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bob_stra
08-23-2007, 03:34 PM
There's an interesting thread on judoinfo to which I'd appreciate your (aikiweb denizen's) input.

The thread originated with me (for all intents and purposes) writing "hey - check out this sweet ukemi". Like most net things, it's evolved into "so how come this type of ukemi exists, if it can't (?) be readily applied"?

AFAIK, Beautiful things don't exist in a vaccum or for no reason, so...yeah. Whyfore and howcome?

I'd appreciate your input, either here or there.

Here's the thread (with youtube clips embedded)

http://judoforum.com/index.php?showtopic=19343

Kevin Wilbanks
08-23-2007, 04:17 PM
I didn't go through all the posts, but most of that is what I call soft ukemi. Some call it wide-leg ukemi. Others might just call it good ukemi.

***

So far as I know, there are two lineages of this kind of ukemi. One starts with Frank Ostoff, in Germany and Jan Nivelus, in Sweden. They studied mostly under Tissier and Endo, I think. They "invented" a unique style of ukemi and throwing that includes falls like the ones pictured, and another one, which is similar, but involves flipping over nage's front leg during the throw, almost like a backwards koshi nage. I have been to a couple of seminars, and it is fantastic. Unfortunately, it's so different and dependent on a different relation between nage and uke that it is hard to apply it anywhere else.

The other lineage starts with Donovan Waite. He may have gotten hints in Europe that seeded his ideas. No one seems to know for sure. Wherever he got the ideas, he developed his own, almost systematic take on them when he was uchi deshi for Yamada. The story is that Yamada was so rough with him that he developed it as a form of self-protection.

***

I think the main purpose of it is to fall more softly during practice, and reduce the wear and tear on the body vs. harder falls. I have seen both Waite and Ostoff say this explicitly. When I first saw it, I didn't want anything to do with it. Now I'm addicted.

Once I started doing it a lot, I noticed that there are other advantages. One is that it allows you a lot more options as far as falling in odd directions. Traditional rolls are mostly forward and backward, and you roll along a slight diagonal from opposite shoulder to hip. With soft falls, you can fall in a whole array of additional permutations that usually involve rolling straight across your shoulders. With traditional ukemi, I have seen people panic and land on their shoulder or outstretched arm when thrown in a direction not along their standard rolling axis. Usually the way to deal with this is to turn really fast an re-orient oneself for a forward or backward fall. I find it much nicer to stay relaxed and be comfortable with falling in almost any direction.

The side-backward version has additional advantages over backward rolls, namely better protection of the neck and head, and multiple directional options in getting up.

The breakfall has an additional advantage. Since it makes straight-down throws that require a breakfall less harsh on uke, it makes people more likely to practice and use them.

Many people don't like the falls because they seem to involve turning one's back to the person who threw you. There is something to this, but I see them as more of a practice tool and adding additional options to your falls. I also think the criticism has problems: someone who is really good at them isn't there for long, as the roll allows for simultaneous falling and getting up. Also, usually they are done when the person is throwing you away from themself, not following you to the ground. One can also chase someone down who is doing a forward or backward roll, and this is very difficult to do without tripping them up and actually hurting them, so it seems to me like it might be an even bigger problem for the traditional falls.

Basia Halliop
08-23-2007, 04:18 PM
Actually I think I've seen some of those videos on youtube, with explanations. Some of what they're showing is exercises to learn to breakfall, so there are intermediate steps that aren't so much there for their own sake but to break down the steps and help you practice where to put your arms/how to twist your body/etc do you can progress to breakfalls.

But where do you do breakfalls??? If people find that they can 'roll out of everything' than I can only imagine that they just practice somewhere that has chosen to only teach techniques that can be rolled out of. There are all kinds of techniques I'm used to that involve flipping uke over your shoulder or knee or back or otherwise being flung from a height in such a way that it's physically impossible to roll without asking nage to modify the technique.

Also some kinds of joint locks...

Basia Halliop
08-23-2007, 04:43 PM
Actually, the belly-flop thing is not something I'm familiar with... but the first video is just one type of breakfall.

bob_stra
08-23-2007, 05:41 PM
I think the main purpose of it is to fall more softly during practice, and reduce the wear and tear on the body vs. harder falls. I have seen both Waite and Ostoff say this explicitly. When I first saw it, I didn't want anything to do with it. Now I'm addicted.



I'm all for that :)

Kevin, in your experience, are you able to use this kind of ukemi against throws which project you straight downwards whilst nage holds on / 'stays in touch'?

Eg - something like this

http://www.judoinfo.com/images/animations/blue/hanegoshi.gif

Or even

http://www.judoinfo.com/images/animations/hizagurumaKudo.gif

Does 'soft falling' depend on seperation between the two parties?

Kevin Wilbanks
08-23-2007, 06:16 PM
Yes and no. The Waite-style soft breakfall works well falling in roughly that way, except in Aikido, the throw is usually not done with the leg sweep. I think it would be easier from the second throw. In the first, it looks like uke is being hauled over in such a way that there isn't much choice about uke guiding his own trajectory. What the blue guy would be doing, if it could work, would be reaching out for the mat above and behind him with the free arm instead of dragging it along nage's arm. Also, the body is more relaxed and less taut. The legs are separated wide, so that uke can keep the trailing one on the ground as long as possible to provide control. The outstretched legs and arms also serve as adjustable outriggers to provide more control over the distribution of weight, momentum, etc...

In general, it works well for straight down breakfalls where nothing is in the way - not so good for koshi. I'm not so sure about in-between, sweeping/tripping stuff. The higher nage holds on to the throw/pivot arm during landing, the less soft it tends to become. The softest falls are not even really falls, as you do not get airborne or fall down, but instead lower yourself to the mat, albeit in a funny shape.

The front-side fall itself doesn't look that different from what is pictured, except that the rotational axis is more along the body's frontal plane rather than the transverse - in case you know the anatomy - and the body flips in a tighter circle. For this reason, it also allows for an unusual kind of throw which is similar but instead of taking uke's arm just down, you can cut it back into them at about thigh level, forcing the tight flip.

The Ostoff-style falls are completely different, but they mostly involve pressing oneself into nage and rotating around their hip/leg. Being separate from nage is definitely not part of what is going on there.

eyrie
08-23-2007, 10:10 PM
Kevin, in your experience, are you able to use this kind of ukemi against throws which project you straight downwards whilst nage holds on / 'stays in touch'?
Also, wot if nage not only holds on, but "pulls up" at the end of the throw... not only is this "soft" type of ukemi nigh near impossible, it is highly impractical.

Which leads me to question the assumptions that the purpose of such "high level" ukemi serves the same purposes as say, judo ukemi.

bkedelen
08-23-2007, 10:23 PM
I think it is safe to say that high level Aikido ukemi absolutely does not serve the same purpose as judo ukemi. Depending on your judo goals, good judo ukemi is designed to either provide crisp punctuation during ju no kata, OR keep you from being injured during regular judo training, OR make your partner's throw look worse so that they do not get a full point for their effort. These are the realities of modern judo training. Aikido ukemi does intersect with judo ukemi in the area of keeping you safe during training, but it furthermore provides a vehicle for the artistic realization of human movement. In some ways Aikido ukemi is its own purpose, lending strange and wonderful faculties to its adepts.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-23-2007, 10:36 PM
Also, wot if nage not only holds on, but "pulls up" at the end of the throw... not only is this "soft" type of ukemi nigh near impossible, it is highly impractical.

