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Peter Wong
07-28-2010, 01:51 PM
I was always taught when doing a back roll, the leg you step back on should come down on live toes and not on your instep. With live toes you have more control. Going down on instep one could injury toes and/or ankle. Well last month I was in Southern Cal. and I visited several dojos and went to see a seminar and everyone was going down on their instep. How do you do it?

ninjaqutie
07-28-2010, 01:56 PM
Our dojo wants you to use "live toes". The theory behind that in our dojo is that you can change your mind and come back up a lot easier then you could if you had your instep on the ground instead. Not to mention the other reasons you mentioned. HOWEVER, we don't do backward rolls in our dojo. We just do that for taking backwards ukemi.

mickeygelum
07-28-2010, 02:04 PM
Mr Wong,

I have performed it both ways. It would depend on the individual, the way they were taught and/or the circumstances relevant to the situation. I prefer " live toes " as you have called it.

Out of curiousity, 17 posts in almost ten years of training, how is this perplexing? I am sure you have observed many more thought provoking ukemi styles.

Train well,

Mickey

RED
07-28-2010, 02:08 PM
I go back and forth. Depending on how and at what speed I'm thrown. If the throw is fast, and I'm not quite in a good position for it, I'll avoid live toes to avoid hyper extending the arch. But typically I like live toes, for a controlled fall. Live toes gives you options, like you can get back up and pivot.

Peter Wong
07-28-2010, 02:26 PM
You're right Mr. Gelum I have alot of ukemi mostly as an observer. For some reason the instep thing caught my eye and I couldn't get it out of my head. For alot reasons I only train for about a month every three or four years and I'm about due so I'm trying to get pumped.

Flintstone
07-28-2010, 05:20 PM
Live toes. As seen in Ellis Amdur's DVD, of course.

ninjaqutie
07-28-2010, 05:51 PM
For a lot reasons I only train for about a month every three or four years.....

Wow. That is a huge gap between training!!! :eek: I wouldn't even bother with it if I were in that situation. I do hope your training opportunities increase in the future though!

Janet Rosen
07-28-2010, 06:30 PM
I've trained long periods in dojos that do it each way & have been equally comfortable doing either...but now that I think about it my own default is definitely not "live toes" and in pondering why that is, like Maggie I think there's a visceral concern about arch issues that has probably been exacerbated by by longstanding knee issues...in general I'd say best practice is to be able to do either and follow a "when in Rome" policy since *usually* ukemi conventions within a dojo are suitable matches for throwing angle conventions.

Ketsan
07-28-2010, 07:08 PM
Instep. In my dojo you never get the time or opportunity to do the live toes thing.

RED
07-28-2010, 07:23 PM
Wow. That is a huge gap between training!!! :eek: I wouldn't even bother with it if I were in that situation. I do hope your training opportunities increase in the future though!

I agree, and personally would hate to train that little. But if he really loves Aikido, and that's the only times he can physically train I understand why he still bothers with it.

JO
07-28-2010, 07:31 PM
Instep. In my dojo you never get the time or opportunity to do the live toes thing.

Why would live toes take more time. You go straight down without having to move your foot or even take a step. Can't be faster. I would never put myself in a position that completely removes you ability to counter.

Conrad Gus
07-28-2010, 08:08 PM
I've tried the live toes thing and I have to say it feels weird and unsafe to me. I feel like if I create the live toes habit and someone crunches me straight down (the way Kubo Sensei throws iriminage, for example), my toes are going to be receiving my body weight.

Of course I have broken my toes in the past so maybe I favour them a bit more than I would have otherwise. Obviously this works for lots of people so it can't be "wrong".

Fred Little
07-28-2010, 08:27 PM
I no longer believe in "back rolls."

I believe in forward rolls with an option to sit down and roll backwards at the last moment.

