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Old 04-22-2004, 11:18 AM   #1
aikidocapecod
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Uke with an Ego

I am sure there have been many threads concerning this issue. An Uke who has to prove she/he cannot be moved. Here is the story...how would you have handled it? If there is a thread, please point me in the right direction.

Recently, at a class I attended, I had an uke decide he was not going to allow himself to be moved thrown budged spindled or mutilated.....I allowed him his decision.

The attack was tsuki. Not an honest attack. When the arm was straightened from the punch, he locked every muscle in his body, had a good solid base and chose not to allow me to practice the technique Sensei had shown.

I have been studying Aikido since 1986 and I can honestly say, this is the first time that I encountered one who was just plain stubborn. I have worked with many who give some resistance, and that is welcomed, especially if the attack is an honest attack. But he was just trying to prove that he was not able to be thrown. When I saw, after the first attempt that he was not going to be "fun", I worked on moving my body in timing with his attack to be in a proper position, then stopped any attempts to apply the technique. If I had tried, it would have just ended up, as Saotome Sensei would say, "exercise and not Aikido"

When I was uke, my attack was controlled and honest. He performed the technique quite well. He seemed not to understand the idea that practice is to learn.

After class I went to him and thanked him for practicing with me. His reply was silence. Again, I allowed him his disrespect as any attempt to help him understand that there are better ways to practice would have fallen on deaf ears.

What is the best way to handle this situation?

Thank you for your responses....Larry
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Old 04-22-2004, 11:44 AM   #2
Chris Birke
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Punch him. Then he'll move. That's what I do.
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Old 04-22-2004, 11:44 AM   #3
Jordan Steele
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Atemi, Atemi, Atemi!!! If he is refusing to move despite your best efforts, he needs a little bit of incentive. You don't necessarily have to strike him, but threaten his face with your hand when you enter and he may flinch. "It is always polite to knock before you enter." Anyway if that doesn't work, sweeping the leg always works on a stubborn person. Have Fun!!
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Old 04-22-2004, 11:45 AM   #4
Yann Golanski
 
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Re: Uke with an Ego

<rashamon>
Case ONE: He was (is?) giving you an opportunity to practice timing and balance breaking. I would be thankful for it and would train as hard as I can to make the technique sensei is showing work on him. If you can't get the technique on, ask him first how you can improve. Maybe do the technique slower, then speed it up. If he doesn't know how to help then ask sensei.

Case TWO: He's just picking on the black belt. Talk to him and ask him if you can practice kata and cooperation between uke and tori. If he still insist on full resistance,
use atemi then kuzushi and drop him hard on the floor a few times. Then ask him to relax and repeat till he is too tiered to tense up.

Case THREE: Ask him why he is doing it.
</rashamon>

He is offering you the opportunity to learn in whatever case.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-22-2004, 11:47 AM   #5
Nick P.
 
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Larry,

Are you kidding? You handled that perfectly. Congratulations.
I am not so sure I would have handled that with such aplomb and tact.

Funny enough, at last night's class my Sensei was telling myself and a (more) junior student about how an uke could and should, from time to time, "challenge" nage with a little more resistance. I was pretty sure I knew the answer to my question, but asked it more for the other student's benefit; Should nage ask for more resistance, or should uke take it upon her/himself to resist more?

His answer: if uke is the senior student, uke should exercise judgment and if he/she feels nage would benefit from resistance, then uke should resist if it would be beneficial (all within reason, of course). If uke is the junior of the two, uke should attack with commitment, and if asked for more by the senior nage then they should comply with the request.

I am curious. Is this someone you train with regularly at your usual dojo? Also, did you notice this person being as un-cooperative with everyone else (or worse yet, only cooperating with those out-ranking him)?

Great post.
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Old 04-22-2004, 12:01 PM   #6
MitchMZ
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Larry, I think thats exactly how I would have handled it. The dojo is all about respect, and if he wants to be disrespectful...its just bad karma for him. I tend to treat people with respect even if they don't give it to me. It works out better that way, partly because then other people around you can clearly see who the problem really is.
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Old 04-22-2004, 12:03 PM   #7
aikidocapecod
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Re: Uke with an Ego

I have never seen this person before. I did keep an eye on him as there were some very junior people in the class and I hoped he would have enough sense not to show how "good" he was by planting them hard to the mat. Which he did not do, but he was most un-bending to all in the class that I saw.

