“I will sometimes joke with my students when demonstrating tai no henko, and tell them to “pulverize” my wrist when grabbing…”
I recently wrote an article titled “Sunao — Being honest in training” that elicited a fair amount of feedback from readers. Summed up briefly, the article suggested that an uke who uses his foreknowledge of the technique being practiced to alter his attack and purposely block nage’s movement is acting in a dishonest manner, and hindering his and his partner’s progress.
A number of readers reacted favorably to my remarks, but there were several who took issue with what I had written. Somehow they read into my article that I was advocating that uke “simply fall over or give his balance away because that is what is expected,” as one commenter put it. I was quite baffled by this reaction, and so I reread my article in search of where I had suggested such a thing. I found nothing at all because that is not what I think about the matter, and came to the conclusion that these people had not carefully read my article in the first place.
Still I must hold myself responsible for this misunderstanding since several people had similar reactions. For the sake of clarify, let me offer my viewpoint on how I think uke should conduct himself in training.
As I see it, uke should present a strong resistance when initiating his attack. This means that uke should be honest or “sunao” in his attack and act with a pure mind. In other words, uke should understand the nature of the attack he is supposed to be executing. A grab is a strong “pure” grab in the sense that uke does not preplan to block the movement that he knows nage will attempt. When striking, uke strikes with vigor to the target he is aiming for without purposely deviating to one side or the other merely to prevent nage from executing his technique. For a humorous example of what can happen in such a case, see the reference to Kenji Futaki described in my earlier article.
Morihiro Saito Sensei would often tell us to use full power when grabbing. If nage could not deal with uke’s attack, we were instructed to remove half of our power until nage could successfully execute the technique. The aim of uke and nage was to conduct themselves during training in a manner designed to promote the maximum progress of both.
Personally, I will sometimes joke with my students when demonstrating tai no henko, and tell them to “pulverize” my wrist when grabbing, the point being to give a strong, honest attack for me to work with.
In closing, I would ask readers who wish to submit comments to avoid a common pitfall that is one of the common tactics of trolls. I refer to what is know as a “straw man attack.” In case you are not familiar with the term, here is a partial quote from Wikipedia:
“A straw man… is a type of argument… based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and to refute it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.”
Exactly this situation occurred when several commenters took me task for suggesting that uke should act in a compliant manner and “fall down” for nage, something I did not at all imply in my article. Nor is this what I think uke’s role should be.
As far as possible, I try to create a friendly atmosphere on our websites where intelligent people can exchange ideas for the benefit of all without fear of being subjected to personal attacks. It’s kind of like how an aikido dojo should be. Would you not agree?