16 Comments

  1. May Lane

    Javier, thank you for writing this post! I really enjoyed it. As I read it, I kept nodding my head in agreement; I think we’re gazing out from the same vantage point with regard to being an honest, connected uke —specifically your statement “My quest has to do less with the big falls and flying around… and more with being honest and connected.” I breathed a sigh of relief when I read that! I came to aikido in my 40s, and now, in my 50s (although, in my mind I still think I’m 25 🙂 my body lets me know that ‘hey! you’re 53, you’ve had two children, and all those years of playing soccer way back when have left some scars.’ It’s my denial of the aging process, I know. And, there’s probably a bit of grieving there as well. But, I do my best and give my best despite my limitations. Those limitations always teach me something. You’re article has given me “permission”, if you will, to accept myself as I am and where I am in my training— that’s what’s important, after all. Keep training, stay focused, be honest and connected, absorb, listen to my body, and have fun. Practicing with joy is key (or is it ‘ki’?) for me. I’m usually the one who is laughing the most on the mat, mainly because I’m constantly surprised and in awe of the beautiful art of aikido. It never ceases to amaze me!
    I hope to see you on the mat sometime soon,
    May

  2. Eric Lenard

    That line between resisting and challenging the nage to help them grow is very fine and requires great sensitivity and a flexible mind. The balance may shift even during a single practice with a single nage on a single technique as one or both o f you become fatigued or conversely more fluent and activated. If we allow nage to throw us without actually taking our balance, then we are giving them a false sense of accomplishment and confidence and we are denying them the chance to really get at the essence of the practice. Similarly, if we block out someone who is less experienced, we aren’t helping them-besides, what does it prove when we already know what is coming? I think that at it’s best, practice is an exploration of both the techniques and the practitioners and that if we approach ukemi as genuine engagement with nage with a goal of elevating both our practice and theirs, all the inevitable mistakes of nuance and technique just go into the stew and enhance the flavor. If we’re lucky, in all that we can also find joy in the privilege of practicing.

  3. Felipe (Brasil)

    That was great to read! Thank you so much for sharing your practice with us!

    Once a Senpai told me “nage can practice the technique, but uke can practice the spirit”. I think your article make that point very clear.

    Abraços!!

  4. All good. Ukes are the best learners. But for your own good, and tori, at some point you have to add resistance. From a little to a lot. Being a good uke allows you to control it exactly. You do it for them; they do it for you. Then you start to figure it all out … But if aomeone is not a good uke, not ready for it, adding resistance just causes trouble because the resistance is not measured.

  5. Chaim Noy

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts and insights, in such an open way I learned a lot. I think we can’t overstate the uke’s role in or development, and in a greater t also in the organizational development of different Aikido schools. I’m not sure there is, can be or should be a ‘perfect’ uke, but it’s great to focus on it. Arigato

  6. Peter Marendy

    This is a very interesting article. Thank you. O’Sensei initiated most of his techniques with attacks. Does this alter in any way how Aikidoka understand ukemi?

  7. mark d. helm

    There is an article from the 60’s called ” The Fall Guys Of Karate ” My Sensei ,Clifford ” Chick” Moody was the uke for Prof. Ronald Duncan. And we were taught that you learn more from falling then from throwing. As in the case of taking the “fall” we humble our self , learning is the goal, “polishing your sprit ” is the goal.

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