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Old 06-23-2005, 10:43 PM   #1
Qatana
 
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Giving up my center

I'm having a little trouble with my ukemi for iriminage. I've always had extremely good balance, I'm quite physically centered. So none of my kohai are really able to complete a decent technique with me, we end up spinning around on the mat until I just kinda stroll out of it.
The same thing happened the other day with Sensei- he's a foot taller than me and instead of completing the throw I ended up walking under his arm and right into a sweet little yonko (which he says was as unintentional as me walking out of techinque) which made me see I really have a problem here.
Most of my sempai have no trouble completing iriminage with me, so I asked one of the yudansha and he says I definitly have trouble letting myself get off balance, I can't give my center it seems, my body won't let me. It can be taken but I won't give it up, especially to "beginners"-even though one of them should be able to get me as he has several years of aikijustsu as well other arts.and is also considerably larger.
I don't even know what I'm asking for here. I can't really learn techinical stuff by reading, I gotta feel technique to understand it, ukemi the same.
I just mentioned privately to Janet that I was writing this and she mentions it may have something to do with blending. Which is absolutely my weakest area in aikido, I mean, interaction in general!

However, speaking of ukemi, I think my rolls evolved a bit tonite...

Last edited by Qatana : 06-23-2005 at 10:45 PM.

Q
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Old 06-24-2005, 03:59 AM   #2
mj
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Re: Giving up my center

If they can't throw you they can't throw you. Unless I am misreading this you seem to be saying that you find it hard to throw yourself or allow yourself to be thrown. Why would you?

I know I come from a different school of Aikido from you (Shodokan with dynamically resistant randori, no-one gives their centre to anyone) and perhaps this is colouring my judgement of what you're saying but to me you sound like someone who doesn't really have a problem.

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Old 06-24-2005, 05:05 AM   #3
happysod
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Re: Giving up my center

Quote:
Shodokan with dynamically resistant randori, no-one gives their centre to anyone
Peter, Larry & Yann, you have a lot to answer for that this type of blanket statement can be typed in cold blood... damn fine marketing job

Jo, question for you. When people claim to be able to twirl out of a technique, it's often because the other person is attempting to be "too nice" and just not extending their uke to the necessary extent where there isn't any slack. Could they be underestimating either your flexibility and/or resistance to discomfort?
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Old 06-24-2005, 05:44 AM   #4
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Re: Giving up my center

I agree with Ian, if you are able to turn out of the technique it's a poor technique. Just tell you partners to make sure it does work. Tell them to MAKE it work, not just assume you'll 'be a good uke' and fall down on the floor for them - that doesn't do any good for the aikido of either of you...
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Old 06-24-2005, 05:57 AM   #5
rob_liberti
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Re: Giving up my center

As uke in iriminage, I don't give my balance to anyone either. I try to maintain it by remaining in basic hanmi with my arms out in front of my center line in the typical wrists down and fingers up fashion. If I can walk out (limbo style) from iriminage - maintaining as much of that hanmi as possible, I do it everytime. I typically continue my forward progress and have to fall in almost a log roll type of way from the arm that isn't keeping connection (which I use to kind of make sort of a waggon wheel shape that extends across the back of my shoulders as my legs continue forward).

If you are coming out of it really balanced, and not having to fall my guess would be that they are losing you from the beginning. If the nage just can't find the place where everything goes to zero (where no pushing or pulling is required), I suggest standing there in complete balance, and let them kind of hook you with their lead arm (resting between your shoulder and elbow) and have them just maintain that "hook" (kind of like chambering a punch only done by moving the rest of your body instead of pulling your elbow back) as they walk behind you towads your other shoulder - in a dosy-do type fashion (or is that swing your partner, I don't know about square dancing really!). That should give them the idea of how to use one of your natural pivot points to try to disturb your balance. From there, they just have to extend your neck out and up with that (rotating around their thumb and making sure to keep the blade of their hand attached to the base of your neck), and then bend their legs when they start feeling you depend on them for balance. I only use that as a plan "b", but at least it will get them started.

Good luck, I hope it helps. - Rob
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Old 06-24-2005, 07:56 AM   #6
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Re: Giving up my center

I might be way off base here, but how about this angle? Perhaps, what some of your classmates are asking is to give up yourself? You know, commit your entire body to the intent of the attack (but bring your center along for the ride)?

You did say this happens mostly with kohai, correct? Is this still after they understand the shape of the technique?