Best,

FL

Lyle Laizure
07-28-2010, 08:42 PM
I've tried the live toes thing and I have to say it feels weird and unsafe to me. I feel like if I create the live toes habit and someone crunches me straight down (the way Kubo Sensei throws iriminage, for example), my toes are going to be receiving my body weight.


Hey Conrad, would this be Kubo Sensei of Aikido of Hawaii International?

Ellis Amdur
07-28-2010, 09:11 PM
Thanks Fred (referencing material from a certain DVD (http://www.edgework.info/buy-books-on-martial-arts.html)). One of the other core issues regarding "live toes vs. instep falls is that effective martial movement should be reversible. Go down 1/2 or even 3/4 of the way to the ground with "live toes" (the back foot is on the ball of the foot, actually). Now stand up. Easy, right?
Try the same thing with the back foot instep down.You've got to have the thighs of an in-line skater.
Best
Ellis Amdur

Fred Little
07-28-2010, 09:25 PM
Thanks Fred (referencing material from a certain DVD (http://www.edgework.info/buy-books-on-martial-arts.html)).

And that's really the least of it. Once upon a time I wrote:

Ellis Amdur's elegant, no-nonsense approach to ukemi training has been a huge positive for my aikido classes in NJIT's Phys Ed Department. I've found that new students taught using this method are typically able to safely execute both basic and advanced ukemi, including breakfalls, within one or two classes, rather than weeks, months, or years

That "one or two classes" is now down to forty-five minutes. If you folks would be kind enough to buy out the first run, I might get to edit my blurb.

Please pardon the digression. We now return you to your regularly scheduled social consensus.:blush:

FL

Ketsan
07-28-2010, 09:56 PM
Why would live toes take more time. You go straight down without having to move your foot or even take a step. Can't be faster. I would never put myself in a position that completely removes you ability to counter.

If I'm in a position that allows the possibility of counter attack, I don't take ukemi. Tori is doing something wrong. Unless I'm training with a beginer of course. If the technique is done properly then choice of ukemi style is purely academic.

I mean with irimi nage I consider myself lucky if there's a foot on the ground to tuck. :D

Conrad Gus
07-28-2010, 10:14 PM
Hey Conrad, would this be Kubo Sensei of Aikido of Hawaii International?

Yes! You've trained with him? I get to see him next month at the seven shihans seminar (http://calgaryaikikai.com/events/) at my old dojo. Should be great as always.

Conrad Gus
07-28-2010, 10:17 PM
I no longer believe in "back rolls."

I believe in forward rolls with an option to sit down and roll backwards at the last moment.

Best,

FL

So in your dojos you only throw into mae ukemi? Or do you always go real slow so you can turn around and face the front?

Sorry, but you'll have to show me on the mat some time how you can do mae ukemi from a whole bunch of throws that seem to me to require ushiro ukemi.

Fred Little
07-28-2010, 11:11 PM
So in your dojos you only throw into mae ukemi? Or do you always go real slow so you can turn around and face the front?

No and no.

Sorry, but you'll have to show me on the mat some time how you can do mae ukemi from a whole bunch of throws that seem to me to require ushiro ukemi.

If you're ever passing through Newark Liberty Airport and have a layover while we're training, I'd be happy to show you -- NJIT is a short train ride from the airport, with only one change along the way. But inasmuch as Ellis has already gone to some effort to develop a means to teach what I'm referencing and documented a clear presentation of that approach on a certain DVD (http://www.edgework.info/buy-books-on-martial-arts.html), you have an alternative almost immediately at hand.

Best,

FL

Conrad Gus
07-28-2010, 11:54 PM
No and no.

If you're ever passing through Newark Liberty Airport and have a layover while we're training, I'd be happy to show you -- NJIT is a short train ride from the airport, with only one change along the way. But inasmuch as Ellis has already gone to some effort to develop a means to teach what I'm referencing and documented a clear presentation of that approach on a certain DVD (http://www.edgework.info/buy-books-on-martial-arts.html), you have an alternative almost immediately at hand.

