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Very recently, I attended a class where sensei was talking about what makes good ukemi. He outlined how ukemi changes depending on the type of practice one is engaging in. He also talked about how we should focus on being faster, more responsive, and "honest" while taking ukemi. Most interestingly, sensei talked about how, when he was young, and lived and trained in Japan, the students who thought they had good ukemi were never asked to help the instructor demonstrate a technique. I was curious as to what AikiWeb readers thought about the question, what makes "good ukemi?" Does it depend on the situation? Is it always the same? When uke, do we take ukemi for ourselves or for nage? Finally, when we watch someone train/train with someone, and think to ourselves, "Wow, they take great ukemi," why do we think this?
I am looking forward to your thoughts. Jeff
01-04-2007, 03:10 PM
Great inquiry. We have had several Sensei's visit our little dojo in the past couple of years, and the question I always ask by the second beer Friday night is: "In your opinion, what is really good ukemi?" I have recieved some good explanations and even better physical examples by our visiting teachers.
I must say, however, that different teachers seem to appreciate different approaches. Some want an uke who is very responsive and bails in huge breakfall right away, others want an uke who will hang in there a little and is not afraid to scrap before taking a roll or falling backward in a good defensive ground position.
Most want an accurate attack that will land if no action is taken by nage. The ability to remain balanced throughout the attack and subsequent roll or fall is also pretty universely applauded.
I do sense some large differences of opinions in breakfalls (i.e. big flipping high falls off the ground with the huge slap... ya know, the one that impresses the audience), in that some teachers like them, others find them useless, and others just don't care as long as you can get up afterward.
To give an opinion on one or two of your questions, I think that we take ukemi for ourselves, in that it is a defensive move in order to save ourselves from the full brunt the technique (if it has the ability and application to truly do some damage). I think great ukemi involves being able to stay connected to nage in a way that one can reverse at any given opening in the martial exchange, even when moving to save oneself from technique (whether rolling, falling backward, or preparing for a breakfall). Good aikido technique, then, is that which is not open to reversal in its execution. Good ukemi should lead to good aikido technique, and vice versa.
01-04-2007, 05:20 PM
IMHO it depends on the context. In training good ukemi is (IMO) is being aware of what tori is doing, what is happening around you, not going anywhere you've not been put and not falling over unless you have to. Basically simulating someone who's balance has been broken by a previous technique.
Good ukemi in a live situation, for me anyway, is actively moving from an unfavorable position to a more favorable one, using tori's movement and power to achieve this.
01-04-2007, 06:45 PM
He also talked about how we should focus on being faster, more responsive, and "honest" while taking ukemi.
I wonder what he meant by "faster"? Fall faster? Attack faster? Move faster? IMHO, speed has nothing to do with ukemi.... and everything to do with uke-mi.
I wonder what he meant by "more responsive"? More responsive to being thrown? More responsive to (absorbing) force? More responsive to what?
I wonder what he meant by being "honest"? Does that mean not falling over unless you absolutely have to? Or falling over anyway even if your partner does not have kuzushi?
01-04-2007, 06:49 PM
I think great ukemi involves being able to stay connected to nage in a way that one can reverse at any given opening in the martial exchange, even when moving to save oneself from technique (whether rolling, falling backward, or preparing for a breakfall). Good aikido technique, then, is that which is not open to reversal in its execution. Good ukemi should lead to good aikido technique, and vice versa.
I think thats a great explanation of good Ukemi. The way I've been taught is basically that we are training to be effective with any attack in any situation, meaning even if someone is trying to kill you. So when we attack as Uke, regardless of how, we maintain that sincerity and intention throughout the motion. Staying full, present and aware so that you can fill in any opening that might be left by Nage, which means not bailing or running away from the technique. I really appreciate this approach because it just makes sense to me and explains why we practice the way we practices.
01-05-2007, 03:59 AM
Well... in order to answer this... What do you think ukemi ( 受身 ) means?
After this point is answered, then we could go to the good or the ones that still have areas that need improving.
We had a bit of a discussion here:
01-05-2007, 04:09 AM
Good ukemi should lead to good aikido technique, and vice versa.
Very nicely put...
01-06-2007, 06:29 AM
You might like to check out Donovan Waite Sensei's 2nd video on ukemi where he discusses (and demonstrates) the components of good ukemi. The video is available at this website. (http://www.aiki.com/)
BTW, does anyone know if Bookman Sensei is going to re-issue his ukemi videos as DVD? :)
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