Ninjutsu 101 : Being a Good Uke

 Uke is the japanese term for the person who receives the attack during training. So it's basically your training partner. Learning to be a good uke is essential for reducing the chance of injury during training. This article will cover some of the basic skills that, in my opinion, a good uke should possess.

 Don't offer too much resistance to your partner's techniques. By this I don't mean that you should crumple to the ground at the slightest touch or soft application of a technique. You need to offer some resistance but finding the proper amount of resistance is key. Offer just enough to give your training partner a good feel for the technique, if you are unsure whether or not you're giving them enough resistance, you can always ask them. If you offer too much resistance you run the risk of your training partner potentially injuring you. This is because the more resistance you offer, the more force they have to put into the technique for it to work. The reason we don't apply full pressure on say, a wrist lock, is because it could potentially damage or break the wrist. Too much resistance on your part means that your training partner would have to get closer and closer to full pressure for the wrist lock to work, which is closer and closer to possibly hurting you.

 If it hurts, tap out. In Budo Taijutsu (Ninjutsu) we use a system of tapping on the ground or tapping on your leg, etc if the application of a technique becomes too intense. Don't try to be tough. If it hurts, tap out. This reduces injury and could save you the down time and money of a broken wrist or torn ligament. If someone you train with purposely doesn't let you go when you tap, I would stop training with them.

 Practice your breakfalls and rolls. Budo Taijutsu (Ninjutsu) teaches us ways of falling (breakfalls) that will help to reduce the chance of personal injury when falling from different angles. When being taken down you should utilize these breakfalls both to protect yourself during training and to generally train yourself to use them if the real need ever arises. Rolling can be useful as well but usually more so when being thrown rather than simply being taken down. Rolls can take the energy (kinetic energy) from the throw and transfer it through the roll rather than the abrupt, hard hit of the ground. This is because rolling keeps the energy moving throughout the roll allowing us to end up in a safer, better position.

 Go with the flow. A good uke also tries to go along with whatever technique is being applied to them. This kind of goes back to the whole resistance thing but it is a bit different. Resistance (the way I use the word) refers mostly to joint locks, etc. Going with the flow or making yourself "soft" refers to receiving techniques such as a kick or a weapon strike. For example, if your training partner kicks you the best thing to do is move with it rather than trying to stand firm. This is perhaps better explained using yet another example. If you were to kick a board, the board would break because it is hard. If you were to kick a pillow, the pillow would just bend and absorb the kick because it is soft. Be the pillow. This can be used in a real situation as well and the merits should be obvious (if not leave a comment and I'll try to explain better).

 Well, that just about sums up this article. Have fun and remember to be mindful of how good an Uke you are, both for your safety and your training partners.

 Note: This article is written for uke during drills. Actual randori (sparring), if your school uses it, will be different and intensity should increase as your skill level does (atleast in my opinion).

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