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Old 12-08-2004, 09:29 AM   #1
John Boswell
 
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How do you keep your cool?

I realize before I even start this thread that I'm going to sound childish and immature, but hey... oh well.

At my dojo, there is a boy or "young man" age 15 who, shall we say "Portly" and ungodly limber. He can bend his joints a dozen ways from Sunday and still not feel pain! He's very new to aikido and has yet to learn to connect with his own center, let alone anyone elses.

Anyways, I was working with him last night and... he seems to have it out for me. I am the biggest guy in the class so he looks upon me as a challenge: both to throw me and NOT be thrown BY me.

Well, seeing as I have zero patience... I did my best but eventually lost my cool and just CHUNKED his butt on the ground! Technique went right out the window, harmony was totally absent, blending was nothing but all energy sending him down!

But you gotta realize, I'd go to put him in kotegaishi or something and I'd take his arm, but the rest of him was left a mile behind and planted like he was bolted to the floor! He would not stay connected and would not MOVE!

I spoke to my Sensei after class about it and confessed my frustration. He laughed because he saw the whole thing and yes... I made an ass of myself. Sensei said to instruct this kid in connection and point out atemi openings when he doesn't move properly and how to protect himself... but I dunno if I have the patience to do that! The boy just plain pisses me off.

SO... when meet with an obstinant punk who's not being a good uke, how do you keep your cool? I'd like to calm down and chill, but this isn't the first time this has happened for me and I'm looking for advice to stop it... aside from "keep training" which I plan to do regardless.

Tips? Suggestions? I'm all ears.

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Old 12-08-2004, 09:47 AM   #2
aikidocapecod
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

First, learn to control your own person. The moment you TRY to throw your partner, you lose. Learn to move your own body to a position that allows you to move his hara. If you rely on pain from a wrist lock to throw Uke, technique is gone. There are many out there that have different levels of pain. So relying on pain as a motivator is not the best idea.
Also.....inform the YOUNGSTER that class is about learning....not who is the toughest meanest SOB in class. And if that does not work and he still decides that he will not be thrown...then, just understand that one with this mindset will not learn. But you have learned that you can control yourself.....
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Old 12-08-2004, 09:49 AM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

In a word (or a few): stop taking it personally! You are frustrated because he is not the partner *you* want him to be.
Well, he's "not being a good uke" because he doesn't know how.
Now, how can he learn? (hint: involves a gradual process of learning to connect his mind and body)
BTW, I realize the above sounds unsympathetic to you, and I'm not! I have felt the same frustrations and anger you express, and know just how you feel. I just don't know any way to get past it except to totally change my *own* expectations, since I can't change anybody else's..

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-08-2004, 10:24 AM   #4
kironin
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
I spoke to my Sensei after class about it and confessed my frustration. He laughed because he saw the whole thing and yes... I made an ass of myself. Sensei said to instruct this kid in connection and point out atemi openings when he doesn't move properly and how to protect himself... but I dunno if I have the patience to do that! The boy just plain pisses me off.

SO... when meet with an obstinant punk who's not being a good uke, how do you keep your cool? I'd like to calm down and chill, but this isn't the first time this has happened for me and I'm looking for advice to stop it... aside from "keep training" which I plan to do regardless.

Tips? Suggestions? I'm all ears.

What you want to improve is the speed with which you regain your cool.

He is going to piss you off. Get pissed off. Remember who you are dealing with, age and experience, and let it go.

Mastery is in the speed of recovery.

You can remain pissed off for the rest of the class and in to tomorrow and on or you let go and chill within a split second and deal with giving the kid some guidiance.

It's difficult to make specific suggestions other than I don't like just pointing out the atemi. I prefer for what you describing to get uke to realize that when they are bolted to the ground that they are no longer trying to attack and yes they are a sitting duck for being struck repeatedly a dozen different ways but that also I can simply walk in a certain direction and they will fall over on their butt. When a person does that behavior, you simply don't need anything as sophisticated as standard aikido waza. Help him to understand that. Gumbies can't stand up any better than anyone else if you go in the right direction.

