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Jiu Jitsu is all about me!

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 1:09 pm
by Luke Bale
How to begin... so I guess when I started training and for a long time after, until only recently I suspect, I placed a lot of emphasis on the uke in terms of judging whether a technique went well or not. If uke fell through the air and did a text book breakfall it must have been a good throw etc I've started to realize that the effect on uke is only an outcome of the technique and not the goal itself.

I will try explaining this as best I can. If I have a lapel grab, and I step back with my left foot and turn side on, then rather than trying to get contact with uke's arm with my right arm, I instead reach up and try to touch the ceiling, my shoulder and my body breaks the grip, not force applied by me to uke. A kosh disarm, my left arm is over and under uke's attacking arm and my right hand grabs the kosh underneath. To break uke's grip I turn my hips and make a circle either toward the ceiling or at the least to the corner of the room. Again it is not force applied to uke it is about putting my body in certain positions. If I do a one handed ippon seionage and use my left hand to sweep the uke's rear leg, it is not the power of my hand against his leg which helps the throw to work it is the effect that driving my left hand back has in turning my upper body which helps the throw.

I believe Jitsu is about the tori and how tori uses body positioning, what happens or doesn't happen to the uke is an afterthought, or a symptom of the Jitsu itself.

Why am I saying all this I hear you ask? Why am I stating the obvious?

Its my belief that when we start a technique with our uke in mind it has a negative effect on what we are trying to achieve

Uke attacks - Tori wants to throw uke on the floor - Throw doesn't work - Tori really wants to throw uke on the floor - Tori uses strength, tori sacrifices straight back and posture, tori breathes in and tenses, tori works against jitsu principles to achieve putting uke on the floor

If tori starts a technique believing Jiu Jitsu is about the tori and not the uke, it is about the positions tori puts his/her body in, when the throw goes wrong they may think to themselves, what position do I need to put myself in for the throw to work or where do I need to move to in order to change the technique all together and adapt.

I'm not saying that simply by changing your outlook you'll never revert to strength again but when I constantly see students giving up principles because of their uke, or see backs curved because they are looking down at uke, or when I speed up a technique in order to throw someone heavier I have to question mine and their frame of mind.

This is certainly something I want to promote more when teaching, though it may just come off as some abstract point if communicated in the wrong way. I also think this fits in well with the new kata's currently being worked on as it's often been said that practicing jitsu on your own isn't the same as practicing a striking art, well actually if jitsu is all about the tori and jitsu principles then it should be just as easily practiced in a kata format with imaginary attackers.

Thoughts, opinions welcome!

Re: Jiu Jitsu is all about me!

PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:47 am
by Alan Chappell
Thanks for starting this discussion.

Re: Jiu Jitsu is all about me!

PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:26 am
by Hannah Hawker
Really interesting point. I think that focus on tori is useful for working on good stance/posture. I definitely use this concept in teaching - e.g. for stepping through on a back hand bottle/o soto waza - to help avoid that polite 'I'll fit myself around you without affecting you' or limb fixation.

BUT... I think it has to be balanced by connection with uke (if you're not 'attached' as you move, that beautiful tori movement is wasted), and also feedback from uke (feeling how they move as you move.)

If it is just tori in an empty room the whole time I don't think you can develop distance, timing, kuzushi or control in a way that will be applicable to real, variable people.

Feel free to disagree! Interested to know what people think.

Re: Jiu Jitsu is all about me!

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:25 pm
by Luke Bale
Good point, can't be entirely about tori, natural feedback / response from uke required. For me this point of view is more applicable for when things don't work, to help adapt in the right way opposed to the strength route. Our club is certainly struggling with the issues you mentioned above, blocking by moving around the punch then throwing with little balance taken.

This may be down to an over emphasis on a singular centre. For many years I have repeatedly heard about the centre of gravity (getting below the centre) and a less obvious approach to first attacking ukes vertical centre line. For me a throw is executed by first attacking the V centre line by breaking balance, then using the leverage of the H centre line and getting low.

It's not that we don't emphasise it but perhaps less clearly? Getting beneath centre of gravity sticks in my mind and it gives a clear impression in my mind of what is required where as by telling the students to break balance may not be quite so obvious in terms of how...

Re: Jiu Jitsu is all about me!

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 3:00 pm
by James Slaughter
Tori has to adapt to each individual attack from each individual uke. You could receive 50 punches from the same person and throw them differently 50 times using the same technique. The classic, 'how long is a piece of string' answer....

I think the point here is that by focussing too much on uke we forget about what we're supposed to be doing. I remember my first attempts at Hane Goshi as a yellow belt being absolutely appalling and then convincing myself it was because uke was difficult to throw. I then tried to change the throw to make it work, which meant when I had a different uke, my modified version didn't work. I hadn't actually learnt the throw, just a means of throwing a person a particular way which looked like Hane Goshi. For me this comes back to the age old argument of having to repeatedly suffer failure as you learn the technique and begin to understand it. Seriously, how many of us actually understand Ko Soso Waza? The balance point is not fixed and changes as the technique progresses: we don't realise that when we first practise it, just that we have to move a certain way to make uke fall over.

Another aspect in Luke's post is that when we get it wrong we revert to instinct, ie. strength over technique, balance and posture. So, tori must then focus on themselves and make sure their movements adhere to our principles but must not forget that every time they move, it must have an impact on uke.

Why not try and get your club to do kata style movements for throws (i.e. do the throw without an uke) and then, once they've practised that for a while, partner them up and see what happens. ENJOY! :D