View Full Version : ukemi on concrete

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01-10-2002, 08:41 AM
anybody ever had to do some serious ukemi on some really hard surfaces? we were doing some shomenuchi iriminage last night and uke got drilled into the mat sometimes. i couldn't imagine how it would feel on a non-yielding surface even using a slap to dissapate energy.

01-10-2002, 10:14 AM
It hurts.

01-10-2002, 11:45 AM
I took a judo class this semester, and since most of the people had never done any sort of ukemi, our teacher was trying very hard to get us to learn(I'd done aikido for about 8 months, so my front rolls are fine). We spent a couple of class periods doing front rolls on mats, and then he decided that if he couldn't teach us front rolls, we would have to teach ourselves. By this, of course, he meant that we would be doing rolls in a basketball court. SInce it hurts much more when you do a front roll improperly, you tend to get a lot better a lot more quickly. I discovered one flaw with this, however- I was doing front rolls perfectly, and it still hurt my shoulder and hip a lot.(I tried a couple of backrolls with the same effect) It turns out that I'm just too damn skinny, and have no padding over those areas.
However, while proper ukemi on a hard surface hurts a bit, it probably doesn't feel nearly as bad as doing improper ukemi(or none at all). Most of the people in the class had learned how to do front rolls just recently, and had numerous bruises by time we finished. I couldn't imagine being thrown with a strong iriminage onto a hard surface with little or no ukemi training. I suppose that is the point of doing any throw- to neutralize an opponent...and I'm sure they would do just that on a hard surface.

Alex Magidow

01-10-2002, 12:30 PM
Heh well ukemi is the one thing i am proud of yes i have tried ukemi on hard surveses like road jsut trying to see what it wud be like it is very hard and sore but this is in responce to Alex Magidow you say that you hurt your shoulder my freidn had the very same problem with this but it was not becasue he was skinny you sure your ukemi is perfect? the problem with my freind was that he was not looking in behind him and for sum reason that made his hit his shoulder bad every time he did it.
Try looking behind you then you rool it may help.


01-10-2002, 05:47 PM
Originally posted by Axiom
We spent a couple of class periods doing front rolls on mats, and then he decided that if he couldn't teach us front rolls, we would have to teach ourselves. By this, of course, he meant that we would be doing rolls in a basketball court. SInce it hurts much more when you do a front roll improperly, you tend to get a lot better a lot more quickly.

I really dont like the sound of this instructor. Asking beginners to breakfall on a hard floor is way out of line, IMHO. People could've been badly hurt.

Its not as if rolling breakfalls are even all that important in Judo. Why not just keep people practicing, and in the mean time stick to the (vast majority of) throws that dont require uke to roll?


01-10-2002, 05:58 PM

Doing/taking ukemi on hard surfaces is a real eyeopener.

Basically, it shows us how much we depend on our shoulder/hip. And tatami.

I have done it many times, the first few to my own injury :(
The only things I can suggest are these...
Use the te-gatana.
Use the thigh.
(especially the thigh)

And remember, breakfall is better than injury.
On hard surfaces, for some reason, we need less breakfall, more delicate ukemi.
Maybe it's because the 'real' ground is harder, just like real life :confused:
Don't try and perform by memory/instinct, just be open to what is happening now.
Man that probably sounds stupid.
But even ukemi/breakfall in your own house is a lot easier than a couple of steps outside it.

You will hurt your hip/shoulder a LOT until you learn this.

01-10-2002, 06:05 PM
In the beginning, our dojo didn't have the luxury of mats. Students have to learn ukemi only on carpeted floors. I've injured my shoulder during one of the practice (took about 3 months until the pain is gone).

Without the luxury of mats, all of the old students learned ukemi pretty quickly. But, one thing is for sure, it really scared incoming new students. After one year, we finally got mats from the university.

We used to do demonstrations for the university. But this is always held outside in the parking lot in the blazing sun. The mats got really hot, hot enough to fry eggs on (one student actually burned her feet). We decide, concrete or asphalt is way better than burning our feet.

