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L. Camejo
11-16-2001, 08:05 AM
Hi all,

This question may have graced these forums already, but I realy need some ideas here.

How does one teach forward rolls (i.e. forward rolls as well as forward rolling brakfalls) to a beginner who is ABSOLUTELY terrified of going head over heels. I've considered investing in crash mats to give them a better sense of security, but I really believe the block is 99% psychological.

Also, one of the persons in question has a slight curvature of the spine which may add to the phobia of rolling.

Any pointers, thoughts, observations, wonder tonics or cure alls? :D

Hope someone can help.

Domo Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.:ai::ki:

Aikilove
11-16-2001, 08:20 AM
We have one of those thick (a foot) mats and it works marvels against doubts.

shihonage
11-16-2001, 09:05 AM
1) Tell the person to imagine they're holding a beachball/put their hands in the beachball-holding position, make sure it's holding.

2) Push them from behind while controlling in a way so that if their arm collapses you can sort of help them avoid major injury. Maybe.

andrew
11-16-2001, 09:20 AM
Check out http://gargas.biomedicale.univ-paris5.fr/eurocal/index.html
particularly "Angels ukemi Korner"

http://gargas.biomedicale.univ-paris5.fr/eurocal/writing.html

Actually, I've just checked and the precise link I was looking for is at this moment broken, but essentially this guy Angel Alvarez, a fifth Dan (I think he trained with Yamada Shihan for years and is currently living in Spain) had his e-mail address on the site with an invitation to send him questions about ukemi.

Perhaps you could mail the webmaster of the page, or perhaps the link will be back up soon.

andrew

Young-In Park
11-16-2001, 10:07 AM
"The Science of Ukemi: (Rolls & Breakfalls)"
Robert E. Wolfe

Journal of Asian Martial Arts
Volume 8, Number 3
1999

ronin_10562
11-16-2001, 11:17 AM
Have the person in seiza, but on the balls of their feet. Place one hand down near the knee for balance. The second hand goes between the knees and through untill the shoulder is on the mat. Make sure the head is tucked properly. At this point have them lift their knees off the mat without moving thier feet. That should cause them to do a proper front roll. Once they aquire the skill from this level then go to a higher level such as one knee down, and then eventually standing.

Let me know how this works.

Walt

Erik
11-16-2001, 12:57 PM
Originally posted by ronin_10562 Have the person in seiza, but on the balls of their feet. Place one hand down near the knee for balance. The second hand goes between the knees and through untill the shoulder is on the mat. Make sure the head is tucked properly. At this point have them lift their knees off the mat without moving thier feet. That should cause them to do a proper front roll. Once they aquire the skill from this level then go to a higher level such as one knee down, and then eventually standing.

Let me know how this works.

Walt

Yep, that's pretty much how I've done it. However, my home dojo faces a similar problem as Larry's. We have 2 students who have never progressed past this point, actually one of them can't even do this. One is physical in that the guy is a giant and doesn't bend well. The other is timidity. The dojo is pretty soft in style, so in effect, both will be able to come along at their own pace, however many years that might be. I'd be open to listening to any suggestions.

Irony
11-16-2001, 08:16 PM
I'm a giant myself (6'6", 260 lbs)and everyone always told me "the bigger they are, the harder they fall". Now those same people compliment me on my soft ukemi (for my rank). Just get him to bend over low enough to the ground and it all becomes equal. Someone my size (or anyone really in my opinion) doesn't need to throw himself into a roll either. Just bend until you can't keep your balance any more and try to put the back of your head *almost* on the ground. Falling from thrust can come later.

Just things that helped me. You'll never learn to roll until you make yourself do it. There's no real way around it.

