Monday, April 09, 2007

The third great fear

In the video I posted Saturday, the narrator talks about dealing with fear - "removing fear from his practice."
One of my teachers liked to say that there are three great fears; fire, water, and falling. In a martial art we can't so much about fire and water (I recommend Boy Scouts or a similar organization for people who want to work with those), but in aikido and judo we become very intimate with the third great fear - falling.
In aikido and judo, nearly everything is done with a partner and nearly everything is done to it's ultimate conclusion - the ground. There are no half-techniques. No pulled techniques. If uke hits the ground it's because the technique worked. Some people argue that uke just jumps - especially in aikido. That's nuts. No person with any sense (that is, a healthy fear of falling) will hook themselves to another person who is moving around violently and then jump upside down through the air. That's just stupid. We don't jump. Uke never jumps for tori. Of course if uke has any skill and any sense he will flow with the technique to try to neutralize it, but there come times (frequently) when uke runs out of "altitude, airspeed, and ideas" and he just has to stop and lie down.
Those times when aiki or judo techniques happen perfectly and uke falls are very similar mechanically to the times in 'real life' when we fall. We trip and roll. We slip and fall. We bash our knee into something as we walk along and collapse. We get so badly off-balance that our leg muscles won't hold us up and we crumple. As such. there is no better training than aikido and judo in preparing for the most common self-defense scenario you will ever face.


  1. So stopping a technique to keep someone from falling is not the way to go? Gotcha.

  2. Well, stopping a technique so uke won't fall might not be best for uke and it might be a pretty bad idea for tori.

    Not only does uke not get to practice ukemi, tori doesn't get to feel the effect of the throw and get to practice moving with a falling body.

    If you throw a half-technique and then stop then you can leave uke hanging in a very awkward posture. stumbling around can be more dangerous than taking a fall.

    Also, you should consider - it is not possible to safely catch or stop a falling person. Tori risks injuring himself by trying to stop uke from falling.

    A better strategy for both uke and tori might be to go ahead and finish the throw and try to guide uke into a proper fall.

    This doesn't mean tori shold abuse uke every throw. these things can and should be done low speed with proper commitment through the whole process of the technique and into the ground.

    Does that make sense?


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