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Old 11-04-2005, 08:03 PM   #1
Karen Wolek
Dojo: Kingston Aikido
Location: New York
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Ukemi and a Happy Medium

I asked this on aikido-l, then I figured maybe I'd ask you aikiweb-ers, too. Besides my intro a few years ago, I don't think I have ever started a thread on aikiweb! Here goes:

So.

I get in trouble for resisting. So I try not to.

So.

Last night my partner complains that I'm tanking and calls me Exxon Valdez. Then proceeds to show me what my ukemi feels like, when it's my turn as nage. Wow, I must have powerful ki.

Later on, my partner is a 5th kyu teenager. Shihonage and he falls before I do anything. Sensei lifts an eyebrow and tells him to "hang in there a little longer, let her do the technique."

I want to be a good uke. An excellent uke. I want to be someone Sensei can use for ukemi, no matter what the technique. I don't want anyone to worry about throwing me hard. I want to have beautiful and effective and safe ukemi. I want my attacks to be sincere and strong.

I don't want to tank and I don't want to be stubborn and resistant. I don't want to frustrate nage and I don't want to patronize nage.

I need to find a happy medium. While I have come a LONG, long way as uke....I have a long way to go to be the uke I want to be.

Once, a teacher told me my nagemi is UP here and my ukemi is DOWN here. This was awhile ago, so I have improved a lot. But I want them to be at least equal. Unrealistic? Or something to strive for?

Thoughts?

Karen
feeling very 2nd kyu these days

Karen
"Try not. Do...or do not. There is no try." - Master Yoda
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Old 11-04-2005, 09:27 PM   #2
Shannon Frye
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

Interesting problem....Im having a similar one. Being new to aikido, but not to jujitsu, I find myself working a technique slowly, so that I can get the "feel" of taking balance. A few troublesome ukes have taken advantage of my speed to sabotage the technique, thereby making the "take down" harder or almost impossible. It's fustrating working with them, cause they are not helping me...they are critical of my mistakes, but not what I would call a "good uke". WHen I take them down, I have to use force, which is not what I am trying to learn.

On the other hand (taking ukemi myself), Ive found that I have to "throw myself" sometimes. The nage hasn't drawn me in, created the motion, or whathaveyou....my forward momentum is stopped. I find that sometimes I have to jump into the ukemi, rather than let the force take my into it. I dont want to be "fake" with nage, but I also dont want to jam up someone who is learning , like I am.

Ive so far ben told that I went down too easy, AND that I am resisting too much. Last class, someone repeatedly failed to get ikkyo (or was is nikkyo?), and complained that I was stiffarming him. I also received praise for being a good uke when I gave feedback to a newer student (who was close, but just not on the mark with his move).

IMHO, know your nage. Drop for the ones that want you to, resist the ones that want you to, and cherish the few nages that allow you to be yourself (and just goooooo with their flooooow)

Shannon
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Old 11-04-2005, 09:30 PM   #3
roosvelt
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

"I want to be a good uke. An excellent uke. I want to be someone Sensei can use for ukemi, no matter what the technique. I don't want anyone to worry about throwing me hard. I want to have beautiful and effective and safe ukemi. I want my attacks to be sincere and strong."

You forgot you want to learn the technique of nage when being uke. The best position to learn a kata from sensei is to be his uke.

I don't see how can you get into trouble to give resistence unless the nage is a beginer or you have no ability to take the ukemi when being resistent.
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Old 11-05-2005, 10:39 AM   #4
Jerry Miller
 
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Smile Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

I myself am at a point were my ukemi needs work in order for me to develop. I found this on another website. It is from the ASU handbook.
Quote:
Taking ukemi for yudansha examination is a very serious responsibility. Each technique is developed to study a specific direction and application of force. As uke you must understand this and have the ability to give an honest, strong and focused attack that is appropriate for the technique required.

A weak attack is unacceptable. A deceptive attack is unacceptable. Since you know the technique your partner is being asked to demonstrate it is easy to stop its execution.

There are no friends or enemies during examination. It is not ukes job to make value judgements. You do not take ukemi to make your partner look bad. You do not take ukemi to make your partner look good. Do not jump into a spectacular fall if the power is not there. Do not make a point of taking a bored and resisting fall to make it look as though your partner didnt really throw you. Either way is dishonest. Remember, you take ukemi to avoid injury. You are not taking ukemi to show off. Uke must only do what is appropriate to the situation. This requires much training and much soul searching.
This is a good approach to strive for in everyday practice. If we were to compare aikido to surfing for certain purposes. We could start out by saying uke's attack is a wave. As nage we must be able to ride this wave. At a certain point a shift occurs. The Nage becomes the wave and the uke (in principle) must ride this wave to survive the technique. If there no power in either case there will be no wave to ride. In ukemi-waza you will appear to be resisting or taking a dive. Practice requires a certain amount of focus from both partners.

