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Anjisan
07-13-2009, 11:01 AM
I have long believed that one's ukemi should progress with one's waza. I have, during my training, witnessed individuals that from the time that they begin training up through the ranks, steadily improve in their ability to execute techniques. However, I also notice that their ukemi either begins to lag behind or falls significantly behind their rank. I certainly understand that someone 50 years of age or with a disability is not going to take ukemi the same was as a strapping 24year old athlete.

Never the less, my question is do you believe that there should be benchmarks that coincide with rank exams as one progresses along the path?

Also, should there be specific ukemi testing requirements?

Further, if one is training with someone who is a known senior student or of Yudansha rank, should there be a reasonable expectation of ability to take uke--a breakfall for example?

Finally, do you believe that their is a cumulative effect as far as others being held back in their training becuase ukemi is not stressed enough?

ninjaqutie
07-13-2009, 11:29 AM
Lots of good questions there. I personally think my ukemi is better then my technique. I have only been doing aikido for about 4 months, so I shouldn't expect too much, but my ukemi is to the point where the black belts like to have fun and make me do breakfalls instead because I can handle it.

I believe that as you get higher in rank, your ukemi should improve as well. Like you said, an older student or someone with injuries will progress slower or won't be able to do some things, but they should still improve. Their falls could become softer, more graceful, etc.

In my old dojo it used to bug the crap out of me when higher rankers were afraid to fall or couldn't fall. At one point if you didn't have a forward roll down, then you were not going to get promoted beyond green belt. I remember as a yellow belt I did a leaping face fall (an optional technique/fall) for the first time and one of the black belts had to be talked into trying it. The black belt was told "If a yellow belt can do it, you can too." She did it and lived to tell the tale. We never did too much to really do a leaping face fall, so it wasn't used except for demo's that we went to. In which case, only 3 or 4 of us students would do it.... :)

I believe that once you are a black belt (age, health, etc taken into account), one should be able to handle just about any throw. You should be able to take care of your own body and get into the position you need to land safely. At least... that is my opinion. I am sure you will get others. :)

Oh, I forgot to answer one of your questions, I think ukemi should be part of a test. It isn't in my dojo though. Even if it isn't taken into account for a promotion, I think it would be good to ensure that they are improving and if they aren't maybe figuring out what they are doing wrong.

As far as being held back because of my ukemi I haven't had a problem. I haven't been held back from anyone elses ukemi either. You can still do the technique for the most part, just help them fall. I worked with a brand new kid last week and it allowed me time to focus on other things and not worry about the finish so much.

Shadowfax
07-13-2009, 11:32 AM
I really don't know about the whole testing thing. I think I read someplace that Ukemi is tested once the student reaches a certain level.

Personally, as a very new aikidokka, the Ukemi is the one thing I concentrate hardest on improving right now. I like being Uke and want to become good at it, and i'm in no hurry to increase in rank.

Thankfully the Sensei (what's the plural of Sensei anyway?) in my dojo do a great job making sure we are working on and improving this as well as technique. Is this not the common practice in other dojos?

dps
07-13-2009, 12:05 PM
Further, if one is training with someone who is a known senior student or of Yudansha rank, should there be a reasonable expectation of ability to take uke--a breakfall for example?

Yup, if you can't do it you should not be teaching it.

David

lbb
07-13-2009, 12:07 PM
I think that ukemi should stay about where it is: something that is important to develop because of its role in partner practice. Making ukemi a testing standard seems to be putting the importance on the wrong thing, and creating simplistic metrics like "can you do a breakfall" or "can you do a forward roll". That's all well and good for a gymnastics class, but as I see it, the purpose of ukemi is to allow you to perform a committed attack -- an attack that, if it connected, would put your partner in the hurt locker -- and then not become hurt yourself when your partner performs a technique on you. Lose sight of that, and I see huge carnage potential, as students start focusing on "air ukemi" in order to satisfy testing criteria, and fall back on "preemptive ukemi" in partner practice, thereby seriously degrading the experience for both partners.

Pauliina Lievonen
07-13-2009, 12:20 PM
IMNSHO, good ukemi includes things like:
Ability to attack effectively
Sensitivity to what is going on
Centeredness
Awareness off the openings tori leaves in his/her technique
Lack of unnecessary tension
I'm sure there's more....

None of which requires uke to fall in any particular way. Plus if someone doesn't improve in those kinds of qualities I really doubt that their technique will be very good either. Or the other way around, if one can take spectacular falls but lacks some of the above, I wouldn't necessarily call them a good uke.

kvaak
Pauliina

Shadowfax
07-13-2009, 12:38 PM
but as I see it, the purpose of ukemi is to allow you to perform a committed attack -- an attack that, if it connected, would put your partner in the hurt locker --- and then not become hurt yourself when your partner performs a technique on you

Not all see it this way?

Sure the big fancy highfalls etc are pretty to look at and perhaps fun for those with the agility and young bodies to handle it. But not entirely necessary. Thank goodness.

Paulina you gave a good list of things for me to keep in mind while working on it. Thank you.

AsimHanif
07-13-2009, 01:25 PM
I certainly understand that someone 50 years of age or with a disability is not going to take ukemi the same was as a strapping 24year old athlete.

hahaha..gee thanks!

lbb
07-13-2009, 02:55 PM
I certainly understand that someone 50 years of age or with a disability is not going to take ukemi the same was as a strapping 24year old athlete.

hahaha..gee thanks!

IIRC Ashley is pretty young and also able-bodied. :cool:

Rabih Shanshiry
07-13-2009, 04:41 PM
In the Doshinkan (Yoshinkan), we do have ukemi requirements built into testing for each kyu rank (which starts at 9). I think this method offers a sound and logical progression to ensure that we continue to train and develop ukemi. Not only is ukemi key to avoiding injury, but it is also an important part of the learning process since it enables uke to directly feel/absorb how techniques are supposed to be performed.

...rab

ninjaqutie
07-13-2009, 05:44 PM
I guess I would be considered pretty young Mary, but some of my ailments aren't for a "young" body. I've had a worn miniscus since I was 18 from tap dancing... boo. Got some other ailments too, but nothing really to keep me off the mat. That is what a MT/PT is for right!?! :D

odudog
07-13-2009, 05:55 PM
Part of doing the technique is doing the ukemi. If you can't do the ukemi then you shouldn't be testing. Although it is not said on the testing requirements doing ukemi is being tested.

gdandscompserv
07-13-2009, 06:03 PM
Ukemi is good exercise!:D

Rabih Shanshiry
07-13-2009, 06:12 PM
Part of doing the technique is doing the ukemi. If you can't do the ukemi then you shouldn't be testing. Although it is not said on the testing requirements doing ukemi is being tested.

