can't do is practice the technique as demonstrated by the instructor, nor can uke practice the ukemi that would put him in a dominant position if nage messes up.

Another common example is new students rolling away from shiho nage. In this case, good technique from nage and proper off-balancing of uke can often take care of the problem, but if uke is not concentrating on the attack, he can most likely still roll away. Again, a good adaptation might be to drop into some sort of sudori throw, with uke dropping over nage. But if this isn't done well, and uke can't take the fall, this is a very dangerous option.

Of course, we should be able to adapt to our ukes, on the other hand, I think it is very inadvisable to try to try to continue a certain technique when our uke's actions make doing so inappropriate.

Just a thought,

-Drew

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Old 09-29-2003, 02:22 PM   #9
Ari Bolden
 
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Dear Chris,

I changed styles because I moved. There wasn't any Ki Fed in my new town. So, I started Aikikai. I can't say I've regreted any of the style choices I have made during my martial art training.

Aikido is Aikido.

While some styles are 'harder than others' each has something to offer. I find that my grappling, daito ryu, bjj fits in well with my aikido.

Should I throw or submit? Do I kotegaeshi or arm bar? Shoot in or not. It gives me more options I find.

As for the video, I believe that is a pre arranged attack pattern (not true randori). I found it on the net (not me) but it looked so cool, I had to put it up!

Hope that answers a few questions.

As for Drew...

I know exactly what you are saying. The ikkyo omote is a prime example of how beginners will turn 'the wrong way' (is it wrong if it is natural?)

I believe my point was to show how many opennings a beginner or untrained uke leave open. They turn and present their back. How many wonderful techniques can be down when the uke isn't looking? Reverse choke, leg sweep, kokyonage?

"Of course, we should be able to adapt to our ukes, on the other hand, I think it is very inadvisable to try to try to continue a certain technique when our uke's actions make doing so inappropriate."

I agree. Like I said..improvise and adapt.

Hope that clears things up.

cheers

Ari

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Old 09-29-2003, 05:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Ari Bolden wrote:
As for the video, I believe that is a pre arranged attack pattern (not true randori). I found it on the net (not me) but it looked so cool, I had to put it up!
I don't see any strikes in this video, only some kind of windmill-type baby slaps that girls used to attack me with, back in 5th grade.

Last edited by shihonage : 09-29-2003 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 09-29-2003, 06:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Aleksey Sundeyev (shihonage) wrote:
I don't see any strikes in this video, only some kind of windmill-type baby slaps that girls used to attack me with, back in 5th grade.
The windmill baby slaps are ok, but its the "you duck down and I'll jump over you" flying kick that really makes it special for me. Top sausage.

Sean

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Old 09-29-2003, 07:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Ari Bolden wrote:
Dear Chris,

I know exactly what you are saying. The ikkyo omote is a prime example of how beginners will turn 'the wrong way' (is it wrong if it is natural?)
Well here's the problem with beginners. Initially they don't move like we expect them to, so we say "great, naiive movement will give me some training on the reactions I'm likely to face from an actual opponent". Except that on closer inspection it doesn't. Beginners move in odd ways. They are generally trying to respect the process so they're not fighting against you, but they're not moving like we expect either.

Let's take the ikkyo example, we all know that beginners tend to turn away as described. Is this really what an active opponent would do, or are they more likely to try and fight the technique by turning back into it? I would suggest the latter.

In other words, my expereince has been that for the most part beginners aren't reacting naturally, they are trying to go along with the technique, they're just not sure how to. Lately when I've had begginers spinning out of students shiho nage's or otherwise reacting in a way that makes the technique difficult, I've had success in taking them to the point where they begin to move strangely and saying "right now I want you to hit me with the other hand". As soon as they take on that aggressive mind frame it tends to put their movements more in line with what we're used to training with. Which of course is no co-incidence.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 09-29-2003, 07:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Drew Ames (jxa127) wrote:
Of course, we should be able to adapt to our ukes, on the other hand, I think it is very inadvisable to try to try to continue a certain technique when our uke's actions make doing so inappropriate.
Agree with this to a point. However, is it not the Tori's role to control Uke from the outset so that he goes where Tori wants him to? IMHO when someone understands the true workings of a particular technique the adaptation to unexpected movement is not manifested in switching of technique (which is always a viable option), but a tighter application of the principles that create the initial technique.

