Taking a break
Posted On:5/09/2003 4:04am
How the Uke Crumbles
Or Aikido's biggest mistake
You may or may not have read my article on Ukemi, but this is article relates to one of the points I raised. I made the argument that any throw or lock applied should be done with the intention of letting Uke escape out at the end to minimise the impact/damage/risk. I'm now going to argue against that point.
Glossary for the non Japanese: Uke - The person receiving a technique. Tori - The person performing a technique. Ukemi - The act of receiving a technique.
In Aikido, the throws and locks have gone too far towards being ukemi friendly. This has consequently led to the throws and locks to not actually work unless uke lets them. Looking at how the majority of aikido is done today, a large number of the throws just about manage to get uke off balance, and then are finished by cutting down and back towards uke in a circular sweep. This is wonderful for Uke, as this gives him all the momentum he needs for a really good, impressive roll. However.... the throw is a big pile of poo because at no point does uke suffer from the catastrophic loss of balance that a good throw should create. By cutting back towards uke, tori is giving uke his balance back, and its purely a courtesy thing for ukemi to fall over in a dramatic way.
This sort of thing applies to many aikido techniques and ultimately leads to aikido only working on other aikidoka.
Of course, if aikido is done correctly, creating the catastrophic loss of balance, Uke won't have time to roll in a pretty way, and will normally just land in a heap on the floor. He will need exceptional ukemi skills to avoid being hurt, but then you have the problem of how to teach such good ukemi.
The way I learned good ukemi was unfortunately by doing bad aikido. Now that myself and the rest of my club are doing good aikido, the ukemi is much more difficult. So how do we go about teaching this level of ukemi to newcomers?
Apologies if this doesn't come across as terribly well constructed, but its first thing in the morning at work.
Taking responsibility for my actions since 1989
Posted On:5/09/2003 4:42am
Aikido epitomizes arts that have become too compassionate for their own good.
I was always puzzled when my sensei wouldn't let me do sensible things like sweep people or take them down bodily...that's why I switched to the ethically imperturbable CMA styles...
Posted On:5/09/2003 5:59am
Style: Aikido and Judo
Sam, I see your point. However, I think in general there are levels of Ukemi and ofcourse ability. I cant breakfall at a speed where I can keep up with most of the Dan grades in my club. So for them to have a worth while session (me lasting more than one throw), the throw has to change slightly. But I have never taken a fall for anyone and if the lock or throw aint on I just dont move.
The reason I have lasted as long as I have is because of the mat and if that was removed then I dont think I would be able to write to you know. :D
I find certain throws very unpleasant to breakfall from, especially Kaiten-nages, some shiho nages and ofcourse the super Ikkyo techniques.
I consider myself to be doing the best sort of Aikido around, light and powerful. Ofcourse having an amazing Sensei helps to. As a Judoka I can say that Aikido Ukemi are not easy, buts its either that or getting smashed.
How do you feel your Ukemi varies? I have never seen any "bad" Aikido so I dont really know what your getting at.
Posted On:5/09/2003 6:10am
Kensai - I'm off to the pub now - i'll reply later.
Posted On:5/09/2003 6:27am
Posted On:5/09/2003 8:30am
Aikijujitsu has the right mental approach, but to my mind, the wrong methedology. Having just got back from my pub lunch, I'm a little too drunk to write anything coherent. Obviously I work with very bad people.
Posted On:5/09/2003 9:36am
Kensai- right.... i'm feeling slightly more sober so I'll have a crack at answering you.
The example you give of a throw thats unpleasant to recieve (kaitenage for example) is one where they are doing it right. What is the point of a throw where anyone can just roll out of it? The task in hand in aikido is to make ALL throws difficult (if not impossible) to recieve without the correct training.
Its a fine line between learning ukemi that stops you getting hurt or killed by a technique, and modifying the technique to actively stop uke from being hurt.
Personally I can't answer the question of how to transition from one to the other without either doing bad technique or killing the uke.
As for bad aikido... the majority of the Lancashire Aikikai, or any of the Ki Aikido people not trained by Vassily Kolashnikov. I can't really comment on associations outside of the NW.
This is probably a good time for Vapour to justify what he does :)
I disagree, Aikijutsu is not the answer to Aikido's problems. In fact Takeda's best student said that Aikido and Aikijutsu are one and the same.
But that aside, remember that being Uke is not a matter of the one being beaten up. For example, when I Uked in Ninjutsu all I found is that I would Uke and get hurt, which I have no problem with, but I never learnt anything as a Uke and was always focused on being Tori.
However in Aikido, I find that being Uke teachs me things that are just as important as being tori. Maintain balance, attacking with clarity and the ablilty to escape. Actually, yesterday I was at free practice and it was only myself, a 1st Dan and a 3rd Dan. I was talking about how Ukeing perhaps makes Aikido to easy to apply, raising many of the doubts that I find here. And I was not disappointed, either trying to fight them, not following or generally being annoying did not help my cause and I only found myself bonding with the mat, even FASTER than normal.
Thats my opinion anyway. :)
Posted On:5/09/2003 10:34am
Ukemi is a great skill, no doubt about it, but I feel it has been enhanced to the detriment of Tori's skill in the wider world of aikido. Its all part of the same wishy washy liberal flowerarranging mindset thats debilitated so many internal arts.
Seeker of Truth
Posted On:5/09/2003 10:48am
Style: Five Animal Fighting
Yeah but Sam,
You already said you see there is a problem but you have no clue what the solution is.
Obviously the Tori/Uke relationship is a two way street with the Uke sacrifcing his saftey for the benefit of the Tori, in exchange for the Tori's promise not to take adavantage of the Uke and hurt him anymore than is necessary to provide the level of training that is desired. Proper instruction would dictate finding a middle ground that is still safe of the Uke and benefical for the Tori. Even if he can't actually practice the technique in full, the Tori hopefully will know how to do it "right" if he needs to.
I really don't know anything about Aikido, but this problem is everywhere in the martial arts, not just in this one.
One solution that is not really realistic nowadays but was more viable in the past is the concept of a profession Uke, or someone who never intends to be the Tori. This person, really isn't a "person" at all, but a training tool that has had their right to not be harmed and repsected as a follow human being forcibly taken or voluntarity sold away, so the Tori can do full force techniques anyway he wants, and it's up to the Uke to deal with it. If his arm falls off, then the Tori did a good job. If the Uke isn't hurt, he did a good job.
There probably is no way for a Uke to realistically do what you want. They either have to have no concern for their own feelings and welfare, or be given the opportunity to use their Ukemi to it's fullest effect.
Edited by - Punisher on May 09 2003 10:52:49
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