Which leads me to question the assumptions that the purpose of such "high level" ukemi serves the same purposes as say, judo ukemi.

It isn't impossible. This is exactly what I was talking about with holding the arm up high. The higher they hold it, the rougher the fall, but this also goes for a standard breakfall where you tense up and smack the ground to dissipate the momentum. Standard breakfalls are very nearly that rough whether the leading arm is being held up or not. If nage pulls up enough, you won't really fall, just crash into their legs like a rag doll, no matter which style you choose. If nage just pulls up some, the soft ukemi will result in at least one heel smacking the ground hard, but it doesn't seem horribly worse than a standard breakfall, even when the standard fall is practiced in the air, with no one throwing at all. I have tried the falls when nage really pulls up on a free breakfall and it was a little bit less pleasant than falling with a normal breakfall but not hazardous.

If someone was really yanking on you hard, or really driving you down, I could see how being tensed up and curled up into the standard chair position would be safer. One situation I've experienced where the soft style was definitely worse was when someone really pounded me down into the mat hard with accelerated irimi nages. It felt like there was a definite whiplash effect on my head and neck. The guy who did it made my skin crawl though, long before the incident, and the few before it. Come to think of it, he's one of the people I experienced pulling up sharply on my arm during a free breakfall - some kind of weird, gladhandlingly repressed sadism going on there. I wouldn't take someone like him lying down on a regular basis.

Mike Haftel
08-23-2007, 11:43 PM
I know this is slightly in another direction...but:

In my opinion, uke should not have a choice of what type of ukemi they do.

Ideally, uke should fall, take ukemi, or breakfall because they have no choice about what is being done to them (otherwise, it's just dancing). Being able to choose how and when to fall would mean uke is not really being controlled (in a purely martial context)...they are merely falling down for nage.

If I am applying...let's say...kotegaeshi...and uke can consciously choose the way he breakfalls (be it a roll, sideways breakfall, straight down breakfall, flip, etc.) then I'm not really throwing him. He's just falling down for the sake of Wa (group harmony).

This is fine for beginners or for going slow or for focusing on a specific aspect of the technique. But, at a higher level, ukemi shouldn't be a choice. It should just happen. Yes, you can train yourself to instinctively fall a certain way, but that's not my point.

Sonja2012
08-24-2007, 12:32 AM
We have been working a lot on these types of ukemi in our dojo and have been playing around with it for quite a while. Though I am far from being an expert on it I would say that e.g. the Ostoff type of falling can not be applied against all types of throws or rather against all ways of being thrown into a breakfall. However, the way I see it, they are just more tools for me to add to my ukemi - and IMHO the more tools there are in my toolbox the better for me and my ukemi. If possible, I try to fall as softly as I can, which is where both Waite senseis as well as Ostoff senseis ukemi comes in - it simply feels great and is much easier on the body.

grondahl
08-24-2007, 03:18 AM
The "falling leaf" ukemi feels a little bit dangerous, but for the rest: smoth ukemi = more energy for practice.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-24-2007, 04:56 AM
I know this is slightly in another direction...but:

In my opinion, uke should not have a choice of what type of ukemi they do.

Ideally, uke should fall, take ukemi, or breakfall because they have no choice about what is being done to them (otherwise, it's just dancing). Being able to choose how and when to fall would mean uke is not really being controlled (in a purely martial context)...they are merely falling down for nage.

If I am applying...let's say...kotegaeshi...and uke can consciously choose the way he breakfalls (be it a roll, sideways breakfall, straight down breakfall, flip, etc.) then I'm not really throwing him. He's just falling down for the sake of Wa (group harmony).

This is fine for beginners or for going slow or for focusing on a specific aspect of the technique. But, at a higher level, ukemi shouldn't be a choice. It should just happen. Yes, you can train yourself to instinctively fall a certain way, but that's not my point.

Absurd. Uke always has choices. Even if your uke weighed 40 pounds and you just plain picked them up and chucked them down they would still have a choice about how they oriented their body when falling... even if you taped their wrists and ankles together first.

The kind of 100% "control" you claim to seek has nothing to do with reality. To start with, it's impossible. If you had ever handled animals, you would know it's often nearly impossible with an animal weighing as little as 10 pounds, much less a resisting human being. A good throw is not about imposing your idea of what you want to happen onto uke with complete dictatorial control. In fact, quite the opposite - it's about blending with their energy, finding their weaknesses, their balance. It's a lot more about paying attention to and working with them than it is about "total control".

The idea that Aikido is either some kind of brutal rape of uke or "dancing" is a false dichotomy. Likewise the idea that the former is 'advanced' and the latter just for beginners. Frankly, this just sounds like a bunch of insecure macho chest-thumping.

Rupert Atkinson
08-24-2007, 05:33 AM
Excellent ukemi skills there. Excellent. However, I do hope they also learn how to take hard falls, especially when young. If not, they would be pretty vulnerable to a heavy throw. For example, as tori I could let them roll out, or, make them fall hard and fast straight down. Still, those ukemi are excellent!

Ron Tisdale
08-24-2007, 06:51 AM
I like those ukemi a lot, but my main issue is how to move to them once trained to yudansha level in another style of ukemi.

That said, even my own Yoshinkan instructor is beginning to teach portions of that style of ukemi along with our traditional one. I have seen Donovan Waite Sensei's waza and ukemi...especially for his kind of whippy, high power, extend uke in interesting directions kind of throws, this ukemi is probably the best. It allows you to safely fall when torqued and thrown through a full extension of shite's and uke's body. And it reduces the impact of most falls greatly. It can also lead to some interesting positions for sutemi waza, something that I think is greatly worth exploring. In the one seminar I took with Waite Sensei, I noticed how he often pulls his body back up from uke at the zanshin to counter the possibility of getting drawn down with uke. I must say, I really like his waza...

I'll probably never be good at this style...too much is already ingrained, and I'm 46 and can't afford the time off that confusing the two styles might entail. Injuries suck. :D But some of the easier methods are starting to take hold even for me.

Best,
Ron

DonMagee
08-24-2007, 07:52 AM
Absurd. Uke always has choices. Even if your uke weighed 40 pounds and you just plain picked them up and chucked them down they would still have a choice about how they oriented their body when falling... even if you taped their wrists and ankles together first.

The kind of 100% "control" you claim to seek has nothing to do with reality. To start with, it's impossible. If you had ever handled animals, you would know it's often nearly impossible with an animal weighing as little as 10 pounds, much less a resisting human being. A good throw is not about imposing your idea of what you want to happen onto uke with complete dictatorial control. In fact, quite the opposite - it's about blending with their energy, finding their weaknesses, their balance. It's a lot more about paying attention to and working with them than it is about "total control".