Agree 100% with you on this. At my dojo, we are explicitly examined in the roles of both sh'te and uke for each technique.

Anjisan
07-13-2009, 07:41 PM
I think that ukemi should stay about where it is: something that is important to develop because of its role in partner practice. Making ukemi a testing standard seems to be putting the importance on the wrong thing, and creating simplistic metrics like "can you do a breakfall" or "can you do a forward roll". That's all well and good for a gymnastics class, but as I see it, the purpose of ukemi is to allow you to perform a committed attack -- an attack that, if it connected, would put your partner in the hurt locker -- and then not become hurt yourself when your partner performs a technique on you. Lose sight of that, and I see huge carnage potential, as students start focusing on "air ukemi" in order to satisfy testing criteria, and fall back on "preemptive ukemi" in partner practice, thereby seriously degrading the experience for both partners.

Actually, I belive that one is much more likely to use ukemi in the real world than waza even though I am a huge believer in Aikido for self-defence. Ukemi can be thought of as an art onto itself within the art of Aikido. Ideas that I have thought of or have heard bantered about deal with ukemi that is appropriate with a particular rank so more advanced ukemi such as breakfalls would most likely be a nikyo or higher requirement. Therefore one could focus on the full breath of ukemi coming up through the ranks.

It would of course come down to the dojo, but just because an individual would be testing for specific ukemi skills doesn't mean that one would still not be practicing the full rage of ukemi (ie connection, leading, ect). Similarly, coming up through the ranks one still attempts to execute the full rage of waza even if one hasn't or already has tested for them.

"the purpose of ukemi is to allow you to perform a committed attack -- an attack that, if it connected, would put your partner in the hurt locker -- and then not become hurt yourself when your partner performs a technique on you."

As far as using ukemi to give a fully committed attack--I could not agree more. If one is confident and trained in ukemi then one can feel free to attack more freely at perhaps at times-- more realistically. Conversely, the Nage can feel much more liberated to go in more directions with out having a small doubt that an uke cannot handle it.

Moreover, perhaps there should be an expectation of ability/competency to be able to take that ukemi--given the wide variety in which techniques can be applied--when one is attacking a senior student or one of Yudansha rank.

Abasan
07-13-2009, 09:27 PM
If you don't have ukemi skills good enough to feel proper aikido, how are you going to develop good aikido? Visually? Watch videos and get a black belt I suppose.

Voitokas
07-13-2009, 10:32 PM
Do many teachers invite students with poor ukemi (in the sense the Pauliina so well described it) to test for higher ranks? Even if it's physically inadvisable for person to take a highfall, I haven't met many higher kyu or yudansha with terrible timing or sensitivity...

Anjisan
07-13-2009, 11:05 PM
Moreover, perhaps there should be an expectation of ability/competency to be able to take that ukemi--given the wide variety in which techniques can be applied--when one is attacking a senior student or one of Yudansha rank.

Above, I should have said--when one is being attacked by a senior student or one of Yudansha rank.

I apologize for the oversight in proofreading.

Anjisan
07-13-2009, 11:40 PM
Do many teachers invite students with poor ukemi (in the sense the Pauliina so well described it) to test for higher ranks? Even if it's physically inadvisable for person to take a highfall, I haven't met many higher kyu or yudansha with terrible timing or sensitivity...

I don't know about terrible ukemi so much as ukemi that is noticeably less evolved than their waza. In other words, there is a significant gap between their ukemi and waza when the 2 are supposed to be 2 sides of the same coin (Aikido).

Of course with some individuals I suppose, there is also the possibility that even though they have substantial experience and possibly rank, they may just be afraid. In some cases it may be a matter of I know how, but I am unwilling. That sort of begs the question of how does one attain Yundansha rank if they are afraid to take all but the most basic ukemi?

When training with senior students and Yudansha can one assume a certain level of competency and willingness or does one have to have a sort of verbal checklist that one must ask. Are you willing/able to do this or that? I would think that such a implied requirement could certainly hold other individuals training back--especially during free practice. There may not be that many athletic 24 year olds around so others would need to fill the void. Test requirements would at least address the (able) aspect.

I do not want this to be about taking breakfalls or koshi throws. While they are certainly included, I am referring to the entire ukemi ability.

ninjaqutie
07-14-2009, 12:00 AM
I agree. You can get better at ukemi in ways besides taking hard or high falls. You can be more giving of your center, be more relaxed, be in control, have softer falls, move with your partner, be more graceful, able to adapt when your partner does something different. There is so much more then just taking a fall. I would say most of those things are things I am still working on. Yeah, I got the hight and hard part down, but I have had that from my previous style of being thrown around. One of the biggest challeges for me is to give my center up because I was taught to keep it no matter what. So, although I can land alright, the process until I land needs work. :)

ruthmc
07-14-2009, 07:34 AM
The ability to perform basic mae and ushiro ukemi (forward and backward rolls) is part of the grading syllabus for 6th and 5th kyu with us. The person testing for rank must also demonstrate an understanding of the basic attack forms as well, as part of their test involves them taking ukemi for the more senior ranked student who had volunteered to take ukemi for them.

As you progress, if your ability to take ukemi (taking into account all of the very good points Pauliina made) is not as advanced as expected for that particular rank, you will not progress beyond your current rank until it improves.

If you go to seminars where you will train with students who do not know you or your abilities, it is safer to be graded at a level where they will not pulverise you into the tatami beyond your ability to survive ;)

Although it would be wonderful if all yudansha had the sensitivity to feel what their partner's abilities are, this is simply not the case, and some folk at seminars will just dish it out as hard as they want to every partner of every rank.. :grr:

Craig Allen Jr
07-14-2009, 08:45 AM
This thread reminded me of an article I read by Bruce Bookman a while back that was actually a response to Stan Pranin's piece on The Virtues of Aikido. I definitely recommend both to anyone who hasn't seen them already:
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=599
http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=87464

Amir Krause
07-14-2009, 09:44 AM
Reading this, I need some clarification, since it feels to me, many of us have different definitions of terms even prior to the expectations.

Ukemi is the reception of techniques, rolls and breakfalls are two groups of possible "Ukemi techniques", but, are only a small part of the concept of Ukemi.