Also his lack of aggression means more gumbiness because his muscles are not engaged in attacking you. Small rotation movements can too far for his joints and lead to real injury before he knows it. Be sure you are dealing with him and not just one joint.

Last edited by kironin : 12-08-2004 at 10:28 AM.

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Old 12-08-2004, 10:35 AM   #5
Rocky Izumi
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

What are you pissed off about? Enjoy yourself and your uke. He is a wonderful uke that you are unlikely to be provided with again in a long time. We too have a gumby like yours in our dojo, of the same age. I love working with him because he makes me do my techniques absolutely perfectly. You should be thanking him for doing that to you. If you are still having trouble moving him, remember, doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results is a good definition of insanity. This is a chance for you to experiment to see how to improve your Aikido. If you can move him, think what your technique with others will be like? People who follow you no matter what, and flow with you even when you do not flow are not letting you have a good practice. You should be upset at the people who are following you so easily, not at this gumby. They are the ones who are not giving you a good practice, they are helping you train in poor technique. Gumby is giving you good practice.

Rock
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Old 12-08-2004, 11:09 AM   #6
Amendes
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

The whole point of Aikido is to be able to work with everyone and share energy. Even if it's not the energy you expect, you learn to make it work. If he intends to consistently be cocky, the so what?
Let him, follow it in, do something else. But if you stand there and get frustrated because it is not working and try to force it, then it will never work.

If need be get the teachers attention and tell him/her you need help with your technique, if it is the ukes fault then the teacher will say. But atlest the kid won't take offense since your asking about your technique.
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Old 12-08-2004, 01:27 PM   #7
John Boswell
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Thanks everyone for the feedback. It's been a frustrating time and so I appreciate the external viewpoints.

Andrew, I understand the point of aikido training and that I COULD do something else, but that's not the point. Right now, we're going over some fundemental movements that I'd really, really like to practice. What's the point of "practice" if you CAN'T because someone is sitting there being 300 lbs of dead weight? If I wanted that, I'd go to the gym!

The kid won't take any offense, I tried to offend him and he laughed. He really seems to care less. Otherwise, some very good things have been said: I need to not take things personally, let my anger pass by, enjoy having an unusal Uke and move along. Won't be easy but oh well...

We'll see.

Thanks everyone!

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Old 12-08-2004, 01:47 PM   #8
Don_Modesto
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
I realize before I even start this thread that I'm going to sound childish and immature, but hey... oh well.
This IS frustrating. At his level, you must be careful not to injure him. I've had youth walk out of my class, because I didn't slam them when they resisted, I think. A YUDANSHA resisting against convention is fair game--Training Opportunity, Oh Yeah!

But a green kid?...

Sometimes it's just a matter of timing and gesture. Have you smiled self-deprecatingly upon being stuffed?

The thing about being grateful to them is true in my experience, but it's a hard adjustment to make. I've amended my expectations. It becomes for me a different kind of training. I dump the idea of finishing a technique and work on the AIKI of taking his balance completely immediately upon engagement. If I fail, well, I've got three more times to try before his turn. It's not very impressive to the kid, but neither were Edison's 99 failed filament trials impressive to his assistants. He nailed it, though, didn't he.

Good luck. Let us know how you resolve it.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 12-08-2004, 01:56 PM   #9
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

hello!

this is all good advise.

i would say listen to your sensei.

you can point out atemi openings.

with an open hand coming at your face you either move,block,or get smacked right?

he should grasp this concept quickly.
im not saying "try to hit him"

in aikido, if the uke isnt attacking or moving ,there is no need to defend yourself. you will both end up standing there.doing nothing.
this uke is a test in your patience.

just another reminder,that you never know what to expect while training.

also, i would ask him if he wants to be nage first.
he could just be intimidated with the thought of being thrown.

it sounds like he isn't fully "there" when executing an attack.

i like to try and fullfill the role of uke,as if i was really an attacker. he might be "asleep at the wheel" so to speak when attacking. his mind is somewhere else.you'll have to direct his attention.