When an Uke tries to spin out of shi ho nage a Tori who truly understands the technique can detect this and still finish the technique the way he had initially planned, without necessarily increasing the danger factor as outlined above. In my book, if uke is at all able to spin out, then my shi ho nage needs a lot of work.

When an uke is able to change the result of my technique it tells me that I need to work harder to understand exactly how it is supposed to be applied, and how to apply it safely in a dynamic situation. Aiki is adaptation and blending, but it is also control.

Just a thought.

L.C.

Last edited by L. Camejo : 09-29-2003 at 07:42 PM.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-29-2003, 08:12 PM   #14
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I'm afraid I disagree with you Larry. I do not think it is Nage's role to make Uke go where nage wants him to. It is Nage's role to figure out where uke wants to go and capitalise on that. Trying to force uke into a particular technique, despite them moving to the contrary just because you've pre-determined that is the technique you want to do is, IMHO, one of the most ugly things you can see in a dojo.

We practice set techniques against set attacks as a learning tool. Real Aikido begins when nage has an open mind and simply flows with uke's movements. This may entail changing technique several times depending on how uke moves.

Now having said that, for most of our techniques we expect uke to move in a certain way (because that's how the majority of attackers will react). If they do in fact move that way, and your entry and off balancing have been good, the technique should flow as expected. If however Uke moves in an unusual manner, or you make an error you need to be ready to turn on a dime and abandon the initial technique for the one that presents itself. One of those conditions you have control of, the other you do not.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 09-29-2003, 08:16 PM   #15
Ari Bolden
 
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Alek and Sean...

5th grade must have been tough for you guys (laugh).

I have to say the "I'll jump over you and you duck" is pretty funny.

I do have a video of Steven Seagal in black and white from the early 80's with him beating the crap out of his ukes. I'd put it up on my site, but it's like 60 megs.

cheers

Ari

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Old 09-29-2003, 10:14 PM   #16
L. Camejo
 
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Quote:
Michael Fooks (Aristeia) wrote:
I do not think it is Nage's role to make Uke go where nage wants him to. It is Nage's role to figure out where uke wants to go and capitalise on that. Trying to force uke into a particular technique, despite them moving to the contrary just because you've pre-determined that is the technique you want to do is, IMHO, one of the most ugly things you can see in a dojo.
The concept I described above has absolutely nothing to do with "forcing" (i.e. working against) Uke to go where Tori has predetermined, but has everything to do with controlling the attack from the very beginning through effective timing, kuzushi and tsukuri, leaving Uke not many options (if any at all) but to go where Tori is leading him to. This is not about trying to force a technique that may not work or may be dangerous due to Uke's unexpected reactions, but attempting to understand the depths of the technique to see if it can be applied when faced with resistance or unexpected reactions. It's about utilising that resistance to achieve another understanding of the technique instead of simply switching to what may seem easier all the time. As I said before, switching is a great and viable option, another side of the same concept, but it is not necessarily the only option. Was it Ueshiba M. who said something about a perfect technique having no counter?
Quote:
Michael Fooks (Aristeia) wrote:
We practice set techniques against set attacks as a learning tool. Real Aikido begins when nage has an open mind and simply flows with uke's movements. This may entail changing technique several times depending on how uke moves.
I totally agree. But there are times when changing is the best option, and times when its a good way to set yourself up to receive a counter technique from Uke in the midst of your changing. This is how we often train during an exercise called Hiki Tate Geiko. It is designed to work out technical combinations based on movement changes, utilising unexpected movements and resistance (both designed to create an opening for the other person to counter) to your own advantage. A truly open mind can flow with another's movement, but through timing and awareness also knows when it's best to determine that flow as well. Yin and Yang.
Quote:
Michael Fooks (Aristeia) wrote:
Now having said that, for most of our techniques we expect uke to move in a certain way (because that's how the majority of attackers will react). If they do in fact move that way, and your entry and off balancing have been good, the technique should flow as expected. If however Uke moves in an unusual manner, or you make an error you need to be ready to turn on a dime and abandon the initial technique for the one that presents itself. One of those conditions you have control of, the other you do not.
Agreed. As I said before, two options - 1) Take control from the beginning and maintain it throughout and there will be no room for Uke to go anywhere else but where you want him to... or 2)Be sensitive enough to blend and flow with the change in dynamics so that the most applicable technique shows itself based on the change in positioning. Similar concept applied to timing as well with Sen no Sen and Go no Sen - one requires decisiveness the other requires receptiveness.