To my own understanding, one should be able to handle any throw and situation, with almost basic "Ukemi techniques". In the dojo I practice at, this basic level is a requirement for Kyu1 (which is the first test), but I strongly doubt anyone would stay with us half that long without acquiring these. I would also like to indicate the basic "Ukemi techniques" have proven themselves to me on the street and off it (in different terrain types).

Some possible "Ukemi techniques" such as high breakfalls and similar things are beautiful, but I fail to see the need for them, regardless of the throw used. These technique mostly require and present acrobatic skills, and not martial ability.

Some people may have difficulty with some specific "Ukemi technique", yet continue to progress un-impaired. For example - myself. Even though I have been thrown hundreds of cumulative times in such techniques, and I do not have any conscious problem with them, when thrown in a judo like throw (over the shoulder or heap with free hands and no lock), I tend to hold my thrower, and have to concentrate a lot to prevent this.

However, similarly to other M.A> elements, the really important part of Ukemi skills, is not the "Ukemi techniques" but the softness (receptiveness, connection, ..), the situational awareness and the ability to respond. Being Uke is half the training time, when we are Uke, we should not just give the partner his chance to train, we should also train ourselves.
Only recently, I had one of my best Randori (in our style free play almost like sparring, both attack with strikes, respond and reverse in a free manner), with a fellow Yundasha, even though I had knee aches which prevented my from falling (could fall but not get up without help). Since we were both soft, and receptive, the lack of actual falling did not impair our ukemi, nor our ability to sense when we were had, and reverse the technique (Keashi Waza). Every touch was with intent and light and soft (or used for reversal).

Amir

jonreading
07-14-2009, 11:21 AM
1. Ukemi should not be on the curriculum for a test, but a standard of the test. For example, it is not an explicit requirement that a student dress in gi for a test, but the expectation is the student will wear a gi. Likewise, a student should demonstrate compentency in ukemi skills during a test or receive appropriate feedback to improve those skills.
2. Belts and ranks are designed to give a reasonable expectation of skilll, including proficiency in ukemi. Injuries excepted, senior students should be capable of protectig themselves at an advanced level. Students with injuries have an obligation to announce that injury (and limitations related to the injury) prior to training to avoid further injury.
3. Absolutely students excel more slowly when they are less profiecient at ukemi. Ukemi is a key skill in training, if nothing else to prevent injury. Feeling technique as is applies to your body is an important sensory reception. To miss the ability to feel the complete effects of techniques on your body is like missing out on half of class.

Ukemi is not fancy, or beautiful, or something only 18-year olds do. Ukemi is protecting your body. If you are good at it, you can do amazing things. But, sometimes we get lazy..."sutemi hurts, I'd rather not do it." Or, "I don't like rolling, it makes me dizzy." Or, "I'm sore, don't throw me." You will perform only to the expectation you practice.

While we criticize on the outside those that do not perform ukemi well, I feel sorry for them. Think of all the time those students spend pretending to learn something that is a farse. How sad will it be when those students realize all for that their training they can't roll, or touch their toes, or stretch their arms? I believe it is important to get new students engaged in learning to roll, protecting their bodies, and seeing the importance that training plays in their overall aikido training.

mathewjgano
07-14-2009, 01:26 PM
1. Ukemi should not be on the curriculum for a test, but a standard of the test. For example, it is not an explicit requirement that a student dress in gi for a test, but the expectation is the student will wear a gi. Likewise, a student should demonstrate compentency in ukemi skills during a test or receive appropriate feedback to improve those skills.


Why do you suppose ukemi shouldn't be tested curriculum?

Kevin Karr
07-14-2009, 03:24 PM
I believe that, for the first few years *at least*, ukemi is more important than waza. Good ukemi is probably the most important thing to learn as one makes their way to Shodan. I know I have read more than one excerpt from the "old masters" of both bugei and budo who say that ukemi comes first, then waza. So, for Aikido, I think that ukemi can't be stressed enough. It should be a major part of the training. How else can one become "soft?" Isn't Aikido a jujutsu form? Ukemi would be a major part of the "ju". Having well developed ukemi is essential for many reasons.
As far as testing, well, one can't truly progress in waza if they haven't progressed in ukemi to an equal or greater degree. The two aspects are inseparable. So, with every test one takes, they are being tested on both things.

Honto desu ka?

Ron Tisdale
07-14-2009, 03:33 PM
I know I have read more than one excerpt from the "old masters" of both bugei and budo who say that ukemi comes first, then waza.

Hi Kevin, you wouldn't happen to have a source for that, would you? I've heard in the classical arts, the senior usually takes the role of uketachi. Which seems to contradict what you are suggesting.

Best,
Ron

Kevin Karr
07-14-2009, 03:56 PM
Hey Ron,

If I remember correctly, one source is O-Sensei, the other was from either Donn Draeger's "Classical Budo" or his "Bujutsu" book and I *think* I read that Saotome Sensei had expressed the same idea in one of his books. There are other possibilities, as well, that I just can't remember. Sorry if these sources aren't very detailed. I read a lot of things and I don't necessarily catalog them very well for reference.

True, I have read that in the Koryu arts the Sensei often performs the role of uke for his students but I never got the idea that this meant the deshi then only concentrated on waza and never performed the role of uke themselves. I am sure they have to be uke for their Sensei, at least. I'd say that is the best and most strenuous way to learn!

Anjisan
07-16-2009, 10:37 AM
If I am reading the responses correctly, there is pretty much is a consensus that by Shodan there should be a reasonable expectation that one have an ukemi ability on par with their level of waza. The lack of consensus is on whether of not there should be ukemi testing requirements along the way.

On this point I will say that I can see how one could get to shodan and this not be the case. If one's peers and sensei don't have that expectation going through the ranks and one does not volunteer on others tests then ukemi would not be exposed to have fallen behind. Consequently, one could test for Shodan and ukemi would just be assumed to be up to par because one is skilled enough in waza to test.

I argue that when this is the case it is to the long-term detriment of others training at the dojo--or at a seminar. When one desires to explore different tangents or just let loose there ends up being a small pool of individuals who are available to take the ukemi. Further, of this pool, there is an even smaller number who are then willing, confident and skilled enough to "keep up" or "take it" depending on what is being done.

