Saturday, July 08, 2006

Uke is not a wimp

This past Wednesday I blogged here about resistant ukes. The other extreme is a compliant, flaccid, wimpy uke. One without intent who goes wherever tori wants and jumps when he thinks tori wants him to. This is not proper ukemi. Uke's job is to supply an honest initial attack then react naturally. The concept of naturally can be difficult to explain without choreographing uke.
First, uke is not supposed to jump for throws. NEVER jump for a throw just to allow tori to feel like the technique works. If the technique is not there then jumping is both dishonest and dangerous. Now, in limited circumstances, like kata embu (demonstration) it is sometimes customary for a larger uke to react in a choreographed manner and help tori make a good presentation, but in normal practice choreography and jumping are contrary to learning.
Another phenomenon that is important for uke to understand in order to create an honest attack is that attackers in the "real world" often try to disguise their intent until too late for the victim to react . However, it is not possible to move casually and "normally"while attacking with intent (see this excellent discussion on this). What this means is that aikido attacks tend to have two phases, a casual moving together (ayumiashi) to near ma-ai, at which point uke's motion changes (tsugiashi) such that he has the potential to put energy into tori. This change is typical, natural, and something that tori needs to learn to see in uke.
Another very interesting phenomenon is that kuzushi tends to reset uke momentarily. So, during a committed attack with intent, if tori gets kuzushi then uke is forced to stop the attack, gather his balance (and wits) and begin to attack again. Almost universally, kuzushi causes uke to shift from tsugiashi back to ayumiashi (natural movement) in order to try to regain balance. Thus it is much easier for tori to "do" aikido to an uke that is doing ayumiashi. Ukes that are unaware of this take the opportunity during slow, controlled practice to ignore kuzushi and try to continue with short, quick tsugiashi even though this is an unnatural motion. So, as an example, in hanasu#1, uke takes one casual step in, switches to tsugiashi for the attack, is offbalanced and returns to ayumiashi while tori finishes the release.
Today during Aikido practice we played with uke's attack during hanasu until uke was giving honest attacks with intent and tori was able to evade offline and release. Then we practiced building the atemiwaza from junana off these same principles. The cool technique of the day was the ushiroate from sankata tantodori (brush off and run).

1 comment:

  1. This lesson is just as important as the resistant uke lesson. I'm glad you tackled both ends of the uke dilemma. Tori's job is easy; uke is the hardest role (and usuall roll too).

    Great thoughts on here, Pat!


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