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Old 12-08-2004, 02:58 PM   #10
p00kiethebear
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Quote:
he should grasp this concept quickly.
im not saying "try to hit him"
Once in a while, I've needed a good smack in the face or punch to the gut to remember my blocking and moving correctly as uke. Maybe it would do him some good. Just don't do it in a mean way. Do it under the guise of "helping him to understand movement"

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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Old 12-08-2004, 04:09 PM   #11
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Hi John,
You didn't injure the boy, right? So I think your are more frustrated by your own frustration than anything. I know from having kids that it's just like that... you feel bad because this kid just took your center. But you clearly didn't react over the top.

It's the job of the teacher, in my opinion to handle folks like this. They need to be shown how they are leaving themselves open for injury and why this isn't sensible martially. Usually, it's only the teacher in the dojo who has the technique and the control at the same time to lay the boy out without injuring him.

My old Assistant Chief Instructor for many years was Lee Crawford Sensei (Aikido Northshore). Many times I watched as some guy would put himself in a position in which she would have to injure him to complete the technique. Out of compassion, she would let the guy off the hook and then he would think she couldn't throw him because she was female. I would go over and show the guys exactly what it was she had chosen not to do with him and inform him that he should be thankful to her for being so nice. If I could scare him a bit doing it, so much the better.

But it really is the Chief Instructor's job to do this. You don't want everybody in the place thinking they are supposed to be delivering object lessons to the other students.I know that at times I will allow the bozo to pursist in being a bozo for a while just to see how the other folks handle it. Sounds like your teacher was doing a bit of that. As long as the practice stays safe it doesn't hurt to let people confront their own ego issues when soomeone is a butt. But it is important to protect the bozo from the real consequences of his actions until later in his practice when he should know better. Then it's "pop and drop" as far as I am concerned.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 12-08-2004, 04:43 PM   #12
kbellor
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Well, God bless everyone who can keep their cool. Sorry I haven't been able to go through all the messages (am on my way to class), but this one resonated with me and I hope I am not straying too far afield from the most recent comments. I started classes with my 15-year old son. I am grateful for the patience of the seniors in the dojo who must feel frustrated with his "moonbeam" demeanor, i. e., disconnect between mind & body. Being a beginner and his Mom, I let the teaching flow and encourage him to at his most present, to pay attention!

He is sincere and not cocky so he has those going for him, not quite the same sitch as you describe. But I am voting for all the patience you can muster.

Regards to all,

Kay
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Old 12-08-2004, 04:48 PM   #13
SeiserL
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

IMHO, sounds like you have taken this individual too seriously and too personally. What is the fantasythat you are running through your head that gives this person so much power? To control your cool, control your head.

Yep, IMHO, we all do this. There are a few people that just piss me off. Thye have been my best teachers.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
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 12-08-2004, 05:08 PM   #14
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Quote:
Kay Bellor wrote:
Well, God bless everyone who can keep their cool. Sorry I haven't been able to go through all the messages (am on my way to class), but this one resonated with me and I hope I am not straying too far afield from the most recent comments. I started classes with my 15-year old son. I am grateful for the patience of the seniors in the dojo who must feel frustrated with his "moonbeam" demeanor, i. e., disconnect between mind & body. Being a beginner and his Mom, I let the teaching flow and encourage him to at his most present, to pay attention!

He is sincere and not cocky so he has those going for him, not quite the same sitch as you describe. But I am voting for all the patience you can muster.

Regards to all,

Kay
I taught a seminar this past weekend up in Canada. There were two boys training at this dojo who were just a kick. They were prototypical young teens. Before, in between and after training pouncing on each other like lion cubs. I am sure that everyone in the dojo views them as both very funny and frustrating to train with in some ways as they definitely have the "show me" attitude that goes with being young and feeling immortal.

A couple of times they were a bit testy with me (something I am used to from teaching Defensive Tactics) so I showed them why it might not be sensible to do what they had been doing, a couple of times makin them wide eyed as they realized that they had just missed being nuked. At that age they will take in the lesson up to a point but they really do think that at some level they are invulnerable so taking them right to the limit doesn't really scare them but rather is just another "rush". I did a sacrifice throw from suwari waza that made one young man's eyes wide as he flew over me but then he immediately just started laughing from the pure joy of it. Like the Lion on whom the cubs pounce, you might give them a bop but the claws are always kept in. You want the lesson planted but you don't want to extinguish the joy of training out at the limits, that's how they are going to get better. The adults in the dojo "pride" all have to be patient with the cubs. It's part of everybody's responsibility in the dojo as well as being personal training.

