The role of Uke is a critical one in the Bujinkan and it has several layers to it. At it’s base level, being an Uke is all about experiencing an technique. One of the best ways to understand something is to have it done to you, or to “receive it”. Our art is alive and being an Uke is one of the areas where you experience first hand how alive it really is. On another level, being an Uke is all about being a good training partner for your partner/Tori. We practice specific attacks with proper resistance so they have the opportunity to learn and grow. Too little resistance and they get a false sense of security. Too much and it just becomes a “wrestling match” and the specific concept being studied at the time is lost. If you want to do free randori, then please be my guest. But label it as such. Another layer in our Dojo is a practice of rotating between training partners after each time. This forces you to train with folks bigger/smaller/taller/shorter/stronger/weaker than you as well as an opportunity to train with folks of varying skill levels. I think this is critical to a deeper understanding in a shorter amount of time. And lastly, the interaction between Uke and Tori is really the crucible in which your own skills are forged over the years. You have a role to play and it is a conduit for deep learning. Respect it as such. Take it seriously and realize that knowledge is gained by being on both sides of the equation, not just one.
“In budo, too, there are three important essentials:
first, seeing and knowing oneself, one’s own strengths and limitations; second, the sword of discrimination, of decisiveness, for eliminating faults, weaknesses, and the unnecessary;
and last, the sincerity, feeling, devotion, insight, and understanding of the heart.”
– Soke Hatsumi