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Kevin Wilbanks
01-11-2007, 11:08 PM
I am curious if anyone has first hand knowledge of people being injured doing backward rolls. In the past, I have heard about incidents of serious injury and even one account of a death from mid-backward roll collisions, but I don't exactly have medical records and death certificates to prove them.

So, first question: does anybody KNOW about incidents of backward roll related injuries or deaths?

Personally, I have never felt safe doing them from throws and am pretty sure I have never done a single backward roll, except during exercises at the beginning of basic classes. Even without factoring in that you can't see where you are going and might collide, I feel like there is too great of a possibility of angling incorrectly or getting mixed up about which side is being chosen, which could result in neck injury. Before I learned soft ukemi, I just always flattened out instead of rolling. Now I mostly turn slightly sideways, lower myself on the ball of my foot, and do the butt/back wide leg thing. Occasionally I do a hard, flattening out style fall.

In 7-8 years of training, I don't recall ever "needing" to roll backwards in the sense of avoiding injury or even feeling a little awkward. The alternatives always seemed fine. So the second question: does anyone feel backward rolls are necessary in their training? Why?

Ryan Sanford
01-11-2007, 11:16 PM
I honestly have no idea what the potential injury risks are, but I would most certainly say that after I learned to do backwards rolling, ukemi was much easier. I was also able to spring up faster after being thrown too. I notice that the rolling helps to get rid of some of the momentum from the fall. Granted, I'm still only 17, so my body can take some punishment, if that means anything. :D

John Matsushima
01-11-2007, 11:59 PM
I agree with you that it is very dangerous. From my experience many Aikido practitioners don't pay enough attention to safety during practice. There are many potential risks for injuries, especially neck injuries. I think that all throws are dangerous and must done with great consideration to the uke's safety.

There was one person at my dojo who hit her head on another person's knee who was on the ground and she had to be taken to the hospital. But now she is practicing again.

I think it is the responsibility of nage to take care of uke especially, since, like you said, an uke being thrown backwards cannot see what's behind them.

I personally don't feel that any rolls are necessary, but I think they are better for your body, and they make practice a lot easier.

miratim
01-12-2007, 12:43 AM
Kevin -

Great topic. I've only been training for a few years, but I haven't found them necessary for any techniques - backwards falls (half rolls) have been sufficient.

The only time I've found them "convenient" or less awkward was in line techniques, where nage throws a line of ukes one at a time. It tends to prevent me from gumming up the works if I take a full back roll out instead of doing a fall and reversing/stopping the motion.

On injuries, I haven't personally seen any serious ones from backwards rolls. However, I did slam my head on the mat doing one once a couple years ago due to uke stupidity - I anticipated the full roll when the throw was more straight down than a projection. That wasn't very exciting, and probably wouldn't have happened if I had just stuck with a simple back fall.

PeterR
01-12-2007, 01:40 AM
In Shodokan Aikido we just don't do them and I think the main reason is safety.

In both kata and randori there tends to be a lot of very strong forward projections and the risk to the neck is just too great.

From a self defense point of view a backward role puts you in a vulnerable position whereas an ordinary back breakfall puts your legs between you and your attacker. Yes I'ld rather stay on my feet but if I have to go down I'ld rather be able to kick out than have my back to the person.

xuzen
01-12-2007, 02:10 AM
When I was in aikikai dojo, I used to do lots of backward rolls. But then the throws were less forceful compared to what my Yoshinkan brethens are dishing out these days. Currently, in my practice, I seldom do any backward rolls. Maybe as part of warm-up, but never in a middle of a high intensity jiyu-waza session. The risk are just too great as some posters said earlier.

However, some of my yudansha dojo-mates still do them, at their own risk IMHO.

Boon.

mjchip
01-12-2007, 02:24 AM
In the Birankai we also do not generally do backward rolls. Safety is the primary reason.

Best,

Mark

Mark Uttech
01-12-2007, 02:50 AM
Tne main problem with backward rolls comes from beginners who roll straight back on their necks rather than their shoulders. That is why it is necessary to practice getting to know your own body.

In gassho

Mark

PeterR
01-12-2007, 03:06 AM
I was visiting a dojo in Canada once and was having trouble doing backward roles in a suave and sophisticated sort of way when one brown belt said loud enough for several people to hear - "you call that a black belt he can't even do a backward role".

The teacher (who at that time didn't know me from Adam) was pissed, and with his eyes gave me the go ahead. I knew exactly what he wanted. She did her role and half way through I was on top with a nice loud ki-ai.

The teacher trained for a couple of years with one of my sempai from Shodokan honbu - he knew my background and of course we had exchanged e-mails so it wasn't completely out of the blue.

A little story but the point is that I've never seen anyone able to do a backward role fast enough to beat rapid follow up by anyone with any training.

seank
01-12-2007, 03:20 AM
We regularly practice backwards rolling out of techniques, however I've personally found it takes time to know when to roll and when to break fall. The backwards roll is almost always from a more gentle and controlled technique whereas a breakfall is used in faster or more aggressive technique.

There is a risk of hyper-extension to the neck as well as associated muscle problems, but they can also happen from forward rolls.

I've had concussion from being accidentally dropped from head height backwards on to someones knee. I bit through my tongue in several spots and chewed my cheeks up pretty badly too. Not really roll related, but goes to show that anything can happen.

I wouldn't suggest backwards rolls are for everyone or every situation but they do allow you to regain your feet very quickly and to dissipate energy when being drawn backwards.

Kevin Wilbanks
01-12-2007, 03:58 AM
I wouldn't suggest backwards rolls are for everyone or every situation but they do allow you to regain your feet very quickly and to dissipate energy when being drawn backwards.

