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Old 10-05-2004, 03:01 PM   #1
Jordan Steele
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Opinions and thoughts please...

I have been training in martial arts my whole life and Aikido for about 5.5 years. It would seem that all martial arts stress balance with varying degrees. Aikido on the other hand also teaches moving in an off balanced manner. To make myself more clear allow me to explain. When I train in Aikido and am uke, it's my job to know when nage has offbalanced me and then move accordingly. I understand Aikido is co-operative but why do I allow myself to be off balanced. In all other martial arts I've trained becoming off-balanced is a big no-no and should be avoided at all cost. In my last few classes I have been aware of the fact that during any technique if I wanted to regain my balance and not allow nage to throw me, I could and that's not because they have poor technique, it's because mentally I made a decision not to let this person throw me onto the ground. Someone would have to hit me or effectively distract me to actually take my balance because after 5 years of being thrown on my ass, I realized I don't have to fall at all. It's easy to stop nage of any skill. Just drop your center and break away from his center. Maybe I could be humbled by someone out there because I honestly think when an average person senses imbalance, they will react in a way to try and regain balance and if they have any sense of self-preservation they will resist you from the beginning.
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Old 10-05-2004, 03:19 PM   #2
Aristeia
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Here's my tuppence. Ok first of all
Quote:
Someone would have to hit me or effectively distract me to actually take my balance
Well yeah. That's why we have atemi. Whether you regularly apply them in class or not, atemi should be a fundamental part of how you think about all your techniques. Second of all,
Quote:
I honestly think when an average person senses imbalance, they will react in a way to try and regain balance and if they have any sense of self-preservation they will resist you from the beginning.
.
Well they won't resist you in the beginning. Because if we remember in the beginning they were busy attacking you. Which is kind of the point. They aren't focused on their balance, they are focused on punching your teeth out. They lose their balance because of how you react to that. Either because the solid object they were expecting to hit is no longer there and they over reach, or because you've cut them to an unbalance point, or because you've thrown an atemi or (most likely) all of the above. But surely then they should recover their balance? Not only does aikido allow for this, it downright depends upon it. Take the classic example of irimi nage. It is uke's attempt to recover that leads them into the throw. Pretty much all our techniqes are designed to exploit the natrual self preservation instincts of the majority of people. The most trouble I have with uke's is when we are going too slow and they are overthinking how they should be reacting rather than just moving.

Of course developing to a level where your timing and blending is good enough to move seemlessly with uke is tricky. But as they say, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 10-05-2004, 05:01 PM   #3
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Quote:
Jordan Steele wrote:
In my last few classes I have been aware of the fact that during any technique if I wanted to regain my balance and not allow nage to throw me, I could and that's not because they have poor technique, it's because mentally I made a decision not to let this person throw me onto the ground.
Depends that kind of aikido you practice.

In one moment of you life a dojo with few beginners and one or two black belt is not challenge anymore. I'd like to suggest you to make a trip to any shihan dojo. Then you can make any decision you want, just remember, you have big part of responsability of your safety in the very next second.

I'm not talking here about KO after atemi, but i.e.: if technique contains a throw with an arm lock, and lock is maitained all the way down until you tap out, the fact that you drop down your center make your arm broken. But this is only way to learn why aikido is art non-resistance

Nagababa

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Old 10-05-2004, 05:17 PM   #4
p00kiethebear
 
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

I have to agree with mike on this. Atemi is critically important to aikido practice. Atemi is what's going to decide whether their mind moves or not. If the mind moves so does the body. A perfect example is to try keeping an unbendable arm while somone is punching you in the face repeatedly. it's not easy.

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 10-05-2004, 05:19 PM   #5
maikerus
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Hmmm....an interesting comment.

In my experience (and they way I've been taught) is that uke's role is to continuously be trying to regain balance in a fashion that's controlled or set by shite. The idea being that each part of a technique could be the "final" movement, unless uke moves into the natural place for them to regain their balance. This "natural" place is a result of what shite has just done. When uke attempts to regain their balance by moving there then you do the next part...and so on...until it gets to the point where there is a pin or a throw which is the finish of this combined set of movements that make up the technique.

Along the same lines when people say there is no attack in Aikido I would have to disagree because by giving an opening, punching someone in the head or even calling them names are all actions meant to elicit a reaction...which goes back into the controlling of the next movement and so on and so on until they are aiki-ily transformed into a small puddle on the floor.

