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Erik
09-08-2000, 11:30 AM
I've been having a minor debate with someone on the need for high/break falls which has made me curious as to how often you all do them and do you see a need for them? For the record, I'm in favor of them and my fellow debater is mostly against them arguing in favor of rolling in most cases (maybe because he did a ton of them while studying jui jitsu). My belief is that you don't need them every night but that they are a component of the art and can make for a very useful survival skill in some situations.

So how often do you do them and what value do you see in them?

Nick
09-08-2000, 01:14 PM
Firstly, the best I can translate 'big, high break falls' is a sutemi, so I'll start there.

A sutemi (sacrifice fall) is made when, say, nage cuts too far to the outside on a kotegaeshi. You have to flip over your arm and land on your side (thus 'sacrificing' your body), to avoid breaking your wrist.

Ukemi in general, IMO, is the most 'practical' part of any martial art. Due to my somewhat unnatural clumsiness, I've found ukemi to be quite helpful, to regain balance or remain unhurt when say, you slip, trip, fall off of a bike, etc.

After all, why do we train in ukemi? besides the 'looks' (let's face it, it looks pretty cool when someone goes flying over another's arm into a sutemi ;)), it's so we don't hurt ourselves, hampering the training of ourselves or our dohai.

Hope that maybe started to explain it...

ja,

-Nick

Chuck Clark
09-08-2000, 01:29 PM
Good post, Nick.

Funny about sute ukemi ... I've heard very few people refer to this fall as sutemi or sute ukemi.

I grew up hearing it called that but not many teachers use the term. Tobi ukemi (jumping, which you don't have to do), or for goodness sake, "high falls" (it can't be any higher than rotating around your center of gravity at the top of a thrusting leg), floating falls (which makes a little more sense due to the rise of center of gravity), breakfalls (I don't want to break anything!), airfalls (which also makes some sense) are all common terms used.

It is essential to be good at sute ukemi because it isn't always possible to do a roll along the ground. It sometimes has to happen in the air.

Interesting stuff,

Erik
09-08-2000, 03:10 PM
I never imagined the terminology would create any confusion as the 2 terms high/break are used synonymously in my neck of the woods. I was just curious how big a part they played in everyone's day to day training. Some places stress it constantly, whereas others seem to do them not at all.

I do like the the different terminology though.

Nick
09-08-2000, 03:10 PM
also, in case (in a technique such as yama-arashi nage) the nage does not let go of one hand, making it a big old (and quite painful) mess if you try to roll.

About the terminology- A rose by any other name would smell as sweet (though, as someone here noted a while back, it would sitll have thorns ;))

-Nick

[Edited by Nick on September 8, 2000 at 03:13pm]

RONIN
09-08-2000, 08:54 PM
At my dojo they are called flying break falls.I feel that flying breakfalls are a central part of aikido as they help you to control your body and your center.A poorly executed flying break fall is very noticeable as the ukes legs will be flying all around and out of sync.A properly executed flying break fall is done when the whole body lands in one fluid motion.The greatest breakfall i have ever seen was done by Professor Moses Powell a juijutsu man.This guy weighs over 230lbs. but lands like a feather simply incredible.He also does rolls on one finger its just great to watch.If you get the chance rent The Warrior Within from your local video store and you will see what i mean.

ze'ev erlich
09-09-2000, 06:23 AM
here is the way it is practiced at Kyoto Aikikai :

rolling rather than flying enables you keeping the Musubi with Nage(Tori). it means that you can apply a Kaeshi Waza or keep holding Tori.

if you fly and break-fall it means that you have lost physical contact (Musubi) then the technique has come to an end.

Sutemi is practiced sometimes but aikdoka taught by Koyama Shihan are encouraged to find a way to roll and keep the possibility for a Kaeshi Waza.

that's all, there are so many styles. that's what makes aikido unique. each sensei does his/her own aikido.

yours

Ze'ev




[Edited by ze'ev erlich on September 9, 2000 at 06:26am]

Mike Collins
09-10-2000, 09:48 PM
I think:

If I treat all falls as rolls (sutemi is simply a forward roll with a higher circle), the appropriate fall is always possible. I have trained with people who wouldn't allow me to lean low to roll, so I was forced to roll from where I was, but no difference.

I also feel this is the simplest way to learn sutemi.

With this in mind, I agree with Ze'ev, that rolling (rather than leaping over your shoulder or arm) allows me to keep contact, at least energetically with my partner.

Not good to refuse to take any ukemi if the throw is there, not useful to take any ukemi if the throw isn't there.

There's my opinion.

Erik
09-10-2000, 11:09 PM
Mikey wrote:
I think:

If I treat all falls as rolls (sutemi is simply a forward roll with a higher circle), the appropriate fall is always possible. I have trained with people who wouldn't allow me to lean low to roll, so I was forced to roll from where I was, but no difference.

I also feel this is the simplest way to learn sutemi.

With this in mind, I agree with Ze'ev, that rolling (rather than leaping over your shoulder or arm) allows me to keep contact, at least energetically with my partner.

Not good to refuse to take any ukemi if the throw is there, not useful to take any ukemi if the throw isn't there.

There's my opinion.

I couldn't agree more, in fact I could have written this, although likely with less elegance. I was missing that not high falling can actually break connection. Ukemi, outside of falling, is not really stressed very much were I'm at these days, so I was sensing something but couldn't place it.

You have given me a powerful arrow in my quiver. Thank you!

