- Dec 17, 2008
- Reaction score
I think there is a misunderstanding in the role of Uke and the methodology of the training using a compliant partner. Those that have been around a while might recall my advice to people asking about finding a good school. I copped some stick for my suggestion. For me, if I was looking for a school I would be looking at the quality of the senior students to see whether they could actually do the techniques. Then I would ask them respectfully if they could demonstrate the technique on me while I was resisting. That is using my physical strength to resist. Normally that would be done softly and slowly. If my partner could do that I would have no qualms at joining that school.I hate when I visit aikido dojo and I get treated like a child because I don't naturally understand the story of how and why uke is supposed to move as nage ineffectually moves around
In this example I am a non compliant Uke and I think this lies at the heart of the problem. Henry Ellis mentioned it as well when he was talking about 'dance' and people throwing themselves about before they were thrown.
Aikidoists are often accused of practicing Choreographed Aikido and to be honest I must admit that these claims are very often justified, with Uke (attacker) preparing to break fall long before he makes his attack, and most of them attack off balance , therefore making any multiples of techniques possible with the minimum of effort and of course this makes Tori (defender) look fantastic.
What is really sad is that these people believe that this is good Aikido.
Kenshiro Abbe Sensei would always say to us that two students are training at the same time, one is Uke who is learning and improving his attacking techniques and his opponent Tori is also learning and improving his defensive techniques, whilst we were training with Abbe Sensei if Ukes foot or heel came off the mat as he attacked Abbe Sensei would give the offending leg a good whack with a shinai (bamboo sword) he would then say My English is very bad but my shinai speaks fluently!.
If Uke attacks on balance then it is obvious that Toris technique must be good and strong to throw him, and as Abbe Sensei said so many times two students are training .
I don't expect people who haven't trained Aikido to a reasonable level to understand what Henry Ellis is saying here, but often accused is the key. To do all the fantastic rolls you see in Aikido requires Uke to 'take a dive'. In real life against the technique is happens so fast you are straight on the ground, in a painful heap. That shows Tori can perform the technique but does little for Uke. Receiving well in Aikido is a highly developed skill. I admit I am hopeless at it because I am too old and too stiff to perform the acrobatic feats you see. But I do try to receive for my partner so that my partner can learn the technique and in blending with my partner's technique I am learning to go with my partner's strength and not clash, the fundamental rule of Aikido. This is part of the training and it is where a lot of Aikidoka let themselves down. The techniques are never tested. Uke attacks and Uke goes down regardless as to whether the technique was performed correctly. If the technique is not corrected then we just have a bad dance. The other part of learning to receive is learning to reverse the techniques. That is you as Uke attack, Tori takes ikkyo, for example, you blend with his movement and reverse the situation so now you have ikkyo.
If you have felt being "treated like a child" in an Aikido school, I would be walking away. Sure it is a little complicated but a good instructor should be able to explain clearly the basic theory of Aikido practise.