Best,

FL

Shucks, I just came through Newark in March, but I doubt if my wife would have come along on an aikido adventure! I'll pick up the DVD, my interest is piqued.

One question though: how does this system differ or concur with that taught by Donovan Waite Sensei? I had a friend try to show me Waite Sensei's approach, but I found it aggravated my old back injury (sideways ukemi).

Janet Rosen
07-29-2010, 12:33 AM
Ignore my reply...just realized OP + y'all are talking about back ROLLS, not back falls... I haven't done a back roll since my knee blow out... but yes, back when I did them, I learned both ways and basically went w/ a "when in Rome" approach

Ellis Amdur
07-29-2010, 03:41 AM
Just my opinion, but D. Waite has developed a beautiful method of ukemi that is dependent, to some degree, on a particular style of aikido. It also requires some degree of flexibility and athletic talent. I am concerned with getting the person safely through the technique and onto the ground intact. Ugly but functional. And doable for just about anyone who is not physically damaged, or too physically weak for the impact of ukemi.
What my method has to offer is that one orients oneself in space and in regards to one's partner by "looking" (sensing, really) for counters/kaeshiwaza from the moment of contact. Thus, one always turns in towards tori. (hence Fred Little's comment that one doesn't do a "back fall or roll" - one sits out, at the last minute when, so to speak, uke and tori have already agreed that the technique will be over without slamming or cranking the person).
It is for non-athletes, for people who cannot somehow figure out a way to take ukemi that doesn't injure them; to create the ability to respond so that no one should be able to "cheap-shot" you; and to learn from day one a way of trainiing that "burns" into you a natural reaction to find the hole in the other's technique to counter them. It breaks things down in meticulous fashion so that one can learn all the small points one-by-one (like how to use your ankle to create the best tension in the arch of the foot so one experiences no pain when taking a hard judo-type fall).
From what I've seen of D. Waite's work, we disagree on some basic principals. There is no doubt that his style works for many people - but it is different.
I think it will be difficult for me to explain, in words, my method in any more detail. It's got to be seen (or better yet, worked).
Best
Ellis Amdur

raul rodrigo
07-29-2010, 03:49 AM
Ellis, would you mind articulating for us what those differences in principles are? Where I come from, Waite's ukemi is held up by many as the ideal, because its beautiful, but I myself am wondering if its worth the effort for someone like me who frankly isnt all that coordinated. I have your ukemi DVD, so I know more or less where you are coming from. Waite says he developed this system to lessen the damage he was suffering taking so much ukemi from several shihan. So its supposed to be "practical"-- but practical from what perspective?

Ellis Amdur
07-29-2010, 04:34 AM
Raul - I've only seen D. Waite in video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OaicleoK4M).From that distance, it appears to me that Mr. Waite has developed an elegant way of smoothly take rolls and falls that fit perfectly with Aikikai style (2dai Doshu on down). He works from hanmi. A lot of his rolls seem to do from one shoulder to another, whereas my style goes from lats/shoulder blade to other side small of the back.
It appears to me that he focuses on the best way to roll/ukemi in response to the technique. I try to focus on the best way to counter the technique and, out of respect for the aikido form/practice, "willfully" go into ukemi. It appears to me that my method is more adaptable to other forms of grappling, be it judo or wrestling.

Beyond that, I cannot say. I've never tried his method. Therefore, my opinions regarding his method may be invalid.

And by the way, I use the term "my method" to refer to what I've adapted for aikidoka. Honestly, it's pretty classic judo ukemi, with only a few minor variations.
Best
Ellis Amdur

niall
07-29-2010, 04:48 AM
I just saw Ellis's comment about classic judo ukemi with a few variations. I agree that a judo-style ukemi is the safest and most logical ukemi. You can use it in any situation.

It's interesting that in this thread there are more people advocating using toes than folding the leg under. In Japan you almost never see aikikai style aikidoka using their toes - probably less than 1%.