Dennis Good
11-16-2001, 10:06 PM
Hi all
Ive been reading these posts for some time now, but this is my first post. The best way I have learned to teach people how to roll is to start them with one knee up and one knee down (ie. right handed person, right knee up). Have them place thier hand on the mat, palm down, directly in front of the foot of the knee that is up. Have them tuck their head and extend the left leg. Explain to them that they must keep thier arm from colapsing as they roll, and that they should feel the mat against their back crossing from the right shoulder to the left hip. As they roll, have them stay down at first and not pop back up until they get used to the roll. Use as many ways as you can to get this accross to them. Some people learn better by hearing it, seeing it, or just feeling you draw a line accross their back from shoulder to hip with your hand. I hope this helps. Ive only had one person that I couldnt get to roll and she would drive her shoulder into the mat every time. Still hurts to think about.

Good luck

Abasan
11-17-2001, 04:00 AM
Me previous senseis were very good at teaching front roll.

or just feeling you draw a line accross their back from shoulder to hip with your hand.

was one of the ways they helped me. the line is drawn diagonally across the body according to how we roll. also, they also sat next to us when we started rolling and actually supported our body into maintaining its circle at the time of the roll. that actually gave quite a good feel on how a roll should be, especially to the uninitiated.

but as always, i believe necessity makes all things possible. usually the best help to a roll is a good throw. and the safest throw you can use would be a kaitennage. nage's hand should rest on the head helping uke remember to tuck it in. uke's leading hand is already resting on the floor to support the front roll. nage pushes uke's back hand forward giving uke the necessary momentum to make a good roll. most of the time, a roll fails because uke doesn't go all the way, so the roll eventually collapses midway.

hope this helps.

Erik
11-17-2001, 11:46 AM
Originally posted by Irony
Just get him to bend over low enough to the ground and it all becomes equal.

But he don't bend. :eek:

Seriously, the guy has a very long and wide upper body that doesn't bend. It's also been more than 25 years since he was 25. I think what he really needs is a good stretching and strengthening program which will enable him to both support himself and bend enough to roll.

L. Camejo
11-17-2001, 07:32 PM
Thanks for the tips guys, keep 'em coming. I'll try out some of the ideas in my next class.

Erik, that problem with bending is one that I also have to deal with. One of my students who has a problem with rolling also has a problem with the bending of the back. It doesn't even bend enough to do a proper backward breakfall :eek:. She crouches and lowers her body and then... flop, her back just hits the mat flat, with no arch whatsoever. She tends to be very good at side breakfalls though.

I'll get back to you guys with the results soon and tell you what worked.

At least I'm getting some of them to keep an unbendable arm... thanks Dennis, your post reminded me of something I learned about breakfalls a long time ago. It hlped with the arm collapse problems.

Domo Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.:ai::ki:

Stephen Quick
11-20-2001, 04:37 PM
While I have not had to work with the type of challenge you present, I suggest actually using a ball rather then visualizing. The exercise balls that are common now come in different sizes. Find one that is close to the same diameter as the students arms when they form them for a roll. Have them embrace the ball and then roll over it. The ball is like training wheels for the unbendable arm.

Good Luck.

ian
11-21-2001, 05:49 AM
The mistake I made when first teaching people to ukemi was thinking that it was either a technical or a psychological problem - its usually both. Forget about crash mats and visualisation for the start. Develop people slowly (there were some injuries in my dojo from people being encouraged to roll when they were not able to). So, in steps (over time):

1. get them to do a forward roll (most people have done this as kids). Embarrasing at first, but gets them used to turning over which many older people have not done for many years. The roll can be done from kneeling if necessary.

2. get them to sit down and tuck one leg in to the groin. Then get them to rock on their back and forwards until they are kneeling. Then they rock backwards onto their back.

3. Then get them to rock forwards harder, until they can rise forward from kneeling to a standing position. Then allow them to rock back down to their back.

4. Based on excercise 2 & 3: as they rock back onto their back, get them to rock right over their shoulder , like a reverse ukemi. This should enable them to do reverse ukemis (far easy for beginners to start with than forward ones).

5. Another excercise (which can be used in combination): One partner stands with feet shoulder width apart. Other partner lies on back, grabbing partners ankles. Person lying down lifts legs towards standing partner, then swings legs over to one side. They can then roll over this shoulder (backwards) with outside leg propped up on knee and foot, and inside leg stretched straight behind standing partner. (back straight, hands still on ankle, lookinh forward). Then they roll back again (over the same shoulder).