Ok, this is the second time we've gotten this answer. The problem with it is that both these benefits also accrue to the other alternative I mentioned: the backward side roll, or 'ushiro yoko kaiten'. In fact, I think it is actually superior in both these respects. In addition, the backward side roll also has the benefits of less danger to one's neck, more control over one's trajectory, being able to quickly turn in the direction one is going and see what is ahead, and being able to get up in two different ways.

The disadvantage of follow-up is shared to some extent by both the back roll and the backward side roll. I personally think this is not a very good argument against either, for training purposes.

To start with, the follow-up lacks inherent logic: if nage wanted to ground and pound you, why did he just throw you away from him or her? If this was the aim, a smart nage would hold on and follow you down in the first place.

Second, both rolls are designed for safely resolving a single throw in practice, for the most part - a situation in which a surprise follow-up is outside the parameters of the practice scenario. If you think nage is going to keep coming, then you simply choose the half fall and get your feet in between you instead of doing either roll.

Even assuming some validity to this criticism, I still think the backward side roll is better, as the roll can be modified during execution in several ways to address the problem of a pursuing uke.

***

It is interesting to know that the back roll is considered dangerous and not used in other Aikido schools. I have only trained in Aikikai. However, I'm still looking for reports of actual injuries or fatalaties.

grondahl
01-12-2007, 04:49 AM
To start with, the follow-up lacks inherent logic: if nage wanted to ground and pound you, why did he just throw you away from him or her? If this was the aim, a smart nage would hold on and follow you down in the first place.

OTOH practising with a mindset where the both tori and uke always keep focus on the possibility of a follow up and where uke dont break the mental connection by rolling away seems like a good idea in my view.

PeterR
01-12-2007, 05:06 AM
OTOH practising with a mindset where the both tori and uke always keep focus on the possibility of a follow up and where uke dont break the mental connection by rolling away seems like a good idea in my view.
Exactly - not to mention that trying to guess what you opponent is going to do is antithema to budo - mushin and all that.

Keith R Lee
01-12-2007, 06:46 AM
I've never felt the need for them in Aikido, but backwards rolling comes into play while, err, rolling in Sambo/BJJ/grappling. However, it's only to maintain positioning or follow a person around, not to disapate the force of a throw or anything like that.

Ketsan
01-12-2007, 07:12 AM
Interesting topic. How are you defining a backwards roll because I know of two ways?
We do backward rolls across the shoulder as in tuck foot, sit down, kick out stretched leg over opposite shoulder then push ourselves up with our hands. So uke does a complete 360 degree roll to standing.
The second way I've seen is described in Aikido and the dynamic sphere and is basically a half roll back followed by a half roll forward which to me seems dangerous.

Peter Goldsbury
01-12-2007, 07:15 AM
It is interesting to know that the back roll is considered dangerous and not used in other Aikido schools. I have only trained in Aikikai. However, I'm still looking for reports of actual injuries or fatalaties.

In my dojo, students do the back roll as part of general ukemi training at the beginning of the class. So we do forward rolls and backward rolls in a straight line from either side, the backward roll being a mirror image of the forward roll. I think this is also the general custom in most Japanese university dojos. I think this general ukemi training is beneficial in various ways and the students themselves have a tangible sign of progress: they are able to roll progressively better and in some sense they know 'where they are' during a complex movement over which they do not have total control. Some students do not have anything like total control and injure themselves in the early stages of their aikido training. But these cases are rare, in my experience, and this is the only evidence I have of injuries caused by back rolls.

However, I have rarely resorted to the back roll in my own aikido training with partners and consider that it is virtually unnecessary. So why do we do it? I think it is a useful training exercise, but in actual aikido practice, I think there are very few waza where the back roll is possible.

raul rodrigo
01-12-2007, 08:11 AM
I only manage to do a back roll when being thrown by the beginners. When thrown at full speed by my teacher or seniors, it never comes up.

Adman
01-12-2007, 08:41 AM
So we do forward rolls and backward rolls in a straight line from either side, the backward roll being a mirror image of the forward roll.This is also how we will practice at our dojo. The only time I can think of this particular ukemi coming into play, is during slower training with less impact, but still only done as an exercise. However, I'll pay very close attention to always "seeing" in the direction of my roll. If I'm not fully aware, the only blind spot might be the immediate two to three feet, directly behind me.

As an exercise, I like to see just how slowly I can perform a backwards roll, beginning from standing. Trying to take momentum out of the equation is very interesting.

thanks,
Adam

creinig
01-12-2007, 09:07 AM
I tend to do backward rolls pretty often when thrown from iriminage variants. Depends very much on the energy and direction of the throw -- it sometimes just feels more "natural" to me. It's definitely a habit rather than a choice though, and I'm trying to get rid of it.

Heck, I've even done a "shoulder stand" (one shoulder on the floor, rest of the body straight upwards) for a few seconds while trying to decide which kind of roll/fall to do. Not something I want to have as ingrained reaction :D

Larry John
01-12-2007, 09:57 AM
It seems to me that rolling during a stand up engagement is primarily a means of safely extending maai, whether to run away or to re-set the engagement on more favorable terms--as in "select zone 5 and extend" (OK, I know it's really humiliating for an Air Force guy to be quoting a Navy movie, but most folks are unfamiliar with the term in any other context).

Assuming my view is correct, it would seem that it is, therefore, at least useful, if not critical, for martial artists to be able to execute any roll in any direction when the tactical or strategic situation demands an extension. If the opening to extend is to your back and you need to get away, that's the way to go. If you have the time to turn to face the back, do it as a forward roll. If the hole's top the side, go that way.

Of course, any attempt to extend can be followed and exploited by a determined adversary, but ya do what ya can. If you've never trained rolling in a particular direction, though, you've already limited your options in a way that can come back to bite you. If training accidents are your concern, structure training so that the probability of an accident is minimized--one way is to have a general rule to always throw to the outside edge of the mat.

