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Conrad Gus
04-26-2009, 06:13 PM
Hi all,

I know this has been discussed in depth, but I would just like to announce that I am officially DONE WITH MAT SLAPPING.

Over the past 14 years I have trained with many teachers, half of whom expect students to roll quietly and half of whom want to hear the thunder after every single throw. I've been flip-flopping back and forth to please whichever teacher is in charge.

Well, now I have my own club and we don't have very many mats. It was crowded and I was demonstrating something to a student during keiko. She threw me off the mats and I decided mid-throw to just go with it, throwing in an impressive mat-slap (partially from instinct).

OW MY THUMB!!!

Okay, so nothing got broken. Okay, so maybe after all these years my mat-slapping technique is all wrong (somebody send Donovan Waite Sensei to my dojo for a free seminar please). But all I can think about is that it is a good thing we were not outside and there happened to be a root or rock or piece of glass where my hand came down. That would have been bad.

Seriously though, my Sensei says my breakfalls are fine. I don't smash the mat as hard as I can when I breakfall, why would I do it during a roll? My students will be learning nice gentle rolls and elegant absorptive breakfalls from now on (assuming I have the skill to teach them). If mat-slappers at seminars think I am wimpy they are absolutely welcome to their opinion.

</mat-slapping-rant>

Conrad Gustafson
Victoria Family Aikido

Voitokas
04-26-2009, 06:26 PM
Ha ha! Good for you - I keep forgetting to reach for a soft breakfall, or to not slap, and then I think of it in mid-air, vacillate in my mind, and then land in some ridiculous way... :)

Buck
04-26-2009, 10:10 PM
Yea know, I never paid attention to that. But that is so true, there are generally, two ways of doing ukemi; A) hard or B) soft. I look at it this being in the same situation of various dojos and requiring A) or B) I guess, am just end up in the middle. Not every dojo has the same floor under the mat. Some places I have been too have wood, others concrete. Not every dojo has the same type of mat. I have been to dojos which have a mix of mats. My issue was those thin gymnastic folding mats upon of concrete, especially if they are broken in. You really had to adjust to the way you took ukemi. I never slapped hard and really tried to displace myself over as much surface as possible. If say, if my hips hit first before the rest of my body and by legs weren't aligned properly ...holy guacamole! :uch: Or if my acute leg (that is what I call it since it is at an acute angle), being on the left, is too much of an acute angle that is tucked too close to my left glute would kill me when I hit the ground. The force/shock would travel back up to the knee, and the knee being stressed as it was due the acute angle of the legs, play havoc on the knee upon my foot and glute impact.

I had my share of slapping hard and hitting something other then the mat. The only reason I can think of that why this is done is a learning aid for beginners, plus an audible cue to the Sensei who could tell if a student's body is hitting before the hand.

I think over time you start off with hard slaps etc. and overtime develop softer more effective slaps and ukemi.

Amir Krause
04-27-2009, 03:15 AM
Do not make decision based on a single anecdotal experience.

Slapping the mat is just one variant of a technique. As such, it can be done correctly at correct opportunity and timing, but, one may also miss one of the above. As a varient, you should use it when appropriate and know when it is not.

I recall falling back on stairs (I am so talented I repeated this experiance twice on the same staircase, at my parents house) - my legs flying ahead of me, I used sof ukemi without a slap and kept my hands with me until I finished sliding down.

I also recall falling face first with my legs trapped (I said I am talented) - Had I not slapped with my hands, I would have stopped that fall with my face.

In some instances (strong enough forcefulll throw), a slap is a must, even if the rest of your Ukemi is soft.

The way we do it, slapping in a roll does not occur at the first contact, but only after the head and shoulder are past the ground, and your back and hips start taking the roll. At that point, we may slap with hands (and in some cases of strong throws legs too, shortly after). I was given some explenations on why slapping at first contact is wrong, but, over time I learned one should not over-explain the things he does not do.
When you slap at the end of a roll, it is definitly optional. You should decide if the momentum is too large and a slap is required, and if it is, align your body properly, be sure all your fingers support each other (less important on a mat, very important for any slap on an unpaved road) and slap.

