View Full Version : Who "invented" aikido's ukemi

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Fred L
05-11-2008, 10:07 AM
I know that ours is not the only martial art with falls. I'm also aware that our falls often appear similar to those in other arts like hapkido. so....

Did O Sensei develop the falls used in aikido, or did students basically just use falls from other styles?


05-11-2008, 12:09 PM
I know that ours is not the only martial art with falls. I'm also aware that our falls often appear similar to those in other arts like hapkido. so....

Did O Sensei develop the falls used in aikido, or did students basically just use falls from other styles?


My guess is they came from Daito Ryu, but if you look at a variety of styles you'll see a small variety of responses to the same throws so i figure there must be multiple sources involved (Osensei; Shihan; etc.).

05-11-2008, 04:07 PM
I believe that mainline DR thows people down at their feet, and some variants - aikido among them - switched to throw people away.

In terms of "who" invented ukemi specifically. Well, in a sense, I did. I didn't invent it first for sure. But I've been throw in such random and unpredictable ways. No one can prepare you for every throw. I am now reminiscing about a time when I had to make 3 different grabs to finally have some sort of "hold" to be able to survive a morotetori koshinage. (It was like hook from under neath with the inside arm, then then that didn't seem to have any more support, hook on by wrapping from over nage's arm with my out-side arm, then when that was losing connection due to the whip of the thing, slide down with my inside arm to make a final grab on nage's forearm so I didn't splatter onto the mat unsupported. That was my own ukemi. I made it up in the moment. And the point here, is that I assume that is how most of them were "invented".


05-11-2008, 06:28 PM
From http://www.judoinfo.com/lee.htm
Origin of Ukemi

"Another point which Gerald Lafon fails to realize is that the original ukemi methods are not restricted to falling on one’s back and that the Judo techniques are not some overnight products. First, mae ukemi does not require falling on one’s back. In mae-ukemi, one falls forward on his forearms and the palms of the hands. It is, without a second thought, the most strenuous ukemi. After five times of this, the skin of the elbow will become red and ten repetitions of it will relocate, at least, some of the skin to the judogi. It requires strong upper body muscles, especially shoulder, back and stomach muscles. It is certainly not for beginners and taught at the advanced stage of ukemi learning. Second, falling on one’s back and rolling over the back in Judo as well as in other martial arts is not without reason. It is not a guess work nor accidental. It is human instinct and experience. The history of Judo spans some one hundred twenty years, but Judo techniques which derived from jujitsu are much older than that. The Judo techniques that are practiced today are at least one thousand years of accmulation of knowledge and experience, and over the centuries has evolved into a science."


raul rodrigo
05-11-2008, 07:16 PM
Tamura shihan said: "In the old days, we did not learn how to take ukemi like people do now. Ukemi was something you learned by being thrown. What you picked up naturally by being thrown was considered as true ukemi."

Chuck Clark
05-11-2008, 08:56 PM
Ukemi isn't just about falling... it means to "receive with your body", input that is received as sensory stimuli ... force that is received which affects our structure for example and we adjust and/or recover our structural integrity. If that necessitates falling then we should do that in as natural and efficient way as possible so that we can survive and recover our ability to continue. When we learn ukemi properly it leads to learning kaeshi principles.

I have seen only a few teachers that teach this sort of ukemi as a skill set that is included as a tool for learning budo. Most people see ukemi as falling only which leads to many people seeing it as "losing" or "taking" a certain type of fall that should fit a specific waza. It is much more.

05-11-2008, 11:57 PM
My understanding is that Aikido ukemi is primarily absorbed from Kodokan Judo. From what I have seen of Daito Ryu ukemi, it has little in common with Aikido ukemi.

Josh Reyer
05-12-2008, 03:23 AM

05-12-2008, 06:34 AM
it probably started out with a bunch of guys on horse back, screaming, charging down a bunch of other guys intended to stay well and alive and sufficiently arms. The guys on horse back probably got their horses shot from under them and screaming something along the line of "oohhhh shhiiittt" (in various local dialects). Some of them just tucked and roll then came backup and swinging. Some came up and said "cool" (also in local dialects) and admired their techniques at which times the enemies (the other group of guys waiting with various sharpen kitchen knifes) hacked them to death then said "cool" (in the other local dialects). Of course, the ones that didn't performed the tuck-and-roll got their head planted into the mud, in which case, never got the chance to pass on the techniques to the next generations or even had the chance to say "cool" (in their local dialects).

This is one of the reason when you made a spectacular ukemi, you usually bounced back up and said "cool" (in your local dialects).

05-12-2008, 07:44 AM
My understanding of rolling over the shoulder had something to do with armor that was worn. If you did the forward somersault in armor you would be flat on your back and an easy dispatch. The over the shoulder roll would allow the combatant to regain his feet and come in hanmi.

Lan Powers
05-12-2008, 09:49 AM
That's cool......in my local dialect.

05-12-2008, 10:04 AM
It's a little known fact (backed up by totally anecdotal focus groups) that it was actually the hakama that invented aikido's ukemi. Following many ignomious demonstrations where several leading aikido practitioners were viciously attacked by their own hakama whilst attempting a standard judo-esque breakfall, the leading aikido researchers of the time found (through trial and error using stunt kyu of course) that a flowing ukemi led to fewer teachers being disabled during practice.

The willow-like crack of the hakama in mid-flight leant added texture to the demonstrations and the "modern" ukemi was born along with the new mantra of not throwing someone into your kicking distance as they could grab your leg (assuming they could disentangle themselves in time).

05-12-2008, 11:40 AM
According to one of the interviews in "Aikido Masters" it was the early female practitioners who modified/invented the ukemi in aikido to be less abrasive. In other words, they began rolling out of throws instead of being thrown more forcefully into judo/jujutsu like break falls. I don't have the book with me here at work, so can't give you a direct quote or page reference. If memory serves it came up in the interview with the woman who illustrated Budo Renshu.

/ man my brain has some really useless facts stuck in it... :p

Rocky Izumi
05-12-2008, 09:33 PM
Watch a chimp take a fall. Or a young child try and do a roll.