Kevin Wilbanks
01-12-2007, 12:23 PM
OTOH practising with a mindset where the both tori and uke always keep focus on the possibility of a follow up and where uke dont break the mental connection by rolling away seems like a good idea in my view.

Exactly - not to mention that trying to guess what you opponent is going to do is antithema to budo - mushin and all that.

I call BS on both these answers. I've heard variations on the first one lots of times and I just don't buy it. In most Aikido training, we are doing training exercises that have specific rules and parameters. Having an awareness of your partner between throws and being in a constant state of expecting crazy anomolous things are not the same thing. Saying that you should always do every exercise with the awareness that your partner might suddenly do something outside those parameters is absurd. Why stop at constant vigilance that nage might pounce on you after every throw? What if they grab hold of your testicles and try to tear them off as you go down? What if they quickly whip out a knife from their gi and try to slice open you abdomen as they throw? What if they secretly conspired with another dojo member to break from training with their partner, run over and attack you while you are falling? What if they contracted a hit man to break through the front door with an assault rifle? Are you keeping all this in mind every time you practice an ikkyo? It's ridiculous.

As for the second dismissive comment, of course you do some cognitive extrapolation on what you think your opponent is going to be doing next. You size up the situation, look for signs that indicate their mindset, where they seem to be moving, take into account how they behaved earlier in the exchange and in prior exchanges... and most important to this topic, keep in mind what the specific exercise is that you are performing and what its rules and parameters are. This is all basic tactical thinking. Mushin is not about becoming stupid. If you cleared your mind of all thought whatsoever every time you started a repetition, you'd still be busy wondering where you were and why everyone around you was wearing silly trousers as you got punched.

Lan Powers
01-12-2007, 01:00 PM
I roll out of backwards ukemi fairly often. When in a training rythym of being the sole uke for someone as we do jiyu-waza, it helps keep the "flow" going better to have less delay in the time for my next attempt at the prescribed attack.
Probably not my first choice if we were fighting for real, but very viable for the training rythym.
It keeps you in motion
Lan

Ron Tisdale
01-12-2007, 01:19 PM
Why stop at constant vigilance that nage might pounce on you after every throw?

Why not indeed? Some styles maintain focus and kamae throughout...the waza is not considered completed until both partners are back in kamae and about 6 feet apart after the ukemi.

What if they grab hold of your testicles and try to tear them off as you go down?

While I haven't seen this one, I have had partners reverse me when I throw when I don't pay attention to certain details of position and balance. So I get tossed. Same for breaks in attention.

What if they quickly whip out a knife from their gi and try to slice open you abdomen as they throw?

I've known people who have trained with a tanto onboard, and whipped it out to make just such a point.

What if they secretly conspired with another dojo member to break from training with their partner, run over and attack you while you are falling?

One of the preperations for yudansha tests is that you walk into the dojo, and suddenly a senior is striking you with a padded shinai. You are supposed to evade. The idea is to show just this sort of awareness.

What if they contracted a hit man to break through the front door with an assault rifle? Are you keeping all this in mind every time you practice an ikkyo? It's ridiculous.

I actually had an instructor (while making a point that what we train in is not warfare) who brought in a rifle wrapped in a blanket (disabled) and asked who thought they were well prepared to defend themselves. I don't find the idea of being alert and focused during training rediculous at all. I think it's a good idea, if not carried to paranoia. I believe you may have misinterpreted Peter's intent and meaning.

Best,
Ron

Mark Gibbons
01-12-2007, 01:41 PM
Back rolls can be good for stopping if you have too much momentum going downhill. If you do a forward roll that takes you into a series of forward rolls, converting to rolling backwards may help you stop. Probably best practiced on mats first.

Sort of obscure, but lots of fun.

Mark

Avery Jenkins
01-12-2007, 05:33 PM
A backward role is just another option in your ukemi "arsenal." Options are good. The more options I have in a conflict, the happier I am.

The backward role has never struck me as being any more injury prone than any other move, and I don't see any reason why it should be.

Avery

sullivanw
01-13-2007, 12:52 AM
However, I have rarely resorted to the back roll in my own aikido training with partners and consider that it is virtually unnecessary. So why do we do it? I think it is a useful training exercise, but in actual aikido practice, I think there are very few waza where the back roll is possible.

This has been my experience as my senpai have progressively been using more and more force with me. When they are really challenging me I don't have the time or position to do a back roll - it becomes a back fall.

-Will

Kevin Wilbanks
01-13-2007, 02:34 AM
Ron,

As far as I'm concerned, in an attempt to provide counterpoint, you have instead just unwittingly corroborated my claim that these objections are ridiculous, and worse. The concept that we are dealing with here has been parodied in Pink Panther movies, in the form of Clouseau's butler Kato. There's a reason why it's funny. One-upping someone else in terms of surprising them with random, unexpected malevolence is inherently ridiculous. Aside from the first example, which seems like a mere training convention for a certain group, and the second one, which just seems like a standard part of advanced training, the examples you provide show how this dynamic can easily escalate from silly to scary to criminal.

Whipping a fake knife out of one's gi at an unexpected moment strikes me as an exercise in being an arrogant smart ass. It is simply outside the parameters of the practice. I find it hard to see any way to interpet this that does not involve seeing the knife-wielder as thinking he is better and more aware than his partner, and looking to prove it, and/or thinking the training that he and his partner are supposed to be doing is beneath him somehow.

Onward to the more disturbing. The final two examples you give sound like classic cult behavior. I would not tolerate either one from any dojo I attended. When someone transgresses the implict boundaries of your association or social contract with them, it is a serious matter, and possibly a criminal act. I would say both of the practices you describe meet the legal definition of assault - the first physical and the second verbal... at the very least.

If any Aikido classmate of mine ambushed me with a weapon, I would defend myself in earnest. Unless they were vastly superior to me in a no-rules, anything goes, real self defense scenario, they would likely be going to the hospital. I do not tolerate unprovoked attacks on my person with weapons, and I can't imagine why any sane person would. My classmates do not have my permission to abuse me in this way, and they have no business assuming it without asking.

