There are many things about aikido that fascinate me - being uke, for instance.

A recent comment by a fellow aikidoka - “My throws are always better when you’re my uke” - was very encouraging because I have been learning recently how to ‘lead’ shite and therefore help them with their technique, and I began to re-focus on the true role of uke - helping shite.

This is particularly useful when working with newer students. It’s more than being relaxed and compliant; it’s allowing my knowledge of the technique to let me slightly anticipate my partner and therefore guide their body into the correct positions as we move through the steps along the way.

For example, if I’m grabbing their wrist and they are shuffling off to the corner to take my balance and they are not moving far enough, or at a sharp enough angle, I take the initiative to move to the ‘right’ spot. Since they’ve got hold of me, they have to come too. This is often very subtle and I try and do it in such a way as to make the changes unnoticable to my partner - I just watch for the smile.

Things that can help you improve your ukemi:

Stay relaxed - not only will this make things easier for your partner, you’ll reduce the potential for injury.

Be alert - things won’t always unfold they way you want them to.

Always face your partner - this will almost always be the safest relationship with your partner.

Look into their eyes - this will help you stay engaged.

Give lots of energy - your partner can do their best when they have something to work with.

And think about this:

What would our world be like if we put that kind of attention on all of our relationships?

Best wishes for an awesome 2010!