Sorry, I have more questions than suggestions. So many things could be happening. However, I'd say your dojo is lucky to have you and your solid center.
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Old 06-24-2005, 08:19 AM   #7
Qatana
 
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Re: Giving up my center

If we practiced resistance aikido I wouldn't be complaining, I'd be bragging!
It feels to me that everybody is doing the technique correctly, and I generally cannot verbalise to them exactly what needs to be done.Sometimes they can get me to the point just before the throw and I'll just stand there,once I was able to tell nage "just point your finger over my shoulder" and down I went, but these days I'm just twirling right out of the circle.
Rob, I appreciate your input but unfortunately my learning is almost completely kinesthetic and I cannot verbalise to nage, especially the "least talented" ones, what you describe because I cannot visualise it! "Watch & feel" is how I learn technique.
Maybe I can ask a sempai to try to approximate what my ukemi feels like, the same way they show me what my technique feels like. I know that when someone really has me, I usually get into a pretty deep backbend before I go over, none of them can do this but I don't think that the moment of the throw is as immportant as getting me into the right alignment for it.
And my attack Is committed.One of the nidans regularly tests my committment by not getting off the line...and he gets slugged, every time. I may hold back a tiny bit with the one person in the dojo who is smaller than me, but that is mostly because I know her ukemi is still rather stiff and unreceptive, I have no other experience of working with a smaller partner ,and our dojo emphasises taking care of uke rather than smashing them into the mat. Unless we ask for it, of course!

Q
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Old 06-24-2005, 08:21 AM   #8
Mike Sigman
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Re: Giving up my center

Quote:
Dan Crosby wrote:
Tell them to MAKE it work, not just assume you'll 'be a good uke' and fall down on the floor for them - that doesn't do any good for the aikido of either of you...
This is the tricky, tricky area where so much Aikido seems to go astray. You have to be a little cooperative with the people who need help with their understanding and technique, yet you have to give a somewhat realistic resistance to an advanced person. Unspoken protocols develop differently in different dojo's because of the uncertainty of the area. I always tended to adjust my ukemi to what I thought were the person's abilities... the better he/she was, the more I tried to make the attack realistic instead of cooperative training. Naturally, I could have walked out of many techniques or just stalled nage where he was, but I realized that Aikido was about more than just me.

Mike
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Old 06-24-2005, 08:25 AM   #9
Qatana
 
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Re: Giving up my center

Thank you Mike, thats exactly my issue. I'll resist my sempai when I think I can take the ukemi, but how will the juniors know what the techinque _should_ feel like if I don't let them Do it!

Q
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Old 06-24-2005, 08:36 AM   #10
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Re: Giving up my center

Quote:
Jo Adell wrote:
Thank you Mike, thats exactly my issue. I'll resist my sempai when I think I can take the ukemi, but how will the juniors know what the techinque _should_ feel like if I don't let them Do it!
Frustrating, isn't it? I usually wound up working out mainly with 4 or 5 like-minded hard-chargers and avoided worrying about all the other feelings and repercussions in the dojo. It's a morass that can distract someone from focusing on the art.

Mike
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Old 06-24-2005, 09:00 AM   #11
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Re: Giving up my center

Jo,

I think it's a good idea to get the juniors who can't throw you to try infront of some sempai who can, and then let the sempai show the juniors what they do compared to the failed technique. I love to compare and contrast after class. I think the important point here is that the resistance is done with the spirit of being helpful. If you can feel where someone else is struggling, that's part of the study too.

Rob
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Old 06-24-2005, 09:08 AM   #12
Quanping
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Re: Giving up my center

I had this problem in a Ki Society class. There was one technique where they took your attention up with their hand, then motioned it back down at your face - and you were supposed to fall over. I got the feeling it was meant to be taking your 'energy' up then pushing you down with it.

Of course, I just stood there bemused. After a while and seeing other people do it I figured I was meant to fall over so just played along.

Strange.I think co-operating is ok to some degree, but this just seemed silly.
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Old 06-24-2005, 09:27 AM   #13
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Giving up my center

Quote:
Thank you Mike, thats exactly my issue. I'll resist my sempai when I think I can take the ukemi, but how will the juniors know what the techinque _should_ feel like if I don't let them Do it!
This is a recurring problem in aikido. The paradigm can be so subtle (as to when to resist, how much, etc) that it is very difficult to determine what level I should be at at any given time. And then ego gets involved (mine and others). I've been in dojo where the protocol is pretty much just give the attack with good energy and take the ukemi. Some dislike that model because then the line between working waza and not working waza becomes so blurred. But there are rarely injuries in that environment, and somehow people still learn how to make technique work (in the majority of my experience, but of course its easy to see how this can cause problems).