We've done two demonstrations this way. People watching thought that we were showing off that we could do ukemi on very hard surface. Oh, if only they knew how incredibly hot those mats were.

01-10-2002, 11:45 PM
Well, I really commend every one of you who have the courage to do Ukemi on concrete. I myself would never attempt it unless very necessary, like in an accident, or if Sensei orders me to do it ;) (I hope the latter would never happen).

However, Ukemi is normally done on a hard surface in a real life situation (Unless you're very very lucky). The purpose of mats is to give you longer practice life, so better exploit this advantage as much as possible ;)


01-11-2002, 12:52 AM
Originally posted by Edward
Sensei orders me to do it.

I've done it several times playing basketball outdoors. I've also taken high falls on wrestling mats over concrete (that was the worst because the padding just sunk right into the concrete), on those lovely plastic interlocking mats and the first dojo I was part of had mats over concrete with no frame underneath.

Sensei can order all they want. They can huff and they can puff until..... They can stamp their feet.

But I ain't doing it no more. :p

L. Camejo
01-11-2002, 05:22 AM
Hi all,

Like Thalib above, our dojo also started out with no mats, only a carpeted wooden floor, but instead of doing breakfalls we went to the point of throwing (kuzushi), instead of risking the safety of what was already a very small class with only beginners :)

We got some mats a few months later and moved to a place where the floor was a basketball court type surface. A bit less forgiving even with the mats.

Now we train on a concrete floor with the mats (about 1/2 inch thick interlocking). At first we felt all of our mistakes in ukemi, now it's barely noticeable.

Over this time at some point or another something possessed me to do ukemi on each of the bare surfaces mentioned above and I realised a funny thing.

If you use mats on increasingly harder surfaces, rolling on the previous bare surface does not feel so bad. I dunno, it could be a matter of perception, but now I roll on anything but broken glass (ouch!!!) and the difference between the bare surface and the mat is nominal. Provided that the ukemi is correct of course.

I think rolling on natural surfaces can be beneficial, but should never be rushed though.

My 2cents.

Ghost Fox
01-11-2002, 06:28 AM
For me practicing on hard surface was part of my basic ukemi training. I first started in the aiki-arts in a basement dojo. It was just the sensei, another guy and myself. We learned to roll in a carpeted basement and we learned to breakfall on an old worn-out mattress in a record studio. During the summer most of our classes were in the park.

After about six month of practice my sensei said we should start rolling on concrete and asphalt on our own. He suggested we get padded weightlifting gloves to help absorb some of the sting of slapping the ground. At first it was pretty slow, just some forward or backward rolls from kneeling. As I became more comfortable I began doing it from standing. My friends and I even took to drilling each other. We would walk down the street and one of us would say "roll," out of the blue and we had to roll without hesitation. It was fun although we must have looked crazy to other people.

For about two years I would wear weightlifting gloves were ever I went rolling when no one was looking, in the street, at the university, in the train station. I have to say what hurts the most is marble tiles laid over reinforced concrete, absolutely no give. After rolling on that for a while concrete streets seem to have a certain bounce to them.

I have to admit, full arial breakfalls are difficult, and I'm still a little apprehensive about taking them. Without the gloves my slapping hand would sting for an hour afterwards. Your form has to be real tight or else you can bruise your hip or a rib.

I wouldn't recommend this for beginners, but I think anybody going up for their shodan should be able to roll on any surface, and take a few Kotegaeshi breakfalls. Be reasonable start in the park first with simple rolls and then move on to asphalt and finally concrete. Be careful with full Shihonage breakfalls, as you can get really torn-up if you don't land properly or hesitate to take the ukemi. And for the love of God, please invest in a good pair of weightlifting gloves.

For all you neigh-sayers remember O'Sensei used to take his uchi-deshi in to the country to practice outside with nature. Rolling on hard surfaces really boost your confidence in your ukemi and you aikido. I know it was some of the best training I have ever had.