There was another thread not long ago that covered some of the same points: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18031

I think the main point was crossing the legs. It's OK to cross your legs if you take the ukemi on your own but if you go down from a judo-style technique with a 100kg aite on top of you drilling you into the mat you really don't want them crossed. While you can be pretty confident noone will be doing that in normal aikido keiko it still seems to be illogical and dangerous to base an ukemi in budo on trust.

If you go into ushiro ukemi using toes and with your legs not crossed then to keep a consistency in your body movements logically you shouldn't fold your leg in mae ukemi either. But aikidoka who haven't trained in judo almost invariably do.

One more point about judo-style ukemi is that the ukemi from a hip throw is not difficult or painful even for relative beginners.

Lyle Laizure
07-29-2010, 10:20 AM
Yes! You've trained with him? I get to see him next month at the seven shihans seminar (http://calgaryaikikai.com/events/) at my old dojo. Should be great as always.

Have I trained with him? lol Yes. He is pretty awesome! He visits Omaha once a year for an annual seminar. His iriminage is something to aspire too not to mention his nikkyo, kotegaeshi and several other things. I wish I could make the August seminar in Canada. There will be a few folks from Omaha there though. You all have fun.

ninjaqutie
07-29-2010, 02:08 PM
So in your dojos you only throw into mae ukemi? Or do you always go real slow so you can turn around and face the front?

We take backwards ukemi, but just backfalls. Chiba sensei doesn't really advocate backward rolls since he broke his back. Since my sensei was his student, I guess he adopted that ukemi. If we are going backwards and want to roll, we turn our body and go into a forward roll. A bit hard to do until you get the hang of it and I wouldn't use it with all techniques! In fact, I rarely use it unless my body naturally turns that far during ukemi. Most of the time, I just take regular backwards ukemi. :D

RED
07-29-2010, 03:49 PM
We take backwards ukemi, but just backfalls. Chiba sensei doesn't really advocate backward rolls since he broke his back. Since my sensei was his student, I guess he adopted that ukemi. If we are going backwards and want to roll, we turn our body and go into a forward roll. A bit hard to do until you get the hang of it and I wouldn't use it with all techniques! In fact, I rarely use it unless my body naturally turns that far during ukemi. Most of the time, I just take regular backwards ukemi. :D

honestly, i find it easier to get up from forward ukemi,(whether it is soft or standard). So yeah, and chance I can find to roll forward, or take a low break fall I do.

ninjaqutie
07-29-2010, 05:29 PM
Our sensei also likes to point out that when you do a backward roll, you lose sight of your opponent as well. Not to mention you are pretty vulerable with your neck and all. With a forward roll, you can keep looking behind you and keep an eye on them the entire time.

The bad thing about not doing backward rolls is that I can barely do one. HAHA. It sure isn't very graceful and I feel like I have to push myself up instead of just rolling up.

RED
07-30-2010, 12:54 PM
Our sensei also likes to point out that when you do a backward roll, you lose sight of your opponent as well. Not to mention you are pretty vulerable with your neck and all. With a forward roll, you can keep looking behind you and keep an eye on them the entire time.

The bad thing about not doing backward rolls is that I can barely do one. HAHA. It sure isn't very graceful and I feel like I have to push myself up instead of just rolling up.

I think your neck is only in danger if you are rolling straight up the spine. Which is not part of the back rolling techniques we are taught where I train. We roll more horizontally across the back and onto the soldiers. Never straight back. We often land diagonally away from nage, never in a straight line in front of nage because of this. It is sort of like forward rolls reversed. We don't go straight over the head/shoulder either in a forward roll typically. A little more horizontal than that. Not quite barrel rolls, but not straight down the spine either.

C. David Henderson
07-30-2010, 01:52 PM
I believe the lack of a backward roll in Birankai may reflect a neck injury that occured when someone was doing a backwards roll and another person fell into them, in roughly the late 1990's.