Amir

Eva Antonia
04-27-2009, 05:03 AM
Hi,

I always thought the "hard" and "soft" version were related ???
I mean, if you do the soft breakfall you still reach out with your hand, only that you just start the roll with the hand instead of violently slapping. And if it's harder and faster, then you slam your hand/ arm/ side of leg to the floor in order to soften the impact. And the transition is fluent.

I also had already the nice feeling of slapping vigorously on the hard floor; someone had just thrown me out of the mat area but I still had to land, so there was no choice, and although it didn't hurt on the slapping arm and leg, it hurt quite badly on the inner knuckles of the second foot (from the leg that came second).

But last week we did some exercises on the soft breakfall for warming up, and I managed to land on my fist, which was even worse.

And, last but not least I have to admit that even if the soft breakfalls are much more elegant, there is a strong FUN element in the hard ones...

Best regards,

Eva

RED
04-27-2009, 10:06 AM
My Sensei wants it quiet. She won't freak out if you slap though... unless I slap my uki-- which I have, I'm working through these issues though. 0_0

Bob Blackburn
04-27-2009, 10:10 AM
I let the throw dictate. If you are running out of room and would end up in the wall, you have to hit the brakes a little harder. :)

Ben Eaton
04-27-2009, 11:35 AM
I was taught that if you're heading towards the mat too quickly for you to handle, slapping the mat spreads the impact and takes the power out of something else hitting it, e.g. your back.

If you are able to roll out of a technique, why not? It reduces the impact on your body. If you're heading earthwards too fast for you to do the roll, stop yourself from getting hurt by using your hand to slow the impact a bit.

Don't decide during the technique what you're going to do, because if the situation changes, you'll end up with an injury. Go with it, and do whatever comes naturally/instinctively at the time.
If rolls don't come instinctively at any time, practice more.

Seems to make sense to me!

Ketsan
04-27-2009, 12:04 PM
She threw me off the mats and I decided mid-throw to just go with it,

I got thrown out of the dojo once. We used to practice in a really small room and I think we were doing tenchi nage. Anywho I got thrown, went straight through the double doors at one end of the dojo and landed in the entrance hall to the church hall which was filled with a mother and baby group at the time.

Slightly embarrasing.

Kevin Karr
04-27-2009, 01:43 PM
Slapping happens naturally; it is not a premeditated action. If one is thrown very hard, they most likely will have to slap out to some degree; with at least one hand if not both. One may be thrown very hard straight down or projected outwardly. In both cases, some form of a slap will probably be required. However, if one's skill level has advanced to the point that their ukemi allows them to take hard throws without slapping, I believe that is possible, as well. I have seen it done and I can do it to a certain degree.

Where I train, we do Donovan Waite Sensei's style of ukemi and, at my current skill level, I must slap out a great deal of the time. I am just traveling too fast in a downward or outward fashion. To not do so would mean taking the full force of the fall on my shoulder or back. That is pain I wish to avoid.

Ron Tisdale
04-27-2009, 01:49 PM
:D Wish I could have seen that!

I've just been thrown into walls, not nearly so dramatic (at least not for the passers by...) :eek:

Best,
Ron
I got thrown out of the dojo once. We used to practice in a really small room and I think we were doing tenchi nage. Anywho I got thrown, went straight through the double doors at one end of the dojo and landed in the entrance hall to the church hall which was filled with a mother and baby group at the time.

Slightly embarrasing.