This gets them used to rolling over a particular shoulder and getting their balance. It also enables them to do it from a low position, but to use their arms and legs to get enough push to go over.

6. Practise reverse ukemis.

7. Practise forward ukemis from kneeling

8. Practise forward ukemis from kneeling height, but knees are actually held off the ground (then eventually they can do it standing).

9. Get them to do lots of reverse ukemi, then let them do a reverse followed by a forward ukemi (so they understand that they are just the same!)

Important is to tell students that they are going ACROSS the mat and not down into the mat. Shifflets book (Aikido - Excercies and Practise?) has a chapter on ukemis which is very useful, and is a good back anyway (esp. for instructors).

Ian

akiy
11-21-2001, 09:11 AM
Originally posted by ian
The mistake I made when first teaching people to ukemi was thinking that it was either a technical or a psychological problem - its usually both. Forget about crash mats and visualisation for the start. Develop people slowly (there were some injuries in my dojo from people being encouraged to roll when they were not able to).
I usually encounter the most trepidation about ukemi from people learning how to breakfall. What seems to happen is that:


Person tries to do some breakfalls.
Person starts doing falls which they're not too ready for.
Person does something "wrong" which hurts.
Person develops natural fear for breakfalls since they hurt.
Person tenses up when they're afraid.
Person, being tense, lands harder in their next breakfall.
Go to 3.

It's a vicious circle which I think a lot of people get into, both for rolling and breakfalling.

I do my best to start people on the ground -- starting from kneeling for rolls and starting from the landing position (and similar exercises) for breakfalls. As people have said earlier, most new students are not used to the ground at all. Let them become comfortable with rolling around on the ground.

I've been leading a beginner's class here for the past three months. We only did techniques that require a back fall (eg sumiotoshi, iriminage, shihonage, kotegaeshi) for the first two to three weeks; it was only then when they were pretty comfortable with the ground that I led them through doing front rolls..

Good stuff here. I'm also leading an ukemi class these days so these kind of things are on my mind...

-- Jun

Aikilove
11-21-2001, 09:47 AM
Originally posted by akiy

I usually encounter the most trepidation about ukemi from people learning how to breakfall. What seems to happen is that:


Person tries to do some breakfalls.
Person starts doing falls which they're not too ready for.
Person does something "wrong" which hurts.
Person develops natural fear for breakfalls since they hurt.
Person tenses up when they're afraid.
Person, being tense, lands harder in their next breakfall.
Go to 3.

It's a vicious circle which I think a lot of people get into, both for rolling and breakfalling.


This is when I think thick crash mats will do the trick. If used right from the biginning (doing high forward falls, not rolling ones or obvious reasons) they never feel anything but a soft thud (no hurting there).

Practice with e.g. two senior students throwing the beginners la 2 x kakari keiko with e.g sumi otosh, having the instructor watching and correcting each individual. Do this for a looong time, so that all may be thrown a lot of times. Specially point out that the the back leg should rise as the body goes forward and down (let them "almost" go over a few times before the actual throw, making sure that back leg goes up). Then gradually let they who wishes be thrown on the tatami (or whatever you have as mat). Then if they wish to go back to the big mat... let them.
We in our club have found that big mat very valuable in high fall training.

L. Camejo
12-14-2001, 04:10 PM
Hi all,

I'm warming up to investing in crash mats more and more. My next immediate option is to repair an exer-ball that I have and try that out. Wish me luck.

The info you guys gave me worked in most cases to improve the rolls at my dojo. Thank you very much. However, I still have two major problems.

1. Helping them to keep the unbendable arm while rolling (which I hope the exercise ball will address) and

2. One person who has a total mental block to going head over heels in ANY form. This person has a slight curvature of the back and I think the roll phobia has to do with some mental conditioning about protectig their back dut to their medical condition. This person will not even ATTEMPT the kneeling, baby-like roll that Ian suggested. Not even ONCE. There is total mental shutdown. It's like the person's mind is locked in the Matrix :) or something.