The idea that Aikido is either some kind of brutal rape of uke or "dancing" is a false dichotomy. Likewise the idea that the former is 'advanced' and the latter just for beginners. Frankly, this just sounds like a bunch of insecure macho chest-thumping.

I don't know if I agree with you there or not. I do know I can control how I fall when my nage is being nice. But in randori I rarely have time to do more then exhale and try to slap. I've also noticed I have the distinct ablity in a few throws (harai goshi, ippon seonage, etc) to actually control the direction and orientation of the uke. If I wanted to, I could for example spike them directly on the top of their head or force them to land face first or belly down. They really have no say in this. It's only by the good grace of nage that they are pulled though and not thrown forcefully down on the top of the skull.

Ron Tisdale
08-24-2007, 07:56 AM
Hi Don,

It depends on the level of uke for some of that. There are/were arts that specialized in taking that kind of throw and turning it into sutemi waza. Yoseikan at it's best is a fine example of this. One of Mochizuki sensei's first arts was one that specialized in this.

Best,
Ron

David Orange
08-24-2007, 08:22 AM
Also, wot if nage not only holds on, but "pulls up" at the end of the throw... not only is this "soft" type of ukemi nigh near impossible, it is highly impractical.

Not to mention cases in which tori follows the throw by landing on top of you!

Which leads me to question the assumptions that the purpose of such "high level" ukemi serves the same purposes as say, judo ukemi.

Most of what I saw him doing looked more like "sensitivity to the ground" exercises, enabling you to "merge" with the ground instead of colliding with it. No matter what the situation, you're better off with a high degree of that kind of skill than without it, I'd say.

Best to you.

David

jennifer paige smith
08-24-2007, 08:39 AM
Not to mention cases in which tori follows the throw by landing on top of you!

Most of what I saw him doing looked more like "sensitivity to the ground" exercises, enabling you to "merge" with the ground instead of colliding with it. No matter what the situation, you're better off with a high degree of that kind of skill than without it, I'd say.

Best to you.

David

In all aikido ( ukemi and nage waza) we eventually seek to lose form and join with the void. I have seen people who are so ready to jump into the void and live in the creative auspices of take-musu instead choose to 'advance their level of skill". Usually through another form. Just as in good nage waza, we need to master to our level and then free ourslves on that level. The true form of the universe awaits our listening and intuitive and educated ukemi will help us. But we can't keep shutting out the expression of the void through our insitence on something 'new and better'.

All that said, I see the purpose of this type of ukemi training, but not as a replacement for good, relaxed, committed, entance based in aiki principle. I see it simply as another beginning point for those who need to begin ( or begin again).

The exit is at the end of the hall. Please don't run.;)

DonMagee
08-24-2007, 09:38 AM
Forget all the spiritual and metaphysical stuff, I just want to throw people as hard as I can at the ground, and pull/twist/hyper extend their limbs and cut the blood off to their brains.

Whatever kind of training allows them to survive that so I can do it more often, I'm ok with.

Currently we teach some basic breakfalls, then they either develop some skill out of a need to save themselves from harai goshi, or they give up and go find another art. We've had a big push lately to try to address that and focus more on how to fall.

I learned to roll in aikido over a 2 month peroid. I do that fairly well. I learned to breakfall with about 10-15 minutes of instruction and worked out the problems by being brutally thrown at the ground by my first judo partners. I'm not too sloppy, but I can't say I was formally taught.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-24-2007, 10:04 AM
All that said, I see the purpose of this type of ukemi training, but not as a replacement for good, relaxed, committed, entance based in aiki principle. I see it simply as another beginning point for those who need to begin ( or begin again).

Here we run into a confusion based on the loose use of the word "ukemi". What we are really discussing here is a different type of fall, or rather a different class of falls, in which the body turns on different axes and meets the mat differently. It makes no sense to say it is or is not a replacement for what you are talking about - committed attack, pressing, looking for openings, yielding, etc... This stuff is really the important part of ukemi, and should not be different whatever style of fall you choose. As far as the idea of advanced vs. beginner ukemi, I define it in these terms. Beginner ukemi is almost wholly yielding and cooperative. There is more willingness to give up balance, possibly with a lighter initial attack. Advanced ukemi involves being less cooperative but not "resistant": this means less willingness to give up balance, actively neutralizing things nage is trying to do to you, and seeking/executing reversals.

Basia Halliop
08-24-2007, 10:07 AM
But in randori I rarely have time to do more then exhale and try to slap.

That sounds like ukemi to me... of course you don't have an infinite or even a very large amount of control, it's just that you do usually have some, even if it's the choice between one or two things you can usually do to fall a bit more safely (like in your example slapping, or rocking your body on impact, trying to spread out your arms and legs, or being more stiff or more floppy, etc), and a couple of different ways of splatting badly.

The guy in the videos is doing it by himself rather than being thrown, and he might not be from a very hard throwing style anyway, so maybe makes that breakfall look unjustifiably 'flakey' or something, compared to if the demo was showing someone thrown hard.

DonMagee
08-24-2007, 10:13 AM
That sounds like ukemi to me... of course you don't have an infinite or even a very large amount of control, it's just that you do usually have some, even if it's the choice between one or two things you can usually do to fall a bit more safely (like in your example slapping, or rocking your body on impact, trying to spread out your arms and legs, or being more stiff or more floppy, etc), and a couple of different ways of splatting badly.

The guy in the videos is doing it by himself rather than being thrown, and he might not be from a very hard throwing style anyway, so maybe makes that breakfall look unjustifiably 'flakey' or something, compared to if the demo was showing someone thrown hard.

I agree, you have to do the best that you can with what you are given. I've been thrown in ways where I had no free hands, and my partner was in the air with me about to crash down on top of me. My choice of ukemi there was to close my eyes, tuck my chin and pray. It worked out for the best.

ChrisMoses
08-24-2007, 10:52 AM
I am not a fan of the 'soft' ukemi thing. I think it presumes far too much that nage will set uke up for a soft and safe fall. It's been my experience that this stuff only works in very cooperative environments. It can be OK for teaching some sensitivity stuff between uke-nage, but I don't like it as a primary way to fall down safely. We had a guy train with us briefly who had studied the 'soft ukemi' at the Aikido dojo he was concurrently training at. We were bad mouthing it, he defended it saying that it could be applied to a lot more falls than we were giving it credit for. We asked him to take soft ukemi whenever he felt he could during class to demonstrate this. He didn't take a single 'soft' fall. Mind you, we weren't purely trying to prove him wrong, this was just working through class. If he found a place to use it, he was encouraged to use it. After about a month of class, he still hadn't found a place he could use it safely. Not once. I look at it like this:

If you are taking your own fall, you can probably work it in.
If you are being thrown, it is not a very good way to fall safely.

Your mileage may vary.

Chuck Clark
08-24-2007, 11:22 AM
I am not a fan of the 'soft' ukemi thing. I think it presumes far too much that nage will set uke up for a soft and safe fall. It's been my experience that this stuff only works in very cooperative environments.

If you are taking your own fall, you can probably work it in.
If you are being thrown, it is not a very good way to fall safely.