It is also possible to do a "reverse forward roll," from leading arm (curled in a backwards direction), diagonally across the back to the opposite hip, and then up. To inititate, turn slightly towards the side you'll be leading with, but not so much that its just a forward roll where you've turned at the last minute (although you may want to start that way). I find it easier to come back to my feet with this roll, as it preserves more momentum.

FWIW

RED
07-30-2010, 02:16 PM
I believe the lack of a backward roll in Birankai may reflect a neck injury that occured when someone was doing a backwards roll and another person fell into them, in roughly the late 1990's.

It is also possible to do a "reverse forward roll," from leading arm (curled in a backwards direction), diagonally across the back to the opposite hip, and then up. To inititate, turn slightly towards the side you'll be leading with, but not so much that its just a forward roll where you've turned at the last minute (although you may want to start that way). I find it easier to come back to my feet with this roll, as it preserves more momentum.

FWIW

In general anything that is initiated by the lead arm I find easy to get up from. Forward rolls, soft rolls, barrel rolls, low break falls. They are easier to get back up from in comparison to plain old back ukemi. Back rolls are easier to get up from then just back ukemi in my opinion. I hate the old "fall back, rock and pop" back ukemi, unless the mat is crowded.
When the mat is crowded my ukemi style is best described as "fetal position"

ninjaqutie
07-30-2010, 02:21 PM
I think your neck is only in danger if you are rolling straight up the spine. Which is not part of the back rolling techniques we are taught where I train.

It is my understanding from the times it has been discussed in our dojo that it is vulnerable to being kicked or head being stepped on more then injuring yourself.

David also brought up a point about backward rolls. I have been told that Birankai members do ukemi slightly differently because of how Chiba had to adapt after he broke his spine and also do to people getting injured from backward rolls (I believe it happened at a seminar). It just really isn't advocated, but I am sure it is done in some Birankai dojo.

RED
07-30-2010, 02:34 PM
It is my understanding from the times it has been discussed in our dojo that it is vulnerable to being kicked or head being stepped on more then injuring yourself.

David also brought up a point about backward rolls. I have been told that Birankai members do ukemi slightly differently because of how Chiba had to adapt after he broke his spine and also do to people getting injured from backward rolls (I believe it happened at a seminar). It just really isn't advocated, but I am sure it is done in some Birankai dojo.

When I was a 5th kyu I was thrown into a back roll into Sugano Sensei. So yeah I can see what you are saying about having that blind spot.
I'd like to think my ukemi has progressed since then.

I've been working on eliminating standard back ukemi in favor of soft back falls. The wide-leg fall allows you to see where you are going and almost all angles. And it allows you to really make a quick stop at any point in the throw. The only down side is I can't pop back up as fast with wide-leg ukemi

The habit of standard back falls dies hard. But I'd like to use it less because it is harder on the body and I need my body to keep up with me in the future.

cguzik
07-30-2010, 04:59 PM
Passive / aggressive partners who decide to crank or slam at the last minute

There seem to me to be a lot of things that are done by default in today's aikikai ukemi that presume no need to defend against someone who becomes malicious at the moment their partner becomes vulnerable as they take ukemi. I suppose this is because we all want to have an implicit trust for our training partners and to buy in to the idea that we are training in a harmonious way. Unfortunately the fact that aikido has a disproportionally higher rate of injuries than many other arts (which are not cooperative in their training methods) betrays this mindset. It is my opinion that this implicit trust actually invites that sort of behavior. There is an old saying that goes something like "fool me once, shame on you... fool me twice, shame on me." It is my impression that Ellis' method is intended to address this situation by closing up those openings.

When in the course of practice do you decide it's okay to trust your partner?

If you're not training with zanshin (which doesn't just happen when nage maintains attention at the end of the waza), you're missing out on a lot of training. So some may consider it incorrect training to ever disconnect and "just take the fall".