The funny thing is that the same person seems to be pretty good at backward and side breakfalls.

Am I wrong in attempting to get this person with the back problem to roll??? Should I just leave it out of that person's practice as being too dangerous due to the person's condition?

Any ideas???? I'll have to enter into some serious fund raisng to import a crash mat, cuz they're not readily available in my country.

Hope you people in out there can help.

Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.:ai::ki:

Mona
12-14-2001, 04:26 PM
Originally posted by L. Camejo
This person has a slight curvature of the back and I think the roll phobia has to do with some mental conditioning about protectig their back due to their medical condition.
The funny thing is that the same person seems to be pretty good at backward and side breakfalls.

Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.:ai::ki:

:o ahem..well, I was EXACTLY LIKE this person once...Not so long ago, actually.
And from the point of view of such a 'mentally blocked' person, all I can tell you is the more pressure you put on your student, the more mentally blocked this student will become. My advice to the sensei (with all due modesty and humility, naturally!) in such cases would be:
"Do Not GIVE all of the technical instructions at once. Give one small tip per session and have him/her work on that, preferably in a small corner of the dojo, where nobody is looking. ;)"

In this manner, the student will slowly but confidently apply all of the tips.
Then one day, out of the blue, the student will have a 'sudden epiphany' and bang! he/she will be doing those mae ukemi almost perfectly, just like that!

Mona

L. Camejo
12-14-2001, 04:44 PM
Originally posted by Mona


:o ahem..well, I was EXACTLY LIKE this person once...Not so long ago, actually.
And from the point of view of such a 'mentally blocked' person, all I can tell you is the more pressure you put on your student, the more mentally blocked this student will become. My advice to the sensei (with all due modesty and humility, naturally!) in such cases would be:
"Do Not GIVE all of the technical instructions at once. Give one small tip per session and have him/her work on that, preferably in a small corner of the dojo, where nobody is looking. ;)"

In this manner, the student will slowly but confidently apply all of the tips.
Then one day, out of the blue, the student will have a 'sudden epiphany' and bang! he/she will be doing those mae ukemi almost perfectly, just like that!

Mona

Thanks a lot for the tip Mona. That idea had occurred to me and I have been letting the person do exactly what you have said. I guess a bit more patience can be in order.

I guess seeing the "mental block" state in that student reminded me of a time when I was there also, and I know how frustrating that felt.

And if anyone misuderstood my post, I did not mean the words "mentally blocked" in any malicious manner, it was merely descriptive of the situation as it appeared to me.

Sumimasen.
L.C.:ai::ki:

akiy
12-14-2001, 05:52 PM
Originally posted by L. Camejo
I'm warming up to investing in crash mats more and more.
I've been leading an ukemi class for a couple of months (once a week) now. Since our dojo didn't have a crash pad, I went and used the next best thing which was available in our dojo guest room -- a nice, thick futon. Maybe you can find a cheap futon that someone can donate?

Am I wrong in attempting to get this person with the back problem to roll??? Should I just leave it out of that person's practice as being too dangerous due to the person's condition?
It's hard to say anything regarding someone's medical condition since I'm no medical professional.

However, as far as the mental aspect goes, just like in everything else, I'd have to say that the only way a person is going to change is if he or she initiates the change. Maybe they'll become a bit more comfortable doing rolls on a crash pad kind of surface? Just keep being supportive and I'm sure (at least, I hope!) they'll overcome their fears.

What Mona wrote was good stuff, too.