Jerry
Daydreaming in class and needing work on ukemi.

Jerry Miller
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Old 11-05-2005, 03:57 PM   #5
giriasis
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

Quote:
So I try not to.
Try not! Do or do not! There is no try!



I responded to you on Aikido-L.

But some additional thoughts...

My sensei often reminds us to continue our attack. You are attempting to attack nage from the point your start your attack until your balance is taken and your are thrown. When you say that your tanking I'm assuming that you strike and then don't budge? Yep, that can be frustrating to nage. But the response isn't the opposite to fall sooner, it's to find sensitivity to nage's movement.

This means you need to relax and maintain your connection to their center, and respond when you feel your center changed. To me tanking happens when a person stiffens up. Let go and go with the flow some if they take your center then they took it but if they didn't don't just go down to make them feel good. Sensei often says that you should be loose and pliable.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 11-05-2005, 04:55 PM   #6
ElizabethCastor
 
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

Quote:
Karen Wolek wrote:
I want to be a good uke. ...I want to be someone Sensei can use for ukemi,... I want to have beautiful and effective and safe ukemi. I want my attacks to be sincere and strong. ...

I don't want to tank and I don't want to be stubborn and resistant. I don't want to frustrate nage and I don't want to patronize nage.

I need to find a happy medium. While I have come a LONG, long way as uke....I have a long way to go to be the uke I want to be.

...But I want them (nagemi/ukemi) to be at least equal. Unrealistic? Or something to strive for?

Thanks Karen.... you have expressed a concern that I have had buzzing in my brain for quite a while now. I've been training for about a year now so the whole ukemi thing has been just one of a LOT of thoughts buzzing around

But I have been frustrated and feel bad when I think I've been too tough (or I've been asked/told to not stiffen up). And equally so when sensei comes by with a smile "she's being too easy and nice for you...be a little more sincere..."

I guess, my little moments of clarity come when I remind myself that that's why I train. I am trying to learn balance in all things.

There have been times where I do find the balance and the technique feels golden-glowing and right and other times where I KNOW I've messed up and over/under done my part (as uke or nage) .

I just try to remember that my learning is going to be a journey... and my "milestones" will come, especially if I am patient, observant, and keep practicing.

Anyway, thats my little contribution.

Have fun

Elizabeth
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Old 11-06-2005, 11:35 PM   #7
bleepbeep
Dojo: kyokan dojo bacolod city/dale city aikikai, va
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

one visiting teacher used this method to help "tankers":

she said...."soft. soft as a feather, maintain contact....follow your intention".

i hope this helps.
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Old 11-07-2005, 11:30 AM   #8
Karen Wolek
Dojo: Kingston Aikido
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
Try not! Do or do not! There is no try!

When you say that your tanking I'm assuming that you strike and then don't budge?
No, when we use the term "tanking", we mean just falling, maybe too soon or when nage really hasn't done anything to warrant a fall. Striking and not budging would be the opposite of that!

Karen
"Try not. Do...or do not. There is no try." - Master Yoda
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Old 11-07-2005, 11:32 AM   #9
Karen Wolek
Dojo: Kingston Aikido
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

Yesterday in class, a nidan who has the most awesome ukemi ever....commented that even he still has trouble with this issue sometimes.

Wow.

OK, I feel MUCH better now. It's just another one of those aikido things I will be working on for a very long time!

Karen
"Try not. Do...or do not. There is no try." - Master Yoda
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Old 11-07-2005, 11:38 AM   #10
giriasis
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

Quote:
Karen Wolek wrote:
No, when we use the term "tanking", we mean just falling, maybe too soon or when nage really hasn't done anything to warrant a fall. Striking and not budging would be the opposite of that!
Really? Tanking in our book is the opposite of your definition. You attack and just not budge you know like a tank and trying to keep your partner from doing the technique. Falling too soon is falling too soon, and if nage hasn't done anything to warrant a fall they just haven't taken your balance.

My same advice still applies.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 11-07-2005, 12:52 PM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

IMHO, there is always that sweet place between the dualism that make the magic work. That balance point between extremes may differ from person to person, technique to technique, and day to day. That's why we train. All of us look forward to finding that pocket with the unrealistic hope of staying there.

A good way to "not" find that happy medium is to think about it too much while you are trying to perform waza or take ukemi. Its a feeling you learn with sensitivity (paying attention to what you are doing when you are doing it) and experience (time on the mat doing, not talking).

Relax, breath, and enjoy the training.

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 11-07-2005, 01:30 PM   #12
Karen Wolek
Dojo: Kingston Aikido
Location: New York
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

Quote:
Anne Marie Giri wrote:
Really? Tanking in our book is the opposite of your definition. You attack and just not budge you know like a tank and trying to keep your partner from doing the technique. Falling too soon is falling too soon, and if nage hasn't done anything to warrant a fall they just haven't taken your balance.