As far as atemi, I flashed a hand by his nose, but he seemed to sense I was not going to strike. For me, getting uke to the mat is only a result of my moving correctly. Could I have dropped him with a well placed sweep....perhaps.....I probably could have tickled him to the floor also...but decided that nothing would be learned. I do not seek to prove that my belt is better than another's belt. I go to class to learn and help others learn. But, as this person proved, there are some that just cannot be taught. And there are others that are most willing to learn. Time is better spent with the latter case.

But....what I found almost comical is that the couple times Sensei demonstrated a technique with this person.....there was zero resistance.....in fact almost a rag doll.

But Yann is correct. I did learn from the experience. And would not shy away from practicing with this person again. Shoshin......look at each experience with a Beginner's Mind
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Old 04-22-2004, 12:35 PM   #8
Don_Modesto
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Re: Uke with an Ego

I agree with the concensus that you handled the situation well. Comments follow.

Quote:
Larry Murray wrote:
....As far as atemi, I flashed a hand by his nose, but he seemed to sense I was not going to strike.

DJM: When this happens to me, I take it as a sign that my ATEMI is lacking. (Having had it happen before, it doesn't happen much now, unless it's beginners who haven't learned the nuances of trust on the mat or someone distracted from life into KATA-as-rigormortis.) George Ledyard might say something here about lacking intentionality.

For me, getting uke to the mat is only a result of my moving correctly. Could I have dropped him with a well placed sweep....perhaps.....I probably could have tickled him to the floor also...but decided that nothing would be learned.

DJM: Tickling as AIKI--I like it! True thinking out of the box...and here you've rejected it out of hand--shame on you! ("In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.: RW Emerson.)

I do not seek to prove that my belt is better than another's belt. I go to class to learn and help others learn. But, as this person proved, there are some that just cannot be taught. And there are others that are most willing to learn. Time is better spent with the latter case.

DJM: As someone commented, he sure provided an opportunity to learn. I don't know if it's necessarily bad intentions on his part. I've done aikido going on 15 years and I still get frustrated and want to know that it's going to work when I resist, don't you? I usually inflict these moments of insecurity on fellow veterans whom I've trained with regularly, though.

But....what I found almost comical is that the couple times Sensei demonstrated a technique with this person.....there was zero resistance.....in fact almost a rag doll.

DJM: I agree that folk like this are a pain in the butt, but I know you've seen others tank for sensei (haven't you done it yourself...once or twice?)

But Yann is correct. I did learn from the experience. And would not shy away from practicing with this person again. Shoshin......look at each experience with a Beginner's Mind

DJM: Yup, the flip side being that SHOSHIN can give us a different perspective on how effective the teacher is, too.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 04-22-2004, 12:50 PM   #9
aikidocapecod
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Sensei, in this case was very effective. Most in the class learned quite a bit that day. This one fine fellow just decided that, on this day, his job was to help the rest of us learn restraint from planting an un-yeilding uke to the mat.

And he did that quite well!!!!!

Finally.......you want me to risk my delicate hands by smacking the hard head of Uke????? Just to get him to the mat?!?!?!? I think not....My golf game is bad enough...I do not need to further handicap my swing!!!!

I will say that if he were a regular member, I would have asked if he felt ok...because this type of behaviour is really not tolerated...but again...we do not have to tolerate it because we have no regulars that behave like this...
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Old 04-22-2004, 12:51 PM   #10
senshincenter
 
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Re: Uke with an Ego

I agree, I think you handled it very well, especially in light of the big picture. Time will definitely make little of this event and perhaps even of your resistant uke. I like Yann's advice on simply asking him if you can practice uke/nage cooperation, so that you can get through the form, etc. After all, it's kihon waza training you were doing - I assume - right?

He shouldn't be reifying that type of training by resisting one way or another, but neither should nage by trying to "go with what uke is giving". In kihon waza training, both nage and uke have roles to play, and so they should hold themselves to that role. If they can't, then it should perfectly fine for one or the other to ask his/her partner to adhere to the form being practiced. There are other types of training, or at least there should be, where such cases can and should be dealt with by an atemi or any other change of technique, etc., but kihon waza is not such a training environment. An uke's ego can be immediately quelled in the quelling of nage's own ego when he/she says, "Hey, let's do the form - go with the technique please."

On the notion of resistance: Assuming one has good form or at least attempting to cultivate good form, an increase in intensity should not negate a given waza. What we are experiencing when we feel a given waza being pressured or outright negated is not an increase in energy, rather it is a new and/or different energy that is being employed - one outside of the tactical viability of the initially applied waza. If, in this case, your uke is stiff and solidly planted, too hard to move forward for example, etc., then this is because he is most likely not trying to strike forward at all. Rather he was trying to keep something out of the strike. If you could hook him up to some motion capture computers, I wouldn't be surprise if you could see him actually going backwards in the strike.