Chris, I agree completely. I have yet to have someone be able to do this sort of ukemi when real kuzushi, tsukuri, and kake is working. When the effects of this sort of waza are felt the attempted recovery of balance and structure is hard-wired and is not a choice that is made by uke.

Another point, if uke makes a choice about which "ukemi" is appropriate, what if tori changes the effect of the waza after uke's decision? I think this accounts for a number of training injuries.

Best regards,

bkedelen
08-24-2007, 11:30 AM
Well Chuck, I do "soft" ukemi every night while Ikeda sensei grinds me to dust, smashes me into the ground, and hits me like a train. I am convinced it is the only reason I survive. For the first four months of this year, sensei did classes geared toward fostering these types of ukemi three nights a week, and was explicit that their judicious application was appropriate.

Ron Tisdale
08-24-2007, 11:40 AM
The other posts have merrit in what they suggest...as I said, it depends on the level of uke.

When in the kind of situation you describe, I really don't chose the ukemi...my hardwiring through training chooses the ukemi for me. If I hard wire the style demonstrated in the clips, my assumption is that it will take over the same as the yoshinkan movements take over now.

whether it will work or not is another thing entirely... :D

B,
R

Ron Tisdale
08-24-2007, 12:02 PM
I also remember a rather frustrating day at keiko, where my uke wanted to insist on taking a certain fall from a version of iriminage. My throw wasn't allowing for it, but when I felt him trying to turn I stopped, tried to gently orient him to take the fall, and got yelled at for my trouble.

In the end, I just didn't throw him at all, as I didn't feel like changing my throw (knowing he could take the required fall), and I wasn't interested in forcing it.

Best,
Ron

Chuck Clark
08-24-2007, 12:15 PM
Well Chuck, I do "soft" ukemi every night while Ikeda sensei grinds me to dust, smashes me into the ground, and hits me like a train. I am convinced it is the only reason I survive.

I congratulate you Benjamin. If you are doing what I saw in the video at the beginning and survive the sort of waza you describe, you would be the first person I've ever seen that can do it. I'm always open to learning. Do you have video footage of this sort of ukemi? I'm not challenging but rather curious to see something I haven't seen before.

Best regards,

bkedelen
08-24-2007, 01:28 PM
Well to be fair to you, I will say that the ukemi I am referring to, and the ukemi that Ikeda sensei was explicit about earlier this year, are not the same as the ukemi in the video on this thread. I have experimented with the falling leaf ukemi and it does not entice me much. Nevertheless there are many ways to do soft ukemi, and many of them are at least as practical as the ukemi taught in a standard aikido or judo dojo.

bkedelen
08-24-2007, 01:32 PM
If you want to see soft ukemi done in response to powerful technique I suggest you find videos of Jun Akiyama training with any shihan. A good example would be Ikeda sensei's demonstrations at the friendship seminars, or the videos from any Boulder summer camp in the last few years.

ChrisMoses
08-24-2007, 02:28 PM
Well to be fair to you, I will say that the ukemi I am referring to, and the ukemi that Ikeda sensei was explicit about earlier this year, are not the same as the ukemi in the video on this thread. I have experimented with the falling leaf ukemi and it does not entice me much. Nevertheless there are many ways to do soft ukemi, and many of them are at least as practical as the ukemi taught in a standard aikido or judo dojo.

Around here, "soft ukemi" refers to the stuff that's coming out of some of Endo Sensei's students in Scandanavia. Is that actually what you're referring to, or are you just talking about rolls and whatnot. "Soft ukemi" as it's taught around here is kind of an alternative to breakfalls or hardfalls where there is never a percussive impact. Are we mixing terms?

Edit: Here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kItc4PJtCa4 is a decent video that shows what I percieve to be the problem with this stuff. Note how in the partner 'throws' there is an extended period of time where uke's head is pointed straight down with nothing to protect it. In a typical breakfall, this also happens, but it is very short. If nage were to drop their weight in the middle of this throw, uke would be forced to land on their head witha lot of force going into their spine. I also think that since uke reaches back withe 'slapping' hand behind their back, they are in a lot of danger for a shoulder injury if nage accelerated the speed of their rotation. They would come down on the shoulder while it was still behind the back with most of the body's weight going the other direction.

tarik
08-24-2007, 02:41 PM
Hi Benjamin,

If you want to see soft ukemi done in response to powerful technique I suggest you find videos of Jun Akiyama training with any shihan. A good example would be Ikeda sensei's demonstrations at the friendship seminars, or the videos from any Boulder summer camp in the last few years.

:D

Ask Jun his opinion of practicing soft ukemi when training with Chuck (a shihan, himself), which he's done. You might (or might not) be surprised.

FWIW, I remember when Jun brought this up many years ago on Aikido-L. I'd halfway taught myself some of this style simply because I wouldn't get off the mat when injured and found some of the basics are simply a natural outgrowth of trying to protect existing injuries. It grew in popularity in my dojo due to a senior who returned from Japan with it and not long after Donovan Waite's videos came out to popularize this even more and it became a regular practice among the more athletic students.

Suffice it to say, I learned and practiced this for quite a while until I determined that my feeling about it was that it's really great falling practice in terms of softening contact with the mat, and getting comfortable with falling down while being relaxed, but that it's not very good ukemi practice for how I prefer to train because it requires uke to abandon attempts to recover posture to continue the attack much sooner than I now consider optimal and it also requires cooperation from tori to allow it.

It is not at all difficult to simply remove the available space to prevent this sort of ukemi without being mean, hurtful, or slamming one's partner down, and in fact, I find it a rather fun learning exercise for myself when I train with someone who wants to try and do this.

That said, from a certain point of view, it is certainly very cool and impressive looking. :cool: However, even amongst those who practice this a lot, I see a most of this fancy stuff go away the hotter and heavier that things get (meaning uke is not muscling, but actually looking for opportunities to perform kaeshiwaza). That means something to me.

Regards,

cguzik
08-24-2007, 02:55 PM
One of the most important lessons I ever learned about ukemi was from a teacher whom I hold in high regard who said that one should not be trying to make decisions right in the middle of a fall.

The more active you try to become in the midst of the fall, the more decisions you may have to make, that you may not have space-time for.

tarik
08-24-2007, 04:27 PM
In all aikido ( ukemi and nage waza) we eventually seek to lose form and join with the void. I have seen people who are so ready to jump into the void and live in the creative auspices of take-musu instead choose to 'advance their level of skill". Usually through another form. Just as in good nage waza, we need to master to our level and then free ourslves on that level. The true form of the universe awaits our listening and intuitive and educated ukemi will help us. But we can't keep shutting out the expression of the void through our insitence on something 'new and better'.

Hi Jen,

I'm not really clear on what you're saying here. Are you conflating mushin and "the void"? My understanding of "the void" is quite different than what you're suggesting.

Regards,

eyrie
08-24-2007, 07:31 PM
Not to mention cases in which tori follows the throw by landing on top of you! Amen! Or as Chris and Chuck have pointed out, changing the angle/force/direction of the throw in mid-flight. As anyone with a modicum of skill can tell you, many throws can be changed mid-way thru the technique, to cause uke to fall awkwardly. And as you may well know, there are many similar throws in both jujitsu and aikido, that with slight modification, can make all the difference between "playing nice" and a fight-ender.

