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Michael Douglas
11-25-2006, 08:43 AM
A little aside here ;
Exerpt from an article in Aikido Journal online-
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=688
From Ikeda Sensei after hosting Karate teacher Ushiro at Aikido summer camp In Colorado for the second time.

From that article I find this confusing ;
"Ushiro shihan pointed out numerous times during training that the type of ukemi usually seen in aikido in which one slaps the mat with their hands, was dangerous. After some thought however, he said he could see the reason for such ukemi."

Anyone usually see such ukemi at Aikido practice?

DH
11-25-2006, 09:42 AM
A little aside here ;


From that article I find this confusing ;
"Ushiro shihan pointed out numerous times during training that the type of ukemi usually seen in aikido in which one slaps the mat with their hands, was dangerous. After some thought however, he said he could see the reason for such ukemi."

Anyone usually see such ukemi at Aikido practice?

Well, maybe Ushiro was talking about a singular breakfall Ukemi phenominon exclusive to the hundreds of people from all different styles he saw at summer camp and everyone else in Aikido is different.

Or Version two
We have all seen that anytime, anyone, anywhere, talks about anything in , about, or in reference to....Aikido.... we are all quickly reminded that each single, individual, from each, individual, school, from each, individual style, from each, individual country.....does it different. Then they cite Ueshiba's comment about making it their own, then we hear them tell each other they don't get what Uesiba was doing and just how they are each different.
Then...... when we see them at the Aiki expo.........

They all look amazingly the same.
And slapping the mat in breakfalls. :D
Or maybe you just do the softer style that gently rolls along

Maybe there is a different way to do Ukemi that is not ukemi but fighting back.It that has more connectivity in the body and both absorbs the impact and makes your body actively attacking while falling. That the intent was and is to always attack and NEVER to give up and receive that way. Maybe the idea was to never "take" ukemi in the first place. Thus the lessons in Karate and MMA are more real for Aikido to begin with.
Or maybe not.
I'm sure yours is different.;)
Dan

Cady Goldfield
11-25-2006, 10:06 AM
I've found ukemi to be helpful when getting thrown by a horse. But if I'm being thrown by a human, I'd rather take him with me and end up in control of the situation. If I could, I'd do that with the horse, too, but I've found that it's really hard to do sutemi waza on a horse. :D

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 10:14 AM
From that article I find this confusing ;
"Ushiro shihan pointed out numerous times during training that the type of ukemi usually seen in aikido in which one slaps the mat with their hands, was dangerous. After some thought however, he said he could see the reason for such ukemi."

Anyone usually see such ukemi at Aikido practice?I'll bet he was talking about falling ukemi, not rolling ukemi (although I cringe when people slap on rolling ukemi). Because slapping with the hand can be detrimental in falls on concrete, stones, etc., many martial arts don't do it. They absorb the impact with the body so that they won't injure the hand (which they need to fight with). I've run into that several times in my life. I've stopped doing a hand-slap when I fall back into the Barca-lounger. ;)

Mike

Cady Goldfield
11-25-2006, 10:22 AM
It seems to me that a lot of people confuse the spreading out of force/impact (by extending the arms soft-side-down) with actively slapping the ground. Slapping makes no sense; it just adds to the impact force. To my eyes, it appears to be a misperception, by the students, of the ukemi exercise (for example, crossing the arms over the chest, then spreading them to take the fall) . They aggressively fling their arms open and slap the mats, instead of naturally just letting the arms open out. Do that on hard ground, and it's Ouch City.

DH
11-25-2006, 10:31 AM
I agree with Cady for surprising reasons.
But the other aspect usually ignored are the legs-particularly the feet. How you contain and absorb expresses itself all over the place.
I can't count the people I have seen who have dead legs in falling. You'd wind up with wrecked ankles in a flash. They do well on mats, but I just watch the energy transfer.... to the ankles. There are ways, then there are ways. The legs should be attacking while "taking" ukemi in the first place. Falling fr me is never a priority kicking the legs out from the person while pulling the top, tying their legs up, or kicking them in the groin is just a better way to fall. Then there is pulling them in the guard while falling. Slapping the ground just would not be on my priority list.

Cheers
Dan

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 10:37 AM
It seems to me that a lot of people confuse the spreading out of force/impact (by extending the arms soft-side-down) with actively slapping the ground. Slapping makes no sense; it just adds to the impact force. To my eyes, it appears to be a misperception, by the students, of the ukemi exercise (for example, crossing the arms over the chest, then spreading them to take the fall) . They aggressively fling their arms open and slap the mats, instead of naturally just letting the arms open out. Do that on hard ground, and it's Ouch City.Well, actually slapping with the arm will subtract (on a vertical fall) from the amount of force the body has to absorb on impact. Think of it a sort of rocket jet that fires momentarily just before the main body hits. On a mat it's OK. I wouldn't recommend it for the street though.

FWIW

Mike

Cady Goldfield
11-25-2006, 10:39 AM
The foot/ankle part is crucial! I've learned that from painful experience. But as for the "what to do on the way down," in the context of aikido as it currently exists, which is "cooperative," ukemi involves passively taking the fall without attacking one's opponent/partner -- that is part of the aikido lexicon. It is not the same agenda as the jujutsu lexicon, where one would be using the Gift of Gravity "donated" by the opponent, along with the apparent "pause" in the combat action (when the opponent thinks he "has" you) to do lots of nasty things to said opponent.

Cady Goldfield
11-25-2006, 10:40 AM
Well, actually slapping with the arm will subtract (on a vertical fall) from the amount of force the body has to absorb on impact. Think of it a sort of rocket jet that fires momentarily just before the main body hits. On a mat it's OK. I wouldn't recommend it for the street though.

FWIW

Mike

If it's not good for the street, though, then what good is it at all? Unless you're saying that aikido is an artificial construct, with specific rules of engagement, that can successfully exist only in the dojo, on mats?

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 10:53 AM
If it's not good for the street, though, then what good is it at all? Unless you're saying that aikido is an artificial construct, with specific rules of engagement, that can successfully exist only in the dojo, on mats? No, I'm just saying someone should not be so ingrained with ritualistic habits that they know when to slap with the arm and when not to.

There's a cute passage in one of Robert Smith's books where he took a breakfall out on the street, slapped, and broke his hand on the curb. His let his instincts override his brain. ;)

The Chinese training involves using breath pressure to train the body over time so that the body can absorb heavy falls; the hand/arm is used to cup and protect the back of the head.

It's important to understand how to develop the body in ukemi training.

Mike

Cady Goldfield
11-25-2006, 10:58 AM
There's a cute passage in one of Robert Smith's books where he took a breakfall out on the street, slapped, and broke his hand on the curb. His let his instincts override his brain. ;)


Not "instinct," Mike, "conditioning." :)

Charlie
11-25-2006, 11:03 AM
...Because slapping with the hand can be detrimental in falls on concrete, stones, etc., many martial arts don't do it. They absorb the impact with the body so that they won't injure the hand (which they need to fight with)...

Oh brother!!! Falling on concrete and such is detrimental in and of itself. I get a chuckle out of reasoning like this because why would I be falling on concrete and rocks? If I get to a point where I have to be taking falls in these types of conditions probably means that quite a few more important things have gone Kapooy!

During this thread and many others on this site, there has been a vibrant debate as to the basic components of Aikido and whether or not people know or have been practicing them correctly. What makes ukemi any different? First off, if ukemi training is viewed simply as an additive to what constitutes a complete understanding of the basics then you pretty much have your answer right there.

Falling and slapping is a beginner's stage of understanding and execution. Ukemi is like any other part of a martial art…it is adaptive. If you think that there is just a singular response to a given situation is just incomplete.

That being said, however, to think that there is no strengthening measures to be found in the art of falling is incomplete as well. Falling and slapping strengthens the body so that one can take the falls outside of the dojo without harm being caused to oneself. It is no different than thrusting your fists into a giant pot of sand or punching water or even punching a thick wooden board wrapped in rope!

In fact, the quickest way to judge the quality of your ukemi is to get off the mat and do them on a hard surface. You will very quickly find the faults in your techniques. That's what we used to do. When the mats where too full in the Yokosuka dojo...beginners on the mats - seniors on the wood floor. And remember…boxes don't roll!

Regards,

Charlie

Cady Goldfield
11-25-2006, 11:19 AM
That being said, however, to think that there is no strengthening measures to be found in the art of falling is incomplete as well. Falling and slapping strengthens the body so that one can take the falls outside of the dojo without harm being caused to oneself. It is no different than thrusting your fists into a giant pot of sand or punching water or even punching a thick wooden board wrapped in rope!


This is a basic example of a lack of understanding about what is going on in the body during training. Contrary to what so many martial arts students believe, there is no such thing as "conditioning and strengthening" the body through thrusting fists into pots of sand, punching boards, or falling and slapping the ground.

It is what we call, in Yiddish, a bubbe meise (old grandmother's tale). ;)

Slapping the ground does...nothing -- except to burst blood vessels and bruise bone. The long-term outcome of that "conditioning" is, at best, to deaden and kill nerves so you no longer feel pain when doing damage to your arms.