In short, and in the end, though he thinks he may be striking strongly, he is most likely striking weakly - because he's going backwards at some point in the strike. What he is doing strongly is gaining a base. And while gaining a base or at least having a base may in fact be conducive to striking, it is not exactly the same thing -- far from it. If this is what is actually going on, you may be doing yourself quite a disservice, tactically speaking, by learning to apply your given waza against a basic that is either in part, or totally, inefficient - unless you feel that one is often attacked by "stuck in the mud bases" that is.

Also - if he's doing one thing for your sensei and this for you, and if he's giving you the silent treatment after class, etc., chances are there is something else going on here than merely a will to throw a strong strike (no matter how misunderstood that may be). Compassion must always be tempered with wisdom - otherwise you open yourself up to the fears, pride, and ignorance of others. If you do that, or if you allow that to happen, you will only be spreading fear, pride, and ignorance - not compassion. Wisdom in this case, sooner or later, might have you going to talk to your sensei to obtain the best course of action. At the least, I am hoping, it will bring your sensei's attention to what it is you are experiencing on the mat.

yours,
dmv
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Old 04-22-2004, 01:10 PM   #11
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Quote:
Larry Murray wrote:
Sensei, in this case was very effective. Most in the class learned quite a bit that day. This one fine fellow just decided that, on this day, his job was to help the rest of us learn restraint from planting an un-yeilding uke to the mat.

And he did that quite well!!!!!

Finally.......you want me to risk my delicate hands by smacking the hard head of Uke????? Just to get him to the mat?!?!?!? I think not....My golf game is bad enough...I do not need to further handicap my swing!!!!

I will say that if he were a regular member, I would have asked if he felt ok...because this type of behaviour is really not tolerated...but again...we do not have to tolerate it because we have no regulars that behave like this...
I had an identical experience with a partner at one of Saotome Sensei's seminars. I reminded myself what Funakoshi said about fighting... "if it's not important enough for one or the other of us to die for, then we shouldn't be fighting".

Resistant ukes have no awareness that what they are doing is not only not appropriate from a training standpoint, it's suicide from a martial standpoint. When you make yourslef rigid enough to be immoveable you are incapable of covering the openings which exists for atemi.

I just noted that I could have, at any time, knocked this fellow out and he wouldn't have been able to stop it due to his extreme resistance. That was enough, there was no need to do it. If he wanted to go home thinking I couldn't do the technique, that wasn't my problem.

I think you responded just fine.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
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Old 04-22-2004, 01:14 PM   #12
aikidocapecod
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Re: Uke with an Ego

I did not take this "different" behaviour personally. In fact, as I said, I learned from it. I was looking for resolutions that I could share with others that have experienced a similar situation. I really think it was just an ego thing. He wanted to see if he could go to a different dojo and prevent one with a rank higher than his from performing a technique. What he did not realize is that he provided a learning experience. Next time...I will definately attempt tickle-nage....

Always leave em laughing......


.thanks folks......
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Old 04-22-2004, 02:12 PM   #13
PeaceHeather
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Quote:
senshincenter wrote:

Also - if he's doing one thing for your sensei and this for you, and if he's giving you the silent treatment after class, etc., chances are there is something else going on here (...)

Compassion must always be tempered with wisdom - otherwise you open yourself up to the fears, pride, and ignorance of others. If you do that, or if you allow that to happen, you will only be spreading fear, pride, and ignorance - not compassion.
Please forgive the utter newbie for butting in here... but as I was reading your story, Larry, and the responses of others here, I got the really strong impression that uke was afraid of something. And I don't think it's you.

Yes, his ego is involved, but it may not be a power = ass-kicking thing; it might be a power = not appearing weak / not falling / not hitting the mat kind of thing.

If he shows up again and pulls this stunt, there's a part of me that would be tempted to stop everything, look right at the guy with your full focus, and ask in a very compassionate, worried tone, "Are you all right? You seem frightened of this technique - is everything okay? Should I slow down?"

You'd not only be calling attention to his inappopriate behavior, you would also be letting him know that you're not pretending it isn't there -- and possibly also giving him a chance to loosen up during class, rather than after the end.

Just my two cents... don't know if that would work or not.

Heather
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Old 04-22-2004, 03:37 PM   #14
shihonage
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Explain to him that in real life attacks are continuous.
You don't just deliver a punch and then tense up and freeze.
There are several things that you can do...