:triangle: :circle: :square:

01-11-2002, 07:18 AM
Originally posted by Ghost Fox
For all you neigh-sayers remember O'Sensei used to take his uchi-deshi in to the country to practice outside with nature.
Good point, but I doubt there is very much asphalt in the woods around Iwama. Remember that real tatami is made from grass, and sometimes turf is the best stuff to take falls on.

Jim Vance

01-13-2002, 09:59 AM
I've practiced taking forward rolls on concrete sidewalks. I don't (breakfall) slap the floor/mat normally, so I don't need protective gear like gloves.

Practicing on a sidewalk is the fastest way of learning where you're making mistakes in your ukemi. Not something I'd recommend for beginners. It is also not something I'd recommend for practicing any long periods of time. :rolleyes:

Brian H
01-13-2002, 11:51 AM
My first teacher encouraged us to explore doing ukemi off the mats, we even did most of a class in the lobby one night (industrial carpet over concrete). We did lots of slow, deliberate rolls, but some of the advanced students did some break falls. Since then I have done alittle off mat practise from time to time as a self check. When you are coming out of a roll early on a mat, its easy to not notice, but smacking your butt/thigh on concrete is hard to miss. Do rolls in your street clothes or wearing a special equipment you wear alot (cell phone, pager, police gun belt, etc.) If you find you are wearing an object on the street in a place you normally roll accross, you may have to make some adjustments.

Liz Baron
01-14-2002, 03:25 PM
I've only been doing aikido for (barely) a year, and last summer I injured a ligament in my knee - my own fault - and had to take time out of training. Whilst it was mending, I took to seeing what was feasible for gentle home training, and I found that with care, I could roll on the lawn at home. In dry weather the surface could get particularly unforgiving, but grass is usually better than concrete. The main problem I had was rolling backward, which seemed to be more inclined to hurt the knee. After a while I could happily roll on the grass whatever the surface condition, and it was only the Mancunian weather (rainy city strikes again!) that put a stop to it.

Of course if I really had to, a little bit of mud wouldn't matter. :)

01-14-2002, 05:04 PM
If rolling backward is the reverse of rolling forward, then the knees shouldn't touch the ground. I was taught this before, but I had to learn it the hard way, rolling on hard surface.

By not touching the ground, that means instead of the seiza position as the end position, standing is the end position. This is still quite hard for me, and not yet a natural reaction.

01-21-2002, 12:01 AM
Originally posted by tedehara
I don't (breakfall) slap the floor/mat normally, so I don't need protective gear like gloves.

Whilst we do breakfalls in the dojo, my Sensei has told us several times that we should practice our ukemi until we don't need to do breakfalls anymore. At first, I thought this was a near impossiblity, but then he demonstrated: with his heels touching the wall, he did a forward ukemi and landed in the same position as he'd started in!

I have a long way to go, but I carefully watch one of our shodans who is a professional dancer (modern dance / ballet). Even when he seems to be headed directly towards the floor from a height of only a foot, he throws himself outwards, twisting in the air and ends with a (usually ) forward ukemi.

Surely rolls must do less damage than even a perfectly executed break-fall?

Still trying,

Anat Amitay
01-21-2002, 08:34 AM
Hi all!
I never had a chance to roll on concrete, though I did roll once on a wet floor in order not to hurt myself. I also rolled on hard packed ground in a seminar we had.
I think rolling on hard surfaces is good as training but not for beginners. I think one should be able to do a resonable roll before he or she starts on other surfaces.
I don't think it was very careful for a teacher to take beginners to roll on the ground. Not knowing what they are supposed to do correctly might have got them hurt. Someone could have been hurt seriously and that teacher would need to give answers to less than understanding family and judges. (Insurance or no insurance..)
As for Axiom- my point of view is that there isn't a perfect roll. I know peope that train 2-4-6-16 years and they'll never say they roll perfectly. There is always something to improve. They roll well, but perfect- no. Anyway, how can one difine perfect? no teacher will say he rolls perfectly (and if they do, I'll keep my eye out around them), so how can one have an object to compare himself to it and say he is good or perfect?
One of my teachers said that someone starts a technique, he grades himself bad. After half a year he says he is better. After a year he isn't so sure. After 2 he believes he improved, after 4 he thinks he needs to start over again... and so on.
So there is no end to learning and improving (and thank god for that! so we can always do aikido!) ;)
Axiom, don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to provoke or anger, just state my point of view.
Enjoy Aikido!
P.S. There is a nice story about an archer that was looking for a teacher that could teach him more. If you all are interested, I'll write it. It also talks about always needing to learn.