In my humble opinion of course.

Gambatte.

L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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Old 09-29-2003, 11:27 PM   #17
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Practicing shodo-o-seisu assists working with any kind of uke before the technique starts.

How about: "If you move like this, I need to change the technique, and for safety/class sake, I'd instead like to show you the one sensei demonstrated."

When we blend, why worry about things like forcing and predetermined movements?

*Phil

(again echoing Larry without realizing it)


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Old 09-30-2003, 02:19 PM   #18
L. Camejo
 
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Quote:
Phillip Johnson (PhilJ) wrote:
How about: "If you move like this, I need to change the technique, and for safety/class sake, I'd instead like to show you the one sensei demonstrated."
This is very similar to how I speak to beginner Ukes in class who may move in ways that can be dangerous to themselves, or may take one into practicing a technique that is not the one being shown because the easiest approach to the change may be to change technique.

Of course it is also a nice approach to dealing with beginner Ukes who may have ideas about making life hard for others by deiberately resisting techniques as well.

Remembering that not all Aikido beginner Ukes are beginners to martial arts training, there are sometimes cases where the "beginner" reaction is accompanied/generated by a desire for ego gratification as well.

Just a few thoughts.

L.C.:ki

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Old 10-19-2003, 05:24 PM   #19
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I'm a beginner. During practice today, I was met with resistance by a more experienced student. This didn't bother me. At the time, I took it to mean that he wanted me to REALLY try to execute the move. I wound up tossing him half-way across the room. He got up angry and warned me somewhat harshly to "take it easy!" I didn't mean to humiliate him. I thought that's what he wanted. I didn't respond, just let him try again. It went much smoother the next time. So much for natural movement of beginners.

I'm not quite sure what it is I'm trying to say here, other than I think maybe we BOTH learned something today.

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Old 10-19-2003, 06:05 PM   #20
Suzanne Cooper
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The natural movement of this beginner during class is to hold up her index finger and walk to the water fountain!

What an interesting discussion. Gives me a clue as to what the others in class must be thinking.

Makes me wish even more for a 'how to be a good uke' class.

I got guts, yes I do. I do aikido--do YOU?
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Old 10-19-2003, 10:07 PM   #21
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I'm a beginner to Aikido, and in last couple of weeks I've gotten great lessons about being nage and uke.

The naturality of the movement I've been taught a lot, and every time it was from the perspective of "if you'd actually attack, how would you move?". And as I've been fortunate enough, the partners during classes have been advanced practitioners and thus have been able to help a lot.

I do have a background of about 2 years of Hapkido, so the falling, rolling, etc. wasn't big issue. Going with the flow has been the issue more, as it seems I have the "feet glued to the mat" syndrome. Some of the "attacks" required from uke seem to want uke to end the attack in a stance where he/she is already in unbalanced stance. Might be just me, but some of the reaching and moving attacks just don't come naturally for me.