If an Aikido teacher of mine brought a presumably loaded firearm to class and said things that implied that he was going to use it on the students, I would assume he had lost his mind. Depending on my assessment of the scenario, I would either object strongly or attempt to escape and call the police. Either way, I would quit the dojo and press assault charges - even if the suit cost me money and was unlikely to succeed, I would pursue it to the end as a matter of principle, in the hopes that taking a stand and causing major hassles would serve to protect other students from such predatory behavior in the future.

Once again, no one, including my Aikido teacher has my permission to threaten me or play any kind of sadistic head game on me to "teach me a lesson". That's not what I signed up for. If you did, I'd say you are about an inch away from drinking poisoned Kool-Aid in the jungles of Guyana. My idea of participating in Aikido is not about joining a cult and allowing people to abuse me in ways that surprise me at every turn, it is about a mutually consensual social contract with two-way respect and clear boundaries.

Peter Goldsbury
01-13-2007, 03:41 AM
As a background to the discussion between Kevin W and Ron T, I would suggest that the possibility of backward rolls during practice is closely related to the conventions of practice, which clearly varies in each organization/dojo.

Last night I practised in my university dojo with the students and the pace of training was not so fast and demanding. Sometimes backward rolls were executed by some students, but this was only because the waza was not applied to the end and so they were given the space and time to do so.

One waza in question was kokyu-nage from a morote-dori hold. This is a fundamental training tool and can be done with or without the ukemi. Last night some students were 'letting go' far too early (in my opinion), and so were given the space to do a backward roll. When we changed partners and these students practised with me, they could not do the backward roll because I did not give them the 'space' to do so.

If any of you have practised this waza with Masatake Fujita Shihan, you will know that a backward roll is completely impossible. He throws you straight down and does not 'let go' until the last minute: he continues the waza until you are lying flat on the mat, with his hand just above your head. The way he does this waza sometimes requires a back breakfall. And he expects feedback from his uke right until the end of the waza. I have seen one injury from this waza, as executed by Fujita Sensei: concussion caused by the head hitting the mat.

Compare this with the late Morihiro Saito Shihan. I once took part in a seminar taught by Saito Sensei and his uke was Bruce Klickstein. Bruce is now a non-person in the aikido world, but his ukemi was extraordinary. We did the same waza, morote-dori kokyu-nage with loads of variations, but Saito Sensei 'let go' somewhat earlier than Fujita Sensei and Bruce executed a superb ukemi. It was not really a roll, but Bruce was flexible enough to be able to land on his feet. It was more a 'side breakfall, but going backwards', which perhaps is what Kevin W has in mind. Except that you do not turn your body in the direction of the throw, and your feet should reach eye-level: it is the 'kick' that makes all the difference.

For the aikido history buffs who are around my age, the seminar was taught around 1981 or 1982 and was organized by the New England Aikikai. It was held in western Massachusetts (Springfield, perhaps) and was taught by Nobuyoshi Tamura and Morihiro Saito. It was the first joint seminar ever held by these two shihans. A youthful Bruce Bookman took part as did the late Paul Sylvain and other members of the Chiba-gumi.

wayneth
01-13-2007, 05:08 AM
At the BAF Summer School 2005, Sugawara Sensei introduced a different form of Ushiro Ukemi. This being instead of rolling over your shoulder, you just roll over your back; hitting the mat when you hit the ground and then hitting the mat again when you have rolled over.
If I can remember right he explained that this was much more safer than practicing the normal, standard Ushiro Kaiten Ukemi. Since when practicing technique with power and Uke aiming to do this rolling Ukemi, it can, I would imagine cause some sort of stress on the neck etc. Which is where this would come in?

Wayne

creinig
01-13-2007, 06:05 AM
The concept that we are dealing with here has been parodied in Pink Panther movies, in the form of Clouseau's butler Kato. There's a reason why it's funny. One-upping someone else in terms of surprising them with random, unexpected malevolence is inherently ridiculous.

It might be funny to most people, but I consider this to be very useful training, as long as (a) both parties agree to it and (b) both parties trust each other to have enough control to avoid serious injuries. And interestingly, there was a Clouseau-Kato relationship between Ueshiba and Shioda, as described in "Aikido Shugyo", p.153.

Whipping a fake knife out of one's gi at an unexpected moment strikes me as an exercise in being an arrogant smart ass. It is simply outside the parameters of the practice. I find it hard to see any way to interpet this that does not involve seeing the knife-wielder as thinking he is better and more aware than his partner, and looking to prove it, and/or thinking the training that he and his partner are supposed to be doing is beneath him somehow.

Simple :)

If I'm doing the technique and uke has the ability to pull a weapon and attack me with it during that, then I'm doing something seriously wrong. Of course that applies not to all practiced techniques and not to all ways of practicing (e.g. slow step-by-step detail work), but sometimes such pointers from uke are very helpful.

Onward to the more disturbing. The final two examples you give sound like classic cult behavior. I would not tolerate either one from any dojo I attended. When someone transgresses the implict boundaries of your association or social contract with them, it is a serious matter, and possibly a criminal act. I would say both of the practices you describe meet the legal definition of assault - the first physical and the second verbal... at the very least.

Depends. If everyone knows such a shinai attack is (or may be) part of preparation for a test, then I consider it to be perfectly fine. I can't say anything about the rifle thing -- I read it as the thing just being brought to the dojo, not being pointed at someone (which I would strongly object to as well).

My idea of participating in Aikido is not about joining a cult and allowing people to abuse me in ways that surprise me at every turn, it is about a mutually consensual social contract with two-way respect and clear boundaries.