On anther tangent, for those who are of Yudansha rank should it matter (with age, injury, etc taken into account) what is being explored by nage? In other words, is it not reasonable to assume that the uke has the ability and willingness to take charge of their ukemi so you can explore (Not being reckless).

Does one have to ask each Yudansha who attacks, "Ok, what ukemi can you take? What Ukemi can't you take? Are you comfortable with staying with me so I can practice connection? What if --in the moment--a breakfall or koshi throw presents itself--should I stop and see if it is OK or are you going to not say anything--take it-and then sulk?

Kevin Karr
07-16-2009, 12:12 PM
----"Does one have to ask each Yudansha who attacks, "Ok, what ukemi can you take? What Ukemi can't you take? Are you comfortable with staying with me so I can practice connection? What if --in the moment--a breakfall or koshi throw presents itself--should I stop and see if it is OK or are you going to not say anything--take it-and then sulk?"----
-----------------------------------------------

See, this is where, imo, we find a big problem with the kyu/dan ranking system. The skill level of one Shodan (or nidan, sandan, etc.) in comparison to another can be significant especially when you cross organizational lines. This also points to the problem of the rapid over-expansion of Aikido as a whole without proper quality control restraints, or checks and balances, if you will. In addition, this illustrates the complexity of having seminars where many different aikidoka from different schools get together to train, in general.

I think that if one has reached the point where they have donned the fabled "black trousers" they should be able to do everything you mentioned above without question and, absolutely, without sulking! If I ever saw one of yudansha level sulking over taking demanding ukemi, I would consider them a very poor student of budo. Of course, the instructor of any seminar must take into account the age of their uke. I think everyone understands that demanding ukemi is mostly for the younger set.

Still, this situation, in general, is problematic...

C. David Henderson
07-16-2009, 01:55 PM
If I am reading the responses correctly, there is pretty much is a consensus that by Shodan there should be a reasonable expectation that one have an ukemi ability on par with their level of waza.

I've always understood that -- barring age- or disability-related problems -- ukemi skills should, if anything, be somewhat ahead of skill in acting as nage, at least through this level.

[O]ne could test for Shodan and ukemi would just be assumed to be up to par because one is skilled enough in waza to test.

I don't see how. Whether or not one volunteers to take ukemi when others test, one can't go through a single class (much less years of training) without providing manifest evidence of one's skill in taking ukemi to one's Sensei. Testing is not the only or even necessarily primary source of evidence of skill -- practice is.

Does one have to ask each Yudansha who attacks, "Ok, what ukemi can you take? What Ukemi can't you take? Are you comfortable with staying with me so I can practice connection? What if --in the moment--a breakfall or koshi throw presents itself--should I stop and see if it is OK or are you going to not say anything--take it-and then sulk?

The answer depends on the circumstances. If you are working with someone you've practiced with for years, you probably have a very good idea of what they ordinarily can handle. Of course, they have a responsibility, even then, to let you know of acute injuries and the like.

If your partner isn't someone you know well (or at all) it's appropriate to communicate about potentially dangerous ukemi, IMO.

Do you know of someone in particular who "sulked" in the circumstances you described? Have you ever been injured taking ukemi? What was your response?

cdh

Ron Tisdale
07-16-2009, 02:41 PM
I have been injured, and I certainly hope I didn't "sulk". :O

I guess I think just talking to your partner a bit, and feeling things out in keiko a bit, yields a lot of the needed answers. I tend to get around a bit (to other organizations and dojo), and I rarely have issues that I know of (all of you that hate me sit down and be quiet, please :eek: ;)). I'm not going to pound the snot out of ANYONE on the first throw of the day or the partner practice with them. I'm going to start at what seems a reasonable level, and expect my partner to let me know if that was not actually reasonable. And I may just ask them if I'm not sure. Then, if **we** want to ramp it up, fine. If it gets too rough for me, it's up to me to speak up and let them know that. No sulking needed... :D

I like being tested on every ukemi called for on a test seperately during the test, because it keeps me safe. If I can do that ukemi by myself, I have a reasonable chance of doing it as uke with a partner. And of course, exceptions can easily be made for disability, age, etc.

Best,
Ron (common sense seems to work really well here)

C. David Henderson
07-16-2009, 03:24 PM
Once I got my foot caught in someone's hakama right as I was being thrown for forward ukemi. I sort of "crunched" into the mat instead of rolling and tore a bunch of muscles in my rib cage. I was pretty frustrated as I lay there staring at the ceiling about being injured, because I knew it was going to take a few months to heal (and just when I was about to make that breakthough....)

I certainly wasn't angry at my partner. But I can sure see that it could have appeared while I lay there that I was. (What really annoyed me was people coming up and putting their hands on my chest to see if I was okay -- I kept pushing the hands away, because it hurt when they did that.)

To the extent I have a point here, I guess the point is -- how would nage know if it's "sulking"? Especially if you assume the person should be able to take the fall without complaint, they get hurt anyway, they're not complaining, but they seem upset? Isn't being upset a pretty natural reaction to being hurt?

It just seems to me the label "sulking" is both full of judgment and a way of removing one's self from the interaction. That's why I asked the question I did.

Anjisan
07-16-2009, 05:39 PM
Once I got my foot caught in someone's hakama right as I was being thrown for forward ukemi. I sort of "crunched" into the mat instead of rolling and tore a bunch of muscles in my rib cage. I was pretty frustrated as I lay there staring at the ceiling about being injured, because I knew it was going to take a few months to heal (and just when I was about to make that breakthough....)

I certainly wasn't angry at my partner. But I can sure see that it could have appeared while I lay there that I was. (What really annoyed me was people coming up and putting their hands on my chest to see if I was okay -- I kept pushing the hands away, because it hurt when they did that.)

To the extent I have a point here, I guess the point is -- how would nage know if it's "sulking"? Especially if you assume the person should be able to take the fall without complaint, they get hurt anyway, they're not complaining, but they seem upset? Isn't being upset a pretty natural reaction to being hurt?

It just seems to me the label "sulking" is both full of judgment and a way of removing one's self from the interaction. That's why I asked the question I did.

If there is an injury--I completely agree. I dont't see sulking as judgmental, but an observation of behavior. Adults sulk and children pout (Perhaps there is a disproportant number of individuals who are passive aggressive in Aikido because we don't tap each other or punch each other out due to the nature of our training). Nage could not know if one is sulking, just quiet or whatever because an injury occurred.

