Friday, October 15, 2021

A Different Perspective on the Uke

In your training, do you see your sensei use one person for demonstrations?

Want a different perspective on the uke?

You’re training in class when your sensei wants to demonstrate a leg sweep defense against jodan mawashi geri (“high roundhouse kick”), and he chooses you to be his uke (the receiver of the technique). You have to attack with jodan mawashi geri, and you know when you make this kick, he’s going to sweep your supporting leg out from under you, and you’re going to hit the floor hard. Even worse, you’re not on mats, so you know the landing is going to hurt even if you land properly. But you kick anyway. 

A sensei explaining a technique | Japanese Karate Association

Most of the other students in the dojo are glad it’s you who was chosen as uke and not them. They see you taking the fall, and they think about the pain. They can’t see what is going on inside. 

They don’t understand that when you are uke, your sensei will take you to the edge. You have to be totally present when you’re uke. If you’re too slow, or have bad aim, or do something else wrong, it’s your fault, and your sensei won’t allow you to get away with it. You can’t be sloppy, and you can’t be afraid. You cannot train properly, or be a good uke, if you’re scared. 

If you’re a bad uke, your teacher is going to leave you alone and get someone else to help him or her in front of the class. That isn’t something a good student wants to have happen. In a traditional dojo you’re only rough on the people you like. The rest of the students you treat with kid gloves. 

Learn the benefits to being an uke!

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