I'm pretty sure (training in a supposedly similar dojo culture) that Ron's examples were in a dojo with "a mutually consensual social contract with two-way respect and clear boundaries". Just different boundaries than you might be used to :)

Not trying to be a smartass here. I just wanted to point out that Ron's examples are merely about a higher intensity of training (mainly the mental kind of intensity). And there's a bunch of us sickos who like that :D

Kevin Wilbanks
01-13-2007, 03:02 PM
At the BAF Summer School 2005, Sugawara Sensei introduced a different form of Ushiro Ukemi. This being instead of rolling over your shoulder, you just roll over your back; hitting the mat when you hit the ground and then hitting the mat again when you have rolled over.
If I can remember right he explained that this was much more safer than practicing the normal, standard Ushiro Kaiten Ukemi. Since when practicing technique with power and Uke aiming to do this rolling Ukemi, it can, I would imagine cause some sort of stress on the neck etc. Which is where this would come in?

Wayne

Wayne,

I think this is a variation on the same Ukemi I'm describing as a side-backward roll. I know someone who studies with Sugawara, and we have talked about this.

The more basic version of this fall does not require the first slap. When you tuck the inside leg, you put down the ball of your foot instead of falling onto the top of it. This allows you to lower yourself down under control and set the first hand down on the mat, not slap. You then lower yourself onto your butt and side of your back, then roll sideways, as you say. If you want to dissipate momentum, you can spread and extend the legs instead of slapping with the second hand. As you roll over, you begin to push yourself up with that hand - falling and getting up are all one motion. Your head/neck is never in any jeaporday, at least not from the fall. If you can't find anyone who knows it, you can see in on the first Donovan Waite ukemi DVD.

The version you describe is for when the inside leg is trapped, and you cannot control your trajectory or lower youself sufficiently with it.

Ron Tisdale
01-16-2007, 07:09 AM
Hi Kevin, sorry my examples hit a sore spot. ;)

No one in the one dojo felt threatened at all by the gun demonstration. The gun was never pointed at anybody, no one gasped (we all know that particular instructor is a firearms expert), and the gun was disabled. The presense of it was enough to make the point. Some of us were very into "what works"...his point was what works today is a bullet from a mile away. So getting *inappropriately rough* on your partners while trying to find "what works" did not and does not make a whole lot of sense. It was a good lecture, well worth the time, and it has stuck with me. The tanto part is something I've heard of...not something I remember doing myself...but I think it teaches a similar lesson. And I know Silat groups where they ONLY train armed. ;) And I don't know of anyone crying assault there either.

When going for shodan/nidan in the other dojo, we know what is expected...control is used at all times, and to my knowledge, no one has ever been hurt, or believed that they were assaulted or battered. It was good training only ;)

As to cult behavior, well, aikido, tennis, professional baseball, all can be cults of a sort. But no, I do not consider any of the dojo I have trained regularly in to be cults. In the case of the dojo above, we regularly trained outside of our organization, in other arts as well as other styles of aikido, and had others come in to us regularly. While the instructor was definately very religious and charismatic, he and I disagree quite a bit about religeon, politics and many other things. Yet we have a good relationship to this day, even though I have since left that dojo for completely unrelated issues.

To sum up...I have no issues with the training I described earlier, and I find it unfortunate that you react to it in such a strong manner, but hey; you pays your money...and you takes your chances. To each his own.

Backrolls...uh, yeah...back on topic...I agree with Peter...they have their place. Frankly, I probably do them too often.

Best,
Ron

mwible
01-16-2007, 07:18 AM
i have personally never heard of anyone being injured from a backward roll. and as to you not feeling comfortable doing a backward roll from a technique ill just say that when you are falling from a throw you have to put the foot closest to nage down anyways(for your breakfall), so since that leg is down and your other leg is up then you should take a backroll over the shoulder on the side with the leg thats up, but i usually only do backwards rolls out of a technique if it is a soft technique, because if it is really hard(like some of the ones i have expeienced from my sensei) then i just instinctively do a breakfall(either that or be hurt really bad). i dont know if this has helped at all but, there you go!!! :D

RoyK
01-16-2007, 09:28 AM
I got hit on the head while doing a back fall in the past, so I don't see how a back fall is so much safer than a back roll. You still don't see where you're going.

I've been to a practice class in a dojo where they don't practice back rolls because rolling back gives the opponent a chance to attack you while ur back is turned to him.

I personally am glad I practice backward rolls because they're very helpful for improving my forward rolls.

wayneth
01-16-2007, 10:24 AM
Hi Kevin,

Yes the way you described that Ukemi was familiar to the one that I was saying about, the only difference being that we do hit the tatami twice; once when we hit the ground at first and then when we almost "rotate" onto the other side and get up. I don't now why we hit the mat twice, all Sugawara Sensei said that the Ukemi was to protect the internal organs from shock of the fall.

However the explanation you said at the end of your post does not seem familiar. I didn't now that that was the reason why you did it, simply because Sugawara Sensei taught it as a simple Ukemi and so does my own instructor. To be done when doing techniques like Irimi Nage and Kokyo-Ho Nage, among others.
Also apparently Kobayashi Sensei taught the same thing at the UKA Summer School 2005, possibly something which Hombu Dojo is implementing. Although a suggestion but looking at the Uke in Doshus books, they never do Ushiro Kaiten Ukemi.

If I am right don't Yoshinkan teach Ushiro Kaiten Ukemi (I saw it being shown in one of the Yoshinkan DVDs), but I have never seen it being done when they are performing techniques??

Wayne

Ron Tisdale
01-16-2007, 10:38 AM
Yes, it is taught, and drilled. Like Peter said, if you see someone doing powerfull throws in a demo, you will rarely see uke doing ushiro kaiten ukemi. There simply isn't room for it, or any effective way I know yet to dissapate the power of the throw enough (other than doing an advance backfall kicking up the inside leg, and then rolling...but I'm not sure of the tactical reason to roll after doing that ukemi). You tend to land VERY close to shite / nage doing the advanced breakfall, and exposing your spine to your partner when that close seems to be a no no to me.

