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Nick Pagnucco
07-06-2006, 07:46 AM
I dont know what the 'real' name for it is, but its an ukemi that has been called a baseball slide in my dojo. A good example of it would be off an irimi nage, where instead of controlling uke's head, nage simply enters with the intent of punching through uke's face. Uke, not liking the possibility, allows both of his/her feet to fly out from underneath him/her, falling straight down.

Useful ukemi, from what I can see. My problem is my body wasn't want to do it. I'm too attached to having my feet in contact with the ground, and I have difficulty 'letting the ground go'.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to practice this? Any drills outside of trying to do it during technique?

Ron Tisdale
07-06-2006, 08:18 AM
Kick up with the inside leg. You can let the outside toes stay in contact with the mat at first. One key is to make sure you start with the butt hitting the ground first, like a basic back breakfall. One danger with the advanced version of this fall, is that if shite projects you in an unexpected way, you can miss your timing taking the fall on the shoulders while slapping. ALWAYS make sure you tuck your chin when training this fall...if something unexpected happens and you don't make contact where/when you expect, you can land on your head. Tucking the chin is a reflex that can protect you from this.

Best,
Ron

justin
07-06-2006, 08:36 AM
agreed this is very hard to do and takes a lot of practice does anyone know the techy name for this out of intrest.

Nick Pagnucco
07-06-2006, 10:43 AM
Kick up with the inside leg. You can let the outside toes stay in contact with the mat at first. One key is to make sure you start with the butt hitting the ground first, like a basic back breakfall. One danger with the advanced version of this fall, is that if shite projects you in an unexpected way, you can miss your timing taking the fall on the shoulders while slapping. ALWAYS make sure you tuck your chin when training this fall...if something unexpected happens and you don't make contact where/when you expect, you can land on your head. Tucking the chin is a reflex that can protect you from this.

Best,
Ron

Yeah... I'm good about the chin thing, but letting the feet go is my problem. When I try, I usually end up kicking one leg out weakly, remaining planted with the other leg, and going straight down so I kick myself in the butt with my own heel. (yeah... i'm cool...)

To work on this, I've started getting into a horse stance / low crough type position with my chin tucked, and trying to kick my feet out. ...it doesn't quite feel like the best drill, but its the only thing I was able to think of to work on it.

But thanks for the inside leg and the reminder of butt hitting first... those will be useful for me.

akiy
07-06-2006, 11:11 AM
To work on this, I've started getting into a horse stance / low crough type position with my chin tucked, and trying to kick my feet out. ...it doesn't quite feel like the best drill, but its the only thing I was able to think of to work on it.
Another exercise in this vein is to sit on your toes, knees off the ground, kind of like a baseball catcher's sitting stance only with the heels under the "sitz bones" of your hips (ie feet about six inches apart). Then, imagine a line straight in front of you extending forward through your center line (ie running north-south through your belly button if you're facing north); if there's a seam in the tatami that you can use as a guide. From there, kick one foot/leg forward (almost like in a "Cossack" dance) but at a diagonal across the line (ie if you're facing north and putting your right foot/leg forward, your right foot will point northwest). You can now use that extended foot as a sort of a pivot point so that you can land with your arm performing a breakfall slap on the extended leg side (ie the right side in these parenthetical examples). Tuck your chin.

You can then start doing this from standing, but not in the manner of just jumping into the air and hopefully landing correctly, but by first lowering your body (all the way into the above sitting position, if necessary) and then performing a side breakfall. In time, you'll be able to get a little bit of "air" before the landing (ie not have to squat all the way down). What's important here is the landing position; make sure it's done properly, or you'll end up in what I call a vicious cycle of bad breakfalls -- if you land incorrectly, it'll hurt; if it hurts, you'll be tense the next time; if you're tense, you'll probably land incorrectly again; lather, rinse, repeat.

After you get used to being able to do a side breakfall, you can start doing it while walking forward. Rather than thinking of it as kicking your foot into the air, simply let one foot slide in front and the other foot tucks under you -- very much like the above exercise. Your center of gravity (or your hips, whichever makes more sense) will keep moving forward, then, as you do the side breakfall. Once again, in time, you'll start to be able to do this more dynamically with both feet in the air. In the case of both feet leaving the mat, the first thing that usually touches the ground (for me, at least) is the "inside" breakfalling arm, then that shoulder, then across the back to the opposite hip -- very much like an oddly shaped forward or backward roll.

In any case, please make sure to practice this in the presence of someone qualified.

Hope that helps,

-- Jun

Ron Tisdale
07-06-2006, 11:14 AM
Nice post Jun. Is this more like some of Donovan Waite's ukemi?

Best,
Ron

akiy
07-06-2006, 11:17 AM
Nice post Jun. Is this more like some of Donovan Waite's ukemi?
I think his soft back breakfall has some similarities.

-- Jun

James Kelly
07-06-2006, 12:01 PM
Jun's description is great. A couple of things that can help. After you have the squatting sidefall down and you want to get a little more height, try this to help ease the fear: get a partner and have him stand in hanmi, right hanmi for this example. Stand facing him and a little off to the left so that your right shoulder is even with his right shoulder. Now, lower down and grab around his waist with your right arm, your arm running along the front of his obi, your shoulder resting on his hip (he may have to raise his arms to get them out of the way). Now do the same sliding the leg forward thing that Jun described (using your outside/left leg in this example) and use your partner to help you fall slowly. At the start you may have to put a lot of your weight on your partner to help ease the fear of falling, but eventually you can be lighter. When you feel comfortable, you can swing your leg forward and up, pivoting on the holding arm, to do a kind of sideways breakfall. This is how I take my irimi nage breakfall sometimes, assuming I have the time to get my arm around nage's waist.