As for training...learning the feeling of off-balance and how to recover from it as uke is what helps you learn to control that feeling in your uke when you are shite.

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 10-05-2004, 05:56 PM   #6
shihonage
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

It is not the nage's goal to throw you. It is your goal to attack nage.
Whatever comes out, may be a throw, may be something else.
If you eliminate your initial goal, then the need for a throw disappears.

If you give sincere attack, then Aikido technique will not allow you to withdraw.
If you give a half-assed attack which was no threat to nage in the first place, then he doesn't need to do anything about it.
Trying to force a throw at this point only opens nage to another attack by you.
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Old 10-05-2004, 06:11 PM   #7
suren
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

I agree with Michael that in AIkido uke's role is not to move in off-balanced way, but to try to gain his balance. Besides resisting a technique when you know which one is applied and in a static manner is relatively easy, but real attack is not performed from a static stance and uke does not know how nage will respond. Aikido works perfectly against strong and sincere attacks even if uke knows how to control his balance.
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Old 10-05-2004, 09:02 PM   #8
L. Camejo
 
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Quote:
Jordan Steele wrote:
When I train in Aikido and am uke, it's my job to know when nage has offbalanced me and then move accordingly. I understand Aikido is co-operative but why do I allow myself to be off balanced.
In my understanding the Tori/Uke relationship during cooperative practice (kata or forms etc.) is one where both practitioners are trying to practice the technique in the "most ideal" way possible, so there is no resistance and Uke follows the movements initiated by Tori. It's a 2-part process to understanding, in both roles one understands exactly what makes techique work and also why it doesn't work. Also, I can't say that this sort of training is found only in Aikido. I have trained along similar lines in Jujutsu and even Judo during cooperative practice. It is part of helping your partner and yourself understand the intricacies of technique.

Quote:
Jordan Steele wrote:
In all other martial arts I've trained becoming off-balanced is a big no-no and should be avoided at all cost.
Again it depends on a few things. I teach all my students to maintain their balance and posture throughout the technique while playing the role of Tori to avoid being taken to the ground by a resistant Uke/attacker. In striking arts it is also emphasised that loss of balance is a dangerous thing, as well as stand up weapon arts etc. Failure to maintain one's balance in these cases removes a basic assumption that makes these arts effective. Also, because striking is involved, it's not so much a matter of receiving the technique, since in this case "receiving" the strike means that you've probably done something wrong to get hit in the first place, so the Tori/Uke relationship does not really exist in the same way as with many stand up grappling arts such as Aikido.

Quote:
Jordan Steele wrote:
In my last few classes I have been aware of the fact that during any technique if I wanted to regain my balance and not allow nage to throw me, I could and that's not because they have poor technique, it's because mentally I made a decision not to let this person throw me onto the ground.
Well imho if you have the option to regain your balance as Uke during the technique's execution, something is wrong or the technique is not being practiced in a "martial" sense at this time, but maybe to get a deeper understanding of movement principles, body mechanics etc. There are times when the training is focused on something other than being martially effective all the time in order to understand other principles of the technique and of Aikido.

Quote:
Jordan Steele wrote:
Someone would have to hit me or effectively distract me to actually take my balance because after 5 years of being thrown on my ass, I realized I don't have to fall at all. It's easy to stop nage of any skill. Just drop your center and break away from his center. Maybe I could be humbled by someone out there because I honestly think when an average person senses imbalance, they will react in a way to try and regain balance and if they have any sense of self-preservation they will resist you from the beginning.
From my experience, there's aikido and then there's AIKIDO, there's kuzushi and then there is KUZUSHI. One can interrupt, break or obliterate an attacker's balance depending on the need imo. For those who train to make kuzushi a key element of their effective technique, an attacker can be given information beforehand of the technique to be done, know everything about the technique and still be dropped by it. There are many ways. Imho it depends on your experiences in Aikido. One does not need a Shihan to experience devastating kuzushi followed by effective technique, just someone who makes it a core of their training and drills all aspects of it consistently. A good practitioner who knows how to fully utilise kuzushi will both not allow you to have any control of your centre until the technique is over and will also allow room to use your reflex resistant/restorative actions to being taken off balance to make an even more powerful technique (we call it reactive kuzushi). Iow by resisting you make things better for them to throw or pin you.