However, if there is not an injury (and this is verified), it quite possible that a person is sulking (which if one is familiar with Uke, you know them) because they could not keep up or a breakfall or koshi fall was executed. My point is that they should--A) be able to take the Ukemi and B)not be upset if they (barring age, disability, injury and are of Senior/Yudansha rank) strap it on and get on the mat. Perhaps in a legal analogy the term is implied consent.

The simple fact of the matter is that in an open practice context, Nage may not know what technique or techniques are going to be used until one begins interacting. Uke should assume that a higher level may be required ( I use breakfall because it tends to get the most resistance) and not be upset if it is--in this hypothetical Uke is a senior student or Yudansha after all. I don't mean to suggest that each an every exchange would be this way--Nage should ask Uke in advance if he/she were going to rip off 8 kote-goshi breakfalls in a row or something.

dps
07-16-2009, 10:08 PM
This is from Ellis Amdur's article ' Hidden In Plain Sight" on Aikido Journal.
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=653

Ellis Amdur says,
"It is through ukemi, not imitation of the teacher's waza that one begins to achieve skill in aiki. This leads to a fascinating resonance in the creating of skill and strength."

He is discussing how O'Sensei viewed Aikido practice. If O'Sensei thought that ukemi was that important then maybe it should be tested.

David

mathewjgano
07-17-2009, 02:21 PM
This is from Ellis Amdur's article ' Hidden In Plain Sight" on Aikido Journal.
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=653

Ellis Amdur says,
"It is through ukemi, not imitation of the teacher's waza that one begins to achieve skill in aiki. This leads to a fascinating resonance in the creating of skill and strength."

He is discussing how O'Sensei viewed Aikido practice. If O'Sensei thought that ukemi was that important then maybe it should be tested.

David

I'm not highly proficient, but I attribute much of whatever skill i do have to my experiences as uke. In trying to generate a whole-body attack, being compromised to some degree, and then trying to maintain or regain structural integrity seems like a great exercise to practice.
I can also think of a handful of times as uke which left a strong impression on how ready to move I need to be. One example came from an older guy who said he was a national level judo player (I forget which Eastern European country): he nearly tore my arm off with a shoulder throw I was just barely ready for. His intent wasn't to hurt me, and I'm quite sure he didn't put his all into it, but it was clear to me that if I had been less prepared, I could have been more easily hurt (weak shoulder wanted to pop out, but didn't).
I'm curious what people think about the role of centripital forces (analogous to re-centering efforts?) to performing good ukemi. Any thoughts?

Anjisan
07-18-2009, 09:13 AM
I'm not highly proficient, but I attribute much of whatever skill i do have to my experiences as uke. In trying to generate a whole-body attack, being compromised to some degree, and then trying to maintain or regain structural integrity seems like a great exercise to practice.
I can also think of a handful of times as uke which left a strong impression on how ready to move I need to be. One example came from an older guy who said he was a national level judo player (I forget which Eastern European country): he nearly tore my arm off with a shoulder throw I was just barely ready for. His intent wasn't to hurt me, and I'm quite sure he didn't put his all into it, but it was clear to me that if I had been less prepared, I could have been more easily hurt (weak shoulder wanted to pop out, but didn't).
I'm curious what people think about the role of centripital forces (analogous to re-centering efforts?) to performing good ukemi. Any thoughts?

If I am understanding you correctly--very important. As an Uke one has to be able to keep one's center under them so that one can continually adjust. IMHO one has to be able to "be in the moment" and "on your game" both for honest connection and for safety, especially as the speed picks up. One certainly does not want to be left to simply be a kite and be totally dependent on Nage's skill, good intentions and the X factor not creeping in.

ruthmc
07-20-2009, 07:50 AM
I'm curious what people think about the role of centripital forces (analogous to re-centering efforts?) to performing good ukemi. Any thoughts?
I'd say it's absolutely essential! As soon as your arm goes out of the control of your centre, you are wide open to having it torn off if tori decides to do so :uch:

Basia Halliop
07-20-2009, 09:51 AM
On this point I will say that I can see how one could get to shodan and this not be the case. If one's peers and sensei don't have that expectation going through the ranks and one does not volunteer on others tests then ukemi would not be exposed to have fallen behind. Consequently, one could test for Shodan and ukemi would just be assumed to be up to par because one is skilled enough in waza to test.


This is very hard for me to picture -- wouldn't the level of a person's ukemi be obvious day after day in class?

Plus, every time someone prepares for a test, it's not just one or a couple of volunteers for one day of the test they need -- it's a continuous stream of volunteers for all the weeks and months before the test, and for higher level tests that includes jiuwaza and multiple attacker randori. How could one get to shodan without being involved in many test preparations? I suppose that part might depend on the size and demographics of the dojo, though. But surely just from regular classes you have a pretty good idea anyway.

Anjisan
07-20-2009, 06:38 PM
This is very hard for me to picture -- wouldn't the level of a person's ukemi be obvious day after day in class?

Plus, every time someone prepares for a test, it's not just one or a couple of volunteers for one day of the test they need -- it's a continuous stream of volunteers for all the weeks and months before the test, and for higher level tests that includes jiuwaza and multiple attacker randori. How could one get to shodan without being involved in many test preparations? I suppose that part might depend on the size and demographics of the dojo, though. But surely just from regular classes you have a pretty good idea anyway.

This are several valid points listed above. However, it brings us back to the beginning of this thread. If the expectations for Ukemi up through the ranks are lower (and not tested for) than the rank being tested for then one could get to Shodan and there be a gap. It is all about expectations, accountability and what is focused on.

C. David Henderson
07-20-2009, 08:27 PM
I think the question remains whether testing ukemi skills (which we've done in my dojo from time to time, but not always) is necessary to prevent the situation you've described. What I hear you say in response in fact posits two conditions -- low expectations and no testing. But if the first condition exists, the presence or absence of testing (w/ low expectations) seems secondary. YMMV, of course.

Lyle Bogin
07-22-2009, 12:31 PM
This line of discussion reminds me of the issue of "nandu" in the new international wushu rules. Points are now being awarded as they are in gymnastics, with a tiered system of skills. It has led to a lot of injuries, and an even larger gap in the success rates of practitioners from different nations (bye bye olympic bid). But really, what is the value of a trip twist spear toss into a split? Looks :cool:

Anyway, testing ukemi is fine I suppose. But it may lead to people looking for bigger and bigger tricks.

