Another great post from our friend Dennis Mahoney, dojocho at Shinobi Martial arts
Have you ever watched your teacher demonstrate a technique and thought “I think I have it”, then when you try it with your partner there is something missing? No matter how many times you see the technique it just will not work for you. I suggest you look at the technique from a different perspective, that of the uke, or the one who initiates the attack and then receives the technique being practiced. The uke is sometimes jokingly referred to as the “fall guy”.
Ninpo taijutsu can seem complicated, and often times the principle of a technique is hidden from sight. But the uke “sees” all because he is in the middle of the technique, often gaining valuable information that can only be felt. The following are some suggestions to help when you are uke.
1. Listen To Your Partner
Make sure you are both on the same thought level. If the teacher is trying to demonstrate the specifics of a new technique, a full speed punch at your partner may not be appropriate.
2. Trike With Intent
Regardless of the speed a which you are working, you must mentally be committed to your attack. Feel like you are in a fight. Taijutsu practice is not restricted to the mechanical physical movements only.
3. React Realistically
Taijutsu takes advantage of the natural reactions of the body, so you have to build that into your training. If the defender simulates a rising shin kick to the groin and you do not bend over, you are not being realistic.
4. Study Your Reactions
As you react to the defense against your attack, you are acquiring information on how different techniques cause the body to move in different ways. Use this information to better your own technique.
5. Do Not Tense Up
One of the ideas associated with being uke is that of receiving. Practice relaxing when being struck or thrown. You will find that you can endure much more than you may have thought.
6. Apply Your Taihenjutsu
One of the first lessons of realistic self-defense is the importance of rolling and breakfalls. Being uke gives you the opportunity to apply what you have learned.
7. Provide Constructive Feedback
Let your partner know when something is working correctly. Or offer information that will help them do the technique more effectively. Remember this is not a competition. The goal is for everyone to improve.
8. Be Creative
When you are working on a technique, you can begin to concentrate so hard it is then difficult to consider variations. But as yo are being hurled around the room or twisted into some agonizing wrist lock, your mind is free to think of variations (more likely possible escapes).
9. Feel The Entire Technique
The best part of being uke is what my teacher calls his “gifts”, which were passed down to him and he in turn is giving to us. These are the hidden aspects of the technique that are not easily seen. They must be felt to be understood and learned.
So if you want to increase your knowledge about the specifics of taijutsu, jump up and volunteer to be uke. If you are lucky you may pick up some of these special “gifts” from the teacher.