DH
04-27-2009, 02:26 PM
Since you have your own dojo-how about training ukemi in different ways...then...training to not take ukemi anymore, and teaching people to absorb the energy and redirect it while standing there?
Failing that, or in addition to that- how about doing ukemi wih the energy held in the body so the ankles and hands stay supported and you fall and keep your body more like a ball while issuing energy back?
There are lots of options to people doing things to you that do not involve falling down. The idea of needing, wanting, preparing, or making the choice of falling down when someone does something to you is entirely yours.
There are other options.
Cheers
Dan

James Edwards
04-27-2009, 03:28 PM
we slap on the mats but we seem to know when to slap and when not to. When we know we're near the end we can also do without, for example absorbing using the upper arms only or slapping with one hand and not slap with the one over the floor.

ninjaqutie
04-29-2009, 04:30 PM
I used to take Aikijitsu and I was told to slap everytime. That way, when you needed it, you would do it without thought. I had no problem with slapping. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. I did have a few times where slapping did hurt me though. One time I was forced to do face falls, back falls and slide slaps off of the mat for a demo in our dojo. Since I was a higher ranker... I had the "privelidge" of being off the mat. I slapped carpeted cement. It stung... but it was bearable.

In the aikido place I take now, you see slappers and non slappers. My sensei actually is an advocate of slapping, but doesn't force you. Eventually, as you get higher in rank, you begin to sense when a slap is and isn't needed. So, I slap sometimes..... and I don't slap others. I tend to slap more on a fall then I do a roll.

ninjaqutie
04-29-2009, 05:59 PM
Oh... and I forgot to mention the really gross time while slapping doing a forward roll I slapped a cricket! UGH! There was nothing left but green goo on my hands and the mat...... poor little thing.... if I didn't slap like I tend not to in aikido... the little thing would have lived! :(

Phil Van Treese
04-30-2009, 12:17 PM
I always slap the mat, hard. On a roll out slapping the mat helps to push yourself so you can stand up easier. When getting thrown where you can't roll out, the slap takes up a lot of the shock from the sudden impact/stop. There were times when I got thrown off the mat and slapped the floor. It stung for awhile but we all have incidents like that. However your sensei dictates to you on how to slap, or not to slap the mat, do it his way.

mwible
05-02-2009, 10:21 PM
Haha, i completely understand. just to slap for the sake of it is a complete waist of energy; the only time that i slap is when thrown HARD, and i usually only have to when its by my Sensei or the chief student at my dojo.

-morgan

Maarten De Queecker
05-03-2009, 03:43 AM
Haha, i completely understand. just to slap for the sake of it is a complete waist of energy; the only time that i slap is when thrown HARD, and i usually only have to when its by my Sensei or the chief student at my dojo.

-morgan
Slapping your hand really requires hardly any effort so I don't see why it should be a waste of energy. It's actually a good way of softening your fall that is somehow looked somewhat down on in aikido. One of my teachers once said to me that I should stop doing since "I was doing aikido, not judo". I never quite got this since I don't know why falling in aikido shoud be any different than the falling techniques taught in judo. I even find the latter somewhat superior since judo teaches you how to fall in a vertical rather than a horizontal way, something that already saved me from breaking some limbs quite a few times.

On slapping: I practiced judo when I was between 9 and 11 years old and was taught to always slap. When I began practicing aikido eight years later, that reflex was still there. It was easily unlearned for mae ukemi but a tad more difficult for ushiro ukemi, but I got there eventually.

I still slap but, just as Morgan, only when thrown hard enough. When doing ukemi on Koshinage I even let out some sort of kiai to get all of the air out of my lungs before hitting the ground. That also seems to help break the fall.

DonMagee
05-03-2009, 09:40 AM
I stopped slapping the mat a while back as well. Even in judo I have found that it matters very little and the few times I've fallen on the street it has seriously tore up my hand.

Shany
05-03-2009, 10:10 AM
slapping the mat??? am I missing something?

Do you "hit" the mat with a bang, and than do an ukemi ? (bend -> hit the mat [creates noise] with your hands -> pause -> farward roll) ??

eek? why would you do that?

Suru
05-03-2009, 02:03 PM
I learned to slap the mat with force equal to the power of nage's throw. I don't believe slaps soften ukemi at all. As was mentioned though, I agree slaps may expedite the recovery process.

Drew

John A Butz
05-05-2009, 02:59 PM
In the dojo I only slap on an ukemi if it looks like I am about to be thrown into a wall or off the mat.