Basia Halliop
07-22-2009, 02:23 PM
It also leads to the question -- if someone has some physical reason they can't take some kinds ukemi or not in some situations (e.g. back pain, age related changes), but their waza is excellent - not unreasonable, I think, given the different demands on the body of good ukemi and good technique - how important a problem is that and to what degree, if any, should it be the basis for rank or lack thereof?

ninjaqutie
07-22-2009, 02:59 PM
Another thing to note is the higher you get in rank, the more you are used as uke by your sensei. I think that gives them a good indication about your ukemi. I know he used a third kyu for demonstraing a technique and spent several minutes correcting her. :)

Amir Krause
07-23-2009, 05:33 AM
A few comments:

* Who ever said testing is required?
- In many M.A. one can advanc ein ranks even without testing. As far as I know, this is the more traditinal way - the teacher who knows you decides on your rank, he knows you every day, so a test is not required.

* Very high falls and fancy Ukemi does not neccesserily improve the ability to handle any throw. The "basic Ukemi techniques" (including both rolls and breakfalls) suffices to almost anything.

* If one is going to "get rough" he had better tell his partner so both will adjust. There is no point to planting a slowly attacking fully cooperative (& practily assiting) Uke. At the same time(as you talk) Uke should tell you of any injuries that may impair his abilities.
And I am talking form the POV of one whose randor is more similar to sparing them most (both sides atack with any technique from a grasp to kicking combinations, each responds, both acting freely and without turns, and yes - counters are allowed ...). When one does that, one learns he has to adjust to the partners ability (no point in attacking faster than the other can respond correctly - he will not learn anything)

Amir

jss
07-23-2009, 07:51 AM
The simple fact of the matter is that in an open practice context, Nage may not know what technique or techniques are going to be used until one begins interacting. Uke should assume that a higher level may be required ( I use breakfall because it tends to get the most resistance) and not be upset if it is--in this hypothetical Uke is a senior student or Yudansha after all. I don't mean to suggest that each an every exchange would be this way--Nage should ask Uke in advance if he/she were going to rip off 8 kote-goshi breakfalls in a row or something.
Hmmm... at a seminar once I was practicing kote gaeshi with someone I didn't know and he fell on his shoulder twice in a row. (Not hard, he wasn't injured or hurt, but it's not supposed to happen.) The reason was simple: I was giving him the opportunity to do a forward roll, but he thought that he needed to do a breakfall. So he went into his breakfall (expecting me to support him) at about the same time I led his hand further down and released most of my grip to allow him to roll, causing him to fall on his shoulder. The second time I expected him to adjust, but he didn't. (He got a bit angry.) After that I supported his breakfall.

Lessons to be learned from this:
1) Never rely on nage's support when you do a breakfall.
2) Communication and sensitivity are very important.
3) Be extra cautious when training with people you have not trained before. There's no way of telling what's going to happen.
4) The small stylistic between dojos are the most dangerous.

Craig Allen Jr
07-23-2009, 10:45 AM
Hmmm... at a seminar once I was practicing kote gaeshi with someone I didn't know and he fell on his shoulder twice in a row. (Not hard, he wasn't injured or hurt, but it's not supposed to happen.) The reason was simple: I was giving him the opportunity to do a forward roll, but he thought that he needed to do a breakfall. So he went into his breakfall (expecting me to support him) at about the same time I led his hand further down and released most of my grip to allow him to roll, causing him to fall on his shoulder. The second time I expected him to adjust, but he didn't. (He got a bit angry.) After that I supported his breakfall.

Lessons to be learned from this:
1) Never rely on nage's support when you do a breakfall.
2) Communication and sensitivity are very important.
3) Be extra cautious when training with people you have not trained before. There's no way of telling what's going to happen.
4) The small stylistic between dojos are the most dangerous.

That brings up a seperate issue which is having a preconceived notion of what the ukemi *should* be for a particular technique. If uke is tuned in to what's happening, he/she will know whether or not a breakfall is appropriate or necessary.

As for your point #3, I agree, especially with regards to atemi. It seems reasonable to expect an experienced uke to move to avoid a strike to the face, but such is not always the case!

Anjisan
07-23-2009, 02:20 PM
A few comments:

* Who ever said testing is required?
- In many M.A. one can advanc ein ranks even without testing. As far as I know, this is the more traditinal way - the teacher who knows you decides on your rank, he knows you every day, so a test is not required.

* Very high falls and fancy Ukemi does not neccesserily improve the ability to handle any throw. The "basic Ukemi techniques" (including both rolls and breakfalls) suffices to almost anything.

* If one is going to "get rough" he had better tell his partner so both will adjust. There is no point to planting a slowly attacking fully cooperative (& practily assiting) Uke. At the same time(as you talk) Uke should tell you of any injuries that may impair his abilities.
And I am talking form the POV of one whose randor is more similar to sparing them most (both sides atack with any technique from a grasp to kicking combinations, each responds, both acting freely and without turns, and yes - counters are allowed ...). When one does that, one learns he has to adjust to the partners ability (no point in attacking faster than the other can respond correctly - he will not learn anything)

Amir

I completely agree that non-testing is perhaps a more traditional approach. However, many, if not most, of us are in organizations where testing for waza does occur. The issue therefore, is if one is going to test for waza , perhaps Ukemi could have benchmarks as well. Further, have those benchmarks coincide with the rank one is testing for so consequently, one is not going to be held to being excellent at "connection" with Nage or "Breakfalls" at 4th kyu.

However, by Shodan I feel that it should be a "safe assumption" that one is able to take such Ukemi. For Shodan, those types of Ukemi should be considered "basic". If one is a junior student, one should have confidence that one of Yudansha rank has a certain level of confidence in waza--one normally shouldn't have to ask, "Can you execute a shomen strike?". The same should hold true for the other side of the same coin--Ukemi.

Should one have to interview someone -whom one doesn't know well just in case a certain type of ukemi (nothing crazy-I am talking again about the typical scope) may come up?? Even if one does know them well, Nage may not know in advance that a certain type of Ukemi will be needed so is it not better to be able to assume a certain level of competence?

Breakfalls were only brought up as one--but significant-- example of Ukemi skill in the context of what a Yudansha should be able to do (with age, disability, etc taken into account).

Personally I do not see a lot of "high" breakfalls. What I have seen are kote-goshi (example) breakfalls that are usually waist high. Perhaps if one is fearful of taking a breakfall, that is "high". Breakfalls seem to occur for one of two reasons :

1) The Nage wants to explore and such a technique seems to feel "right" in the moment--but might not necessarily be planned for ahead of time. Isn't Aikido supposed to be "in the moment" fluid and free flowing? My sensei has told me several times how Saotome sensei doesn't know what technique he is going to do ahead of time. Further he may not do the same technique twice in a row because the attack may change ever so slightly.