My position lately is to take the ukemi unless otherwise agreed upon. Too many times I have done technique slow, soft, and then thrown...only to find an uke surprised that they were thrown and basically unprepared for the fall. I ask them 'you knew I was going to throw you...what happened?' I often get a blank stare. The problem is that this kind of thing can result in injuries. Often their resistence just adds to the power of the throw. Lately, I often just stop at the 'tsukuri' stage, and let uke decide what they want to do. I have no wish to keep repeating accidents.

I really don't know what the best model is in general. In small, intimate groups where everyone knows each other this type of thing is easy...in strange dojo, or even familiar large dojo its gets tricky.

Best,
Ron

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Old 06-24-2005, 09:28 AM   #14
Mike Sigman
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Re: Giving up my center

I remember one lady that did a tenkan as I shomenuchi'ed and she pointed at the ground. I had no idea what to do. Then she started yelling at me for not doing what I supposed to do. Finally I took a couple of faked falls for her "leading my ki", but I felt like I'd become something of a prostitute. When "cooperating" becomes "faking it so everyone is happy with the role-playing level" it's time to leave.

Mike
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Old 06-24-2005, 09:40 AM   #15
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Giving up my center

Agreed. Even when trying to find the best, some things just get too far out of hand. I wasn't refering to 'no touch throws'.

Best,
Ron (anything can be taken to rediculous levels, I guess)

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Old 06-24-2005, 10:03 AM   #16
happysod
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Re: Giving up my center

Quote:
very difficult to determine what level I should be at at any given time
[fruity hat on] it's this reason that we specify shape and resistance each time we practice. As for the leading part, even at the most basic/cooperative stage uke should only be moving into a position which is more comfortable and/or defensive for them, anything else makes no sense whatsoever.
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Old 06-24-2005, 11:21 AM   #17
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Re: Giving up my center

Hi Jo,

Congratulations on having a strong and flexible control of your centre. Imo one can be very cooperative, relaxed, blending and connected without "giving away" one's centre and "faking" as indicated by others. It is important that Tori/Nage executes correct technique based on the principles and structures of correct waza, not a "semblance of it" that can only exist within a protected culture where one's partner takes a dive even when there is no need to. As someone said above, it does not help the Aikido of either one of you imo.

Quote:
Jo Adell wrote:
It feels to me that everybody is doing the technique correctly, and I generally cannot verbalise to them exactly what needs to be done.Sometimes they can get me to the point just before the throw and I'll just stand there,once I was able to tell nage "just point your finger over my shoulder" and down I went, but these days I'm just twirling right out of the circle.
From what you said above it sounds to me that you are not actually resisting at all. I think you are trying to keep your partner honest in their execution of waza, based on your natural abilities.

What it sounds like to me is that you are very flexible and have a strong sense of balance and is able to have your upper body moved to a considerable degree past vertical without losing lower body structural integrity and as a result, you don't lose balance and fall. What this means is that it will take more precise execution of technique to get you to fall than it would to get someone who is not as flexible in the spine and who does not have as sound a "feel" for keeping one's balance.

The example you gave above of having your partner point their finger over your shoulder and throwing you guides me to this idea. It appears that your partners begin taking your balance and then lose control of your body and movement just as they are about to throw you, simply because you require your upper body to be moved very precisely in the direction of your weak line of balance moreso than the average person.

In our dojo we have come across this a few times and at first some sempai were totally confounded as to why the waza did not work on these types. One that comes to mind was a Tai Chi Chuan guy who had impeccable flexibility and balance control. One had to be precise in every aspect of the technique during cooperative practice (especially the kuzushi and redirection of movement aspects) to get some techniques to work. Another scenario involved one of our female sempai who has an impeccable sense of balance, so much so that when I do resistance randori with her I need to compensate for her lower centre of gravity (as she is shorter) and her instinctive ability to relax and sink her weight while keeping her back straight to prevent the kuzushi from occurring, thereby nullifying the rest of the technique.

So I think you are a gift to your Sensei and your dojo. If a person's technique does not follow precise geometry, based on the principles of a throw like Irimi Nage, where one's upper body structures are guided to the weak line at the back corner to throw, then you will not be thrown. The reason I think you tend to twirl or walk out of the technique after a bit is because it is difficult to maintain that limbo-like posture for an extended period while Nage tries to figure out why things are not working as they should. At the point in the throw when your back is bent and you are still standing, they need to basically move your head/shoulder in an almost direct line downward towards the weak line at the back between your feet while moving their own body forward across your weak line (i.e. stepping through behind you).