1) Do the same thing to him. Then explain to him that an attack is continuous, and demonstrate continuous left-right mune-tsuki attacks. He will understand that now its easier to throw you because you dont spend time on freezing yourself.
He may also become a little bit more appreciative.
Ask him to do the same continuous munetsuki attacks and then throw him. If you've been doing Aikido since 1986 it shouldn't be a big problem unless theres a noteable size difference.

After this explain to him that in class you usually only practice the first attack, and what you just shown is the reason why he shouldn't tense up.

2) If he's not making a sincere effort to connect, then you should point that out, until he does connect. Then you just apply the technique a little early or apply a different technique whatsoever.
Sometimes a technique practiced in class is really not suitable for certain combinations of you and your uke's body types and attacks, and if he chooses to exploit that, you should respond with adaptation.

3) Use the atemi which is built into the technique.

Last edited by shihonage : 04-22-2004 at 03:39 PM.
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Old 04-22-2004, 03:44 PM   #15
Bronson
 
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Agree with everyone...you handled it nicely. All good suggestions here in my opinion, depending on the fine details of the stiuation (which we don't know) lots of good responses.

Something I wonder about is this:
Quote:
...chose not to allow me to practice the technique Sensei had shown
Is it permissable in your dojo to do a different technique if uke is giving a different attack?

In aikido training we kind of work it backwards. Instead of the defender responding to whatever attack is presented we specify what attack we need to practice the technique-of-the-day. In reality it's reversed. We shouldn't be thinking that uke is doing tsuki because we want to practice X waza. We should keep in mind that we are doing X waza because uke is doing tsuki.

So if the technique you are doing requires a forward energy from uke and he's not giving it the technique as demonstrated is no longer valid. You may be able to get a variation but I often go for a different technique altogether. In our dojo this is encouraged and after a certain level is expected. The level of response is dependant on uke's ability. On a newbie I may irimi instead of tenkan and get in position to apply a choke and then explain why I did it. On a more experienced person I may apply the choke (or whatever technique I went to).

It's been my experience that the people who give a different attack than demonstrated are the first to yell "That's not the technique we're doing!!" to which I respond "that wasn't the attack we're doing"

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 04-22-2004, 04:55 PM   #16
Aristeia
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Re: Uke with an Ego

I agree with what Alex had to say. Particularly if you out rank him. I'm not so sure it's an opportunity for you to learn so much as teach. Explain to him that you appreciate he's trying to offer some resistance as you like to apply your aikido realistically, but that the way that he's trying to add that resistance is not realistic. Explain to him that he is compromising his initial attack by his intention to lock up at the end of it, and that in reality where you would have the oppotunity to take advantage of that (even if it's just by walking away while he's frozen up).

Obviously it's hard for us to gauge exactly what was motivating this guy by a story on the internet. But it could just be that he wants to inject some realism to the technique, but doesn't know how. One of the failings of Aikido as it is commonly practiced is that we practice unrealistic attacks as a starting point, but in many cases don't the build up to realistic attacks. So people forget how they would actually react in a fight (turning to punch with the other hand for example). So when they decide they want to see if the technique will actually work all they can think of to do is tense up.

In short I suspect his intention may have been perfectly acceptable he just needed some guidance on his application. "Let's make it more realistic, can you keep attacking me after the first attack". Then you've got movement, and then you've got a game.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 04-22-2004, 05:36 PM   #17
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Re: Uke with an Ego

When I first began training I would intentionally tense during certain points of nage's technique. It's what I'd been trained to do studying certain other arts, and what I believed I was supposed to do in aikido. After a few months of bumps, bruises and bloody lips, all administered by Sensei and Sempai with the kiai "RELAX", I got the message. Strangely, I hardly ever take atemi to the face now that I know how to relax enough that I can get out of the way!
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Old 04-23-2004, 01:03 AM   #18
Largo
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Re: Uke with an Ego

I would say 'henka waza'. In different positions you use your techniques differently. I had a similar problem once with an uke while working on kotegaeshi. Sensei noticed this and then showed me how to work it in on a different angle (which was apparantly more painful than the normal angle).
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Old 04-23-2004, 02:17 AM   #19
batemanb
 
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Re: Uke with an Ego

I was going to write pretty much the same as Bronson, I'll just add that in keiko, we are isolating a moment in time to practice a particular response. This is so that the fundamentals of the specific technique can be broken down and studied, and everyone can try an figure out what's going on. This is not necessarily what you will do in another stime and situation, we wouldn't neccessarily do that technique to the same attack. As time goes on, more free flowing situations (randori) occur, your technique becomes a natural response to the attack, you will respond with a technique that fits the attack. So going back to Bronson's post, we are likewise encouraged to find something else if we get into that situation. Other than that, you did fine, just a shame that your uke didn't learn anything, his loss.

rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 04-23-2004, 07:35 AM   #20
Dunn
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Re: Uke with an Ego

That kind of uke is sort of a blessing. When the subject of aikido comes up in mixed company, there always seems to be a "challenger" guy there who wants to test everything you say. Most likely he is going to be as cooperative as the uke you describe.