Best,
Ron

senshincenter
01-16-2007, 01:44 PM
I was trained in backwards rolls. However, as I worked with higher skilled practitioners, or at higher paces of practice, the opportunity for the backwards roll became rare. In my experience, this is because the backwards roll requires that uke be allowed to have his/her center move back and down prior to most other body parts, while a good practitioner (or folks working at higher paces) will never seek to throw you "backwards" without your center continuing to move forward and up. It is for this same reason that the common way of doing back break-falls is often impossible under these same circumstances (though folks do them) - i.e. folks tend to sit their bottom back and down rather than having their center continue forward and up. At our dojo, as a dojocho, I do not instruct at all in backwards rolls. My deshi range from being able to do them because they are coordinated folks who know their bodies and the ground to outright sucking at them. For better or for worse, I have to say, I am a bit proud of that fact - lol.

dmv

natasha cebek
01-17-2007, 05:23 AM
Good points Ron.
For the record as Avery stated, Ukemi in all it's forms are part of your arsenal. One of the great things about a backwards roll (especially after a breakfall), is the ability to get out of a tight spot..quickly.
From time to time, we practice our awareness and how to deal with an attacker "mid- ukemi". There are so many options, most importantly is knowing exactly where you are.

David Shevitz
01-19-2007, 02:35 PM
In our dojo, we practice back rolls. I agree with the many posts here: it's primarily a training exercise. I also agree (as others have already said) that experienced nages rarely give their ukes the opportunity to do a back roll.

I don't find back rolls dangerous in and of themselves; however, there is one practice that I dislike: the use of back rolls as a "lazy" way of getting up from a fall. I've seen many aikidoka use a back roll where a back fall would do. Their reasoning is that it allows them to use some of the momentum from falling to stand back up. The problem I have with this is that, too often, they try to use a back roll in a situation that is unsafe. Some examples: they might be close to the edge of the mat, or they don't see that there are other students directly behind them.

I see no problem with using them as a training exercise or as another "tool" to add to one's ukemi skills. And they are pretty fun!

seank
01-19-2007, 05:31 PM
Some examples: they might be close to the edge of the mat, or they don't see that there are other students directly behind them.


Funnily enough that is one of the reasons we do practice this, so as to practice and develop your awareness for what is going on around you.

I've been on the mats with hundreds of people before where we are quite literally shoulder to shoulder and backwards rolls have still been possible, and I can still only recall one incident where a person ended up with a broken toe as someone stood on their foot as they tried to stand up (but that could have happened from a forward roll or even just standing from a break fall)

Janet Rosen
01-19-2007, 10:10 PM
To answer the original question: IIRC I believe one of the associations (USAF-WR?) stopped doing backrolls a number of yrs ago because of a very severe injury?
Personally, in situations where I just need to deal w/ being propelled down, a backfall works fine, and if I'm being projected, some variety of the "mai kaiten" across the shoulders while turning in space and right back onto the feet works fine too. I stopped doing backrolls after my first knee injury in 1999 and never once felt that I "needed" them in my repertoire.

Kevin Wilbanks
01-20-2007, 12:06 PM
To answer the original question: IIRC I believe one of the associations (USAF-WR?) stopped doing backrolls a number of yrs ago because of a very severe injury?

That's the kind of thing I was looking for. Whatever that incident was, or any others like it, apparently no one else who has read the thread remembers, no one knows any details. I suspected there would be accounts of a few incidents. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell whether the lack of such information indicates the rarity of backward roll injuries or simply a lack of information.

Amendes
01-20-2007, 12:52 PM
A Good teacher should teach his students about backward ukemi properly and the important of looking around before you start the techniques that involve being thrown or throwing. I know we have been told the stories at my Dojo about the injuries and accidents that have happened in other schools from back rolls and high break falls.

I can happily say in the 21 years we have been open nobody has been ever seriously injured at our school.

Also in my opinion though some may argue; Bankrolls and break falls should be taught at a more higher level to prevent problems as well. (I am not referring to the basic back ukemi thatís not a roll either I am referring to the backward high falls or rolls where you don't see anything. I am pretty sure they are the ones you are referring too.)


When I teach a class or help assist teaching a class I make sure everyone is spread out and throwing in the same directions, not crossing each other.

Just last night we were doing the backward fall and slap which is neither a roll or high brake fall. But has the potential to be just as dangerous if someone was to hit their head on something or someone. I can recall now asking one of the students to move to a different place on the mats because they didnít even look behind them before they decided that was the place to fall.

So you always have to watch where other ukes are being sent too, and where you are going to send yours, or where you are going to end up.


I am curious if anyone has first hand knowledge of people being injured doing backward rolls. In the past, I have heard about incidents of serious injury and even one account of a death from mid-backward roll collisions, but I don't exactly have medical records and death certificates to prove them.

So, first question: does anybody KNOW about incidents of backward roll related injuries or deaths?

Personally, I have never felt safe doing them from throws and am pretty sure I have never done a single backward roll, except during exercises at the beginning of basic classes. Even without factoring in that you can't see where you are going and might collide, I feel like there is too great of a possibility of angling incorrectly or getting mixed up about which side is being chosen, which could result in neck injury. Before I learned soft ukemi, I just always flattened out instead of rolling. Now I mostly turn slightly sideways, lower myself on the ball of my foot, and do the butt/back wide leg thing. Occasionally I do a hard, flattening out style fall.

In 7-8 years of training, I don't recall ever "needing" to roll backwards in the sense of avoiding injury or even feeling a little awkward. The alternatives always seemed fine. So the second question: does anyone feel backward rolls are necessary in their training? Why?