-- Jun

Judith Jones
09-05-2014, 05:09 PM
Me previous senseis were very good at teaching front roll.

was one of the ways they helped me. the line is drawn diagonally across the body according to how we roll. also, they also sat next to us when we started rolling and actually supported our body into maintaining its circle at the time of the roll. that actually gave quite a good feel on how a roll should be, especially to the uninitiated.

but as always, i believe necessity makes all things possible. usually the best help to a roll is a good throw. and the safest throw you can use would be a kaitennage. nage's hand should rest on the head helping uke remember to tuck it in. uke's leading hand is already resting on the floor to support the front roll. nage pushes uke's back hand forward giving uke the necessary momentum to make a good roll. most of the time, a roll fails because uke doesn't go all the way, so the roll eventually collapses midway.

hope this helps.

I remember this too, Jon and Sarah are very good at teaching beginners rolling. How are you Ahmad? It is many years since we practised together. I did hear you came to visit Manchester a few years back :)

dps
09-06-2014, 08:08 AM
Have them do a lot of back rolls until they are very comfortable with them then show them show them forward rolls are the same just opposite direction. We had a very thick soft mat for beginners to learn on.

dps

Michael Hackett
09-06-2014, 01:14 PM
The unbendable arm is the starting point. Have them get "strong" with that and that ability will aid a great deal.

Then, as Ian suggested, start working on what we call "koho tento undo" or back rolling exercise. One starts seated with one leg extended, then rolls backwards and then forward to the starting position. That gets repeated five times and then the student switches legs and does five more and switches legs again. Next the student rolls up to a position with one knee up and one down and rolls backwards and to the starting position five times, switches legs and repeats. Lastly the student assumes a full standing position, drops down and rolls backwards and back to standing five times on each side. That exercise helps them develop both a comfort level and a curved back.

After koho tento undo, have the student roll backwards from sitting or kneeling four or five times and then roll forward on the last repetition. One he develops some success and confidence, rolling seems to come fairly easily.

As for the exercise ball, they have proven to be valuable in our dojo. The biggest issue though is the arm placement on the ball - it is important to have the student place his forward arm on TOP of the ball as that replicates the unbendable arm position pretty accurately.

Then, of course you can always get a copy of Ellis Amdur's "Ukemi From The Ground Up", which I think is a valuable tool for both doing ukemi and for teaching it.

Good luck!

Janet Rosen
09-06-2014, 05:55 PM
I do not believe relying on beginner's "unbendable arm" is at all helpful. Beginners cannot maintain unbendable arm reliably, leading to the too-damn-common newbie injury, shoulder separation at the acromioclavicular joint. Some of us are permanently in pain or impinged function. Others simply disappear.
I second the endorsement for Ellis Amdur's method and also the use of large balls or cylindrical rolling tools. If somebody is scared, the teacher can hold on to control the speed of the turning of the ball or cylinder.
In my Falling class, for non-martial artists, we do a very slow 6 session progression that never uses unbendable arm; it would be easy to teach it afterward. It is documented here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvDyI_M38AerHf5dEOljVVAgi6a5zq9Jz

Dan Rubin
09-06-2014, 06:48 PM
I remember this too, Jon and Sarah are very good at teaching beginners rolling. How are you Ahmad? It is many years since we practised together. I did hear you came to visit Manchester a few years back :)

Judith

Since you're a new contributor to AikiWeb to might as well learn the hard way, as I and others have, that you should look at the dates of previous posts. You have responded to a thread that's almost 13 years old. Of course, that isn't necessarily bad, since the subject of this thread is never out of date. But Ahmad has not posted in two years; he may not see your post.

lifestylemanoz
10-31-2014, 09:12 AM
Just watched some of your videos Janet. I appreciate some of the methods of practice for side breakfalls could be handy for beginners.

But if you're going to demonstrate what is essentially a judo fall then you should also focus on having the other shoulder come around so you essentially finish on your side and not on your back. That is continue with your shoulder coming around in the movements.

Many students when practicing side flat fall backwards into the movement causing a whiplash effect on the spine. Good side ukemi involves falling FORWARD into the side flat. In this way we have a slap and a foot on the floor before our hip lands with head tucked.

When I first started learning side flats, we started from a crouch position and slid one foot across our body and picked a spot on the mat in front to slap. Also, for hashi ukemi, we practice a headstand and kick our feet over to land on toes so as not to have our hips land on the floor.