But there is another side to the coin from beginner's point of view. When practising with a dan level or 1st or 2nd kyu partners, sometimes it feels like the uke is leading and I'm just following. In some techniques it is great in the beginning to learn the way, but sometimes it just feels foolish when nage is a bit behind and following the lead of uke.
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Old 10-20-2003, 08:12 AM   #22
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IMHO, the movement of most advanced students is easy to predict if you know the system they study. Beginners are unpredictable because they haven't learned the "right" way to move according to the system and move what is "natural" for them.

I came to Aikido from FMA. Many advanced belts had trouble with the way I moved because they hadn't seen it before. I had troubles learning (and unlearning) to move "naturally". Being big and coming from a "bashing" background, I too used too much muscle force at first. That's what was "natural" for me then. The "Aiki" way is hard to learn. You know you did it right when you don't feel yourself do it.

Don't worry too much about it. It all comes out in the training. Get out of your head and back on the mat.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 10-20-2003, 09:46 AM   #23
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Quote:
Wil Branca wrote:
It went much smoother the next time. So much for natural movement of beginners.

...I think maybe we BOTH learned something today.
I think so too Wil, even though this thread is about beginner movements, sometimes beginners get confused by the unclear signals/requests sent by sensei/sempai/senior students, which just adds to the confusion sometimes.
Quote:
Timo Särkkinen wrote:
Some of the "attacks" required from uke seem to want uke to end the attack in a stance where he/she is already in unbalanced stance. Might be just me, but some of the reaching and moving attacks just don't come naturally for me.
It sounds like you have a very good natural sense of balance Timo, hence the problem with deliberately placing yourself in an overextended or unbalanced state. In our dojo I make it a point that Ukes attack as "correctly" as possible for an attacker - in other words, attack and give nothing away too easily. In this case, as in yours where self unbalancing is not natural, Tori has to look at his own practice and make sure that his timing and kuzushi are sound, else the technique will not work.

I guess this goes into the little balance place between being seen as "being difficult" and trying to practice as meaningfully as possible by not creating deliberate openings, but challenging Tori to work at a higher level where it does not matter how Uke attacks, the result is the same.

Just my 2 cents.

L.C.

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Old 10-20-2003, 11:13 AM   #24
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Quote:
Lynn Seiser (SeiserL) wrote:
The "Aiki" way is hard to learn. You know you did it right when you don't feel yourself do it.

Don't worry too much about it. It all comes out in the training. Get out of your head and back on the mat.
*Deep breath in... Relax... Release...*

Yes.

Sage advice, thank you.


Sapienta Arma Dedit
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Old 07-30-2004, 03:28 AM   #25
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Re: Natural movement of beginners

I have been working with a group of complete beginners who have never even seen Aikido (for run with friends, I'm not a sensei). I have been coming across many of the things in this forum. To catalogue, problems and sollutions:

Ikkyo omote - Turning back - Strangle.
Ikkyo ura - difficult if uke's weight isn't forward - float foreward/ use Chiba sensei locking version.
Shiho nage - uke spins out - small and tighter, or extend arm by uke's back to stop, or block with back and take down before uke can complete spin.
Nikyo - Straight, locked arm - Switch to rokkyo (gently).
Sankyo - few problems.
Yonkyo - some people don't experince pain - but can still use balance
Irimi nage - I find it hard to make this technique effective when done in the Aikikai style I'm learning. The chin stike and both hands on shoulders dropping back, Tomiki versions seem more effective, though it is my worse technique.
Kote gaeshi - No big probs but the "reverse" version usually done from gyaku hamni in Yoshinkan seems to be very effective.
Sumi otoshi - good for showig balance point, but hard to make work as a technique as uke steps out it. Tenchi nage more effective.

Anyone got any more common ones/ sollutions?

Obviously these are observations as to what I can make work more than what works period. I find myself being dragged into "what if" and "if you did this I'd change to that" type conversations. Seems that showing form with beginners is really difficult as they move in such a wondeful variety of ways, but it's gerat for learing aikn and amking you think.
Contact )in the sense of uke grbbing correctly) is another thing I've had to explain. I've stated to think of it as a great training and safety aid, but one that makes your techniques kinda unrelaistic if you rely soley on it.
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