View Full Version : Ukemi from the Ground Up

Please visit our sponsor:

05-16-2006, 01:14 PM
I am new to Aikido and of course my biggest problem is taking ukemi and generally rolls and breakfalls.

I found this DVD:
Ukemi from the Ground Up

Have anyone seen this DVD? Do you recommend it for beginner?
or do you recommend something else?


Lyle Bogin
05-16-2006, 02:18 PM
I liked this dvd a lot, except i point my foot instead of flexing it when taking a breakfall. Perhaps its all of the kicking I've done, but it hurts me more when I flex the foot. Otherwise it was very similar to the way I was taught and I recommend it.

Ron Tisdale
05-16-2006, 02:19 PM
Highly recommended. But...your dojo may not use Ellis's methods, and you should check with your instructor to see if he has a preferred method, or material for you to use. Personally, having Ellis work with me at a seminar did a lot to improve my ukemi, and to save my shoulders from getting banged into the mat.


05-16-2006, 05:07 PM
If it is similar to what your dojo does, it is a good DVD. If not, it may just be frustrating. My dojo won't tolerate the "squat and fall backwards" style he advocates for the basic backfall, for example, so studying it doesn't do me much good (except to remind me that there are a lot of different approaches out there and I shouldn't be dogmatic about mine).

In my experience it's hard to learn ukemi from a DVD; someone who can watch you and give feedback is a lot better. Do you have a senior student available who can work with you for a few minutes before or after class? I was very bad at ukemi and this kind of coaching was what finally got me through. (Notorious dojo quote, though I didn't hear it until after I finally learned to roll: "You know that newbie woman who can't roll? Can you believe she's still here? It's so sad!" But I *did* finally learn how, and now I love it.)

Mary Kaye

05-17-2006, 11:01 AM
I'll chime in. The video's good. It improved my UKEMI and more importantly, improved my teaching. If you can make an Amdur seminar, all the better. Time well spent.

Ellis Amdur
05-17-2006, 08:05 PM
Thanks for the kind words. My goal was to present a system in particular for people who are not athletic, have gotten chronic injuries, etc. I quite appreicate that one must check with one's teacher, but, at the same time, I have little sympathy or respect for a teacher who insists on a form that hurts people. Requiring people to fit a cookie-cutter mold of aesthetics is not the kind of martial art I'm interested in. The joy of aikido only emerges when one can confidently take ukemi without fear of being hurt.
Still, there are aspects of my "system" that may be alien to yours - and if they are so different that it "damages" the form, one may not want to use the techniques as I present them. But there are some basic principals that people can surely integrate into any aikido ukemi. I am specifically talking about the track from lats to small of back, as opposed to shoulder to hip.
For another approach, I highly recommend Bruce Bookman's videos, which will be in DVD form in the future. I recently watched Bruce in a class given by Kato Hiroshi, and his ukemi within the class had an ease and resilience that was wonderful to watch.


05-21-2006, 07:04 AM
It's a very interesting DVD.

Basially, it's a recording of Ellis giving a workshop on ukemi... broken down into basic falls, doing forward rolls differently from what's normally taught (very effective), taking breakfalls safely (very useful), and some miscellaneous things like breakfalls from shihonage...

Ellis makes good use of humor and banters with the students... a bit different from other DVDs I've seen... where everything is SERIOUS... My favorite part was the purpose of ukemi... where Ellis was demonstrating kokyunage on a yudansha and telling him to 'Fly Brother, Fly!!!'

I can honestly say that my ukemi has improved tremendously after watching the DVD... I can now roll quite comfortably on concrete in t-shirts and shorts, although I haven't tried breakfalls yet :)

The only thing I'm a bit worried about is the turning of the head to look at tori or the ceiling when doing a breakfall or roll... it causes some tension in my neck... not sure if that is correct...

BTW, Donovan Waite's videos on ukemi are also now on DVD. You can find them at this website (http://www.aiki.com)

Ellis Amdur
05-21-2006, 08:59 AM
"The only thing I'm a bit worried about is the turning of the head to look at tori or the ceiling when doing a breakfall or roll... it causes some tension in my neck... not sure if that is correct..."

I could have been clearer, I think. Don't just turn the head, Think of the turn starting from the sacrum, the whole body spiralling or twining. To get what it should feel like, sit on the edge of a chair. Twist your body so you are looking upwards to the left, simultaneously sliding your right forearm along the inside of your knee and your left hand back to the waist (the left arm is drawn back by the muscles under the shoulder blade). Reverse.

As you should experience, you get a wringing twist through the entire spine. That is the feeling you should have - "turning" from the center (which is the link between hara and sacrum) rather than just turning the head.

From the opposite perspective, the turning of the head should "draw" the spine in a twist down through the sacrum.

In any event, one should not just turn the head and leave the body behind.


05-22-2006, 05:40 PM
In any event, one should not just turn the head and leave the body behind.

Thanks for the clarification, and looking forward to your upcoming DVDs as mentioned in this article (http://www.aikidojournal.com/index.php?id=500)