Ellis' method shows how to go all the way into a back roll without ever turning the foot over. Can this be overkill? Maybe. But you can choose to turn the foot over at any point as you are going down, from before the first knee touches, to when it touches, to as your sit bones move toward your heel, or not at all. This is how I prefer to think of it -- it is your choice as uke whether or when to turn the foot over. And that's if you let yourself get into the situation of lowering down that way to begin with. To Fred's point, why not continue to turn into your partner (looking for an opportunity for kaeshi) and roll forward. ...Or do a back fall as a setup for sutemi by putting one leg forward instead of back.

Further, while one certainly has more control in the ability to come back up with "live toes" it is also good to develop the control and ability to do the same with the top of the foot turned down touching the mat. It's not the case that once you turn the foot over, that all is lost. In fact there are specific waza in MJER iaido that specifically train the ability to rise in a stable fashion with the foot in such a position.

Consistency in movement

For folks who are fortunate enough to be exposed to a number of different methods, it's tempting to take bits and pieces and put them into your own training. Doing this is difficult though because it can cause body confusion due to lack of consistency in movements. In real time, there is no opportunity for analytical decision making as to which way to fall. So how you move into a forward or backward roll/fall has to match how you breakfall or initiate sutemi.

Re-tooling one's ukemi

I see a lot of folks who learn basic sit-falls in the beginning, and get it ingrained in their body, who subsequently have a hard time learning not to step away from their partner as they are being thrown. So basically they are taught right from the beginning to disconnect as they are being thrown. Initially it is under the auspices of staying in control of their own fall but later it becomes counter productive because you cannot assume you will be in control of the direction of the throw. Is it not better to teach folks right from the beginning to absorb their partners energy in such a way that they can stay connected and safe as they receive with their bodies?

Sorry for all the random thoughts but this is the stuff that keeps me up at night... and many thanks to the several teachers I have had who have made me think about these things.

ninjaqutie
07-31-2010, 12:41 AM
I've been working on eliminating standard back ukemi in favor of soft back falls. The wide-leg fall allows you to see where you are going and almost all angles. And it allows you to really make a quick stop at any point in the throw. The only down side is I can't pop back up as fast with wide-leg ukemi.

I tend to do softer backfalls like what you mentioned as well. I feel they are much more gentle on my body, you can see where you are going and you can like you said stop it by tightening your center and keeping your legs up or pull them in if needed. Like you said, I can't pop up quite as quick, but sometimes that is a good thing because it gives me a quick breather. HAHA. :D

I started working on these a while ago after sensei told me to get softer ukemi. Before that, I thought ukemi was soft and didn't really understand what he was talking about. Then I saw a guy in our dojo take ukemi like that and I thought to myself "I should try that!" Been doing it pretty much ever since. Once you get the hang of rolling across your body, it is no big deal. I still have a long way to go with my ukemi though, but that is what practice is for.

RED
07-31-2010, 04:34 PM
I tend to do softer backfalls like what you mentioned as well. I feel they are much more gentle on my body, you can see where you are going and you can like you said stop it by tightening your center and keeping your legs up or pull them in if needed. Like you said, I can't pop up quite as quick, but sometimes that is a good thing because it gives me a quick breather. HAHA. :D

I started working on these a while ago after sensei told me to get softer ukemi. Before that, I thought ukemi was soft and didn't really understand what he was talking about. Then I saw a guy in our dojo take ukemi like that and I thought to myself "I should try that!" Been doing it pretty much ever since. Once you get the hang of rolling across your body, it is no big deal. I still have a long way to go with my ukemi though, but that is what practice is for.

I think it all the natural progression of things. I've changed the way I approach ukemi maybe 4 or 5 times already. I've must of altered things in my ukemi an uncountable amount of times.

I like how incestuous it all is. When I found an issue with my ukemi, and fixed it in my ukemi, usually I find my nage improving. I've become a believer that what ever is lacking in uke is also lacking in nage.