Just my thoughts.
LC

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
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Old 10-05-2004, 09:21 PM   #9
Zato Ichi
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Well, Larry just pretty much said everything I was going to (and then some), but I'll add a couple of things

1) I've learned this the hard way through randori geiko: if uke's body is stiff - atemi waza. If they're relaxed - kansetsu waza.

2) One of the first things we're taught in randori is how to change techniques if your opponent resists. Gyakugameate doesn't work? Change to kote gaeshi. Uke stops that as well? Transition to shomenate (and so on). It's all about getting a really good kazushi, if uke is resisting with force, that force is going in some direction - use it to your advantage.
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Old 10-06-2004, 02:19 AM   #10
xuzen
 
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Dear Jordan,

Here is my 2 cents thought...

Quote:
In all other martial arts I've trained becoming off-balanced is a big no-no and should be avoided at all cost
.

This is because all other martial art is not aikido. Isn't it the peculiarity of aikido give it is uniqueness?

Quote:
In my last few classes I have been aware of the fact that during any technique if I wanted to regain my balance and not allow nage to throw me, I could and that's not because they have poor technique, it's because mentally I made a decision not to let this person throw me onto the ground.
My own observation: You have the neck, the wrist, the ankle, the knee and various other part of anatomy where aikido techniques are aimed at. Assuming you drop your weight, clench your fist, lock your wrist and elbow. Can you also in the same moment in time lock your neck, your ankle? We human has only one brain and we can only focus on one thing at a time. If you lock any of the above anatomy, simple, go for the other parts. As a shite, be relaxed and feel your opponent, touch him/her, once you found the weakness, apply the technique.


Quote:
Maybe I could be humbled by someone out there because I honestly think when an average person senses imbalance, they will react in a way to try and regain balance and if they have any sense of self-preservation they will resist you from the beginning.
You are right with the self-preservation thing, and it is this natural reactive mechanism that an aikidoka should strive to exploit to his/her advantage. train hard and you will see. I have.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 10-06-2004, 06:13 AM   #11
Mark Balogh
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Read Aleksey Sundeyev's post carefully, think about it and practise it. IMHO that is the correct answer to your problem.
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Old 10-06-2004, 06:22 AM   #12
Jordan Steele
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Thanks for the responses, a number of the posts mentioned things that haven't crossed my mind before but my original intention of the post was trying to dig a litttle deeper. I wasn't just concerned about imbalance and how I felt I could stop the throw, but more concerned as to why we train to be unbalanced. For example, if I happened to be involved in an altercation outside of the dojo and an attacker tried to throw me, my "trained" instict would be to allow this off balancing and move with the throw. My "natural" instinct would be to immediately drop my center and resist the throw. I know ukemi doesn't just teach falling, it teaches a way of moving in general that can potenetially save your life. I'll get straight to the point though. My muscles have been trained to move with someone elses force whether I'm nage or uke so if someone tried to throw me in a fight, I would most likely allow this to happen, WHY DO WE TRAIN TO BE UNBALANCED?
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Old 10-06-2004, 06:31 AM   #13
Mark Balogh
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

1) I would think of myself as nage, not uke in a real situation.

2) Receiving and giving in totally teaches you to LET GO, mentally and physically.

3) You need to learn to take ukemi freely in preparation for executing Kaishi waza (counter/continuation techniques).

With respect, if you did not know these things, maybe you should go and find a Shihan as suggested. You have been training a while now and now it would seem you need a higher level input. I hope this helps.
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Old 10-06-2004, 10:35 AM   #14
NagaBaba
 
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Quote:
Jordan Steele wrote:
I'll get straight to the point though. My muscles have been trained to move with someone elses force whether I'm nage or uke so if someone tried to throw me in a fight, I would most likely allow this to happen, WHY DO WE TRAIN TO BE UNBALANCED?
If you go with someone else force, you don't need to be stronger then him to control him, do you? Idea is not to fight AGAINST. Letting go is not equal to be unbalanced. That is exactly point of aikido training. Natural reaction is to stop a throw. That is what thrower expects. So your reaction LET GO will create un opening in his mind(surprise)so you will take take his balance with no effort at all. Almost automaticly. You create kind of illusion and you use it for you advantage.

Of course after LET GO there is a follow up, I mean you must feel a point in execution og technique as uke, where you can take controle and become tori. Then your partner do the same.....so in the end, there no clearly establish roles as attacker and defender.
It leads to many higher level kind of training, like couters, and throws without locks that based only on non physical part of aikido(timing, surprise, absorbing, breaking distans...etc)

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 10-06-2004, 12:28 PM   #15
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Not sure I can completely picture what you are talking about when you describe "training to be unbalanced. I am working with my Army Battalion with their Army Combatives program (BJJ for most part). I am telling guys to relax and go with the attack when they are grappling, don't fight it. They waste alot of energy trying to fight for what they already lost.