Same for punching makiwara (which, by the way, I did for 20 years when I was making an extensive and intensive study of punching and striking). Striking a hard surface does nothing for the hands, but it does do damage TO the hands, by rupturing the tissue around the knuckles and causing painful swelling that in later years can exacerbate arthritis. Punching into pots of sand does that too. Sand punching can callous and thicken the skin, but callous plays little or no role in protecting hands during punches and strikes. Except, maybe, to keep the sand you're punching from scratching the tender skin under the callous. ;)

What DOES help you "condition" yourself, is good technique itself. Form: the angle of the punch or strike, its acceleration, the way you hold and move your body: Those elements are what will determine whether you do or don't injure yourself.

In other words, it is not the hand or the skin that breaks the fall or the board; it's the correct application of technique and good form. Nothing more, nothing less.

Students of all levels mistake the superficial, external practices of striking or slapping hard things -- which is nothing but pseudo-science -- for actual practical method -- due to a misunderstanding of basic physical and physiological principles.

I group slapping the ground with punching bricks and sand. Just another misunderstanding of human physiology and of basic physics.

Cady Goldfield
11-25-2006, 11:28 AM
Yeah, I'm sure you really took it to heart after giving it all of 2 minutes from the time I posted 'til the time you replied. :rolleyes: lol

Keep on slappin' the ground and punching walls, kid. Then let me know how your hands and arms are in a couple decades. I have a lot of old karate pals with big, swollen, sore knuckles from a mispent youth of pounding makiwara...until they learned that it was all about the hips and ground, not the hands. I've been training and observing for 30 years now, but I used to buy into the "conditioning" stuff when I was young.

Same for slapping hard ground. Go on out and hit the bricks. Literally! See what it does for you. But sooner or later you'll realize it's all about being soft and relaxed, and using good form -- not slapping.

Charlie
11-25-2006, 11:41 AM
Mike already told you the reason for striking the mat. In addition to that it does condition the extremities as well as teach you a fundamental basic in the act of timing. If I was to be in situations where I had to be falling outside and needed to protect myself then I most certainly would want to have the added protection of "deaden arms". However, since we don't train to those kinds of extremes I don't think you have to worry about any supposed arm damage.

Either way...the way of the Yoshinkan is to strike which I have been doing for years with no such complications that you speak of. I can take ukemi from senior practitioners without missing a beat because there or very specific core elements to the art of falling. If you have to ask what the meaning is behind striking the mat pretty much says what your understanding is. If you further more think that striking the mat is the only way to do it and the fall then becomes to "heavy" and you don't adjust/account for that says a lot as well.

Would I slap on a very "heavy" fall, most likely not. Do I train to be able to fall correctly with specific drills...why yes I do. It is part of the basic curriculum of the Yoshinkan and is taught as part of kihon training. It is just as vital as learning the basic movements of offense.

Cheers,
Charlie

Charlie
11-25-2006, 11:45 AM
Yeah, I'm sure you really took it to heart after giving it all of 2 minutes from the time I posted 'til the time you replied. :rolleyes: lol

Keep on slappin' the ground and punching walls, kid. Then let me know how your hands and arms are in a couple decades. I have a lot of old karate pals with big, swollen, sore knuckles from a mispent youth of pounding makiwara...until they learned that it was all about the hips and ground, not the hands. I've been training and observing for 30 years now, but I used to buy into the "conditioning" stuff when I was young.

Same for slapping hard ground. Go on out and hit the bricks. Literally! See what it does for you. But sooner or later you'll realize it's all about being soft and relaxed, and using good form -- not slapping.

Let's just whatch the whole kid thing...you don't know me.

This sums it all up!!!! Once they learned the CORRECT WAY then the began to practice it correctly. What a shock.

My falls are soft and relaxed. Why do you constitute slapping to mean stiff and hard?

Regards,

Charlie

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 11:55 AM
Not "instinct," Mike, "conditioning." :)Yeah... well, his hand broke because he didn't condition it enough. ;)

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 12:02 PM
This is a basic example of a lack of understanding about what is going on in the body during training. Contrary to what so many martial arts students believe, there is no such thing as "conditioning and strengthening" the body through thrusting fists into pots of sand, punching boards, or falling and slapping the ground. Cady.... if I agreed with you on this point, we'd both be wrong. ;) Slapping the ground does...nothing -- except to burst blood vessels and bruise bone. The long-term outcome of that "conditioning" is, at best, to deaden and kill nerves so you no longer feel pain when doing damage to your arms. There is a clear distinction made between this type of "low-level" conditioning and proper conditioning, Cady. Same for punching makiwara (which, by the way, I did for 20 years when I was making an extensive and intensive study of punching and striking). Heck... the most I could ever do was for 1 hour. You're tough, indeed, if you did it for 20 years. ;)What DOES help you "condition" yourself, is good technique itself. Form: the angle of the punch or strike, its acceleration, the way you hold and move your body: Those elements are what will determine whether you do or don't injure yourself.

In other words, it is not the hand or the skin that breaks the fall or the board; it's the correct application of technique and good form. Nothing more, nothing less.

Students of all levels mistake the superficial, external practices of striking or slapping hard things -- which is nothing but pseudo-science -- for actual practical method -- due to a misunderstanding of basic physical and physiological principles.

I group slapping the ground with punching bricks and sand. Just another misunderstanding of human physiology and of basic physics.Oh Cady.... you don't understand about the "ki" and how it's developed. If you do it right, all those things you mentioned are fine. It's sort of like the guys that sit around and "deep breathe" for the oxygen... they're missing the point of what they're supposed to develop.

Regards,

Mike

Cady Goldfield
11-25-2006, 01:09 PM
Let's just whatch the whole kid thing...you don't know me.

This sums it all up!!!! Once they learned the CORRECT WAY then the began to practice it correctly. What a shock.

My falls are soft and relaxed. Why do you constitute slapping to mean stiff and hard?

Regards,

Charlie

Sorry, Charlie, everyone is a "kid" to me at my age. If you'd like, I can just call you "sonny." Just kidding. In fact, anyone my age or older will remember what television commercial "Sorry, Charlie" came from. ;)
And I don't constitute slapping with "stiff and hard"... but with incorrect technique. You are accelerating and adding force to your own fall. Having been thrown from horses at a full gallop, onto hard pavement, I have both quantitative and qualitative data that illustrates the difference between breakfalling with and without slapping.

I don't have a problem with people doing this on mats, especially beginners who are just learning their left from their right. The trouble is, once this initial exercise is conditioned into the student, it is hard to break them of it. Then they take it on the streets with them. Falling on mats and falling on pavement or rocks are very different matters. Why not teach people correctly from the start...

It's just staggering that, surrounded by good data on physics, body mechanics and physiological data derived from good scientific method, so many people in Western post-industrial society still buy into pseudoscience. But, the papers still run astrology columns, so that's a good barometer for the state of public knowledge.

Just because a system has been taught a certain way for a while, doesn't mean it's right. Tradition sometimes is BAD tradition.

MM
11-25-2006, 01:25 PM
Oh brother!!! Falling on concrete and such is detrimental in and of itself. I get a chuckle out of reasoning like this because why would I be falling on concrete and rocks? If I get to a point where I have to be taking falls in these types of conditions probably means that quite a few more important things have gone Kapooy!

Regards,

Charlie

I've taken more falls on concrete, rocks, ground, and hard surfaces than I ever have taken in a fight. I've had my legs go out from under me at a bowling alley when I accidentally went past the line, I've tripped and rolled over/onto rocks, I've fallen on an iced concrete parking lot, etc. So, there can be a lot of times where one gets to that type of condition. It doesn't necessarily mean that quite a few things have gone Kapooy. :)

Mark

MM
11-25-2006, 01:45 PM
IMO:

Falling (with or without the slap) is only a small portion of ukemi. Talking about ukemi in just that aspect is like talking about one individual player while watching a football game. You're missing the bigger picture. :)

We learn to roll and fall for safety reasons, not ukemi reasons. We initially learn to slap while falling for safety reasons, not principle. That's an important aspect to remember.

Initially, while performing techniques, people have to have a vehicle for safe practice. Rolling and falling are that vehicle. It's a beginner's tactic until the student progresses enough to start understanding ukemi. All this slapping the mat is just a beginning learning procedure such that students can use energy and intent in an attack while also learning ukemi (not rolling and falling).

We learn to slap because it gets the body into a safer position when landing. It supposedly also distributes the force when landing. Again, this is a safety tactic so that a student doesn't end up landing on their head and/or neck.

Ukemi isn't rolling and falling. If you're at that point where you are rolling and/or falling, you've lost most of your ukemi and you're basically in the last ditch effort to save your body.

Ukemi is receiving energy and manipulating energy. Sort of like what Aikido is about. When someone is trying to do something to you and giving you energy, how you receive that energy is ukemi.

When you attack someone and they use Aikido, most of what's coming back at you is your own energy. What you do with it is ukemi. Good ukemi means you can keep your center and effect the other person. You'll hear this called reversing technique. Bad ukemi means you were fairly clueless about the resulting energy coming back and now you're in that situation where you have to roll or fall.