My teachers can handle ukes like that, even if the uke is doing it unintentionally (afraid, nervous, tense, whatever). I can't just yet.
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Old 04-23-2004, 08:47 AM   #21
aikidocapecod
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Re: Uke with an Ego

This person, I think, was not tense or nervous. He was just trying to show just how powerful he could be. And that is fine. On the mat, I will just deal with this type as I did. And if others ask me how to handle one such as he was/is(first time I have practiced with him) I will say, just learn to move around him in a controlled fashion.

I will take the advice that many of you offered and ask him why he is so rigid during an attack. I will say this is supposed to be practice. We are here to learn, not wrestle. Again, as I said, my concern is not for me. As many of you said, a well placed atemi will bring down any statue!! I am concerned about beginning students who come to a new dojo and are faced with one this unyielding. It can sour the opinion of a new student very quickly.
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Old 04-23-2004, 09:06 AM   #22
Adam Garrison
 
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Re: Uke with an Ego

If your visitor insists on delivering this type of inactive resistance, ask him if he would be open to a little "experiment" , and possibly explain to him that you would like to use this opportunity to practice an atemi based response.

Hitting someone does not have to be malicious at all. It can, in fact, teach them quite a bit about human response in a confrontation. Just ask Ledyard Sensei about some of the Systema practitioners...

They like to direct their strikes to where the tension is in their opponents' body, and the results are both effective and informative. Strikes (aka: atemi) can help nage balance nage waza and osae waza with legitimate tactical options when dealing with a dangerously aggressive, non-cooperative opponent.

Out of sincere respect for my fellow man and my school, I would certainly solicit the approval of both my partner and my instructor before arbitrarily raining down blows on my partner. I have some good friends with whom I share an open license to strike during practice, and I would never abuse the trust that they place in me by offering their bodies as learning tools. I trust them to do the same. After all...it's all about the love, right?

Respectfully,

Adam Garrison
Okinawa Aikikai / US Dojos - Washington DC
Systema DC / NVA Study Group
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Old 04-23-2004, 09:15 AM   #23
aikidocapecod
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Adam, did I mention that I am a wimp???? I do not want to hurt my hands by striking somebody!!!!

There are some that this type of practice would be great with. Somebody I know and trust not to abuse the agreement to use atemi. My fear,and perhaps not warranted as I have only seen this person once, is that this person would then start a
"Let's see who can strike the other the hardest"
contest. For me, I don't care..it is only pain....but if the person in question decided to practice this way with a new student, I would be concerned for the new student..
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Old 04-23-2004, 09:37 AM   #24
MaryKaye
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Re: Uke with an Ego

I've gotten chewed out for behaving like your uke.

The most useful thing my seniors said to me was "If you choose to resist, you should resist with balance and ki, not force and tension." This respects the uke's intent (provide a challenge for partner) and channels it into something more useful. It also reduces the chance uke will get hurt; I can say from painful experience that taking a fall from a throw you've stiffly resisted all the way is not good.

Mary Kaye
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Old 04-23-2004, 09:44 AM   #25
Adam Garrison
 
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Dojo: Okinawa Aikikai
Location: Northern Virginia
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 14
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Re: Uke with an Ego

Larry,

I'm no fan of undue punishment myself

There are numerous ways to deliver strikes with various parts of the hand or body, that will protect your delicate instruments. The strikes do not have to be "hard" either to be effective. In fact, a loose limb "sinking" into the target (think of a push) will direct more energy into your attacker and far less back in your direction.

Until I stumbled into the Russian system, I always thought that hitting someone was a rather crude response. I never realized that there was so much to it! Some of these guys know how to hit you to make you feel better...crazy stuff

If this gentleman's dilemna comes primarily from an attitude problem, then I can definitely see your point on not wanting to trade blows - especially if you do not have experience in receiving strikes...thus my caveat on pre-approval & a spirit of cooperation.

There are folks out there who don't need any cooperation for this kind of practice, but I ain't one of them! All things being considered - your approach was both tactful and aiki.

Cheers,

Adam Garrison
Okinawa Aikikai / US Dojos - Washington DC
Systema DC / NVA Study Group
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