Many many people tend to do irimi nage to throw someone along a horizontal plane or a plane that arches slightly downward. In your case the direction may need to be more directly downwards than sideways, allowing the energy of the throw to move through your spine to the point where it can bend no more and you have no choice but to fall as the legs become locked and your centre of gravity moves outward behind you via your weak line of balance.

So in the end it comes down to more precise technique on their part. The other way will be to attempt to stand straight at the point where the throw is going to be done, which will result in their needing less downward energy to throw you. But imho the second option does not challenge the integrity of their waza, which is what we should be working on during cooperative practice, getting the form correct. Another option is to let someone considerably shorter than you, who knows the technique try it and see how you respond.

Just my thoughts. I reserve the right to be totally wrong.
LC

Last edited by L. Camejo : 06-24-2005 at 11:27 AM.

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Old 06-24-2005, 11:23 AM   #18
Janet Rosen
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Re: Giving up my center

I am SO curious now to get back on the mat with you and play with iriminage!

In general, there is a short window during an attack where you are in motion/process, and nage should be able to take your balance. If nage misses that window of opportunity, maybe gets off the line and does something, but doesn't actually take your balance, uke should be able to complete the attack and be stable again.
In some dojos, in that situation, uke will pretty much stay stable and rooted, game over unless nage either resorts to atemi or tries for an imposition of technique. In other dojos, uke will recenter on nage and attack again; that energy and movement of uke will give nage a new window of opportunity.

In terms of what happens when you are uke for your sempai and instructor, my best guess is they are underestimating your flexibility and stability, and simply not blending/drawing out/otherwise really going for balance-taking with you for some reason.
But yeah I really wanna check it out on the mat!

Janet Rosen
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Old 06-24-2005, 11:26 AM   #19
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Giving up my center

Very nice post Larry! I like the way you shodothugs break down and describe the kuzushi for a technique.

Best,
Ron

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Old 06-24-2005, 11:30 AM   #20
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Re: Giving up my center

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Very nice post Larry! I like the way you shodothugs break down and describe the kuzushi for a technique.
Thanks Ron.

Without deep knowledge of kuzushi, Shodothug life is a hard life.

Happy training.
LC

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Old 06-24-2005, 11:52 AM   #21
Drew Scott
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Re: Giving up my center

If you'll forgive a newbie's opinion...

I also am a very "grounded" individual. It's hard to take my balance, and once it's taken, I tend to regain it quickly. This means that I, too, can often maintain position in the face of technique which doesn't either a) manipulate my joints directly b) appear as though it will cause damage if I don't move c) does not maintain my state of unbalance once it is achieved.

I keep my "center" as much as possible all the time, but I also try not to *unrealistically* resist any technique which involves a strong, solid object (such as the shoulder/forearm/fist of nage) impacting with delicate parts of my body (such as my face, throat, solar plexus, floating rib, etc). If you train to resist this, you are training your body to ignore the potential for damage in the same technique from a committed partner/opponent, and most likely you are also allowing yourself to stand there in a vulnerable position, knowing that nage is limited by the waza to continuing with the technique of the moment. It's important to know what's realistic resistance when someone means you harm.

I'm not saying you should take a dive for nage, but if you're not training at a sufficiently high level of skill, and in an open enough context where you can take unpredictable ukemi and your partner is allowed to improvise, you might be better off identifying what the technique would be doing to your body with speed and intention and training to take the "proper ukemi" for it, in anticipation that some day it will be applied full-force and that standing there like a brick wall will get your head taken off.

I'm not saying you're standing there being a blockhead, by the way, just suggesting that analyzing your own methods of "resistance" for possible consequences is worthwhile. My experiences with iriminage in particular have been that resistance I can apply successfully to a beginner gets my spine readjusted in exciting ways if I do it with my sempai.

Note: I reserve the right to laugh at my own naive foolishness if I happen to read this post in 30 years.

Regards,
Drew

Last edited by Drew Scott : 06-24-2005 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 06-24-2005, 12:41 PM   #22
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Giving up my center

Actually, I thought that was a pretty good post....beginner or not.