For example, when Dan did the no inch punch, my ukemi sucked. I couldn't receive the energy properly so my last resort was to fall backwards, which I did. There was no slapping. Just a nice, soft backwards fall onto the ground. The former was advanced ukemi which I failed and the latter was basic ukemi which I passed.

When talking about rolling and falling, well, IMO, most of the true ukemi has passed by that point. What one is doing now is merely receiving the ground in a safe manner. Nothing special about that. Most beginners can accomplish that in a relatively short amount of time.

Mark

Mike Sigman
11-25-2006, 01:47 PM
Sorry, Charlie, everyone is a "kid" to me at my age. If you'd like, I can just call you "sonny." Just kidding. In fact, anyone my age or older will remember what television commercial "Sorry, Charlie" came from. ;)"Television commercial"?????? You're just a puppy. When I was a kid, if we wanted a drink of water, we had to make our own by combining Hydrogen and Oxygen.

Cady Goldfield
11-25-2006, 02:10 PM
You had oxygen when you were a kid???!!!! You're just a baby! We were still breathing methane in my day.

Rigel Keffer
11-25-2006, 02:23 PM
The week before Thanksgiving, I was to check friends' mail and feed both hamster and dog while they were out of town for several days. Late on Friday, 11/17, their dog burst through my ankles and knocked me down the concrete steps onto the concrete back patio. OUCH. I sprained the tar out of my right ankle (which took the twisting force of the idiot dog) and bruised/slightly-cracked a bone in my foot. I've also angered the problematic disk in my lower back, a chronic problem that often acts up at the least provocation. That said, I have great appreciation for aikido training and the way I automatically helped myself during the fall. I spun my body during the crazy descent down the stairs and was able to disperse the force of the impact along my entire right side. And, I kept my neck bent and did not hit my head on the concrete. It was basically a really goofy looking instinctual attempt at a break fall.

I did not slap out. I just unfolded and exhaled as I took the impact the full right length of my body. I ended up just laying there on my back looking at the sky shivering on the cold concrete. Oh yeah, and yelling, "You stupid dog! Now, I'm gonna have to miss aikido class!" Yup, aikido was the FIRST thing I thought of when the pain hit.

I cringe to think what would've happened if I had taken that same fall a year or two ago. I'd've probably ended up with one or both wrists injured and a head/facial injury on top of the almost given aggravated back injury and the dog-caused torn up ankle.

DonMagee
11-25-2006, 02:58 PM
We are forgetting a bigger picture. As i'm often preached about the dangers of the street, you should very well know the street is covered in broken glass, needles, and in most cases, lava.

Seriously though, I don't think the slap has to be hard, I've fallen a few times on the sidewalk and I slapped without any issues, but I don't slap hard. The bigger problem I see people do is that they hold their breathe, or they do not exhale forcefully when they hit the ground. The first time something lands on you when you get throw, you will have wished you exhaled.

Charlie
11-25-2006, 03:04 PM
Sorry, Charlie, everyone is a "kid" to me at my age. If you'd like, I can just call you "sonny." Just kidding. In fact, anyone my age or older will remember what television commercial "Sorry, Charlie" came from. ;)...

And people wonder why I don't like tuna...

Cady Goldfield
11-25-2006, 03:54 PM
Heh. :p Bet you got a lot of "Sorry, Charlie..." and everyone who said it thought he was being clever.

Rupert Atkinson
11-25-2006, 04:17 PM
There's nothing wrong with slapping hard - personaly, Iove it. However, you also have to learn to fall without slapping at all, and something in-between the two. Learn in the dojo, try it on the grass, try it on a hard floor and you will naturally find yourself moving from a hard slap to none at all. The problem is if you only train it one way. In the dojo I whack the mat quite hard, purposefully, and then when I do irimi-nage I kinda hit them - in my mind - with that same mat-slapping power (without really hitting them of course, but I could if I wanted to). I love it and have been doing it that way for years. I have been criticised, but basically, I don't listen as I have my own reasons. What I want is to be able to fall with a hard slap, a soft slap, and none at all. I also like to fall and hit the mat with uraken, hard, so every time I fall I get a bit of extra conditioning. Try it, you might like it :)

Charlie
11-25-2006, 04:48 PM
I've taken more falls on concrete, rocks, ground, and hard surfaces than I ever have taken in a fight. I've had my legs go out from under me at a bowling alley when I accidentally went past the line, I've tripped and rolled over/onto rocks, I've fallen on an iced concrete parking lot, etc. So, there can be a lot of times where one gets to that type of condition. It doesn't necessarily mean that quite a few things have gone Kapooy. :)

Mark

Exactly...but something did go Kapooy because you lost your center. Look...we all have these stories. Gozo Shioda sensei has written about his accounts of using "Aikido" when he was almost struck by a car. Kiyoyuki Terada sensei [Yoshinkan] talks of using his "Aikido" when he was riding his bicycle and was thrown off. I have millions of quaint little antidotes of falling and slipping and tripping and using my "Aikido" both in the dojo, on the street --- really, whatever.

To focus on the slap is to miss everything else and is the only reason I offered up my rebuttal to statements that are automatically dismissive of pretty much the complete history and development of ukemi skills and what they are for and what they develop.

...The trouble is, once this initial exercise is conditioned into the student, it is hard to break them of it. Then they take it on the streets with them. Falling on mats and falling on pavement or rocks are very different matters. Why not teach people correctly from the start...

Maybe ukemi training doesn't stop at these lower level skill sets. Maybe there is more to learn.

...It's just staggering that, surrounded by good data on physics, body mechanics and physiological data derived from good scientific method, so many people in Western post-industrial society still buy into pseudoscience. But, the papers still run astrology columns, so that's a good barometer for the state of public knowledge.

Just because a system has been taught a certain way for a while, doesn't mean it's right. Tradition sometimes is BAD tradition.

Are you suggesting that the ukemi skill sets of Judo - Jujitsu - Aikijujitsu are incorrect? I cannot speak for any other methods other than the Yoshinkan system which is basically derivative of the before mentioned forms and what I am talking about.

Either way, IMO there is more to ukemi then just protecting yourself from falling. Precisely because of this, I was hoping that this part of the conversation wasn't going to be split from the rest of the thread on Aikido: The learning of natural movement because I see this being very much in tune with some of the debate found there [as well as in some of the other threads involving ki and kokyu].

Mark Murray started to touch on this as well. There is much more to ukemi then just learning to fall correctly. This directly ties into statements made by Dan Harden about the only way his students will be able to throw him is if he is the one that brakes his posture [I'm assuming this means if they have not developed the skill level to do it themselves] which brings us right around to things Ellis Amdur has written about concerning what he views as the backwardness of how much of [if not all] Aikido in the world is taught compared to schools of the koryu. This of course refers to the defined roles of Uke and Nage and how techniques are taught.

The truth of the matter is that there really is no Ukemi to take when many of the techniques are applied to there full potential. Many of the techniques are so devastating on multiple levels that the only way for Uke to be able to receive the technique is if Nage allows them to retain some semblance of center so that they can take the fall safely.

At any rate, for me ukemi training is right up there in importance as aiki taiso is for others. I don't see a difference in what they teach and what they strengthen.

Cheers,

Charlie

mathewjgano
11-25-2006, 04:55 PM
I think when people consider it as increasing the surface area of impact or absorbing some force for the sake of other impact points, "slapping" the mat makes perfect sense.

MM
11-25-2006, 05:06 PM
At any rate, for me ukemi training is right up there in importance as aiki taiso is for others. I don't see a difference in what they teach and what they strengthen.

Cheers,

Charlie

Good post, Charlie. (I snipped most to keep things short)

Cady Goldfield
11-26-2006, 09:25 PM
Kevin,
For the record and to stay on topic, slapping in a breakfall is still silly. :D And, I'll say again, it's absurd. Just relaxedly extend your arms, fleshy side to absorb part of the impact, keep your ankles and heels from slamming the ground, and use your butt too (what do you think it's there for?). ;)

Haole
11-26-2006, 09:41 PM
I thought the inital teaching of slapping the mat was to teach new students not to brace for impact by extending their hand?

Isnt a bad habit that takes some re-tooling later on down the road better then broken beginners?

Cady Goldfield
11-26-2006, 09:43 PM
That's what mats are for...
Teach correct technique from the get-go, and you don't have to worry about bad habits (and dangerous ones) later.

Kevin Wilbanks
11-26-2006, 09:54 PM
Kevin,
For the record and to stay on topic, slapping in a breakfall is still silly. :D And, I'll say again, it's absurd. Just relaxedly extend your arms, fleshy side to absorb part of the impact, keep your ankles and heels from slamming the ground, and use your butt too (what do you think it's there for?). ;)

My primary teachers agree, and taught traditional-style falls, but never outright slapping, though many of their students somehow end up doing it anyway. A few sound like they have been dropped from a plane some of the time.

