We all take turns being Uke, but some people are better at it than others. Some people do a better job of helping the other person learn and practice a technique. And that raises the question; What makes a good uke?
Of course there’s the obvious part. In Judo it’s being able to take a fall, In Jiu Jitsu it’s being willing and able to turn yourself into a human pretzel, and hold that position while Tori is learning a technique.
In both instances it’s willing to endure some measure of discomfort.
But it’s deeper than that. Being a good use is understanding how a technique is supposed to work, and actively putting yourself in position for Tori to learn. Its predictive and, while not self abnegating it’s certainly self effacing.
And it’s doing so in a manner that is just rigid enough, but not too rigid. It’s about offering just enough resistance, but not too much. It’s about being just helpful enough, but not too helpful.
A good use is the Goldilocks of Grappling, the one who is just enough, but not enough.
It’s actually a VERY difficult thing, and almost impossible for beginners (and some advanced students aren’t that great at it either).
Being a good Uke is, in essence, being more concerned with someone else’s learning than you are with your own, and being practiced enough to make it work. It’s a hard balance to create, but a really great thing too manifest.