A few years ago I did a demo on an outdoor stage that had been set up for the local theater company. I was uke, and as I had been trained I slapped on my first ukemi. That was the last time I trained to slap. It just wasn't worth it; the minor reduction in the force of the throw was not worth the trade-off of damage to the arm and hand.

The other danger-point in ukemi, in my opinion, is the ball of the ankle. I know off people who "slap" with the part of their body. I once took a hard high fall on a surface that was identical to that off most offices - concrete with a thin carpet over top - and because of my trained habit of loud "dojo ukemi" I "slapped" with my ankle. That ankle bone still hurts me, and it has been close to a decade since I did that particular bit of stupidity.

Like Don, I have not encountered any falls that require me to slap, and I am happier having trained that out of my system. It still comes in handy to avoid John-shaped holes in the drywall of the dojo, but outside of that minor usage I don't slap anymore.

Shany: The slap in most peoples ukemi actually comes near the end. As you reach the point where you are in the second half of the roll and your rear hand/shoulder are coming down, thats about where most folks slap. My description sucks, but if you look at a Kodokan Judo book you will most likely see a frame-by-frame reference that shows the roll and the slap.

Walter Martindale
05-05-2009, 03:14 PM
When practicing judo we were taught to have the arm slap the mat shortly before the body so that we could transfer momentum to the slap and reduce the impact of the body. The act of accelerating the arm towards the mat from takes some of the momentum out of the body (the muscles need something against which to accelerate the arm, that happens to be the body).
My hands are getting a bit arthritic now - I half think that the right hand's a bit worse off than the left one - most of my mat-slapping was done when being bashed around by a left-throwing sempai..
There MAY (not for sure, but there MAY) be long term consequences of banging mats for years and years.
W

dps
05-05-2009, 08:53 PM
In my training I was taught that the structure of the body was the same no matter if I was thrown hard or soft and that the hand was the first part of the body to touch the ground. Not only can the hand contacting the ground dissipate energy, I think more importantly the hand touching the ground first helps your mind orientate your body in relation to the ground for a safer fall.

Also it would depend on the angle that you contact the ground with. A steep angle (90 degrees straight down for example) there is no chance of rolling out. A shallow angle closer to horizontal would allow you roll out.

If you take a fall off the mat in the real world you can expect to receive some kind of damage. Just because you can fall safely on a mat does not mean you will fall safely off the mat. Consider the amount of damage to your body from a fall on a hard surface if you did not know ukemi.

David

Maarten De Queecker
05-07-2009, 09:21 AM
Yesterday during training I did a whole lot of slapping the mat. It was a class mainly on redirecting energy and sending it back and since I always attack quite enthusiastically, I was thrown back and forth. We even did some koshinage. After class me and a friend both did another 10-15 koshinages each and at the speed we executed and underwent them, we had to slap. We didn't exactly do them slowly. It was attack-get thrown-get up-repeat.

Point is, if you attack with a lot of energy, you will be sent back with that same amount of energy, which can result in quite some spectacular ukemi in which I just slap because it softens the fall a bit (every bit counts) and because having an idle hand isn't very useful.

Suru
05-07-2009, 03:34 PM
Slapping may slightly soften a fall due primarily to the placebo effect, but I believe that when it all comes down to it, uke slaps to concede the altercation to nage.

Drew

Dan Richards
05-18-2009, 10:06 PM
Hi all,
She threw me off the mats and I decided mid-throw to just go with it, throwing in an impressive mat-slap (partially from instinct).

OW MY THUMB!!!


It sounds like you haven't been taught, or haven't learned, how to do an effective breakfall.

Training on other surfaces, such as grass, wood, and concrete, can prove to be a valuable learning tool.

My 2.

DonMagee
05-19-2009, 02:27 PM
I was playing with this more in judo. When throw very hard I can feel no difference from slapping on my breakfall and not. So for practice it does not matter. And in competition (or a fight) I do not let go of the person throwing me, but rather bring him with me. So my hands don't slap because they are already busy setting up my next attack.

So the only reason i can see for teaching slapping is to prevent noobies from reaching out and breaking their wrists when being thrown.