Given that, I would hope that any Yudansha called up should know that a breakfall may or may not be used. The same (IMHO) should apply if someone else is training with a Yudansha. Obviously, one cannot be reckless or if one is going to be executing strange ukemi--it is only proper to notify one's Uke so they it can be agreed upon or not.

2) A breakfall may also be needed for self-preservation as an Uke. The Nage makes a mistake and to save one's joints and limbs, a breakfall will provide safety.

Again, the thread is about the full rage of Ukemi skill, not just breakfalls. A whole range of Ukemi skills ( connection, following, breakfall, Koshi) to name a few could come into play in a single interaction or in a series such as Randori.

C. David Henderson
07-23-2009, 05:26 PM
Why does it follow that if you are in an organization where "waza" is tested that the issue "therefore" becomes one about testing ukemi?

Isn't it just as valid to turn it around -- "since many of us are in organizations where ukemi is not tested, the issue therefore is whether waza needs to be tested?"

ellie
07-24-2009, 04:43 AM
in my class we r tested on our ukemi as well as our waza and we spend bout 10 15 mins a week on breakfalls.
i think that they are just as important because i've been thrown hard and if we hadn't spent so long on them it would've really hurt.

Anjisan
07-24-2009, 10:34 AM
Why does it follow that if you are in an organization where "waza" is tested that the issue "therefore" becomes one about testing ukemi?

Isn't it just as valid to turn it around -- "since many of us are in organizations where ukemi is not tested, the issue therefore is whether waza needs to be tested?"

Whether or not any of the above is tested for is ultimately up to the Shihan for that organization. However, ukemi at a minimum is about self preservation both within and outside the dojo.

One is much more (IMHO) to use his/her ukemi skills outside the dojo than any of the waza techniques. Further, testing for ukemi will assure not only that the individual Aikidoka of a skill level, but also other students that that Aikidoka can take a certain level of ukemi (Shodan for example).

I am not asserting that there is always a gap, but there certainly can be under the current structure. One can have an ukemi ability level that is "good enough" to get through the ranks, but significantly falls short of the equivalent waza skill level required for Shodan.

Finally, one will only go as far in Aikido as the individuals that they train with--specifically------the ukemi level. One can be surrounded by very senior teachers who teach outstanding waza, but without those individuals who can take that increasingly complex ukemi--you will hit a ceiling.

C. David Henderson
07-24-2009, 11:52 AM
Whether or not any of the above is tested for is ultimately up to the Shihan for that organization. However, ukemi at a minimum is about self preservation both within and outside the dojo.

One is much more (IMHO) to use his/her ukemi skills outside the dojo than any of the waza techniques.

In my experience both these points are true.

Further, testing for ukemi will assure not only that the individual Aikidoka of a skill level, but also other students that that Aikidoka can take a certain level of ukemi (Shodan for example).

OK, this is where you might be right, but there are some implicit assumptions about the value of testing. That it can have value I don't doubt.

But, for example, making sure one regularly practices breakfalls (or other fundamentals of receiving technique), and holding one's self to high expectations (gauged against one's own ability), might arguably be sufficient without testing to accomplish the same thing. It should in any event underlie any effort to prepare for an ukemi test.

I am not asserting that there is always a gap, but there certainly can be under the current structure. One can have an ukemi ability level that is "good enough" to get through the ranks, but significantly falls short of the equivalent waza skill level required for Shodan.

I'm sure you're right about this possiblity -- I'm curious -- do you have examples in mind from your own experience?

In any event, whether there's a problem that needs a response is a somewhat different qustion that what response is needed. Testing is one possiblity, but I'm not sure its a magic bullet.

Finally, one will only go as far in Aikido as the individuals that they train with--specifically------the ukemi level. One can be surrounded by very senior teachers who teach outstanding waza, but without those individuals who can take that increasingly complex ukemi--you will hit a ceiling.

I'm frankly very lucky, as Sensei has always had outstanding ukemi (judged on multiple criteria), so I'm probably not in a good position to take a position here.

I would be interested, and I think it's on-topic, if you could say more about "that increasingly complex ukemi," because this doesn't sound like you're saying "increasingly fancy" ukemi.

Regards,

cdh

jonreading
07-24-2009, 12:32 PM
Why do you suppose ukemi shouldn't be tested curriculum?

Amongst other arguments, the two that seem to rise to the top for me:
1. Ukemi is taughts differently within different organizations and even dojo. To boot, individuals may be more or less proficient at ukemi given uncontrollable circumstances (injury, age, handicap, etc.) It would be difficult to objectiviely qualify the ukemi performance.
2. Ukemi is something sensei see every class. I prefer to burden sensei with the obligation to evaluate test candidates and hold back students who are deficient in ukemi skills, preventing them from testing.

Ukemi is fundamental to training. If a students tests and there is doubt as to the [relative] level of ukemi competency, that student should not test.

Ron Tisdale
07-24-2009, 02:57 PM
No offense, but this sounds like a test one cannot fail. In which case, it's not a test (to me, anyway).

Someone can perform well in class but not on a test...in which case they should fail. And then test again, until they are able to perfom in that enivironment as well as in class. Just my opinion (I do spectacularly bad on tests now, as compared to other environments).

Some of this is of course an organizational bias...I came up under a system where you could indeed fail (and I did at least once), so I am biased. I feel that environment helped me.

Best,
Ron

C. David Henderson
07-24-2009, 03:37 PM
Hi Ron,

Then do you think ukemi needs to be tested? In fairness, Jon is defending the position that it needn't be.

I also failed a test once, and I think it helped me too (in that uncomfortable long run).

For me, though, I think my ukemi got better over time mostly because it had to in response to the "testing" recieved in class.

Regards,

cdh

Anjisan
07-25-2009, 09:41 AM
In my experience both these points are true.

OK, this is where you might be right, but there are some implicit assumptions about the value of testing. That it can have value I don't doubt.

But, for example, making sure one regularly practices breakfalls (or other fundamentals of receiving technique), and holding one's self to high expectations (gauged against one's own ability), might arguably be sufficient without testing to accomplish the same thing. It should in any event underlie any effort to prepare for an ukemi test.