George S. Ledyard
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Old 12-08-2004, 06:02 PM   #15
Qatana
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

My favorite training partner is 15,5th kyu.. His attacks are a little out of control but his ukemi is wonderfully receptive and he has a frighteningly instinctive grasp of technical principle.
On the other hand, there was a young man training with us over the summer who is roughly twice my height & weight and i had no end of trouble with him-his arms were twice as long as mine and he wcould hold me off with one hand, because he could,and I absolutely had to be doing it correctly or I'd just end up walking under his arm with no result. Something just clicked one day and I lost the anger and found the gratitude for what I had ultimately gained from continuing to train with him even when I didn't want to.

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 12-08-2004, 10:45 PM   #16
maikerus
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Quote:
John Boswell wrote:
I realize before I even start this thread that I'm going to sound childish and immature, but hey... oh well.
Ha ha...at least you called it

Seriously, whenever I get in this position I always try and remember that I'm just not good enough yet to move everyone the way I want to. And since that is my problem, not there's, I really have no right to take it out on them no matter how fleetingly good that would feel.

That's frustrating, but at least it makes me the focus of the frustration and I can do something about that - like keep training

Use it as an opportunity and find out where and when his joints actually do lock. And then figure out how to get them to that point from a technique. It should be interesting. I envy you the opportunity

cheers,

--Michael

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Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 12-09-2004, 01:05 AM   #17
MaryKaye
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Chinn sensei of Southern California Ki Society said to us repeatedly last seminar: "Don't move your partner, just move yourself."

It's remarkable how often this gets me unstuck. Maybe if you move from your center, focus on your own balance and rhythm, and ignore the annoying person on the end of your arm, you'll find that things work out after all.

Mary Kaye
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Old 12-09-2004, 01:35 AM   #18
Bronson
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Quote:
Michael Stuempel wrote:
whenever I get in this position I always try and remember that I'm just not good enough yet to move everyone the way I want to. And since that is my problem, not there's, I really have no right to take it out on them no matter how fleetingly good that would feel.
I think Michael nailed it.

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 12-09-2004, 03:28 AM   #19
Johan Nielsen
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Quote:
John Boswell wrote:

But you gotta realize, I'd go to put him in kotegaishi or something and I'd take his arm, but the rest of him was left a mile behind and planted like he was bolted to the floor! He would not stay connected and would not MOVE!

Hello everyone,

First I must say that this experience you had with the aikido kotegaeshi is a great illustration of the biggest problem with this technique. Don't focus on his arm. That is irrelevant. Focus on how you can move and unbalance his body instead. There is no need to show him how atemi could be made. That is just a way to "cheat" in making him to realize that he could suffer a blow and therefore performing the technique for you. You on the other hand should also be aware of the possility that he could easily strike you when he is in perfect balance and right in front of you. Maybe that is not in the aikido training, but in a real self defence situation you can't count on a common aikido reaction, but a "normal" reaction from someone who has not done aikido.

Second I think that it is you who have a problem with the kid and not the other way around. You think that because you are older and bigger he should be somewhat intimidated by you. Big mistake from your side. If he dosen't care about your size he really has the right attitude and focus in the dojo. Think about that. And furthermore you really shouldn't lose your temper fore a variety of reasons. It seems that it is you who is the impatient "kid" in this matter. But reflect on how you should cope with your aggressions instead. Maybe it is a better way to meet his "hard" with your "soft". Don't clash hard against hard. Then it is a matter of strength and that is not in line with aikido right? I think that you must figure out for yourself in what way you can do so most easily.
Good luck!
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Old 12-09-2004, 04:37 AM   #20
ian
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Just let time take care of it - if he isn't trying to understand the purpose of the aikido training he is either to immature or to beligerent and will probably get disheartened and leave - don't worry about it, he has some responsibility!