No matter what the situation, you're better off with a high degree of that kind of skill than without it, I'd say. Dave, I don't disagree that a higher degree of skill and athleticism is always a good thing to have. Like Bob, I'm merely questioning, not only the purpose, but the underlying assumptions regarding such purpose. And as Mike Haftel, Chris and Chuck have pointed out, it might be useful as a sensitivity drill, or as you put it, an exercise in "blending with the ground". But I have my doubts on grounds of "choice", practicality and safety.

Likewise, best to you.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-25-2007, 04:43 AM
As I said earlier, the need/opportunity for the wide-leg front breakfall doesn't come up very often in dojos that don't know and practice the fall. This is because throws that demand it are not used in places that don't have it. This goes even moreso for Ostoff/Nivelus style flip falls. They never come up without the corresponding throws. I think perhaps people are coming to erroneous conclusions based on only seeing half the picture, or only having seen someone try to apply half the picture to inappropriate scenarios.

I could easily apply a converse argument about people who don't know how to fall and rotate around these non-traditional axes: if Waite or Ostoff lay a throw on you in which you have to fall this way, you're screwed. Ostoff has throws that would require you to do an acrobatic somersault over nage's head or let your arm get broken if you tried to use traditional ukemi. As I also alluded to earlier, not long ago, I thew someone in a way that would have been easy to fall out of with one of the wide leg side-front falls, but he didn't know how well enough, panicked, and crashed on his shoulder. These only seem like abstract, unuseful sensitivity exercises because you aren't seeing the corresponding nage-waza.

The side-back fall on the other hand, seems useful to me in most any situation in which one would normally backward roll or take a backward rocking fall. I use these all the time, whereas I almost never use the side-front roll or breakfall - these only come up very occasionally at the most ASU dojos I have trained at. The Ostoff flip falls are completely inapplicable without the proper throws.

As for the changing throws in mid-stream argument, why does this not apply equally to forward or backward rolls? There are plenty of opportunities to sabotage someone attempting to take one of these falls as well.

jennifer paige smith
08-25-2007, 08:52 AM
Hi Jen,

I'm not really clear on what you're saying here. Are you conflating mushin and "the void"? My understanding of "the void" is quite different than what you're suggesting.

Regards,

Hi Tarik,
I'm not conflating last time I checked. Although I did put on a little weight last year, but I've since lost it.

I'm not speaking so much from an outside understandingor from my intellect but from experience of space and the void that I feel . In fact I don't only feel it, I hear words and wisdom spoken while in this place. It is the arena of my greatest hearing, oneness, and learning. If you haven't felt or heard this, I hope you do.

-Perhaps, if there were no 'shin' in your mushin, then our recipes would be more similar.;)

davidafindlay
08-25-2007, 10:31 AM
I dunno. Having read the posts above I understand the question is "this ukemi - why?". Responses so far seem to be along the lines of "when to use / when is acceptable / feels good / etc" and then moving on to the role of uke to take care of themselves etc.

I've a slightly different take on this, specifically I guess, related to giving and taking elevated ukemi from an irimi throw. The ukemi I mean is both the "clothesline" type thing, and also getting flipped over tori's front leg in a particularly enthusiastic aigamae or gyakugamae ate (insert your preferred terms here ;)). My perspective is having uke able to take this ukemi lets tori learn a feeling of full connection between the ground and the point of contact they are driving into uke.

And similarly, as uke, you get to feel how this sort of really solid force comes into your structure and how you need to hold yourself together inside even when airborne with nothing to hold onto.

When I started to learn these variations of these throws - both as tori and also as uke, it definitely taught me a new quality to the movement. The quality was like allowing greater solidity in my throws and over a larger range of movement.

Does that mean this ukemi is necessarily the right sort of thing wrt "best ukemi in a Re@L LiFe siTuAtioN - or even in randori etc" ... no.

And as I write all this, I remember one of the things Nariyaman sensei used to say (and pretty sure this was specifically in context to some of the flashy ukemi) was "uke and tori improve their ukemi and waza together to improve their understanding of aikido". Of course, maybe he just wanted bouncy uke to give him a good demo ;) jk.

Regards,
Dave.

jennifer paige smith
08-25-2007, 10:37 AM
I dunno. Having read the posts above I understand the question is "this ukemi - why?". Responses so far seem to be along the lines of "when to use / when is acceptable / feels good / etc" and then moving on to the role of uke to take care of themselves etc.

I've a slightly different take on this, specifically I guess, related to giving and taking elevated ukemi from an irimi throw. The ukemi I mean is both the "clothesline" type thing, and also getting flipped over tori's front leg in a particularly enthusiastic aigamae or gyakugamae ate (insert your preferred terms here ;)). My perspective is having uke able to take this ukemi lets tori learn a feeling of full connection between the ground and the point of contact they are driving into uke.

And similarly, as uke, you get to feel how this sort of really solid force comes into your structure and how you need to hold yourself together inside even when airborne with nothing to hold onto.

When I started to learn these variations of these throws - both as tori and also as uke, it definitely taught me a new quality to the movement. The quality was like allowing greater solidity in my throws and over a larger range of movement.

Does that mean this ukemi is necessarily the right sort of thing wrt "best ukemi in a Re@L LiFe siTuAtioN - or even in randori etc" ... no.

And as I write all this, I remember one of the things Nariyaman sensei used to say (and pretty sure this was specifically in context to some of the flashy ukemi) was "uke and tori improve their ukemi and waza together to improve their understanding of aikido". Of course, maybe he just wanted bouncy uke to give him a good demo ;) jk.

Regards,
Dave.

Sounds good to me.

jen

eyrie
08-25-2007, 11:19 PM
They never come up without the corresponding throws. I think perhaps people are coming to erroneous conclusions based on only seeing half the picture, or only having seen someone try to apply half the picture to inappropriate scenarios..... These only seem like abstract, unuseful sensitivity exercises because you aren't seeing the corresponding nage-waza. So, Kevin, basically what you're saying is:
1. such ukemi is the result of specific nage waza?
2. and for a specific type of nage waza this type of ukemi is the appropriate response?
3. there is no other more appropriate response to such nage waza?

I'm just not convinced. This presumes that the purpose of such ukemi is primarily "escape" and that it is the ONLY means of escape. I think there are much better ways to "take ukemi" than such athletically demanding "ukemi". What about making your ukemi so "small" and internal that you can't be thrown, and any attempt to do so results in nage throwing themselves?

Kevin Wilbanks
08-26-2007, 04:52 AM
So, Kevin, basically what you're saying is:
1. such ukemi is the result of specific nage waza?
2. and for a specific type of nage waza this type of ukemi is the appropriate response?
3. there is no other more appropriate response to such nage waza?

I'm just not convinced. This presumes that the purpose of such ukemi is primarily "escape" and that it is the ONLY means of escape. I think there are much better ways to "take ukemi" than such athletically demanding "ukemi". What about making your ukemi so "small" and internal that you can't be thrown, and any attempt to do so results in nage throwing themselves?