Maarten De Queecker
05-19-2009, 02:37 PM
Interesting, albeit old article about slapping:
http://www.asbweb.org/conferences/1990s/1997/33/index.html

Apparently it does help but with increased risk of wrist damage.

Robert Cowham
05-27-2009, 03:12 PM
See Ellis Amdur's DVD on ukemi - he recommends not slapping, but admits to his own bad habits inculcated over many years!

DVD is seriously worth getting...

jamesf
04-02-2016, 01:21 AM
My sensei teaches that slapping can sometimes help soften your fall, but that we shouldn't build it as a strong habit ("what if you slip and fall on the asphalt parking lot?"). As if to emphasize this, sometimes he slaps, sometimes he doesn't. I attempt to follow this, slapping at times when it feels appropriate, and other times, not at all.

In my own experience, I've noticed that slapping can help you change the speed, direction, and rotation of your fall slightly, giving a finer degree of control (when I use it appropriately, which admittedly isn't always the case).

Finally, one thing slapping does that no one has mentioned yet: it tells others in a crowded dojo, "Hey, I'm right here next to you on the ground right now, please don't land on top of me!"

rugwithlegs
04-03-2016, 07:47 AM
When practicing judo we were taught to have the arm slap the mat shortly before the body so that we could transfer momentum to the slap and reduce the impact of the body. The act of accelerating the arm towards the mat from takes some of the momentum out of the body (the muscles need something against which to accelerate the arm, that happens to be the body).
My hands are getting a bit arthritic now - I half think that the right hand's a bit worse off than the left one - most of my mat-slapping was done when being bashed around by a left-throwing sempai..
There MAY (not for sure, but there MAY) be long term consequences of banging mats for years and years.
W

I agree with the timing Walter mentions here. Otherwise the practice is a waste IMO.

Slapping can hurt, so can skidding on gravel with your forearm.

We used to talk about the first few years of rolling as "breaking off the corners." When I saw a Shihan roll completely soundlessly, I realized he had no corners to break off and all his momentum was just rolling through. This same man had us doing front breakfalls and occasionally back breakfalls, and then the arm frame is all the protects vital organs, faces, ribs, etc.

Same with flaring the leg out to the side - sometimes the outrigger stops me from rolling on my face mid fall, some sutemi waza work better with the outrigger effect, and sometimes I just want to keep rolling so I keep the legs in. Sometimes, I need to change direction but I use the outrigger arm and leg to wedge/slide into a new direction rather than try to crash into a new direction.

Years later after starting Aikido, a Chinese martial arts teacher offers to show me Iron Palm training for striking. Mandatory warm up exercises of wrist stretching and shaking the hands vigorously, followed by repeatedly relaxing the arm as I slapped first the air, and then a bean bag a hundred times a day. Let's just say it felt familiar.

Like with anything else in anything, it's rare there is one rule, one always correct approach, for the entirety of what is possible. Dogma is wrong.

JP3
04-17-2016, 04:35 PM
It always struck me that slapping the mat, for the sake of slapping the mat, during a rolling breakfall was adding kinetic energy INTO the math equation which is the fall, rather than properly dispersing it. But, hey... that' sjust me. I don't slap mats either. I did do the thing that we talk about in class, about you are far more likely to fall because you slipped and save your life or protect yourself from injury than you are to use it in a self-defense situation. BT/DT. Stepped off a curb, heel of the new shoe I was wearing first caught, then the slick sloe just flew out from under me and I dropped straight back wards and would have whacked the back of my grape on the curb. I think that would have ended badly. But, instead, the body, on the way to the ground, reached into the muscle memory vault and contoured itself properly and ll that happened was to get a ugly stain from the street on my suit coat.

sswam
04-28-2016, 07:59 AM
I think it's a good idea to make sure that your breakfalls and rolls work well on cement or some other hard surface before you really need them. If we do slap the ground, we should slap with the meaty part of the arm and hand, not where bone is close to the surface, and definitely not with the ankle. I can do various falls on cement with slapping, and it shouldn't hurt much if you do it right... but I guess it's better to avoid any hard impact if you can. Feather falls are awesome, but I can't do them very well yet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6Mj8Xli2iw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrEYQV-3aDY