Best,
Ron

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Old 06-24-2005, 12:56 PM   #23
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Re: Giving up my center

Quote:
Drew Scott wrote:
I keep my "center" as much as possible all the time, but I also try not to *unrealistically* resist any technique which involves a strong, solid object (such as the shoulder/forearm/fist of nage) impacting with delicate parts of my body (such as my face, throat, solar plexus, floating rib, etc). If you train to resist this, you are training your body to ignore the potential for damage in the same technique from a committed partner/opponent, and most likely you are also allowing yourself to stand there in a vulnerable position, knowing that nage is limited by the waza to continuing with the technique of the moment. It's important to know what's realistic resistance when someone means you harm.
Of course if someone seriously means you harm, taking a fall for that person should be the least of your worries. Avoiding that situation may be wiser, which is what I think Jo is doing. She is not "trying" to resist but merely slipping through a hole in her partner's waza imho, which, following your own example above leaves Nage vulnerable to a range of attacks also. If there is no hole, then she goes down.

Quote:
Drew Scott wrote:
I'm not saying you should take a dive for nage, but if you're not training at a sufficiently high level of skill, and in an open enough context where you can take unpredictable ukemi and your partner is allowed to improvise, you might be better off identifying what the technique would be doing to your body with speed and intention and training to take the "proper ukemi" for it, in anticipation that some day it will be applied full-force and that standing there like a brick wall will get your head taken off.
The above has some truth to it. But poor improvised, fast technique with intention still boils down to poor technique, in which case Nage may find different types of holes in his/her waza that someone like Jo can slip through because he/she thinks that doing it faster or with a certain intent changes the mechanics of correct technique when it doesn't really.

A flaw in one's technique may actually be evidence of a more systemic flaw in how one executes many different techniques (i.e. a flaw exists in one's fundamentals of Aikido). The inability to maintain kuzushi and connection with one's partner in Irimi Nage (as in Jo's situation) may be evident of an overall problem the Nage may have in maintaining these elements of technique in many other waza. The result is that by faking the fall even though you are not thrown you are helping to perpetuate poor technique and poor understanding of technique, which as you indicated above also shows itself very glaringly when one encounters serious intent or serious resistance. So I think if the waza is not working on Jo it is good for her to reveal that fact and aid in understanding why this is the case. In the end it will be to the benefit of both parties, since the Nage will be able to execute better waza and Jo will learn not to rely on her flexibility alone as a means of "resistance".

Again it comes down to training at the highest and most honest level possible for you at the point in time. If Jo dives for a poor technique, then it means that Nage requires someone acting within a false cultural construct for his/her waza to work, this breeds delusion. If Jo consistently works with poor technique and at some point tells herself that via spinal flexibility alone she will be able to avoid/resist technique, then the success of her resistance also requires someone else to be acting within a false cultural construct that allows for her resistance to work. This also breeds delusion on her part. In the end it is best to be as truthful as possible whether Nage or Uke imho.

Just some thoughts.
Gambatte.
LC

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Old 06-24-2005, 01:43 PM   #24
Drew Scott
Dojo: Chicago Aikikai
Location: Chicago
Join Date: May 2005
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Re: Giving up my center

Well put, LC, thank you. From my reading of the initial few posts, I was picturing a sort of "bend me over backwards as far as you want, but I still won't fall down" sort of thing, which could be very dangerous as a habitual sort of response. Rereading Jo's posts a few times, I realize that's not what's going on here.

My apologies, Jo, for making assumptions.

Regards,
Drew
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Old 06-24-2005, 04:35 PM   #25
Adman
 
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Location: St. Louis
Join Date: Jul 2002
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Re: Giving up my center

Quote:
Sometimes they can get me to the point just before the throw and I'll just stand there...
I'm not sure if this means how you wrote it, but do you mean you've stopped your attack? Are you waiting for something to be done to you? I guess it depends on the training and expectations in one's dojo. Perhaps this is part of what Janet was saying.

But then again ...
Quote:
Larry Camejo wrote:
If there is no hole, then she goes down.
On a side note:
Quote:
Bryan Bowman wrote:
I had this problem in a Ki Society class. There was one technique where they took your attention up with their hand, then motioned it back down at your face - and you were supposed to fall over. I got the feeling it was meant to be taking your 'energy' up then pushing you down with it.
Well, you had it right in the first place. It's meant to take your attention up. But that's just one part of it. Your momentum, from attempting to regain your balance, plus your attention being directed upwards (this should actually be involuntary by uke, since at this point their head is controlled by nage), combined with nage's other hand on your neck/shoulder (providing a pivot point) -- throws you onto your back.
Quote:
Of course, I just stood there bemused. After a while and seeing other people do it I figured I was meant to fall over so just played along.
When done correctly, you don't have to play along. Was it a beginner's class you were in?
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