The next step is to have your partner (who's hopefully not too tall) stand with their arm out to the side (sort of like they're doing an irimi nage, but their arm is straight and parallel to the ground). Walk toward him and hook your hand, the one closest to his body, lightly on his arm and do the same sliding your leg and hips forward thing. The idea is to use the contact with your partner's arm to ease the transition to the ground. By this point, you should not be pulling down hard on his arm. Use just enough pressure to help stabilize your fall. If you find yourself pulling down so hard that it becomes hard work for your partner, go back to the squatting sidefall or the wrap around the waist thing above. Eventually you can come in a little faster and kick your legs a little higher until you get that flying/sliding thing which is what I think you're looking for. But even then, there should be very little pressure on your partner's arm. The next step is, of course, to get that same height without a partner.

Chuck Clark
07-06-2006, 12:36 PM
I agree with everything Jun stated about this falling method except this point... My knee surgeon and the rehab experts do not recommend squating positions. Knees do not do well with repeated squats past 90 degrees under any resistance or load bearing (your own body weight for example). The same fall can be practiced as it happens in dynamic action. Do it from a standing posture without stopping in the squatting position. Just go smoothly from standing all the way down into the proper position. This doesn't allow dangerous weight loading on the knees.

I can't believe all the really damaging stuff we did when I was a kid involved in strong judo practice! Duck walking around the dojo in full squat. Often with a partner on our shoulders. Same thing in Japan all the way up the 108 steps to a Shinto jingu. And then my own stuff...Squat thrusts in Marine boot camp to the tune of 4000 repititions. One hundred reps then 50 jumping jacks cycled until we had done 4000! Crazy stuff. Climbing high ridges in the DMZ with a full load plus extra linked ammo or helping carry mortar parts, 5 gallon water cans, etc. Sitting in seiza and doing shikko for long periods, more etc.....

The moral of this story is: take the very best care of your knees that you can. At the very best, strong athletic movement damages our knees and ages them way before their time.

Best regards,

Erick Mead
08-02-2006, 11:00 PM
On the "techy" name :: I have always called it "yoko ukemi." Mayhap it ain't right but it is accurately descriptive... Tom Weir Sensei in Scotland uses that term in seminar.

I agree with everything Jun stated about this falling method except this point... My knee surgeon and the rehab experts do not recommend squating positions. Knees do not do well with repeated squats past 90 degrees under any resistance or load bearing (your own body weight for example). The same fall can be practiced as it happens in dynamic action. Do it from a standing posture without stopping in the squatting position. Just go smoothly from standing all the way down into the proper position. This doesn't allow dangerous weight loading on the knees. I agree with Chuck.. Done properly there is no stress on the knees to speak of. The thigh is working only to temper the acceleration of the drop, and the knee is out of the weight line to the ground and is not bearing weight at all. I was taught to emphasize shaping the body into a "C" shape to basically "rock" onto the ground after kicking/pushing/sliding the inside leg through. Great fall for kaeshiwaza -- from many, many, many techniques. Also sets up ground sweeps with leg or arm and mae geri from the ground (the newbs never see that coming). Got to get' em thinking in three dimensions, and stop thinking "I've won!" ...

Mike Hamer
08-14-2006, 11:03 PM
Trust in the power of the sphere.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-15-2006, 01:37 PM
I agree with everything Jun stated about this falling method except this point... My knee surgeon and the rehab experts do not recommend squating positions. Knees do not do well with repeated squats past 90 degrees under any resistance or load bearing (your own body weight for example).

I'm sorry, but I disagree. You may be overgeneralizing what you were told by the surgeon and therapists. It may be true for you, or for other people who have had severe injuries or knee surgeries, but bending the knees more than 90 degrees is essential for all kinds of activities, including simply getting up out of a chair (try it).

All proper training is essentially the designed application of minor "damaging" stresses, from which the tissues and structures recover slightly stronger than prior to the application of stress. In many cases, the only difference between strengthening and hurting is the amount of stress and the amount of recovery time. Heavy lifting twice per week can make you strong, but the exact same workouts performed every day can cripple you.

If you need a range of motion to perform a vigorous activity, then you also need to train and strengthen that movement range. As such, full squats or at least squats to thighs parallel to the floor are an essential conditioning exercise, used by virtually all athletes today. There is no evidence that performing these properly in the context of a sensible conditioning routine damages the knees. On the contrary, performing squats strengthens the knees, as well as all bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles from the torso down, helps create more stable movement patterns, and prevents injury.

A lot of the activities you describe, on the other hand, are likely to hurt one's knees, but not simply because the leg is bent past 90 degrees under load. High repetition squat thrusts, for instance, are dangerous for the knees because the legs are unstable balancing on the ball of the foot while the knee is bent, and high repetitions lead to further deterioration in stability and proper form. Other things you describe also involve instability, twisting forces, as well as presumably excessive loads and regimens.

A strategy of completely avoiding stress in a position which one needs to perform an activity is inherently flawed, as the untrained structures will be weak and even more prone to injury. As such, I am skeptical as to whether your doctors' and therapists' advice is sound even for people with damaged joints and a greater likelihood of re-injury. On the contrary, the need for strengthening and preventive conditioning is even higher. The only way I can see a prohibition on training the specified movement range being sound is if one also plans to avoid all activities in which using that movement range in needed. In this case, that would mean never doing any kneeling techniques or ukemi.

As to the ukemi exercise in question, I haven't seen it, so I can't say for sure. However, if the person's knees are healthy and well conditioned and the exercise is only performed temporarily to learn the movement, I doubt it is any more risky than many other things routinely done in Aikido.