I don't know that much about Waite's philosophy, but I have experienced many throws that derive from him that require falling along the 'yoko' axis. Considering it only increases your options and freedom of movement in both throwing and falling, I don't see how it could be bad. If less is more, why not do away with forward rolls as well?

Hypothetically, I suppose you are right: if I were some kind of tai chi superman, I wouldn't have to learn how to take that kind of fall and everyone, including Sensei Waite himself would just bounce right off of me. I guess I wouldn't need to know any kind of fall. Since no one is invincible, and if someone became even close, they would have to train a long time to achieve it, I don't see how this is relevant to what I call reality.

Finally, the overall principle you are getting - minus the absurd hyperbole - is incorporated into Frank Ostoff's Aikido. The whole reason for the flip fall - which you apparently have never felt or even seen once - is to enable you to challenge nage and press into them while remaining vertical, seeking to reverse them right up until the last instant. Anyway, this is getting silly. I'm not going to argue at length with you about something of which you are so ignorant that you don't even know that your "objection" reads like an endorsement.

eyrie
08-26-2007, 05:17 PM
My, my Kevin.... just because I happen to disagree with you, is no reason to get snarky and personal. You know nothing about me, much less whether I have seen or done this type of ukemi - which I have done and can do. The fact that I "choose" not to do so is a different matter - age and athletic ability not withstanding, I just happen to think there are other better ways to train in aiki than simply "taking ukemi".

In any case, you still haven't convinced me of its utility either way. No other martial art that I know of or have trained in does ukemi this way. So I'm not convinced that such ukemi serves any real purpose as a logical means of escape from a specific type of throw.

Save the ad hominem dig and try to bloster your argument with real facts and evidence.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-26-2007, 06:16 PM
My, my Kevin.... just because I happen to disagree with you, is no reason to get snarky and personal. You know nothing about me, much less whether I have seen or done this type of ukemi - which I have done and can do. The fact that I "choose" not to do so is a different matter - age and athletic ability not withstanding, I just happen to think there are other better ways to train in aiki than simply "taking ukemi".

In any case, you still haven't convinced me of its utility either way. No other martial art that I know of or have trained in does ukemi this way. So I'm not convinced that such ukemi serves any real purpose as a logical means of escape from a specific type of throw.

Save the ad hominem dig and try to bloster your argument with real facts and evidence.

Really? When and where have you trained with Ostoff, Nivelus, or one of their top students? So far as I know, there is no video available, so you'd have to have personal experience. If you think it's the same as what Waite does, or the same as what is in those videos, you have no idea about it, nor have you been comprehending my posts in this thread.

Also, you might want to look ad hominem up, and the word "personal" too, I guess. I don't see either in my post. What I see is you shrinking from a legitimate, if firm, challenge to your flippant dismissal of something that you don't understand and probably haven't even seen by misrepresenting my words and impugning my motives. It was evident to me by the thrust of your argument that you have never trained with or seen Ostoff/Nivelus-style Aikido, so the attribution of "ignorance" was a simple deduction, not an insult.

As far as arguments go, you haven't addressed mine, nor has anyone else. This latest missive is nothing but bald assertions and fallacies. Why do the "I can sabotage you in the middle of a throw" criticisms not apply to forward and backward rolls as well? Why is being able to fall and throw in a more limited number of ways and directions better than more?

Mike Haftel
08-26-2007, 06:43 PM
Absurd. Uke always has choices. Even if your uke weighed 40 pounds and you just plain picked them up and chucked them down they would still have a choice about how they oriented their body when falling... even if you taped their wrists and ankles together first.

The kind of 100% "control" you claim to seek has nothing to do with reality. To start with, it's impossible. If you had ever handled animals, you would know it's often nearly impossible with an animal weighing as little as 10 pounds, much less a resisting human being. A good throw is not about imposing your idea of what you want to happen onto uke with complete dictatorial control. In fact, quite the opposite - it's about blending with their energy, finding their weaknesses, their balance. It's a lot more about paying attention to and working with them than it is about "total control".

The idea that Aikido is either some kind of brutal rape of uke or "dancing" is a false dichotomy. Likewise the idea that the former is 'advanced' and the latter just for beginners. Frankly, this just sounds like a bunch of insecure macho chest-thumping.

I think you misunderstood what my point was.

I'm not talking about "100%" control over ukes limbs as they flail and fall and squirm around. Like you said, that's far from reality.

However, if you throw somebody and they can sit there and decide, "ok, I'm going to fall now and in this direction..." you haven't really thrown them. They just fell for you.

I've most deffinitely been thrown in ways where I had absolutely zero choice about how, when, where, and why I went down.

Yes, I realize you can variate how you orient parts of your body, instinctively (through training), when you breakfall.

I am not speaking from a purely "Aikido" mindset. For you to sit there and lecture me about what a "good throw" is, is simply near-sited on your part. Please don't mistake my tone for hostility. I'm not trying to come off that way.

I think, when it comes down to it, martial arts are about total control. Yeah, you can BS about all the philosophy and other goals of various arts. But, the inherent nature of conflict, itself, is control. Why else would one person seek to impose their will upon another? That is what is happening when someone attacks you, physically, isn't it? An attacker is trying to control you, at some level, via physical battery and mental assault.

If uke can choose what their mental and bodily reactions/responses are to your counter-attack/defense/whateveryouwanttocallit, then you haven't managed to prevent uke from controlling you--they have still managed to maintain some level of self-control. When someone attacks you, you don't want them to have any self-control, do you? I sure as hell don't. Yes, this is a daunting task, is it not? But, that seems like a good goal to aim for whilst training.

And, uke will instantly know the difference in (T)echnique when nage has instant and complete control over them. It is a scary feeling: To attack someone only to feel that they have complete control over you. The first time I felt that I nearly shat myself. Granted, there are few artisans out there who can manage to do this competently. I know I sure can't, yet.

But, that's part of the reason why I train.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-26-2007, 07:09 PM
Mike,

I still think we have a fundamental philosophical disagreement about what is going on in a conflict and what works. My idea of what makes Aikido a powerful approach to conflict is that it goes beyond the idea of control that you are using. Instead of trying to control a person or a situation, you instead seek to fully enter and understand it, and to influence it where it is easiest to influence by remaining open, present, and without preconception or plan. The result is usually not exactly what the hostile/attacking person wanted or what you wanted, but something in between that is hopefully more favorable to you.

I think this is also what makes a throw work well with little effort. If you try to impose your idea of how the throw is going to go - to do something specific to uke or apply a pattern, you end up losing track of them and what is actually happening and get stuck or have to use brute force. It's by remaining open to the constant changes of the situation and continuously paying full attention to what the other person is doing that you are able to influence the situation most powerfully. It's the openness to ongoing change that gives you more influence than the other guy, who is presumably not so adept or enlightened. I wouldn't call this "control".

