You're in class, all warmed up, and you're excited to hear what's on the agenda for technique tonight.
Everyone gathers around the room and the instructor's eyes gaze out in the abyss of students looking shily back at him.
Low and behold it's your name that's called out.
Is your heart sinking to your hips at the thought of being the co-host of class? Maybe you’ve never been told how to be a good uke. Well here you go.
The uke has an extremely important job in class.
The moves of Gracie Jiu Jitsu all rely on leverage. Leverage relies on energy being given in certain directions.
When the instructor is attempting to apply a certain technique in a specific situation, it is the role of the uke to provide that environment.
Without a co-operative uke, the intended technique can’t be shown in the most effective way.
Being an effective uke doesn't need to be difficult, or painful if done correctly. But you must be sharp, alert, and ready to respond to the instructors' cues at any given moment.
Here are some tips to make you a better uke:
1. Listen With All of You
As an uke, you need to be in constant communication with your instructor. You're listening to their words. You're seeing their body language. You are feeling their energy.
The excellent uke doesn't need to be told where to be, and the class doesn't have to wait for them to prepare, because they already know where the instructor is going. The uke is always on par with the instructor, and is ready to be of service at the drop of a thought.
2. Feed the Technique
If I am showing the Harpoon Sweep and I push into my uke, they need to push back in order to fall into the sweep.
Pedro Sauer Gracie Jiu Jitsu is about setting mouse traps everywhere around your partner. But the trap doesn't go to the mouse. The mouse runs into the trap. You are the mouse.
You must be feeding these techniques actively in order for them to work. Push when you need to. Pull when you have to. Keep your base, and serve the technique.
3. Don't Fight The Technique
Feeding technique is necessary. Fighting them is annoying. Not because the technique isn’t effective, but because you’ve now changed the circumstances and the next course of action must be different in order to deal with your unexpected reactions.
Go along with the story being painted by your instructor, and don’t try to make it your own.
You're on the same team - feed, don't fight.
4. Minimise words.
This is not your chance to steal the show. Your job is to support the technique, not add to it. It is the instructor's job to demonstrate the mechanics and offer the details he/she feels is necessary for the students to learn.
Laughter and banter are a regular part of class, and we always keep it playful. Just remember you’re there to serve the class by being an opponent, and not a comedian, or a commentator.
5. Smile :) And Don’t Smell.
Be a good presence. You're part of the spotlight and in everyone’s videos. Be active, energetic, and happy.
And always refrain from farting, even during kneeride demos.
Follow these tips and you'll be a good uke, a help to your instructor, and an asset to your team.
Thanks for reading!
Any more tips to be a good uke? Post them in the comments below.