My current interest is the Waite-style wide leg falling, which involves using different body mechanics and a different use of the arm in most falls. The end result is falls that are nearly silent and very soft. In the 'breakfall', the arm actually reaches for the mat, sticks, and deccelerates the body, immediately transitioning to pushing off to get back up. The ankle and heel are protected by the sidewards trajectory of the fall and the fact that the leg is abducted and the ankle dorsiflexed and springy - allowing one to land softly on the ball of the foot instead. However, learning to do it right has involved some pretty extensive heel and ankle whacking for me... which is what the mat is there for.

xuzen
11-26-2006, 10:29 PM
SLAP mat hard...GOOD!

SLAP mat hard; get strong forearm... in addition to Ken/Jo suburi works, make aikido-ka give good shomen/yokomen uchi... no more excuse for weak pussified sissy attacks. OSSU!

Boon.

sullivanw
11-27-2006, 01:51 AM
I don't train to fall down. I train to protect my body. But I'm not good at that so I fall down a lot. And yes I slap the mat, and I've also slapped out on concrete. It really hurt.

What makes sense to me is that if we are going to be thrown hard then we need to be able to deal with that. And gradually our skills develop to the point where it is very difficult to really throw us, and when we are really thrown we can absorb the impact efficiently.

Another 2 cents for y'all,

-Will

Cady Goldfield
11-27-2006, 06:13 AM
SLAP mat hard...GOOD!

SLAP mat hard; get strong forearm... in addition to Ken/Jo suburi works, make aikido-ka give good shomen/yokomen uchi... no more excuse for weak pussified sissy attacks. OSSU!

Boon.

SLAP mat hard = Old Wives' Tale

Simple studies in exercise physiology may reveal the falacity of the belief that slapping things, plunging hands into sand, and all that stuff does anything other than kill nerves so you can't feel pain from the damage you are doing.

Proper form is what prevents harm to limbs. Slapping and pseudo-conditioning HARMS limbs. Period.

But then again, people do weird stuff with their diets, and take herbs whose shape looks like a human liver, in the belief that an herb "shaped like a liver" must somehow do things to strengthen a liver! This is superstition, not knowledge.

akiy
11-28-2006, 10:38 AM
The posts on the topic of "Non-Compliant Ukemi" has been moved here:

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11368

Once again, I would very much appreciate it if people could take the time and effort to start a new thread if and when a new subject arises. Thank you.

-- Jun

akiy
11-28-2006, 10:41 AM
PS: On topic, Ushiro sensei advocates not slapping with the hand when taking ukemi as that may lead to injury of the hand and arm. Rather, he has shown how to take ukemi by tucking the arms in close to the body (kind of like a boxing guard) and "stomping" on the ground with the foot/leg further from the ground. So, when falling on the right side, the left foot crosses over in front of the right knee/thigh and the sole of the left foot absorbs the falling impact.

-- Jun

Cady Goldfield
11-28-2006, 10:47 AM
PS: On topic, Ushiro sensei advocates not slapping with the hand when taking ukemi as that may lead to injury of the hand and arm. Rather, he has shown how to take ukemi by tucking the arms in close to the body (kind of like a boxing guard) and "stomping" on the ground with the foot/leg further from the ground. So, when falling on the right side, the left foot crosses over in front of the right knee/thigh and the sole of the left foot absorbs the falling impact.

-- Jun

Thank you for that, Jun (who babysits the play behavior on AikiWeb with the patience of a daycare worker!). I believe that over time, aikidoka, judoka and others come to realize that adding force to a breakfall is counterproductive. Odd how common sense ain't so common (tip of the hat to Mark Twain).

Dennis Hooker
11-28-2006, 11:02 AM
Not everyone uses the rolls and brake falls common to Hombu Aikido. Chuck Clark Sensei and Ellis Amdur Sensei have very unique, effective and realistic ways do taking falls an very valid reasons for doing them that way.

billybob
11-28-2006, 11:04 AM
Cady Goldfield said Thank you for that, Jun (who babysits the play behavior on AikiWeb with the patience of a daycare worker!). I believe that over time, aikidoka, judoka and others come to realize that adding force to a breakfall is counterproductive. Odd how common sense ain't so common (tip of the hat to Mark Twain).

Cady, I'm not sure you undertand the physics of active and reactive forces. Force = mass times acceleration. Slapping the mat hard and fast is a countering force and lessens the fall. I was trained to break fall in a judo class where ground work was minimally taught. Most of the falls we took were high, hard falls.

I respect the opinion of Ushiro Sensei, but would add that the falls I took in judo were guided all the way to the ground - this means maximum force delivered by my body to the ground. I was taught that slapping was to protect the internal organs and spine, not keep my hand from stinging. Crossing the feet as Sensei suggests might work where there was less force, but in a highly forceful break fall - landing on the edge of the hip bone And the ankle is preferable to having the sacrum blown out of joint, or risk damage to kidneys.

David

Mike Sigman
11-28-2006, 12:07 PM
Thank you for that, Jun (who babysits the play behavior on AikiWeb with the patience of a daycare worker!). I believe that over time, aikidoka, judoka and others come to realize that adding force to a breakfall is counterproductive. Odd how common sense ain't so common (tip of the hat to Mark Twain).Cady, in case you didn't read Jun's post about Ushiro's method, the method involves a *stomp*. You may continue to not understand additive forces (which are sometimes subtractive), but the *stomp* does the same thing that a slap does. The real problem is that the hand is fragile and can be injured in off-mat situations, not that the slap doesn't help remove *some* of the falling force.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Cady Goldfield
11-28-2006, 12:20 PM
Mike,
The human foot and leg structure is designed to take hundreds of pounds of pressure from impact, while the arms and hands are not. Thus, I don't have as hard a time with Ushiro's substitution as I do the arm version. I still don't buy the addition of a stomp or any added force -- it really does NOT distribute better the body's falling weight, and is the vestige of old traditional beliefs not grounded in physics or physiology.

Even some of the top people in various disciplines hold onto old bubbe meises because they're too hard to let go of. ;)

Cady Goldfield
11-28-2006, 12:23 PM
David,
I understand Force = Mass X Acceleration pretty well, having put that principle to use for decades in my studies of projectile punching and striking. If the arms were -penetrating- the floor, as a fist penetrates a concrete block in projectile punching, then it would make sense. But this principle does not apply to the spreading out of impact by a relaxed, falling body.

Since mats are usually nice and squishy, you likely won't do too much harm to yourself slapping them. Just don't be doing the hard slap if you are falling on hard ground! Stick to doing all your falling on mats.

DonMagee
11-28-2006, 12:26 PM
PS: On topic, Ushiro sensei advocates not slapping with the hand when taking ukemi as that may lead to injury of the hand and arm. Rather, he has shown how to take ukemi by tucking the arms in close to the body (kind of like a boxing guard) and "stomping" on the ground with the foot/leg further from the ground. So, when falling on the right side, the left foot crosses over in front of the right knee/thigh and the sole of the left foot absorbs the falling impact.

-- Jun

That sounds dangerous from a groin perspective. I've had enough accidents with my legs crossing over each other.

mathewjgano
11-28-2006, 12:45 PM
Simple studies in exercise physiology may reveal the falacity of the belief that slapping things, plunging hands into sand, and all that stuff does anything other than kill nerves so you can't feel pain from the damage you are doing.

Proper form is what prevents harm to limbs. Slapping and pseudo-conditioning HARMS limbs. Period.
I'm confused about your remarks. You're saying "simple studies may reveal..." Are there actual studies you're refering to which do prove what you're saying or are you guessing at the truth of the matter? My understanding, highly limited though it may be, is that there is a natural benefit to impact conditioning with regard to strengthening things like bone and skin. I think I share your esteem for the power of sensitivity which is why I don't do a lot of heavy impact training, but I wouldn't call it pseudo conditioning to develop callouses or add bone density through impact-oriented training. Conditioning of the body includes more than developing the neurological system (coordinating system) so we can respond accurately and smoothly. For me, at least, it also includes a modicum of "toughening up." Impact is a way to improve this. It's not any different than lifting weights to improve power. When you stimulate the muscle, it responds (I've heard this refered to as a shock to the muscle). If you stimulate it too much, you injure it. If you don't stimulate it enough, it atrophes. Conditioning other elements of the body, like bone, is similar.....I think, anyway. Hope you can shed some light on it for me.
Take care,
Matt

Mike Sigman
11-28-2006, 01:24 PM
I still don't buy the addition of a stomp or any added force -- it really does NOT distribute better the body's falling weight, and is the vestige of old traditional beliefs not grounded in physics or physiology. Oh I dunno. Maybe physics works differently where you are, Cady, but if you'll do a simple calculation of the Impulse forces and what happens when you factor in a slap, I think you'll find it's no big mystery. But whatever. You do it your way.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Ron Tisdale
11-28-2006, 01:42 PM
I love the way intelligent, experienced folks can have completely different perspectives on such a simple thing. ;)

Best,
Ron (hey, that's what keeps me thinkin'...)

billybob
11-28-2006, 02:26 PM
Don Magee said That sounds dangerous from a groin perspective. I've had enough accidents with my legs crossing over each other.