Walter Martindale
04-28-2016, 08:28 AM
Had a few occasions to use rolls "outside"... Bike out from under due to gravel (ready for it) then more traction than ready for... abandon ship, roll, stand up, mount bike, carry on.
Running for phone call at rowing club (from the docks to the boathouse) - trip over a loose, exposed root, roll, keep running...only afterwards realize that I had done it..
No slap needed on rolls

JP3
04-29-2016, 03:40 PM
Had a few occasions to use rolls "outside"... Bike out from under due to gravel (ready for it) then more traction than ready for... abandon ship, roll, stand up, mount bike, carry on.
Running for phone call at rowing club (from the docks to the boathouse) - trip over a loose, exposed root, roll, keep running...only afterwards realize that I had done it..
No slap needed on rolls

Good stuff, Walter. My buddy/student has a great story after he'd been at OSU's aikido group for about 3 years. He was walking towards Disneyworld with his folks, and he was carrying their family mini-cam. on his shoulder -- admittedly fooling around with it when he really should have been paying attention to where he was walking.

So, he is going along and here comes a short flight of a couple steps down, he misses his step and over he goes, headfirst ... and he tells the story great. His first throught was, "Oh.... my dad is going to kill me when I break his camera!" But, his body pulled tape from the muscle-memory bank, arm (not holding cam) goes into position and he somehow eexecuted the big fall roll with the am in place, rolls and comes right up, cam intact. He takes a couple more steps, stops and turns around to look at the steps...

His dad comes over and asks first if he's all right (cool dad), then they both check on the camera... not a mark on it. Good on him. No battered body syndrome, either.

Janet Rosen
04-29-2016, 07:29 PM
When I teach my seniors How To Fall it is totally round and relaxed. Of course they have no need to be martially aware or get right back up. In truth when we fall in the world in an accident, we generally don't either....

erikmenzel
05-17-2016, 08:28 AM
As a sidenote:
Slapping the mat works great for having children and/or beginners gain confidence. (Me, big guy in hakama, slapping the mat when they do the technique that is).

jdostie
05-20-2016, 03:33 PM
"Slapping" when you can roll seems a waste. However, break falls that simulate - and sometime are - a result of inability to roll or round off the corners should be practiced. What if you are falling on your face and your feet are trapped, have you practiced a technique for absorbing that impact? Same falling back, or what about juji-nage if Nage doesn't let go?

I've had a few falls where something was in my path and rolling wasn't an option, yes, I scraped up my forearms, but my head was in tact... A break fall on concrete is going to hurt, but it's going to hurt less than a face-plant on concrete. So I say teach it - in context, and use it on the mat - in context.

(I've also had a bicycle crash where years of rolling probably saved me from a trip to the hospital, had I attempted to slap on that one, something would have gotten badly hurt). Fill the tool box with tools, and choose the right tool for the job.

robin_jet_alt
05-21-2016, 05:13 AM
"Slapping" when you can roll seems a waste. However, break falls that simulate - and sometime are - a result of inability to roll or round off the corners should be practiced. What if you are falling on your face and your feet are trapped, have you practiced a technique for absorbing that impact? Same falling back, or what about juji-nage if Nage doesn't let go?

I've had a few falls where something was in my path and rolling wasn't an option, yes, I scraped up my forearms, but my head was in tact... A break fall on concrete is going to hurt, but it's going to hurt less than a face-plant on concrete. So I say teach it - in context, and use it on the mat - in context.

(I've also had a bicycle crash where years of rolling probably saved me from a trip to the hospital, had I attempted to slap on that one, something would have gotten badly hurt). Fill the tool box with tools, and choose the right tool for the job.

I'm not sure that you understand the OP here. I can break fall out of Juji-nage, Koshinage and whatever else without slapping. I don't think he was advocating not break falling out of these techniques.