Friday, April 20, 2018

The Purpose of the Uke

 As an instructor, my purpose is to provide effective instruction of the taught applications (whether Defensive or Offensive). In order to do so, the students (themselves) are required to provide "examples" of the aggressive action being simulated (that the instructed action is being taught to defend against). Naturally, those (aggressive) actions are (at least initially) being performed slowly in order for the student to learn and understand the defensive motion"s application. The part being played by the Uke (aggressor) in those scenario's is required to enact those motions (slowly) with as much accuracy as is safely practical. Too often the student "playing" the part of an aggressor will (add?) include actions/responses that would be unlikely to occur (or are even possible) during the practiced (aggressive) motions. They essentially corrupt the practice of the response being practiced (by the Tori). This falls into the category of being a "bad" Uke.
Being a Bad Uke is a (very) common problem (in regards to student practice). The Uke can often feel that they are (somehow) "adding" to the Tori's practice, but they more commonly aren't. the goal of the practice is to rehearse the specific motion (initially). Variations should be considered as a separate practice of/for that motion. These only become valid, once the initial motion is understood and can be effectively utilized.
What should be studied (by the Uke) during the application/practice of a specific motion, should be how that motion is being applied (not how The Uke can be modifying the motion to make IT practical for use). That study is valid, but not during this practice (of the application). Any modification should be addressed seperately.
Many of these "modifications" occur as a result of the slow-speed practice (of the initial motion). If/when applied, they constitute a new/different application (of the instructed technique being practiced). Student's need to Practice a singular motion (and understand it) prior to expanding their practice of/for that defensive motion.
This "problem" is most prevolent in the practice of "striking" motion defenses. Though additionally occuring during the practice of "Tuite", the (false) belief that the (or any) additional motion will effect the application of the practiced technique is more easily dismissed (as having little to no releavency to the technique's application).
It must be remembered (by the participating students) that the motions are being "practiced", and that the situation is for learning those motions. Only once those (basic) motions have been learned does it become valid for the students to "modify" that practice to include some manner of variation.
Any, and All defensive practice is "unrealistic". It isn't intended to be "realistic". The intent is to learn and understand the basics of the motion. Once the motion is understood, then the student will address variations to that motion. Those variations will rarely effect the defensive motion beyond the students ability to compinsate for them.
Being a "Good Uke" means performing the basic aggressive action, in order for the Tori to learn/understand the basic defensive action (to respond to that or a similar action attempted by an aggressor). It does not (initially) include performing some manner of "countering" motion (by the Uke) of that defensive action (being done by the Tori). "that" study (if even possible/practical) is a separate practice. Keep the students practice in context.
Being a "Good Uke" is when the student performs the basic motion in the predetermined manner. Those student's who want to "argue" that doing so isn't "realistic", are not attending the class to learn how to defend themselves (much less to assist other's in doing so). They are only there to show what "they" (supposedly) know (or think that they do).
Having a group of "Good" Uke's is difficult. New student's are (usually) pretty good initially, but as thier knowledge increases, their level of being an effective Uke can commonly deteriorate. This can often occur because of the new students (unintional) over-aggressiveness (with the application of the newly learned motions). When practicing the instructed motions it can be easy for the overzelouse student to perform those motions in a manner that "proves" (to the Uke or to themselves) that their use of the application is effective if not superior. This can be equally non-productive and can prove to be hazardous to the Uke as well.
When a student is able (or is just fortunate enough) to have compident Uke's to work with, their learning will be greatly enhanced. If/when a student is (or appears to be) incapable of being a compident Uke, that student will experience a more difficult time with their study.
Numerous important principles can be more easily understood from the perspective of the Uke. Being on the receiving end of an application, allows the student to observe/discover any of the unrealized weaknesses that may be contained within the application. Those weaknesses or vulnerabilities are what the Uke's "purpose" is (during the practice session). Those vulnerabilities are (often) technique misapplications being performed by the Tori (during the technique's application). The Uke's "purpose" during the practice, is to point out those vulnerabilities (to the Tori). This can additionally lead to a general "re-examination" for the instruction of the technique. The Uke is a vital part of the system's over-all instruction. It is the Uke, who is looking for those vulnerabilities in what/how a technique is being taught.
If/when the Uke is only "providing an arm" (for a Tori to use for their practice of a motion), they are just being lazy. They should be providing feed-back on what the Tori is doing (correctly, and incorrectly). In my opinion, a good Uke is an invaluable asset (to one's training). Students will often complain about a particular individual being "difficult" to perform certain motions upon. "That" is exactly the type of person that one should be working with. It is those (types) of individual that will be one's concern when engaged in an actual defensive situation. When that student can make the motion/technique work on them, then the likelihood of it working in an actual defensive situation increases dramatically.
I've always believed that there should be an 
"Uke Appreciation Day" (if not "Award"). Having a good, knowledgeable Uke, is a rare occurrence. When my co-writer (of our book) and I began our research, it was only because we were able to honestly evaluate (and question) what we were doing that allowed us to establish the guidelines that we now use in our instructional presentations.
Becoming a good Uke (for many individual's) is a challenging task. Newer students often view it as just being the "punching bag" for their training partner. As one's study progresses, being the Uke is when/where the student begins to realize how (if not why) many of the subtle intricacy's (of the instructed motions) effect the instructed applications.