I think control is ultimately an illusion. I don't think anyone is really in control of anything, except in very limited ways. Thinking that we have control or seeking to impose it is the root of most of our problems.

eyrie
08-26-2007, 08:50 PM
Wait a minute, so these people have some sort of copyrighted trademark on body movement? And unless I've trained with such and such a teacher in such and such a "style", I'm not qualified to make comments? Nor am I qualified to say I've done this sort of ukemi? What? You can infer or deduce that I don't "understand" or I'm ignorant because I'm arguing from a different perspective? How interesting.... a thinly veiled insult is still an insult.

Yeah, whateva Kev... if you read my posts again, you'll see I'm not about taking ukemi in this OR any other way... like Tarik said, it's "nice" if someone wants to do a "fancy turn out", but it's not how I prefer to train either... doesn't mean I can't do it, or that I haven't done it... even if I haven't trained with the "right" people....

In any case, you haven't responded to any of my questions either. And since you're asserting that such ukemi exists as a specific escape response to specific throws, the burden of proof is on you.

bkedelen
08-26-2007, 08:50 PM
It is pretty obvious that part of the reason there is some opposition to these newer forms of ukemi is "ukemi envy". A couple years of working these falls out for yourself is really the only way to become aware of their utility. It takes much less time and effort to type up a message board post about how these falls are probably not useful.

eyrie
08-26-2007, 09:01 PM
Yea, that's it... "ukemi envy". :rolleyes:

Save it Ben... even Chuck hasn't seen anything like this in his distinguished career... BTW, where's that video proof?

bkedelen
08-26-2007, 09:17 PM
http://www.aikidojournal.com/download_media?media=video&id=49
video contains multiple examples of "falling leaf" ukemi applied effectively
better luck next time :)

Chuck Clark
08-26-2007, 09:47 PM
Thanks for the video link Benjamin. I didn't see anything new in that footage, nor anything that any competent practitioner of aikido should be able to do within a couple of years of proper training.

Mike Haftel
08-26-2007, 10:20 PM
Mike,
I think this is also what makes a throw work well with little effort. If you try to impose your idea of how the throw is going to go - to do something specific to uke or apply a pattern, you end up losing track of them and what is actually happening and get stuck or have to use brute force.

Yes, I agree. In my eyes, being able to control uke doesn't automatically mean one must use brute force, the imposition of ideas, or applying a pattern. But, again, I'm not speaking from a purely "Aikido" based mindset. It seems you are limiting yourself, or at least this discussion, to Aikido-based philosophy/principles and you are assuming that "control," as I have been discussing it, is based on brute force, conflict, and resistance.

It's by remaining open to the constant changes of the situation and continuously paying full attention to what the other person is doing that you are able to influence the situation most powerfully. It's the openness to ongoing change that gives you more influence than the other guy, who is presumably not so adept or enlightened. I wouldn't call this "control".

Remaining open to change is not the only thing which "gives you more influence than the other guy." What about efficiency of power? I'd define power, in this case, as being able to accompolish a lot without having to do much at all. What about embodying the principles of the martial arts, themselves, in order to break through the illusion of physical (t)echnique and start developing (T)echnique? There are too many principles, which are common throughout the various arts, to touch upon. But, I hope you get the idea.

And, I'd rather have more than just "influence" over "the other guy." Influence implies some aspect of compromise or a risk of failure...it implies a chance. In my opinion, there should be no chance, no compromise, no failure. For me, the attacker is an illusion. I should not have to compromise for him. It is uke's problem that he attacks, not mine. That is partially what I mean by control.

But, this is more an arguement of philosophical and ideological terms.

For now, all I wanted to say was that being able to decide (mid-throw) how to fall, where to fall, and when to fall is an implication that nage is not really in control of uke. Take it for what you will, I guess.

I think control is ultimately an illusion. I don't think anyone is really in control of anything, except in very limited ways. Thinking that we have control or seeking to impose it is the root of most of our problems.

Well...yes. But, you should really specify what type of control you are talking about. And, going further on your comment...I'd say the deeper "root of our problems" is the reason why people seek out control or attempt to impose it, in the first place, and not the act, itself.

But, that's just my own little opinion.

tarik
08-26-2007, 10:29 PM
It is pretty obvious that part of the reason there is some opposition to these newer forms of ukemi is "ukemi envy".

Envy? How does a person feel envy for choosing NOT to do something that they CAN do?

A couple years of working these falls out for yourself is really the only way to become aware of their utility. It takes much less time and effort to type up a message board post about how these falls are probably not useful.

Ah, that explains it. :eek: I spent too many years playing with this approach before changing my point of view. Maybe if I'd stopped after a couple of years, I'd still have the same opinion.

Honestly, I'm too lazy to want to put that much effort into my ukemi any more. ;) In fact, I'm working hard to take all the athleticism and effort out of my ukemi. T'aint easy though.

By all means, continue with it for yourself, of course, just be aware that there are different points of view that exist and can demonstrate why they've chosen different paths.

Regards,

bkedelen
08-26-2007, 11:06 PM
I agree. There is nothing particularly esoteric about it. Just good solid ukemi fundamentals with a twist that makes them less like judo falls. These kinds of falls do not even have to be taught, they can be learned from a video and put into practice immediately. I am not under the impression that the falls require much athleticism since you do not hit the ground nearly as hard and you use energy of the fall to stand back up. Of course regular falls do this as well to some extent, but in my experience not as efficiently. I guess the mileage may vary for any individual. People reading this thread should definitely give these falls a shot, however. The opinions in this thread run completely contrary to anything else I have ever heard about these techniques as well as my own experience. Everywhere I go and everyone I talk to who has developed these falls thinks at least some of them are worth their time.

eyrie
08-26-2007, 11:54 PM
To be quite honest Ben, I don't see any difference between the ukemi on the Ikeda AJ vid and your average run-of-the-mill Aikido ukemi. To be really blunt, the ukemi shown was no different to any number of aikido videos available on YouTube. I also don't see any particular waza in the vid where one would be required to do the sort of ukemi under discussion - in particular, the second and third vids that Bob posted on the Judo Forum.

tarik
08-27-2007, 12:40 AM
BTW, Benjamin, while it's been a few years now, I've been attending Ikeda Sensei's seminars and retreats for a long time and even lived in the dojo in Boulder for a week or so back in 2000 during a visit, so I'd guess that I'm reasonably familiar with what he does and teaches. It's nice stuff.

I guess the mileage may vary for any individual. People reading this thread should definitely give these falls a shot, however.

Definitely. On both statements. And question all sides. Absolutely.

The opinions in this thread run completely contrary to anything else I have ever heard about these techniques as well as my own experience. Everywhere I go and everyone I talk to who has developed these falls thinks at least some of them are worth their time.

Well, obviously, now your experience has changed as you have now encountered people who have a different opinion. Have you asked Jun what I mentioned yet? It's certainly a different experience, that's all.

I believe that the only time that uke can practice ukemi like that is if tori allows them to. I'm sure I'm really not an authority on saying whether than means one should or should not practice it, but I know what that means to me so I choose to not practice (or teach) ukemi that requires tori to throw in a certain fashion.