Thanks Don. Oddly, I forgot why we were trained not to cross our legs. I agree with other posters that we should try to learn soft and internal ukemi. However, falling from a very well done shoulder throw, where nage puts you high enough to grip your arm like a sword, and guides you with speed and force to the floor - the traditional break fall is the safest answer.

dave

Cady Goldfield
11-28-2006, 02:36 PM
Oh I dunno. Maybe physics works differently where you are, Cady, but if you'll do a simple calculation of the Impulse forces and what happens when you factor in a slap, I think you'll find it's no big mystery. But whatever. You do it your way.

Regards,

Mike Sigman

Mike, on the planet where Newtonian physics and organic body dynamics do not exist ;) ...

Breakfalls have come in handy when being hurled from horseback, and I can tell you that the more relaxed you are, and the less you add to the impact, the easier the landing is on your body. It's no accident that drunks and toddlers who fall from a window are probably less likely to be hurt than a sober person or an aikidoka who tenses his arms and hard-slaps the ground. ;)

But this is just an academic discussion for me when it comes to martial arts. We don't train to fall "down." On the planet where I come from, when training with a partner, we're focusing on countering throws, and even when falling, using the on-the-way-down gravity as part of the tool kit. And, in fact, our bodies are never just bags of rags (like the above-mentioned drunk). We are averse to letting our hands and arm muscles tighten up as though for a slap. The last thing we want is for any kind of energy to be bleeding out of hands or feet. Instead, we keep a "relaxed tension" (actually not an oxymoron) over the entire body.

That allows us to always be "on" and able to direct our body's motion and energy at all times, so that even upon impact with the ground we are already on the way back up and "into" the opponent with an attack. There is never any intent to "be down" -- it's all about pro-actively focusing our energies on rising up.

If you always think about going down as "falling down," you will never develop the proper intent in combat, which is to use every moment to relentlessly attack the opponent. The mindset is crucial. To my observations over decades, the aikido mindset is to fall. Down. :)

By the way, the "stomp" that Ushiro advocates is not, as you may believe, to absorb impact from the breakfall, but as an attack on your opponent. He is providing a means by which to condition one's mindset to think "attack." It is typical that without explanation, any movement is subject to misinterpretation, as it has been here.

billybob
11-28-2006, 02:50 PM
Cady Goldfield: who tenses his arms and hard-slaps the ground

I admire how you steadfastly hold to your opinion. GRRRR!

hahahaha

OK - the arm is not tense during the slap. Another poster mentioned transmitting energy From the falling body To the ground. Can you see that it is:
1. valid from physical standpoint
2. valid from physiological standpoint
3. possibly ki training?

or just a joke my teacher was playing on me? :)

dave

Cady Goldfield
11-28-2006, 03:17 PM
Hey, David, the older we get, the more set we become in our ways. Unless, of course, the Big Bird of Truth comes along and craps on your head! That happened to me, and I'm still wiping it out of my eyes and ears. :D

I came up slapping the mats like everyone else in aikido. Then, one day, I fell on ice and hard-slapped the ground like I always had done on the mats. The stinging in my arms kinda took my mind off the rest of the fall, so maybe that distraction is an actual benefit of slapping. Some months later, I was thrown off my horse when a shotgun went off, and while my head-tuck kept me from getting my brains bashed out on the boulders, my arms were badly bruised from hard slapping the ground. Thereafter, in class and in the "real world," I stopped slapping, and found that the relaxed extension of my arms spread out the impact of the fall over a greater surface area, with absolutely no harm or pain to my arms.

Years later, in discussing it with jujutsuka and judo guys, they recounted to me their instructors' exhortations to use the hard slap as, simply, an exercise to instill in them the habit of extending out their arms in a breakfall. In other words, the slap was intended to be "training wheels," not the actual real-life application of the breakfall technique. With time, they were to stop doing the slap and to remember to just open and extend the arms.

Just as extending your arms in the water increases the surface area of your body on the water, making you more bouyant, doing so when falling on the ground spreads and diffuses your body weight and the force of falling, over a larger area so no one part of your body takes the full brunt of the impact.

Remember those old saws that if you keep making a face, it will freeze that way? Or if you go swimming right after eating, you'll have cramps? Actively hard-slapping the ground to breakfall falls into that category of beliefs that are hard to let go of. :)

mathewjgano
11-28-2006, 03:22 PM
By the way, the "stomp" that Ushiro advocates is not, as you may believe, to absorb impact from the breakfall, but as an attack on your opponent. He is providing a means by which to condition one's mindset to think "attack." It is typical that without explanation, any movement is subject to misinterpretation, as it has been here.
I must have misunderstood Jun's post then...I read it as describing the "stomp" as a means of using a tougher part of the body to absorb impact than the hand.
On a side note, I remember experimenting with more foot-oriented break-falls and for me it was more easy to find my foot and ankle in pain, though I think it has much to do with the fact that I'm about as flat-footed as a duck. Too much foot and not enough other surface areas, and I start limping and injuring my already destoyed ankles quite quickly, so I find it best to think of my whole body upon impact, and that includes some degree of hand-to-ground "slapping"...unless my hands are in "ju" form like jujinage.
I dig what you're saying about not smacking the mat with extra force. We certainly don't want to have our hands taking the brunt of the force...all those little bones just don't like it, but just as surely as strikes have proven themselves to be quite reliable, so too have "slaps." I think it's just a matter of knowing the proper mechanics. Perhaps many people become too accustomed to that wonderfull "SMACK" that comes from a nice firm smack to the mat, it has certainly taken me a process of trial and error on the mat to figure out that harder doesn't equal better...still I disagree that "never" equals better too, and I do believe that's what you've asserted in previous posts.
Anyhow, there's my wooden nickle for ya! :D
Take care,
Matt

mathewjgano
11-28-2006, 03:28 PM
Years later, in discussing it with jujutsuka and judo guys, they recounted to me their instructors' exhortations to use the hard slap as, simply, an exercise to instill in them the habit of extending out their arms in a breakfall.
Ok now I gotcha! This is my understanding as well, though I wouldn't say eventually I'll never "slap" again. Sorry I misunderstood your meaning.
Take care,
Matt

Cady Goldfield
11-28-2006, 03:35 PM
Matt,
Thanks for the comments. Whatever Ushiro's intent, the heel "stomp" is one of those actions that gets misinterpreted. It is part of an older system of combat that precedes aikido, and therein lies the problem: the loss of meaning as an action is transmitted from one "generation" to the next.

It reminds me of the old story of the housewife who always cut the ends off a roast before putting it in the roasting pan. It looked kind of funny, a roast sitting in a big pan with its ends lying separately on either side. When her daughter asks her why she did that, the housewife answers that it's because that's what her own mother always did. So the girl asks her grandmother about the "tradition" and the grandmother replies that her old roasting pan was too small, so she had to cut the ends off to make the roast fit! ;)

Charlie
11-28-2006, 07:07 PM
I know better than to continue to add to this stalemate but I just can't resist!

And now I'm going to make you work for it!


Cady Goldfield recently said…


...Years later, in discussing it with jujutsuka and judo guys, they recounted to me their instructors' exhortations to use the hard slap as, simply, an exercise to instill in them the habit of extending out their arms in a breakfall. In other words, the slap was intended to be "training wheels," not the actual real-life application of the breakfall technique. With time, they were to stop doing the slap and to remember to just open and extend the arms...post #54 (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=160140&postcount=54)


One person's immediate response way back in the beginning off this thread was...


…Falling and slapping is a beginner's stage of understanding and execution. Ukemi is like any other part of a martial art…it is adaptive. If you think that there is just a singular response to a given situation is just incomplete...post #12 (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=159852&postcount=12)


I find your continues assertion that you know better than the rest because you used to practice stupid [your words] and now you know better because of your advancement in age to be a rather shallow attempt at a defense. Don't get me wrong…the value of "been there -- done that" usually is found to be quite the paramount. However, it is not always the definitive.

After all, you say that you know better than I because you are older and have "been there". Well, in all honesty, why should I even entertain what you think when my sensei is for sure older than you and "has already been there before us both! Hell, his instructor is still alive [whom I've also studied with]. Why should I listen to either one of you? Ah…I understand…because you said so. Gotcha.

Everyone's experience is different making the adage, "Your mileage may vary" so apropos.

Anyway, I find the 2nd half of your defense to be equally incomplete as the 1st half. You are the one that is suggesting that generations of practice are in fact wrong. You are the one that finds certain esoteric methods of practice to be complete hog wash and that you have western science findings to back these claims up. The burden of proof is on you. Where can I find these studies and findings so that I may make an informed decision about my own practice as well?

Actually, never mind…it seems pretty obvious to me that the correct method of break falling in the manner that you state and the manner that others have stated [that includes slapping] is exactly the same if done correctly.

If you feel that there is no added benefit to slapping than fine. No worries mate. Have it your way. After all it is your practice to do with as you wish.

I just hope the crux of your future arguments ends up being more than just, "because I said so"….

uh oh…I gotta go….the streetlights are on and my sensei is calling me….