Amendes
01-20-2007, 02:13 PM
Here is some documented info for you btw on death and seriouse injury in Aikido.

This will verify any claims.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/images/articles/injuries.gif

Kevin Wilbanks
01-20-2007, 06:01 PM
Here is some documented info for you btw on death and seriouse injury in Aikido.

This will verify any claims.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/images/articles/injuries.gif

That's interesting, but it obviously only covers Japan and the last entry was 20 years ago.

I increasingly think that the kind of info I'm looking for will be very hard to find. People directly involved in such incidents probably aren't going to brag, and those who run the dojos and organizations involved aren't going to be eager to advertise serious injuries or deaths on their watch. I also suspect that many people who witness such things or are close to the casualties end up quitting in the wake of such horrible events.

It's too bad, it would be useful data. For instance, shihonage is disprortionately represented on that list. One probably doesn't normally think of it as one of the most hazardous techniques, but it reminded me that the worst injury I ever got in Aikido was to my mid-lower back, when someone cranked down on shihonage while my feet were sort of planted.

natasha cebek
01-20-2007, 07:57 PM
People,
The only time there is true danger is when one does not pay attention in the moment. Whether in the midst of a backroll,airfall...isn't being aware of our environment (regardless of what we are doing) the most important aspect of the martial arts? One could have the most perfect technique, but without awareness-it only takes one moment, when we are not paying attention..to get hurt.
Ukemi is a tool! A drill!
of great value!!!
If one gets hurt doing a backroll, whose fault is that?
uhhhhhh...hmmm.....

Kevin Wilbanks
01-20-2007, 08:44 PM
People,
The only time there is true danger is when one does not pay attention in the moment. Whether in the midst of a backroll,airfall...isn't being aware of our environment (regardless of what we are doing) the most important aspect of the martial arts? One could have the most perfect technique, but without awareness-it only takes one moment, when we are not paying attention..to get hurt.
Ukemi is a tool! A drill!
of great value!!!
If one gets hurt doing a backroll, whose fault is that?
uhhhhhh...hmmm.....

So, to summarize, your argument is that there is no inherent difference in the dangerousness of any technique or practice - anything and everything is safe, so long as the participants are aware and paying attention. So, I presume you have no problem with people practicing live sword takeaways? Gun takeaways with loaded firearms where uke really shoots at nage?

senshincenter
01-20-2007, 08:46 PM
That's interesting, but it obviously only covers Japan and the last entry was 20 years ago.

I increasingly think that the kind of info I'm looking for will be very hard to find. People directly involved in such incidents probably aren't going to brag, and those who run the dojos and organizations involved aren't going to be eager to advertise serious injuries or deaths on their watch. I also suspect that many people who witness such things or are close to the casualties end up quitting in the wake of such horrible events.

It's too bad, it would be useful data. For instance, shihonage is disprortionately represented on that list. One probably doesn't normally think of it as one of the most hazardous techniques, but it reminded me that the worst injury I ever got in Aikido was to my mid-lower back, when someone cranked down on shihonage while my feet were sort of planted.


I agree, shiho nage is one of the most dangerous techniques. In fact, at our dojo, we probably don't practice it with new folks until a year or more into their practice. If we do it before then, it is usually done in a very slow and controlled manner and only as some sort of introduction to the technique or some other related point. However, when I started training, that was pretty much the first technique we did. Actually, at nearly every dojo I ever belonged do, that was one of the first techniques one did. Looking back, I think that was doable because of how watered-down the version often tended to be. I think that plays a big role in how soon one can actually be introduced to all of the basic elements of this technique - but that probably goes for any technique. However, for shiho nage: The reason it is difficult/dangerous is that, in my opinion, a good shiho nage takes away two very common things folks do to limit the kuzushi: a) allowing uke to turn into the technique in order to post up on the inside foot in preparation for a forward breakfall; and b) allowing uke to disengage his/her center first (i.e. sitting down into the common back breakfall) from their forward progress. This can make things very tough on shoulders, elbows, the neck, and the back of the head. :-(

PeterR
01-21-2007, 12:25 AM
I think the shihonage deaths in Japan were do to repeditive slamming of the back of the skull onto tatami - one could say that was due to ukemi skills but from what I was told it was more to a level of exhaustion and inability of those in charge (third year uni students) to spot that and more importantly stop it.

Janet may possibly correct me but the serious injury from backward ukemi was due to a collision rather than the ukemi itself although the body position at the point of collision was a contributing factor.

I've seen a few cranked necks but have never heard of a serious injury from a backward role on its own. I don't think its any more dangerous than any other form - I've already given my reason why we don't do them although I just might assign them to one of my students to loosen him up a bit.

David Shevitz
01-25-2007, 03:53 PM
Funnily enough that is one of the reasons we do practice this, so as to practice and develop your awareness for what is going on around you.

I've been on the mats with hundreds of people before where we are quite literally shoulder to shoulder and backwards rolls have still been possible, and I can still only recall one incident where a person ended up with a broken toe as someone stood on their foot as they tried to stand up (but that could have happened from a forward roll or even just standing from a break fall)

That's a good point. I think what I was trying to say is that it is all too common to see folks do back rolls without being fully aware of their surroundings.

So, if I were to rephrase, I'd say: "The one practice I dislike is people doing backrolls without awareness." :)

Freerefill
01-26-2007, 06:44 AM
Two months ago, after we had completed testing, Sensei got this marvelous twinkle in her eye and a smile on her lips that anyone who's known her for more than 5 minutes knows that something is up. She carefully eyed all of us and spoke in a low voice, "Roll tag." Immediately all the students splintered up and shikko-ed to the farthest corners of the mat, but no one got very far... no more than 10 seconds in, I look around and I see everyone staring at the corner of the mat that I had my back to. I swivel around and I see one of my senpai, one of the most advanced students in the class, flat on his back.