I'm sure you're right about this possiblity -- I'm curious -- do you have examples in mind from your own experience?

In any event, whether there's a problem that needs a response is a somewhat different qustion that what response is needed. Testing is one possiblity, but I'm not sure its a magic bullet.

I'm frankly very lucky, as Sensei has always had outstanding ukemi (judged on multiple criteria), so I'm probably not in a good position to take a position here.

I would be interested, and I think it's on-topic, if you could say more about "that increasingly complex ukemi," because this doesn't sound like you're saying "increasingly fancy" ukemi.

Regards,

cdh

I have certainly experienced individuals since I have been training whose Ukemi does match up with their rank. This has occurred at dojos as well as seminars.

I have never thought that testing was a "magic bullet" in Aikido or in any other aspect of life--but it can be a guide. I do know what you mean though. However, it can indicate a correlation between rank and ability both for the Aikidoka to help (in addition to feedback from peers during regular training also--I know) them gage where they are and for the others who train for them, on where there should expect them (as an Uke) to be.

By "complex" I am referring to staying with Nage during a sequence of moves, being able to stay in control of one's body, be able to stay connected. If one is connected then one has a better chance of a reversal on Nage. Finally, above all, be able to expect the unexpected, the direction that one didn't see coming (shhhhh.....it could even be a breakfall--whoa I know, but not to be fancy, but because that was what felt appropriate in the moment) or the mistake that Nage might make since we are all human and few of us are Masters.

jonreading
07-28-2009, 12:02 PM
No offense, but this sounds like a test one cannot fail. In which case, it's not a test (to me, anyway).

Someone can perform well in class but not on a test...in which case they should fail. And then test again, until they are able to perfom in that enivironment as well as in class. Just my opinion (I do spectacularly bad on tests now, as compared to other environments).

Some of this is of course an organizational bias...I came up under a system where you could indeed fail (and I did at least once), so I am biased. I feel that environment helped me.

Best,
Ron

I prefer to think sensei recommends for testing students who should not fail to meet the requirements of the test, not necessarily cannot fail. Everyone has a bad day and a test environment is different than a class environment. I advocate the burden of assessment lies with sensei to evaluate the relative chance of success for a test candidate and only recommend those candidates who have a chance of demonstrating competency on the test. If sensei knows a candidate will not perform competently on a test, she has an obligation not to recommend that student for testing.

I generally find that good ukemi does not differentiate between a test and class; that is, a student who performs good ukemi usually does so in any environment, taking ukemi from a number of students. Hence the reason why I do not necessarily devote time in a test to "test" ukemi. Instead, I simply ask partners to each perform the technique, demonstrating both sides of the uke/nage relationship.

I would not recommend a student who could not perform tenkan to test for Rokyu, nor would I recommend a student who could not roll. It's a tough conversation to have with the student for sure but it maintains the integrity of testing...

As a side note, many students are proud of their tests; they believe if they pass a test they performed well. These students publish videos or photos of their tests for all to see their prowess. Then you see the video and you think..."dear God, how could he have possibly passed this test? Did I just see this idiot grab the blade of a bokken? That dude rolls like a square wheel!" Then the snickering begins...member "IMAbadass" logs on and the entire forum knows the guys is inept because of his video test. I don't need to continue (because most of us just need to remember highschool :D ) to imagine the embarrassment and hurt IMAbadass feels.

There is a very small margin in a test between illustrating a candidate's need to train harder and embarrassing a candidate in front of his peers (or worse, a seminar...). Some students respond well to a dose of humility, others don't. I expect my students to be competent in ukemi [relative to rank] before we even talk about testing. I want to test my students to the extent of their skills, without demanding certain failure. If I recommend a student to test knowing they cannot succeed, I am abusing the trust of that student.

Anjisan
07-28-2009, 06:06 PM
I prefer to think sensei recommends for testing students who should not fail to meet the requirements of the test, not necessarily cannot fail. Everyone has a bad day and a test environment is different than a class environment. I advocate the burden of assessment lies with sensei to evaluate the relative chance of success for a test candidate and only recommend those candidates who have a chance of demonstrating competency on the test. If sensei knows a candidate will not perform competently on a test, she has an obligation not to recommend that student for testing.

I generally find that good ukemi does not differentiate between a test and class; that is, a student who performs good ukemi usually does so in any environment, taking ukemi from a number of students. Hence the reason why I do not necessarily devote time in a test to "test" ukemi. Instead, I simply ask partners to each perform the technique, demonstrating both sides of the uke/nage relationship.

I would not recommend a student who could not perform tenkan to test for Rokyu, nor would I recommend a student who could not roll. It's a tough conversation to have with the student for sure but it maintains the integrity of testing...

As a side note, many students are proud of their tests; they believe if they pass a test they performed well. These students publish videos or photos of their tests for all to see their prowess. Then you see the video and you think..."dear God, how could he have possibly passed this test? Did I just see this idiot grab the blade of a bokken? That dude rolls like a square wheel!" Then the snickering begins...member "IMAbadass" logs on and the entire forum knows the guys is inept because of his video test. I don't need to continue (because most of us just need to remember highschool :D ) to imagine the embarrassment and hurt IMAbadass feels.

There is a very small margin in a test between illustrating a candidate's need to train harder and embarrassing a candidate in front of his peers (or worse, a seminar...). Some students respond well to a dose of humility, others don't. I expect my students to be competent in ukemi [relative to rank] before we even talk about testing. I want to test my students to the extent of their skills, without demanding certain failure. If I recommend a student to test knowing they cannot succeed, I am abusing the trust of that student.

I think that it is great that there is an expectation that one's ukemi be on par with the rank that one is testing for at your dojo. Based on conversations with others as well as in my personal experience, I unfortunately have--more often I would hope--have found that not to be the case.

It just has not been emphasized and a gap between the two skill sets can then appear. Perhaps in the interest of inclusiveness waza is sometimes given priority over ukemi which can take more athletic ability once one goes above basic. While everyone is certainly not going to be a gymnast in a hakama, I would like to think that many AIkidoka have more ukemi ability than they give themselves credit for.

At the end of the day either there is a pool of Aikidoka who have a gap between their waza and their ukemi because ukemi is not emphasized beyond the basic--ala good enough. OR, there isn't that much of a gap and individuals have the ability, but just don't "want" to or are "afraid" (despite their advanced rank) to take more advanced ukemi even it holds others back and a smaller group are left to fill the void.