Giving into the attack is not untactical. It is admitting what has already been lost or unbalanced to use your term. You give that piece up a little and work for another area that your opponent is not fighting for. Usually when I give up a little the attacker becomes off balanced and I can work it to my advantage.

Another example is striking. Nothing wrong necessarily with gettting hit, i let people hit me hard all the time, I just don't stand there and brace, I give into the hit and let my body and movement dissipate the force. (I also choose where I let them hit me, hard to dissipate a hit to the face!).

I love kokyu tanden ho cause it helps you really understand the give and take relationship with uke.
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Old 10-06-2004, 12:31 PM   #16
suren
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Quote:
R. Haruo Hori wrote:
One of the first things we're taught in randori is how to change techniques if your opponent resists. Gyakugameate doesn't work? Change to kote gaeshi. Uke stops that as well? Transition to shomenate (and so on). It's all about getting a really good kazushi, if uke is resisting with force, that force is going in some direction - use it to your advantage.
Now I remeber Bill Witt Shihan's words: "No matter how good you are, sometimes technique does not work, then try something else".
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Old 10-06-2004, 12:37 PM   #17
suren
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Quote:
Jordan Steele wrote:
Thanks for the responses, a number of the posts mentioned things that haven't crossed my mind before but my original intention of the post was trying to dig a litttle deeper. I wasn't just concerned about imbalance and how I felt I could stop the throw, but more concerned as to why we train to be unbalanced. For example, if I happened to be involved in an altercation outside of the dojo and an attacker tried to throw me, my "trained" instict would be to allow this off balancing and move with the throw. My "natural" instinct would be to immediately drop my center and resist the throw. I know ukemi doesn't just teach falling, it teaches a way of moving in general that can potenetially save your life. I'll get straight to the point though. My muscles have been trained to move with someone elses force whether I'm nage or uke so if someone tried to throw me in a fight, I would most likely allow this to happen, WHY DO WE TRAIN TO BE UNBALANCED?
If somebody tries to throw you, which means he is attacking, then you should use his attack and unbalance him and pin or throw. If you are attacking and he is good enough to use it and throw you, your ukemi just saves you from being injured. We do not train to be unbalanced, we are trained to be safe.

Last edited by suren : 10-06-2004 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 10-06-2004, 01:34 PM   #18
Bronson
 
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Quote:
Szczepan Janczuk wrote:
If you go with someone else force, you don't need to be stronger then him to control him, do you? Idea is not to fight AGAINST.....
I think I need to surrender my aiki-fruity card as I've found myself agreeing with Szczepan on two different threads now

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 10-06-2004, 01:58 PM   #19
MaryKaye
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

At the recent seminar by Nevelius sensei and Ostoff sensei in Seattle, one of them (I'm sorry to have forgotten which, but it was a long weekend!) said that you should always fall from your best place. Either you are in a good, centered, stable position--and then it's reasonable to stay there--or you aren't, and should fall and get into a better one. But don't struggle along in a compromised position, tiring yourself out and making the ukemi harder.

Martha Levinson sensei, the seminar host, once told me that when you need to fall you should go down 100% so that you can immediately try to come up 100%. Fighting against the fall makes the recovery slower and more awkward, and you can get stuck. No good being off the floor, if you are in a position where you can't fight or protect yourself. She demonstrated with nikyo--if you go down immediately and sharply on the nikyo, sometimes you can bounce right up and reverse nage. If you force nage to grind you down slowly, there is no reversal.

Mary Kaye
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Old 10-06-2004, 02:08 PM   #20
giriasis
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

But you are striving to keep your balance as uke. Where I train, as uke we don't strive for our balance to be taken, we still strive to keep it. My sensei always teaches that the uke is continually attacking, protecting their center, and trying to regain their balance in hopes that they might be able to counter nage. What I think is different is the way we strive to keep it and that might be what is confusing you. We don't lock up our joints and stiffen up our muscles to keep our balance rather we bend, flex our bodies, and blend with the technique.