Charlie

Cady Goldfield
11-28-2006, 07:21 PM
Sorry if I messed with your religion, Charlie. :rolleyes:

paulb
11-28-2006, 07:24 PM
Slapping the ground is a bit unecessary.

stelios
11-29-2006, 05:49 AM
Whenever I slap the mat (usually very hard as I am almost 100 kilos) my master looks at me and grinds his teeth. Yes, I can roll and fall very silently if required but slapping around comes more natural although my palms hurt a lot afterwards. Yes, I know it is supposed to be done silently and calmly but I am just a big guy that needs to land after a short trip in the air (the silliest excuse ever)

billybob
11-29-2006, 06:55 AM
It seems that only science will settle this - so, we need to get a sample, do some testing, run a chi square analysis and get some real science!

Sure. If I was a casual reader of the web I would follow the advice of Hooker Sensei, and Ushiro Sensei and not slap. I would however listen to the 'nutball ex judoka' and keep his words in the back of my mind. I disagree with Sensei Hooker, but I respectfully stated why. That makes me a student - of martial arts, and life.

I'm fond of saying "Any break fall you can walk away from, is a good break fall."

dave

Dennis Hooker
11-29-2006, 07:26 AM
What so many people fail to remember (or never knew or don’t believe) is that ukme in Aikido is defensive technique and not just an attempt to impact the ground with as little damage as possible. When we start to apply parameters from outer arts to Aikido we get apples and oranges. This can not be helped if the poser of the question does not know the difference between the two. I will qualify this by saying in the Aikido “I” know and have been taught is that uke is generally given a change to escape when all hope of attack is lost. They can take an awkward and sometimes dangerous path to the ground or they can apply a technique called ukme to escape, hopefully unharmed. That is the difference. Nage generally cares about the outcome with uke whereas in some arts uke is left to his/her own devices and never given a change to reconcile the encounter. In Aikido much of the time it is Uke that resolves the conflict by opting out of the attack when balance is lost or they are clearly venerable to a devastating reprisal. The Aikido comes into play when Nage allows them to reconcile the conflict without damage. This way both Uke and Nage can apply technique 100 percent without holding back. Real training can be safe. I know people involved in arts that are “combative” or deal in irreconcilable sceneries will have a hard time with this concept. Apples and Oranges.

Mike Sigman
11-29-2006, 07:35 AM
Re-reading some of the posts, I'm not totally clear, but I get the impression that some people are including the forward-rolling breakfall in their discussion, while others are only thinking about a side or back fall as incorporating an arm/hand slap. I can't see any reason to slap on a roll (heck I usually can't see any need for arms at anytime in most rolls), but depending on the grip Nage has on you, an arm slap can serve to subtract from the fall to a mat on a vertical fall. But maybe it would help if this point were clarified.

M

Dennis Hooker
11-29-2006, 07:56 AM
I believe you are right Mike. Could someone please clarify what we are talking about. I’m old and Easley confused.

Let me also say that it has been many many years since my Judo (yudo) days but the throws I was taught were more in line with loading my partner up and throwing. In Aikido a hip throw requires that uke be falling and I place my hip as a stumbling block he/she has to fall over. I also allow uke to take a grip on my gi to lesson the impact but the impact with the mat does not seem to be as hard as it was in judo. I also never land on my partner (oh the broken ribs I painfully remember).

billybob
11-29-2006, 07:57 AM
Sensei Hooker said This way both Uke and Nage can apply technique 100 percent without holding back. Real training can be safe. I know people involved in arts that are "combative" or deal in irreconcilable sceneries will have a hard time with this concept. Apples and Oranges.

Thank you Sensei.

I posted in another thread that one of Messores Sensei's excellent students whom I call Sensei exhorted me to 'stay connected to nage' - to keep pushing all the way through my attack as uke. This is new to me, as 'bail and run' are what I thought was correct. This new training has caused tremendous pain - and healing for me, as I let ki move through some serious old injuries.

Judo saved my life as an adolescent, aikido is saving my health as a middle aged man. I am indebted to the founders and practitioners of both arts, and especially to my Senseis who love me, even if they express this love with hard words, their fists, and seeming disapproval. :)

david

Amanda
11-30-2006, 02:42 AM
We don't study breakfalls at my level in aikido, we just roll out. Think the higher grades get them though.

Anyway before I started Aikido I practised Judo. We were taught to let our arms slap naturally from a side or back breakfall. The instructor also said that part of the reason for this was to give you something to do with your arms to overcome the instinct to reach back to try to stop the fall and so end up with a broken wrist.

Just my £0.02
Amanda

billybob
11-30-2006, 07:02 AM
To clarify what I'm speaking about:

I learned judo from a teacher who did not care for 1/8 and 1/4 point judo. She liked strong, graceful movement, not in-fighting. We drilled doing knee bends with a partner loaded on our backs. Ideally, when we threw we would load with knees bent and throw partner upward to get maximum height. (I realize this affords time for a savvy uke to do other things). We finished throws standing feet flat, backs straight and uke's arm was gripped like a sword - power transmitted from our centers through uke to maximize the force of their impact. A smart uke would relax, extend to their full length, and let the impact flow out the bottoms of their feet. (ki?)

At other times we threw more quickly, but always with the best form, power and speed we could manage.

david

Slawen Rako
12-07-2006, 04:50 PM
This is a basic example of a lack of understanding about what is going on in the body during training. Contrary to what so many martial arts students believe, there is no such thing as "conditioning and strengthening" the body through thrusting fists into pots of sand, punching boards, or falling and slapping the ground.

It is what we call, in Yiddish, a bubbe meise (old grandmother's tale). ;)

Slapping the ground does...nothing -- except to burst blood vessels and bruise bone. The long-term outcome of that "conditioning" is, at best, to deaden and kill nerves so you no longer feel pain when doing damage to your arms.

Same for punching makiwara (which, by the way, I did for 20 years when I was making an extensive and intensive study of punching and striking). Striking a hard surface does nothing for the hands, but it does do damage TO the hands, by rupturing the tissue around the knuckles and causing painful swelling that in later years can exacerbate arthritis. Punching into pots of sand does that too. Sand punching can callous and thicken the skin, but callous plays little or no role in protecting hands during punches and strikes. Except, maybe, to keep the sand you're punching from scratching the tender skin under the callous. ;)


I am sorry, but I disagree strongly. Doing such exercises e.g. regular hitting exercises on forearms, is known to stimulate the periosteum, that's the skin around the bone. Irritating is the more correct expresion probably as the periosteum is made to believe that the bone is broken which results in the production of bone replacement substance, which is significantly harder than the bone itself (a bone never breaks twice in exactly the same spot): With time and proper execution of such techniques the bone (and joints, as this can be done with joints as well, in most cases the wrist or the fist) will grow significantly. Such training will create layer after layer of bone replacement substance coating around the exposed spots leading to e.g. forearms 50% thicker than before (we are talking about years of course)

I would dare to say that almost every kung fu school has these exercises in its regular curriculum, both northern and southern styles, although the northern styles put more emphasis on it. So far every kung fu student knew what I was talking about when I mentioned it and had one ore more variations to show me. For me this is a fact as it is for thousands and thousands of martial artists throughout China and Southeast Asia for hundreds of years now.

It is a little bit uncomfortable for me as a new user to aikiweb to question your striking experience mentioned before. Are you sure you did everything right? Did you have proper instructions how to perform these exercises? Especially the advanced ones involve quite a proficiency in Chi Gong (=the art of Ki). These exercises are not only to harden the hands, arms and feet but also, especially the advanced ones, a very powerful Chi Gong exercise itself.

JAMJTX
12-08-2006, 01:41 PM
In general practice, I don't think it's dangerous at all. It does seem to help ease the fall some.

One danger does come when uke reaches for the mat and lands hand/wrist first.

As for in a self defense situtaion, then yes, it can cause you a problem. If you are going down, you need to be using hands to continue to defend yourself. For an example, even though it's not a "self defense situation" watch high level Judo competition. What happened to all the mat slapping they learned in the dojo? It gets thrown away when they are focused on winning. They are using thier hands to try to regain control over thier opponent.

In a Judo competition, slapping will cost you the match. In the street, slapping out can get you killed.

Michael Douglas
12-09-2006, 02:14 PM
Slawen has a point, Cady has a point.
Time to split the thread ... again?

I for one am anxious to learn if years of punching makiwara really does toughen the fist including the bones, cos it sure looks like it does.
Or are the large callouses merely hiding normal or damaged bones?

Cady Goldfield
12-09-2006, 02:49 PM
Michael, it's the latter -- callouses hiding damaged bones and joints. Callouses are nothing but layers of dead skin. Calcareous deposits on the bones caused by constant impact (bone spurs) likewise are not shock absorbers, but irritants against which tissue rubs and is harmed. do not protect the hands from impact. Such force goes right through those layers of dead skin and right into the joints. I did a lot of informal study into this when I had to take physiology during one of my grad school stints (biology/primate evolutionary ecology). It gave me access to some fine resources, since I was at that fine, hoary institution in Cambridge, Mass. :)

I believe that people confuse the process of bone-density-building through slow, long-term weight-bearing exercize, with the damaging process of percussive impact "exercize." The two are very different, and only the first is productive.

Likewise, slapping the ground hard with the forearms and palms is counter to nature's "intent" for the human body. If you see it as a benefit that you're damaging surface blood vessels, bruising muscles and killing nerves, okay, but the body of such an organism as a human is not meant to take that kind of constant abuse. One pays for it later in life.