My same advice still applies.
Heh, I guess we use it more this way: Slang. To suffer a sudden decline or failure: "Steady investors... kept their heads when the stock market tanked in October 1987" (Burton G. Malkiel).

Which would be falling, without really having to.

Gets confusing, because if I resist my sensei (rarely these days, I grew brains), he'll say, "Don't MAKE me throw you...." So in that instance, it's better to just tank. His thing ever since I started, was learning to follow nage.

Sometimes I think I follow a little too well, and other times not enough.

A happy medium, that's all I ask!

Karen
"Try not. Do...or do not. There is no try." - Master Yoda
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Old 11-07-2005, 01:37 PM   #13
Karen Wolek
Dojo: Kingston Aikido
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
IMHO, there is always that sweet place between the dualism that make the magic work. That balance point between extremes may differ from person to person, technique to technique, and day to day. That's why we train. All of us look forward to finding that pocket with the unrealistic hope of staying there.

A good way to "not" find that happy medium is to think about it too much while you are trying to perform waza or take ukemi. Its a feeling you learn with sensitivity (paying attention to what you are doing when you are doing it) and experience (time on the mat doing, not talking).

Relax, breath, and enjoy the training.
Luckily, I rarely get a chance to think too much while training. I'm too busy trying to move and stay alive and have fun! All this thinking happens after class.....

Karen
"Try not. Do...or do not. There is no try." - Master Yoda
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Old 11-07-2005, 04:39 PM   #14
MaryKaye
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

I feel I learned a lot from a seminar of Ostoff sensei and Nevelius sensei at which they showed that throughout the technique, uke should be looking for opportunities to continue her attack. Intead, we tend to either change to a different attack (with foreknowledge of nage's technique, which is not entirely fair), change from attacking into statically resisting, or change from attacking into setting up our ukemi.

I had heard this before, but it didn't really sink in until I saw them demonstrate. It amazed me how much easier the technique (an iriminage ending in a hip throw) was *for both partners* when uke continued the attack throughout rather than trying to "take ukemi."

You might try asking, "How is uke to continue this attack through the technique?" or experimenting to find it out on your own. Some hints I know: when uke bends over or crouches, it's with the intent of coming back up energetically and doing something to nage. This makes it clear why stiffly trying not to bend over (in ikkyo, for example) is wrong: you don't build up any energy that way so it doesn't lead to a furtherance of the attack. It's fun to practice reversing ikkyo to get the feel for what uke has available to her here. And when uke turns, she is turning to reorient on nage and continue her attack--this explains, among other things, which leg you fold when taking back ukemi; you fold the one that keeps you more oriented toward nage.

The other thing they said that really resonated with me was "While you are in your good place, stay there. As soon as you are not in it, go with the fall and get into a better one. Never stay in a bad place." This has helped me avoid the kind of resistance which leads only to a nastier fall.

I feel like I'm working really hard on ukemi and still very confused about it too; I get "too much resistance" and "not enough resistance" all the time, and sometimes on the same fall....

Mary Kaye
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Old 11-27-2005, 09:08 PM   #15
Tim Schmelter
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Re: Ukemi and a Happy Medium

Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
I feel I learned a lot from a seminar of Ostoff sensei and Nevelius sensei at which they showed that throughout the technique, uke should be looking for opportunities to continue her attack. Intead, we tend to either change to a different attack (with foreknowledge of nage's technique, which is not entirely fair), change from attacking into statically resisting, or change from attacking into setting up our ukemi.
To jump into this thread rather late...

One exercise we've stolen from someone (sorry, got it secondhand during class and can't remember the original source, but it's probably pretty widespread) is for nage to wear a tanto in her obi while uke attacks. Throughout the technique, uke wants to move herself into a position where she can grab the tanto out of nage's belt. Nage obviously wants to stop uke from doing that, and in addition wants to be in a position to draw the tanto herself.

Of course, you could do the same thing just having uke try to reach in and tap nage's tummy, but the tanto is a tangible symbol of exactly what's at stake in the practice.

Nage learns to keep control of the centerline, and that maai changes with the relative positions of uke's body. Uke learns that it's really hard to do much of anything interesting unless you're fluid enough to follow nage's energy.

I had a lot of fun with the exercise, and it really made it clear to me that an intent, committed, connected attack--in other words, good ukemi--has at its foundation a desire to continue connecting to nage throughout the technique. Too floppy & loose? No way to grab the tanto, because you're already falling. Too stiff & resistant? Then you can't move your own center enough to grab it.

I'll let you know when I achieve ultimate masterly of this. Say in about...50 years?

--Tim
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