02-01-2002, 10:34 PM
Yes I remember doing rolls all too well. I had a bugger learning them on tatami and in the early stages, if i didn't practice Aikido for a while, I had to relearn them.

I've rolled from grass(it's really easy on grass) onto concrete(which is not too bad assuming you don't fall from a great height) but I think besides the technique, well it's my opinion but i think it also requires some body conditioning. A nominally good ukemi would prevent you from getting seriously injured. A very good ukemi would probably leave u without much as a scratch(when ur skin rubs the bitumen). But if your body is not used to it you are bound to feel a bit of soreness. In the posts i've noticed several people mentioning how they slowly move on to harder and harder surfaces. Isn't this in a way conditioning your body in the same way as chinese/japanese boxers who at first dip their hand into peas and slowly move up from rocks to pebbles to finally sand? They will say that they don't feel any pain when they spear sand. Perhaps proper ukemi is not all about technique though of course technique can always be improved.

However, proper ukemi does work and it becomes a second instinct. Let's just say I practice ukemi involuntarily a lot as I'm quite a clumsy person. I trip over things you can't imagine someone tripping over. Haha you can bet I impress my badminton mates by after diving for a shot and after slipping coming back up in standing position. So yeah although my badminton footwork sucks at least my ukemi can impress haha ;)!

02-24-2002, 03:22 AM
Hi there !

Twice we had to do ukemi off the mat, on the ground, without any carpet. I was very afraid to get hurt, so I nearly sat down before rolling. My shoulder and my back were hurt, and once nearly my head. Once more, I have tried ukemi off the mat, but in a garden in summer. It was far much better than on the ground of a sport hall, but not as good as on the matt.

02-25-2002, 11:22 AM
Grass is easy I know. but asphalt I have never done I have rolled on gravel that was cool! I once did it on a tiled floor. I like the mats the best!

Bruce Baker
03-20-2002, 11:27 AM
I guess I can say I had twenty years of falling on hard surfaces before I started Aikido, all from various kids pranks, gymnastic practice, and plain old work related falls. Never tense up, go with the flow, and pray for the best while expecting the worst?

Falling out of boats to the ground, off of ladders, or tripping over obsticles, you have to expect to fall ... and if you can fall without injury, or roll out of it, GREAT!

At one time, I actually fell eight feet off a low roof when I was eight or nine years old, luckily it wasn't on my head!

There are two schools of thought in rolling, gymnastic, and Martial arts. One is to have a geometric form, the other is to survive and respond. In most gymnastic rolls you are tucking your head and touching both shoulder blades in an even progression down the rounded back. In most martial art rolls you roll from shoulder to hip in a cross motion right shoulder to left hip, and left shoulder to right hip with a rounded back. Safety for not turning your brains into scrambled eggys precludes you tuck your chin into your chest allowing the rounded back to continue up the neck.

I find, if you are trying to look into your belly button, you roll forward.

If you try to touch your knees to your nose, you roll backward.

So long as you never touch your head to the ground, and roll shoulder to hip, or hip to shoulder, your rolls will get you forward and back as you practice not injuring feet and hands ... practice, practice, practice.

You almost have to soften your body for the material that you land upon, just like softness absorbing hard, and hard absorbing soft, your falls will be dependant upon your presence of mind and ability to interpret the obsicles ... along with a little luck and an angel of two looking out for you?