Also, since you're a beginner I can see how you think we are just giving up our balance as that is usually the more appropriate way to learn proper ukemi at your level of skill. It's not just for safety but also for preparation for more advanced training. As your ukemi skills advance you'll begin to discover how you can counter or reverse your partners.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 10-06-2004, 03:19 PM   #21
Jordan Steele
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Once again thank you for the responses, but I'm still not totally clear on a few things. In regards to ukemi, I'm not going to be modest, I'm one of the best ukes you'll find anywhere and I know it. I love Aikido and don't doubt it's effectiveness at all, but having said that I still have questions about WHY we do things a certain way. I know that if someone shoved me hard from behind unexpectedly I would take a forward roll to avoid having my face planted into the pavement. I know if someone turned my wrist over, I would take ukemi and recover as fast as possible. I know why we learn ukemi for the purposes of training, but what I don't know is how can training the body to accept imbalance be a good thing if, outside of the dojo, a person attempts to throw you. I live by the fact that no matter what my skill level is, there is always someone equal or better than me. Assuming I get thrown by someone that has better technique than I do, chances are kaeshi waza is not possible and I will end up on the ground (not a good place). So why would I allow myself to accept imbalance knowing that the outcome will not be good. Wouldn't it be better to "fight" as opposed to roll with it. So to sum it all up, I know why we learn ukemi, I am good at ukemi, I know the benefits of ukemi, but I'm looking for ukemi responses from this post. I would like to know why we train to accept being unbalanced know that the outcome will be undesirable. Thanks again.
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Old 10-06-2004, 03:34 PM   #22
Jordan Steele
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

This is unrelated to my oringinal post so don't let it interfere, but this message is directed towards Anne Marie Giri. Personally I don't consider 5.5 years of training to be a "beginners" level of skill and I am not a beginner in the martial arts world. I ask questions such as these all the time because I enjoy learning. I am aware that I don't know it all and never will, but that's better that thinking I do know it all and always will. Also my ukemi skills far exceed that of most Aikido practitioners and I don't ever stiffen up because I am actually aware of the inherent dangers in doing so. In addition, even "at my (low) level of skill" I don't just give up my balance and fall and I have never trained that way Furthermore, I am aware of reversals and counters to throws, even after only 5.5 years, and yes, I actually get to train with the big boys when they do that. I'm even allowed to do randori and yes I can brush my own teeth as well...and wipe my ass.
Yours Humbly,
Jordan Steele
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Old 10-06-2004, 03:39 PM   #23
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

I think you are making some bad assumptions. (sorry to be blunt, it is hard to describe in type). First, about aikido's effectiveness. People are effective (or not), not aikido, it is a training methodology only, not a skill set.

Second, you really don't know what you will do in a real situation. Hopefully all your years of training have helped you develop some good habits that just happen instead of bad ones. If some one pushed me I don't think i'd do a roll unless it was absolutely the last resort. Hopefully my skills have prepared me to see things clearly long before we get to the pushing stage, but if not ok...maybe turn sideways, irmi a little, bend the legs, couple of steps back regain posture and balance.

People in fights usually aren't going to throw you...they want to hurt or kill you...not throw you. So they will probably hit, stab, shoot you more than likely so that kinda does away with the aikido rolls IMHO. If you are not in a "real fight" where someone is really trying to seriously hurt or kill you and it is one of those "bar push around tough guy" senarios...you must question why you are even entertaining it and walk away.

To answer what I think you are asking in your last line...I don't train to be unbalanced, but to be balanced. I always try to be balanced. Sometimes I am not so I practice ways to regain my balance. Normally though I use my body and manuever in ways that may appear to some to be unbalanced, but really I am in control 99% of the time. That is my experiences.

My sensei's and teacher in the past always preach that uke's job is to work with nage and practice balance and posture while being uke for nage. I would never confuse ukemi in which I am working with nage as a real life fighting method/technique.

Sorry this is hard to write about!
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Old 10-06-2004, 03:51 PM   #24
shihonage
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 890
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Something is off here, Jordan.
You ask strange questions which suggest what kind of environment you'd have to be in in order for these questions to appear.
It sounds like in your dojo, the Aikido technique carries no real power, and the idea of "ukemi" is passively following whatever nage does ?
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Old 10-06-2004, 04:02 PM   #25
Jordan Steele
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 126
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Re: Opinions and thoughts please...

Quite the opposite, I train in a dojo that is very aggressive and throws hard thus I recognize the importance of ukemi. My question is not related to ukemi though, it is related to balance and why we train our bodies to accept imbalance.
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