Since most people do the damage when they are in their 20s and have better recuperative powers, they may think that the practice is harmless and in fact is useful. When they turn 45 or 50 they may wonder why they are riddled with arthritis, bursitis and other woes, but write it off to "old age." ;)

Slawen Rako
12-09-2006, 03:21 PM
Hmm, I cannot say anything about the makiwara as I do not have experience with it. In fact, I just learned about it here and had to look it up and now I understand why Cady is right and my experiences are rigtht as well.

As far as I have understood it, the makiwara is more or less a board on a pole where the board is covered with straw and rope. More hmmmm here

IMHO this leads to exactly what Cady is saying. A lot of thick, hard, and very much dead skin on your fists. This has nothing to do with the bone and joint thickening exercises in Kung Fu. (Karatekas might object my opinion)

In Shaolin Kung Fu (SKF) advanced hardening exercises go like this:
You choose the object you are going to hit. This can be wood, brick or iron. Then you have to decide if you want to hit with the backside of your hand (while clenched to a fist), with the flat palm, with the fist, with a single spot on your outside wrist or with the wrist just beneath your palm.

Flat palm and fist are advanced techniques and are not for "beginners" (talking about Shodan level here).

The exercise goes like this: Your must hit the object every for a thousand times (both left and right) for a hundred days, every single day. You miss one day, the count resets. This exercise is actually more a Chi Gong exercise and one of the hardest mental exercises I have ever experienced than a hardening exercise. Lets leave this aspect for a seperate discussion should anyone be interested.

Why the decision wood, stone, metal? Well, if you choose a block of iron it hurts like hell from day one and the bone and joint is starting to get hard from the outside to the inside. If you choose the softer wood, it is the other way round. The senior students advised me not to do it because it hurts even more and they did not know anyone who made it through the hundred days with the wooden block. The brick is a compromise, still hell on earth in regards of pain, but at least somehow bearable.

The physical effect is awesome. The spots on your hand/wrist become bigger (permanently. I am not talking about the swell :-D) and harder. Other students took this exercise as their specialization and started excessively hitting with their fists afterwards and the result was that their fists are now a solid area when clenched, without any spaces (moulds?) between fingers or knuckles. Hard to explain, I hope you get the point.

Now, I would strongly advise not to try this without proper guidance and Chi Gong (or Ki) training beforehand as this exercise is more of an energy exercise than a hardening one. To me it was explained that after some years of Chi/Ki training this exercise lets all the Chi/Ki escape through the spot which is hit permanently, and with it also all the poison/garbage/bad stuff in you. I was terribly tired all the time, completely without energy, not to mention the demons I faced in me which I thought I had successfully buried I mean you really start to ask yourself very soon why the heck you are doing this at all and what's the sense of it all. It's like some kind of spiritual development in ultra fast forward. Many dropped out during these hundred days never to return to the dojo

Kevin Wilbanks
12-09-2006, 07:32 PM
As Cady mentioned, research has shown that progressive weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and joints far more than percussive, shock-type stress. For instance, squats increase the density and strength of the leg bones far more than running, even though the force absorbed by the bones upon landing impact in running is much higher than in performing squats. Chances are that any kind of striking exercise done without using padding and/or targets that yield to the force applied isn't doing anything beneficial for your hands in any sense except desensitizing them to pain... if you call that a benefit.

What I don't understand is why most people would even want to toughen up the bones in their hands, in this day and age, even if these pratices do work. The orginal purpose must have been to make the hands able to withstand the abuse of frequent fighting. Some have suggested that it enabled fighters to deliver damaging blows through armor or damage boney parts of the body normally too hard to punch.

These days, who goes around kicking people's ass frequently enough to need tough knuckles? Most martial artists probably never get into a self-defense situation where they need to protect themselves with super hard punches. For those who do, it will probably be so infrequent that they would be better off risking the bone fractures in these instances than beating the crap out of their own hands on the off chance it might happen. Also, if you really get in fights that often, wouldn't it make more sense to carry a small bludgeoning weapon or brass knuckles and let the tool take the punishment? Or learn a different fighting philosophy that uses the more sensible approach of hitting soft targets with the fists and hard ones with open hands, elbows, shoes, or the ground?

Meanwhile, we are talking about your HANDS here - the most delicate, versatile, and intricately put-together part of your body, when it comes to physically interacting with the world. Your hands are precious in that you depend upon them to eat, type, drive, create art, make love, earn your living... their subtle functions are vital to almost everything you do. Why would you want to treat them like ten dollar sledge hammers?

Cady Goldfield
12-09-2006, 09:02 PM
Well said, Kevin.
When I got a detached retina eight years ago, one of my former TKD dojangmates (I was training in jujutsu then, and no longer in TKD), an opthalmic surgeon, saved my eye. Thereafter, the head of the TKD dojang (a Korean) would not let him spar or do bagwork or anything with his hands, unless he was wearing 24oz. gloves. The reason: "You are a surgeon. You save people's eyes with your hands. Therefore, you should not turn your delicate instruments of healing into...crippled sledgehammers."

natasha cebek
12-09-2006, 10:26 PM
Oh brother!!! Falling on concrete and such is detrimental in and of itself. I get a chuckle out of reasoning like this because why would I be falling on concrete and rocks? If I get to a point where I have to be taking falls in these types of conditions probably means that quite a few more important things have gone Kapooy!

During this thread and many others on this site, there has been a vibrant debate as to the basic components of Aikido and whether or not people know or have been practicing them correctly. What makes ukemi any different? First off, if ukemi training is viewed simply as an additive to what constitutes a complete understanding of the basics then you pretty much have your answer right there.

Falling and slapping is a beginner's stage of understanding and execution. Ukemi is like any other part of a martial art…it is adaptive. If you think that there is just a singular response to a given situation is just incomplete.

That being said, however, to think that there is no strengthening measures to be found in the art of falling is incomplete as well. Falling and slapping strengthens the body so that one can take the falls outside of the dojo without harm being caused to oneself. It is no different than thrusting your fists into a giant pot of sand or punching water or even punching a thick wooden board wrapped in rope!

In fact, the quickest way to judge the quality of your ukemi is to get off the mat and do them on a hard surface. You will very quickly find the faults in your techniques. That's what we used to do. When the mats where too full in the Yokosuka dojo...beginners on the mats - seniors on the wood floor. And remember…boxes don't roll!

Regards,

Charlie

Charlie,
Thank you for your post. Sometimes it just amazes me at how "boxed in" people seem to be in regard to their training. I love how you start the post with "Oh Brother", how apropos in fact after reading all the posts(until I got to yours), I was thinking almost word for word, what you had posted.. I concur with your statement "there is absolutely no singular response to every situation." Form is important, but as martial artists, we must be adaptable.

Respectfully,

Natasha

billybob
12-11-2006, 07:20 AM
Natasha I agree that 'dogma' bad, adaptability good.

I tried the 'cross the leg over and slap with foot' mode of ukemi during a recent class. I had no problem with genitals getting smashed by thighs, and the ukemi felt good. It was during a normal aikido kokyu or sumi otoshi type fall; don't remember. The motion was typically aiki - downward, with a twist. Slapping the foot in crossover made a lot of sense.

I don't know if you read my comments about blasting the sacro iliac out of joint or kidney damage - if you take force through the body other than square on the hip and ankle while taking a strongly executed, guided, high fall. It's crucial to why I argue that slapping in the (classic) way is valid and can be valuable.

But, I had no idea when I started judo that the high falls with uke applying force all the way through - was an esoteric form of training. It was my first training, and when pressured sometimes we all 'run home to mama' technically.

I'll keep the training about slapping, but I won't apply it to all situations. In fact, it is very infrequent that I take that kind of high falls anymore (dammit!).

dave

statisticool
12-11-2006, 07:56 AM
The Chinese training involves using breath pressure to train the body over time so that the body can absorb heavy falls; the hand/arm is used to cup and protect the back of the head.


I wonder if anyone who trains using the hand/arm to cup and protect the back of the head and uses these techniques in matches is on top of the world in Judo competitions, for example?

L. Camejo
12-11-2006, 10:09 AM
Interesting topic.

Fell hard on concrete while washing my car a while back (soap water on painted concrete surface=very slippery). Fell backwards, heels over head (like a Tom and Jerry Cartoon), instinctively extended arms outward (handblade downwards), hood of car got in the way of my hand on the way down. Did not break my neck or crack the back of my head (which would have been very probable without ukemi training the way my body was oriented), the hood of the car still shows the dent left by my hand, besides a light stinging the hand was fine. All in all it was fun, I got up laughing and marvelling at how ukemi works. The "slap" did save me from getting a concussion or worse (since my head would have taken the entire impact otherwise). I believe in that situation slapping or "extending" was critical to regain some semblance of balance before my head and torso hit and to distribute the force away from critical areas of my body that were not so susceptible to impact. But I also know that I would not be trying that sort of fall on a jagged, uneven surface covered in glass as well. It depends on the environment imho.