I don't always agree with the hard breakfalls, but then when my slap miss's the mat to hit the concrete ... OUCH!!

There are some seminars that I have been to where the teacher has expressed rolling through the fall, not a breakfall. I would say that is ideal training for concrete!

William Boyd
03-20-2002, 05:00 PM
Hi, this is my first time ansering a post. all I,ve to say is ouch!;) Ukemi is hard as it is on the mat, I'm not for ukemi on cement.::ai: :ki: :do:

03-29-2002, 09:42 PM
One of my sempai encourages me to try rolling on concrete, he says that if it hurts, it shows that something is wrong with your ukemi.

And for me, it hurts ~ouch~

04-23-2002, 02:06 AM
We used to practice in a hall with nice inch thick gymnastics mats (oohhh, the pleasure), not too much give, and just a bit of spring ;)

Off topic though. I did try rolls on different surfaces a bit. I have the immense pleasure/disappointment of saying that I think that I achieved my most perfect roll ever on concrete.

The roll was in all ways (to my mind) perfect. I felt like I could have rolled across glass or paper without breaking it. There was no sense of contact with the concrete, but rather a feeling of gliding across its surface.

Aaarrrgg!! I will probably never, ever again achieve that feeling.

On the flip side I have stuffed up pretty badly on tarmac. Ouch.

04-23-2002, 07:26 AM
Hey all,

This is my first post so bear with me. I love ukemi and had to respond to the discussion.
Everyone is discussing the forward roll, but from my own experiences outwith the dojo, I have only had to call upon the forwards flip/no hands breakfall (forgive the lack of Japanese terminology),the yokomen/kote gaeshi/shihonage fall, and the backwards drop.
Whenever I have been thrown outside, the fall has had to be adapted considerably, often because my arms have been trapped (usually unintentionally) by the attacker, leaving me unable to break the fall. It seems to me that breathing is critical, even when form is compromised by the situation.
I believe that the art of ukemi must be practised regularly - if it is to be used practically - on harder surfaces. The extra confidence which familiarity provides is the edge that you need when an aggressor, a stranger out to hurt you, is about to force you into the ground.
You get out what you put in and a couple of years ago my sensei took me aside and told me that the next step in my ukemi practise was to practise regularly without mats. I have found this to be very beneficial, both in and out of the dojo.
However, those are just the thoughts of a yellow belt with a few years practise, so if there are any thoughts...


04-23-2002, 11:36 AM
Ross, just wondering: do you train in Yoshinkan?

04-24-2002, 05:23 AM
No, but from what I've seen there are similarities.
We do train a pretty hard style although my sensei never stops emphasising relaxation, breathing and balance. Both my teacher and his father, Shihan Miller, are also v.high grades in Daito Ryu, which may influence the training.


04-24-2002, 09:23 AM
I just asked cause I know of no styles or schools other than Yoshinkan that have coloured belts.

04-24-2002, 09:26 AM
Originally posted by IrimiTom
I just asked cause I know of no styles or schools other than Yoshinkan that have coloured belts.
AAA does.

04-24-2002, 09:28 AM
So do we at Aikikai Thailand, and also Singapore.

04-24-2002, 03:00 PM
I've found that quite a lot of clubs over here use coloured belts - about half. Belt is deceiving anyway. Being a university club, we have had many high grades come and go. Some dan grades have been tense and technically shamed by the lower grades. I often wonder who grades these people. Has anyone else found these discrepancies? Are there acknowledged differences between stlye or is it simply the instructor.

L. Camejo
04-24-2002, 08:55 PM
Originally posted by RossEd
Some dan grades have been tense and technically shamed by the lower grades. I often wonder who grades these people. Has anyone else found these discrepancies? Are there acknowledged differences between stlye or is it simply the instructor.

Hi all,

tends to be the instructor most times Ross. Standards tend to vary among schools, even within the same style.