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 12-09-2004, 05:12 AM   #21
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Quote:
Bronson Diffin wrote:
I think Michael nailed it.

Bronson
Very good point from Michael, but also from Mary Kaye.

Don't get wrapped up in trying to move him, just move you, he will follow if you move with your whole body. It's about non conflict, don't try and force anything, just move in the direction of least resistance, and make your movements very large, over exaggerate, it will soon fall into place.

regards

Bryans

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 12-09-2004, 08:41 AM   #22
John Boswell
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Quote:
Johan Martensson wrote:
Hello everyone,

First I must say that this experience you had with the aikido kotegaeshi is a great illustration of the biggest problem with this technique. Don't focus on his arm. That is irrelevant. Focus on how you can move and unbalance his body instead. There is no need to show him how atemi could be made. That is just a way to "cheat" in making him to realize that he could suffer a blow and therefore performing the technique for you. You on the other hand should also be aware of the possility that he could easily strike you when he is in perfect balance and right in front of you. Maybe that is not in the aikido training, but in a real self defence situation you can't count on a common aikido reaction, but a "normal" reaction from someone who has not done aikido.

Second I think that it is you who have a problem with the kid and not the other way around. You think that because you are older and bigger he should be somewhat intimidated by you. Big mistake from your side. If he dosen't care about your size he really has the right attitude and focus in the dojo. Think about that. And furthermore you really shouldn't lose your temper fore a variety of reasons. It seems that it is you who is the impatient "kid" in this matter. But reflect on how you should cope with your aggressions instead. Maybe it is a better way to meet his "hard" with your "soft". Don't clash hard against hard. Then it is a matter of strength and that is not in line with aikido right? I think that you must figure out for yourself in what way you can do so most easily.
Good luck!
Johan, interesting points you've made here.

After getting a LITTLE bit of sleep and thinking on things, re-reading these posts, etc. I do now realilze that due to this uke's disconnection, I did NOT have his center nor did I have his balance... he didn't have to move because I wasn't moving him. Now, as for WHY I wasn't moving him there is some responsibility on my part as Nage to get this guys balance.

HOWEVER... we're in a dojo, practicing to learn technique. Street situation? I'd have lost this hands down. Dojo situation, his mindset and attitude are completely wrong. Johan's second point has to do with attitude and that I'm trying to intimidate this kid. Well, I'm not! I could care less what he thinks of me or my size, I'm there to practice and train! When your uke's arm goes limp as a rag and he just stands there with no expression like he could care less what you are trying to do.... THAT is frustrating.

BUT, I see many things that I personally need to work on that go above and beyond the flaws of an uke. I've gotten many good ideas from everyone that has commented so far and I hope others have taken something from my mistakes here.

Thank you for the feedback everyone! Keep em coming if you like, this has been a really excellent thread!

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Old 12-09-2004, 09:42 AM   #23
Johan Nielsen
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Hello John.

I'm sorry if I made you upset. This was not my intention, and maybe I misinterpreted the situation you wrote about. However now that you have explained furhter I can only agree with you. Uke should of course stay interested and provide good learning material for his training partners. He should do realistic attacks and not stand like a fool waiting for action from your side. You must have a proper attack the be able to perform a good technique. You should tell him that you want better attacks.
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Old 12-09-2004, 10:53 AM   #24
pezalinski
 
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

My suggestion? Be a good uke, in turn, and demonstrate the kind of attack and ukemi you are expecting him to learn; maybe with a "this" and "not this" kind of example. You can't expect him to show what he does not know. Either he'll get it, or he won't -- it's not your responsibility to make him learn, but to simply give him a good template to emulate.
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Old 12-09-2004, 12:40 PM   #25
John Boswell
 
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Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland, Texas
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 597
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Re: How do you keep your cool?

Johan,

My apologies... I'm not mad at you. I guess my anger at the uke is carrying over. Sorry bout that. I didn't like the thought that I was needing my size to intimidate. If that were the case, no one would practice with me. Any hostility you perceived was only residual anger left over from tuesday night... and I need to get it under control.

Still working on it!

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