Regarding rolls though I can see how slapping is entirely unnecessary.

LC:ai::ki:

Ron Tisdale
12-11-2006, 10:17 AM
I remember once wondering why in the heck we were practicing sliding breakfalls in the dojo. I was getting mat burns in the dojo...did not want to find out what road rash would be like outside the dojo. Then, when we went up to the poconos to train once, I took a forward fall while working on footwork with the bokken, rushing through bushes, across rocks, etc. Instinctively did a forward sliding breakfall. Stunned, got up and checked the forward arm, thinking, oh no, this is going to be a bloody mess...

Surprise! No issues at all...all that practice of doing the breakfall on the mats equalled...no injuries outside the dojo. I was shocked! I looked up to see my teacher watching me and smiling...

Best,
Ron (no slapping on that one...)

jonreading
12-11-2006, 11:06 AM
I want to contribute, but I am not exactly sure where this thread is/was going...

1. Ukemi is protection of the body. To artificially slap the mat during sutemi without need is poor ukemi. To refuse to slap the mat during sutemi when slapping is needed is poor ukemi. Ukemi is an appropriate response to protect the body from injury.
2. Many older shihan have expressed disappointement in the ukemi of today's aikido. We are unresponsive to our partners and uneducated about the purpose of ukemi. I think Ushiro sensei may have been directly addressing the danger of ukemi in a situation when falling is not appropriate, or when a studeent falls in ignorance of a better reaction.

DH
12-11-2006, 12:57 PM
I want to contribute, but I am not exactly sure where this thread is/was going...

1. Ukemi is protection of the body. To artificially slap the mat during sutemi without need is poor ukemi. To refuse to slap the mat during sutemi when slapping is needed is poor ukemi. Ukemi is an appropriate response to protect the body from injury.
2. Many older shihan have expressed disappointement in the ukemi of today's aikido. We are unresponsive to our partners and uneducated about the purpose of ukemi. I think Ushiro sensei may have been directly addressing the danger of ukemi in a situation when falling is not appropriate, or when a studeent falls in ignorance of a better reaction.

Hmm.... Sutemi ukemi?

Not sure where you're going with this but if I fall taking ukemi and I do sutemi waza my focus is in my legs and feet and dropping and drilling between and through Tori's feet. Tori gets ripped over the top by the body drop. It is non-compliant Ukemi without a slap as my intent is on other things when the guy goes boom!

No slapping the mat needed..........by Uke. Hell of a break fall for tori.

Non compliant and focused on fighting back changes the Ukemi.
Dan

billybob
12-11-2006, 02:12 PM
Non compliant and focused on fighting back changes the Ukemi. - Dan Harden.

Sensei - agreed.

From your perspective does slapping the mat help if one is taking a high break fall - from a classic judo style throw such as Ippon Seoi-Nage, and is engaged in kihon waza at the time?

David

Luc X Saroufim
12-11-2006, 02:58 PM
just so you guys know, F=ma is for one direction only and does not take into account rotation. so if you're doing a forward roll, that formula is null and void. and since we're trained to slap the mat in two directions (horizontal and vertical component), that formula is voided again.

i still agree that in a breakfall situation, it helps dissipate impact. in a forward roll i'm not so sure, because the roll, by definition, dissipates the impact.

Cady Goldfield
12-11-2006, 10:24 PM
Again, it's not the slap action, it's the spreading open of the arms to increase the total body surface area over which the force of landing is dissipated, that is the operating principle of a basic breakfall. Slapping -- actively adding force (accelerated mass) to the fall -- is...not...beneficial. Physics is fun, but it doesn't take into consideration the nature of organic tissue and cells, nor the and limitations of organisms under certain stresses within and outside their natural boundaries of stress application.

And, the only "benefit" one is getting from actively making percussive impact of one's limbs against hard objects, whether concrete floors, brick walls, makiwara, or pots of sand, is that you are destroying the nerves in those limbs and thus inurring yourself to pain. That is it. You are not "toughening" or "conditioning" anything.

Is there a doctor in the forum? ;) Anyone with a biology background besides me, who studied basic physiology, anatomy, vascular tissue/neural generation and all that good stuff? Oi moi moi.

Kevin Wilbanks
12-12-2006, 12:10 AM
Slapping could help if it was timed just right and it somehow directly counteracted the descent of your body as it headed for the ground. It might serve this way if you slapped BEFORE you hit the ground, but probably not much. If it was lined up properly, it could provide a classic counter thrust, although it is still questionable whether concentrating all that impact into your small hand to slightly reduce the velocity of your large body would be worth it in the larger scheme. If the slap hits about the same time as your body, and off to the side, it's going to be more like cracking a bullwhip where your hand and lower arm are just like the end of the whip snapping against the ground. If anything, the hand's impact will be accelerated by your body's descent - the opposite of the intended effect on the opposite part of the body.

I find it interesting if the idea behind something like a soft slap really is spreading out of the body's surface area to reduce stress at any specific point. If true, this might be preferable to just crashing heedlessly onto a 'corner' or particular vulnerable point on your body, but it still seems like the equivalent of aspiring to belly flop onto the ground. The properties of a water and solid surface are sort of opposite, but it seems awfully odd that the worst, most painful way to land on water is supposed to be the best you can hope for on the ground.

I think the idea behind soft ukemi is that you are still looking for a softer dynamic than the solid-on-solid of traditional breakfalls. Since the ground is solid, you strive to make your body behave more like a liquid spilling onto the ground, rather than something hard smacking into it. In general, you lower yourself rather than fall, rotate more before tipping over, and spill over an obstacle rather than tripping over it. The body stays much more relaxed, as relaxation is what gives it its liquid-like properties. The aim is deliberately the opposite of the kind of breakfall everyone is talking about here - the body hits in a segmented rather than consolidated fashion, and each part that "hits" immediately contributes to dampening the fall and redirecting the body's path....

At least these are my current thoughts on it as I log in the hours of taking experimental "hard falls" over various items of furniture.

Bronson
12-12-2006, 02:02 AM
And, the only "benefit" one is getting from actively making percussive impact of one's limbs against hard objects, whether concrete floors, brick walls, makiwara, or pots of sand, is that you are destroying the nerves in those limbs and thus inurring yourself to pain. That is it. You are not "toughening" or "conditioning" anything.

Well, there is WOLFF'S LAW (http://moon.ouhsc.edu/dthompso/pk/physiol/wolfslaw.htm) ;)

Bronson

Luc X Saroufim
12-12-2006, 06:08 AM
Again, it's not the slap action, it's the spreading open of the arms to increase the total body surface area over which the force of landing is dissipated

i can definitely imagine this. reminds me of a spread foundation for bridge abutments.

billybob
12-12-2006, 06:55 AM
Cady,

Find a good judoka. Take some ukemi from shoulder throws. Please be careful!!!

Soft is great, but if you misalign your body during a good hard throw - you are going to hurt yourself. As Dan and Mike preach -- you got to feel this stuff.

So, try what you say under the conditions I suggest.

David

ps. - I helped my buddy learn koshi nage last night and took some classic breakfalls. felt great, and my spine feels more limber today for it. dk

Cady Goldfield
12-12-2006, 07:05 AM
Done judo with good judoka, taken hard throws. Some you can't breakfall from to save your life (literally). But judo is on mats. Impulse power on mats or even wood floors with camber, springs you back up. Try it on pavement though! :freaky:

Cady Goldfield
12-12-2006, 07:09 AM
Well, there is WOLFF'S LAW (http://moon.ouhsc.edu/dthompso/pk/physiol/wolfslaw.htm) ;)

Bronson

Bronson,
We addressed weight-bearing/stress-bearing exercise, as compared to percussive/concussive impact earlier. The former is done in a low-impact way that results in even-buildup of bone tissue density over time without causing ruptures or nerve damage. The latter kills nerves, causes edema and bone spurs, and ruptures blood vessels.

billybob
12-12-2006, 08:02 AM
Oh Cady! Now you've done it!

Let's see how you deal with this: I agree.

Your last two posts make perfect sense to me, and agree with my experience. So there! :P

David :)

Cady Goldfield
12-12-2006, 09:01 AM
"Norman, please co-ordinate!"
-- logic-frazzled androids in the Star Trek episode "I, Mudd"

:D

billybob
12-12-2006, 10:20 AM
ha! you win. I love a good fight as much as you do.

dave

natasha cebek
12-12-2006, 08:54 PM
I have found that the most important thing about Ukemi is that I don't get injured. Sometimes I slap, sometimes I don't..sometimes on a good day I can float..wow!! and then sometimes it's just plain fun to slap that ground nice and hard, just for fun. What it really boils down to is that I decide how I am going to hit the ground,floor or whatever. I have always been taught that I am solely responsible for the outcome of my own fall.
Ukemi is what it is-The art of falling.
And in an ideal "martial arts" world, we eventually learn to fly.
I was also always told by my Sensei to "be quiet and train", so I did.
When I stopped analyzing and questioning every single movement in the Dojo, then I was finally able to learn. If I have a pressing question, I'll think about it for a while and then ask on another day.
Slap the mat or don't...What matters, is the option to do so.

Respectfully,
Natasha