When you do get a good sweep, you are required to fall pretty much directly down, so it essential to to make contact with the hand on the mat with a slap, before your hip gets there. Essentially the slap is to take off momentum from the fall.

Also, when you are doing your circular movement you have a massive flat spot in your back. Practice rocking backwards and forwards like a rocking chair keeping an arch in your back or again your faced with whiplash in the neck area and its hard to keep you neck tucked and control the momentum.

Crap, I just watched more of your videos and well, ....ummmm. Please check out something like Donovan Waite, meeting the mat or something like that. :rolleyes:

Janet Rosen
11-01-2014, 07:40 PM
Thank you for your feedback on how my rolls and falls look; it is appreciated.
You do not seem to be aware of the purpose of the videos. They are for the older people attending my classes who have no interest in martial arts but want to learn how to survive the falls they are already having. My own falls and rolls do not look like this. After they have had a couple of classes, and have built up trust in what we are doing, I do demonstrate proper aikido rolls and breakfalls and explain WHY they are not being taught those.

I have watched Donovan Waite Sensei videos and taken a seminar on ukemi with him. I also have DVD on, and prefer, Ellis Amdur's ukemi methods as I think they are more practical for everyday beginners.

My latest series included older people with severe arthritis and other issues. An gentleman with joint replacements and severe peripheral neuropathy of his feet came to tell me that within two weeks of our last class he erred and took a shortcut across a narrow area of larger-than-he-realized rocks and lost his footing. He registered he was falling, he remembered to exhale and relax and the next thing he knew he was on his back on the sidewalk, having executed a simple to learn roll and not touching the rocks at all.

I know what I am teaching is not pretty. It is meant to quickly build "muscle memory" to reduce injury in otherwise untrained people. I am purposely NOT teaching hand slap, but hand/forearm contact in order to avoid the common wrist fractures untrained people sustain when reaching with a hand improperly. We are not sweeping. We are not jumping. We are not even worried about how we get up. We are falling on the street and trying to avoid bone breaks.

lifestylemanoz
11-02-2014, 01:21 AM
Very cool. I think the success lies in the fact that if someone loses their balance and can turn in to a rag doll they have a better chance of collapsing on the spot and doing less damage. The problem with falls is the whoops factor (a bit like a foot sweep in Aikido) and the inevitable head whip. So there is definitely merit in what you are doing as you are essentially teaching them to sit down on their butt. I have often explained this to new students who are faced with a back fall and I literally fall like a rag doll, plop my butt on my feet and fall back to help them "de-tense" their bodies.

Good luck with your class.

PS. On the unbendable arm for forward roll it definitely should not be taught to beginners as like fine wine should be an acquired taste, something that comes out naturally in time. We can def agree on that. I do have a couple of people who train who still have a dangerous bend in the arm when falling and I remind them to shove the arm through to keep it safe. I do remember seeing a Japanese sensei demonstrating a forward roll with the arm in a sort of Ballet style, so he didn't use the outside of the arm and used a sort of cupping motion as he roll. His explanation was the for the same reason of not hurting the arm.

PPS. I'm not a fan of using balls and the like. People tend to end up falling on their hips. But I guess if youre faced with no other alternative or its easier for older people then I will keep it in mind. I can't imagine learn to fall without the fun of training Aikido. How do you get them motivated to practice over and over?

PPPS. You will be pleased to hear that your videos actually have inspired a new thought for falling practice. I always enjoy new methods of falling (I started yoseikan which has much break falling) and now enjoy practicing feather falling as well, but I am going to use something you did in your side to side rolling with foot swap (side fall) in class to help people with difficulty getting the Judo style fall down. So thank you...

Janet Rosen
11-02-2014, 01:08 PM
Thank you :-) I too am always interested in seeing and learning new methods because so many people do have different interests not to mention "natural" body styles or shapes they favor or disabilities...the more tools in the toolkit the better.
If you are ever in California, give me a holler and we can get some mat time in swapping experience and ideas!