Regards,

bob_stra
08-27-2007, 10:09 AM
To be quite honest Ben, I don't see any difference between the ukemi on the Ikeda AJ vid and your average run-of-the-mill Aikido ukemi. To be really blunt, the ukemi shown was no different to any number of aikido videos available on YouTube. I also don't see any particular waza in the vid where one would be required to do the sort of ukemi under discussion - in particular, the second and third vids that Bob posted on the Judo Forum.

Nor I - just looked like 'good, ol' fashioned aikido ukemi' to me - certainly none of the "falling leaf stuff" you could see in the third or fourth video I posted on that thread.

O/T:
Personally, I have to question the utility of the 'falling leaf'. I have performed such ukemi directly onto hard concrete, without a scratch. Great fun! Now....if I could only get uke to throw me in such a way so that I could fire off one of these bad boys.... :)

EDIT: "Falling leaf" (or dolphin wave to B-boys) here -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=173b-l398cM

Actually, if anything, I'm more interested in the 'side-break-fall-cum-roll' style ukemi, which I think might be directly applicable to falling from certain rear projection or 'dead stop' (eg: 'clothesline' irimi-nage) type throws -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XMLYbR68Tw

- or, more to the topic: maybe even judo style throws, such as vs taiotoshi or haraigoshi. (If you've ever taken a hard fall from one of those..well...yeah, it's like irimi - IOW, not a bunch of fun)

Eg: taiotoshi

Basic version:
http://www.judoinfo.com/images/animations/blue/taiotoshi3.gif

This one makes the soft fall idea look promising ...
http://www.judoinfo.com/images/animations/blue/taiotoshi2.gif

and here's what a real taiotoshi looks like
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVC49lOmHs4
(0:59 until end of clip)

another, shorter clip
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD6Xg9jCF1M

PS: Is there anywhere online where I can see Ostoff style ukemi? I'm really interested in learning a little more about ukemi in general

PPS: Again off topic - what do you folks call this technique? Surely not what the video has it titled as?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skYCL20ZyM0

Chuck Clark
08-27-2007, 10:59 AM
I think it is safe to say that high level Aikido ukemi absolutely does not serve the same purpose as judo ukemi. Depending on your judo goals, good judo ukemi is designed to either provide crisp punctuation during ju no kata, OR keep you from being injured during regular judo training, OR make your partner's throw look worse so that they do not get a full point for their effort. These are the realities of modern judo training. Aikido ukemi does intersect with judo ukemi in the area of keeping you safe during training, but it furthermore provides a vehicle for the artistic realization of human movement. In some ways Aikido ukemi is its own purpose, lending strange and wonderful faculties to its adepts.

The basic reasons for ALL budo ukemi, both tai jitsu and buki jitsu (and that doesn't just mean "falling down safely") are: safety, so that training can take place, ultimately, at the highest levels possible of speed, force, and intent; while keeping as safe as possible (survival), uke is also learning both sides of the waza by overcoming fear of falling, losing, being injured so that very high levels of sensitivity are developed by both tori and uke; as this sensitivity and knowledge base develops, uke also learns the second primary reason for good ukemi is learning how and when kaeshi waza and counters are possible... on the other side, tori is also learning these lessons; another reason is high quality ukemi is as necessary as high level performance of waza in preserving, demonstrating, and passing on the very nature and substance of the art; finally, movement arts can reach profound levels of artistic experience; this should come from the elegance, efficiancy, simplicity, intent, connection, and energy flow that develops from all of the above. It should not stem from a desire to be "artistic"... the beauty, elegance, and art will appear appropriately. I agree that there are wonderful lessons to be learned about far more than budo waza by this practice. They are powerful lessons that may develop our character and spirit that often might not make sense unless you've traveled that path or been close to those that have.

These are lessons I have learned from my teachers. The way I have described it is mine and I take full responsibility. After the last fifty-four years of budo training, I am still willing and hungry for learning more.

Best regards,

DanielR
08-27-2007, 11:35 AM
Interesting discussion. I attended a number of seminars with Frank Ostoff and Jan Nevelius during the past year. I first observed folks doing these beautiful "over-the-hip", "uke-wrapping-around-nage-while-breakfalling-quietly" exercises (similar to this video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMkVzGQMn34)) during breaks at the Endo Sensei's seminar in Seattle two years ago. At first, apart from being aesthetically pleasing, these exercises looked to me like great tools for studying and teaching ukemi, giving a beginner a nice progression for developing trust in nage's ability to throw the uke safely, and in one's own ability to take these falls safely. During seminars with Ostoff Sensei and Nevelius Sensei I got a bit more detailed view into the nature of these interactions; I now see these as teaching tools both for uke and nage, as uke gets to develop the feeling of constantly looking for opportunities for reversal, and nage gets to develop better sensitivity and timing of the throw. So to me this type of training goes well beyond minimizing impact when taking ukemi, although that itself is pretty good as far as I and my body are concerned.

Specifically with regards to the falls, so far I didn't find these exercises to require any special effort or athleticism, just a reasonable level of fitness (as any other style of ukemi requires). As to their applicability, I'm not anywhere near being proficient enough to judge, but I tend to agree with Jun's comment on this in a similar discussion several years ago (and, having observed him taking ukemi, I trust his judgement), that there are situations in which they are useful, and situations when one has to absorb the throw differently. In general, it seems to me that all Aikido techniques can potentially end badly for the one they're being applied to. To me, the trick is to find a way to practice this stuff without trashing one's body and being able to take ukemi many years into that practice. Personally, I'm interested in any style of ukemi that has such potential.

Best,
Daniel

Chuck Clark
08-27-2007, 12:29 PM
What I saw in that video linked in the last post was some very nice slow motion basic ukemi exercises that would be good for beginners. I have done fairly similar exercises for many years especially teaching ukemi to people that have "problem" reactions to the normal training syllabus. This, in my opinion, should not be done for very long because: the kind of training that I value is live, active attacks that require uke to really cause a problem that must be solved, tori must "take" the uke's sente and affect their structural integrity at first touch in such a way that their system is pretty much locked up and must make a reactive recovery of their structure before they could enforce their intent to continue to be "dangerous" and attacking... this kuzushi/fitting/instinctual recovery attempt/waza which fits the uke's attempted recovery is how our training syllabus is designed. At no time, except initial beginner status, is uke's job to give tori force to make a technique with and then flow with into a proscribed ukemi method. Any drills or exercises that do not have this transaction are done only until that live connection can be done even when done in slow motion.

I learned how to replicate live motion in slow motion from Marcel Marceau during my residence in Paris, France in the late sixties. He used aikido as a method to teach connection and actuallization of real movement in slow motion in his mime school. I, in turn, pass this on to my students.

In my opinion, this sort of live interaction must happen at early levels of practice so that the real "doing" aiki/bu/do at some point happens as a result of long practice of that live interaction. This then is not kata... it is true randori (or even sometimes at a level that is really shiai or "testing our meeting") appropriately.

Interesting discussion and sharing of ukemi related stuff. Thanks.

Best regards,

David Humm
08-27-2007, 12:42 PM
what do you folks call this technique? Surely not what the video has it titled as?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skYCL20ZyM0Sumiotoshi - corner drop