To clarify, Roll Tag is what you might expect it to be: tag, but you're only allowed to move around using rolls and shikko. It's great fun. Anyway, when Sensei called it, she dubbed herself "It" and set her sights on the nearest student, which happened to be senpai. He back-rolled out of the way, and since I wasn't looking I can't tell you exactly what he did, but Sensei said that he tried to alter his motion in mid-roll as well as stop short from rolling off the mat. Long story short, he broke his collarbone.

So even after 6 years of rather hard training and performing a simple ukemi, awareness is still the biggest player in safety.

After seeing the look on Sensei's face after the incident, I swore to myself that I would never let myself get hurt.

natasha cebek
01-26-2007, 08:07 AM
Two months ago, after we had completed testing, Sensei got this marvelous twinkle in her eye and a smile on her lips that anyone who's known her for more than 5 minutes knows that something is up. She carefully eyed all of us and spoke in a low voice, "Roll tag." Immediately all the students splintered up and shikko-ed to the farthest corners of the mat, but no one got very far... no more than 10 seconds in, I look around and I see everyone staring at the corner of the mat that I had my back to. I swivel around and I see one of my senpai, one of the most advanced students in the class, flat on his back.

To clarify, Roll Tag is what you might expect it to be: tag, but you're only allowed to move around using rolls and shikko. It's great fun. Anyway, when Sensei called it, she dubbed herself "It" and set her sights on the nearest student, which happened to be senpai. He back-rolled out of the way, and since I wasn't looking I can't tell you exactly what he did, but Sensei said that he tried to alter his motion in mid-roll as well as stop short from rolling off the mat. Long story short, he broke his collarbone.

So even after 6 years of rather hard training and performing a simple ukemi, awareness is still the biggest player in safety.

After seeing the look on Sensei's face after the incident, I swore to myself that I would never let myself get hurt.

What a great drill!!! My sensei did something similar, during randori ...I was in the center and the students were to attack me-mid ukemi. I remember thinking..OMG, what do I do? It was difficult, but very interesting and valuable in understanding the importance of awareness. I like the idea of roll tag, but I think for safety reasons, I would only use that drill with more advanced practioners.

rachmass
01-27-2007, 04:05 PM
That's the kind of thing I was looking for. Whatever that incident was, or any others like it, apparently no one else who has read the thread remembers, no one knows any details. I suspected there would be accounts of a few incidents. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell whether the lack of such information indicates the rarity of backward roll injuries or simply a lack of information.

Janet was correct as far as I recall. I think it was back in 1994 or so that a woman (not part of the USAF-WR, but another organization altogether) who was teaching the class, and showing a student how to do backwards rolls had someone roll into her by accident. Her neck was broken and she was paralyzed. There was an outpouring of help from the aikido community but then this incident disappeared into the archives.

At the time that this happened, I was practicing in a WR dojo, and our teacher let us all know that Chiba Sensei had informed his students and dojos, that ultimately he would like to have all that were teaching in the dojo become certified teachers. From what I understoood, it had to do with placing a level of legitimacy of certification in each dojo, and ensuring certain quality and safety standards. The woman who was injured was a shodan (correct me please if I have faulty memory here) who was not certified as a teacher and there were issues regarding insurance covering the injury because of the lack of some verifiable teaching license??? Anyway, in our dojo at the time, this was the impetus for pushing to become certified teachers within the organization.

Anyone else who was around at this time and remembers the incident, please chime in.

Dan Rubin
01-27-2007, 05:48 PM
Excerpt from "Tragedy and Hope in Sacramento," by Donald Hoffman, Aikido Today Magazine, August/September 1994:

The misfortune that befell Anne Sasaki could befall any of us who practice Aikido.

Practice was just beginning on the morning of March 14 at Aikido of Sacramento. Simple techniques were being explained and demonstrated. The experienced were helping the novices with basics; no over-energetic techniques were being performed. The environment was as safe as in most dojos.

A shodan with 10 years of martial arts experience, Anne Sasaki was working with beginners on backrolls at one end of the mat as other students were practicing basic techniques at the other end. Anne was in the middle of a back roll, upside down with her body over her neck, when a beginner who was completing ukemi veered to his blind side to avoid the dojo wall. The beginner collided with Anne, dropping his full weight on her. Anne's body went limp, numbed by a completely dislocated vertebra.

Anne was diagnosed as having a broken neck. She was placed on a breathing apparatus, and later a trachea tube was inserted. Doctors were pessimistic and said Anne would be a quadriplegic for the rest of her life.

There were other complications after neurosurgery -- some bouts with pneumonia....

Anne is regaining some movement and sensation in her body. She is going through physical therapy to strengthen her muscles. She is able to sit up with the assistance of therapists. Friends and family have been working to keep her spirits high.

Dan Wold Sensei, Anne's instructor at Aikido of Sacramento, has had a difficult time with the entire ordeal. According to Wold, the students of Aikido of Sacramento are also having a difficult time. But they are holding up well, and they visit Anne as often as possible.

The misfortune of Anne's accident has rippled through the Aikido community of Northern California like a pebble tossed into still waters. Safety, always important in the Aikido community, is now being stressed even more.

Kevin Wilbanks
01-29-2007, 12:10 AM
Thanks. That must have been the incident I first heard about. The interesting part is that it wasn't even during an intense throwing situation, but merely during a slow demonstration. I've always felt like that was a dangerous position that I simply did not want to be in.

Even though it's only one, since I have yet to hear of a compelling benefit to the ukemi vs. the 'yoko' alternative, I'd say it's one too many. The only other case of a broken neck during Aikido training I've heard of is from the post a few months ago, describing an accident during a high koshi-like shoulder throw on a wet slippery mat. That's another situation I intend to avoid... along with letting someone repeatedly smash my head into the mat during shiho nage. Actually, to me, these all seem pretty obvious, which is why I find the popularity of the backward roll puzzling.