[Edited by Erik on September 11, 2000 at 10:11am]

MJ*
09-11-2000, 12:52 AM
Personally, I try to roll whenever possible, because itfs much easier on my body. However, I often find it necessary to break-fall (or whatever term you want to use), because of the particular technique being performed on me. For example, a particularly fast kotegaeshi, a powerful iriminage, any koshinage, the gnastyh version of shihounage, etc. all require break-falls. In regard to this last technique, it is usually done by advanced students working with other advanced students with the knowledge that uke can take the fall out of this particular version of the technique. I also find it necessary for me to do a break-fall from this technique when it is done accidentally by fairly new or intermediate students who aren't aware of the increased potential for injury to uke in this version of it. This is always a good time to point out the difference in these two versions and make them aware of the danger so they will be more careful in the future. I have saved my skin more than once knowing how to break-fall out of that version of the technique. Like it or not, I think it's a good skill to have and often necessary.

akiy
09-11-2000, 09:59 AM
Erik wrote:
So how often do you do them and what value do you see in them?
I use them when necessary. I believe that being able to take highfalls and breakfalls is a very important part of aikido practice and that everyone should be able to do them.

However, I personally do not like doing them as much as I used to dur to too much wear and tear on the body. I sometimes say that the body has a limited number of breakfalls in it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I've been experimenting with "soft" breakfalls, although I think it's because of mostly curiosity and for increased body awareness.

As far as "sutemi" goes, although I've heard people refer to breakfalls as such, I believe that most times I've heard Japanese people use the term is to refer to a sacrifice throw (where nage ends up on the ground as well) like tomoe nage; I've heard "tobi ukemi" used a lot more often (maybe always?) when referring to breakfalls in Japanese.

-- Jun

Chuck Clark
09-12-2000, 09:40 AM
Jun,

In O sumo you often hear the rikishi talk about "kokoro no sutemi" as a philisophical state of being and a strategy. It can be seen with waza such as sutemi waza as you describe.

The principle of sacrificing your posture (or percieved safety, etc.) is necessary for good budo. I have learned it to mean to be able to commit with no fear, to be willing to change with no reluctance, etc.

Not a bad way to walk around all of the time, in my book.

I agree with Mikey's post above. It's all rolling. Sometimes the last part is abrupt and sometimes it ends in a continuation of the roll onto your feet or into newaza. It's all due to what tori is doing (or trying to do) with your energy.

akiy
09-12-2000, 09:58 AM
Good stuff for me to think about, Chuck! Thanks for your (and everyone else's!) continued sharing of your knowledge.

-- Jun

Magma
09-13-2000, 01:59 PM
I enjoy taking the big falls. I think it's because as I get more and more comfortable taking those falls I know that my sempai can throw me with more vigor and through more complicated (sometimes) techniques. And since being thrown through a technique is often one of the most beneficial ways to learn, I get a bonus on both ends of my training. As far as how much breakfalling we do in our dojo, the original question, it is as has been mentioned above, whenever the energy calls for it. Because, let's face it, a jujinage or kotegaeshi where the hand continues to be held throughout the technique, or a big koshinage where the body is pulled through a larger circle for ukemi are techniques that simply preclude the use of a basic roll to save the uke. In these cases, if you can't take that breakfall, then you can't really be thrown in the technique; and if you can't be thrown, then you aren't going to learn as well.

Personally, I try to understand that if the nage's purpose is to throw with energy and/or then continue into some sort of osae waza, then I should take the higher fall if the energy and position are at all there to do so safely. This is because as the nage gets better, I need to be ready to receive the greater energy of the throw, and he/she needs to be able to reference a familiar position in their uke (me) to apply the pin. If I take one ukemi as they are learning and building the energy, and then another when they've better learned the throw, it's as if they have to relearn the pin and their movements. Now, I know that it is a good learning opportunity in itself for them to see that different energies from different throws produce different responses from their uke. So I'm not out there breakfalling from every kotegaeshi - especially if the nage is still learning it - but when I feel them actually taking my balance and throwing from their center, even if it is slight, then I'll take the fall to help them continue to learn as they move on to concentrate on the pinning, etc.

That's my thinking, anyway.

M.

Nick
09-13-2000, 05:21 PM
I heard a new student say to one of the yudansha last night- "I don't like to fall." That's all I heard and saw of it- I didn't know why he said it or anything, but it got me thinking (which, for anyone who knows me, is bad ;)).

I realized that uke helps you learn just as much as throwing does... as I've said before, I believe Aikido is learned 'by feeling', and if you only feel one side of the technique, you're missing out on a lot.

is ukemi 'practical' as far as if you are nage? On 'the street', it's rare that your attacker will launch into beautiful ukemi as you execute a technique... really, I think we do ukemi to learn, not to mention stay uninjured.

Plus, let's face it, it looks cool ;).

Kanpai,

-Nick

P.S- I realized while writing this, that 60% of ukemi is uke... man I just never stop :)

akiy
09-13-2000, 07:20 PM
Nick wrote:
is ukemi 'practical' as far as if you are nage?
Later on, you'll find that the so called "roles" of uke/nage disappear. It's not even that the roles switch like in kaeshiwaza, but that the distinction really becomes blurred.

For example, when you're grabbing someone as "uke," are you just grabbing nage's wrist or are you, in effect, trying to affect their center and balance, just like you would do when you're "nage"? When you're "nage" and throwing someone, aren't you thinking about your own balance, safety, and ability to move -- just like you would do if you were "uke"? And so on.

really, I think we do ukemi to learn, not to mention stay uninjured.
I still maintain that for me at least, ukemi has been and still is the most important part of aikido practice.

-- Jun

Chuck Clark
09-14-2000, 09:03 AM
Nick wrote:
I heard a new student say to one of the yudansha last night- "I don't like to fall."

It's my experience, both personal and having experienced lots of students over the years, that you MUST like to fall to really learn either judo or aikido.

Not minding is not enough. Doing it because you have to will limit your level of sensitivity.

I don't do nearly as much ukemi as I used to, but I still enjoy the feeling.

Cheers,

Cas Long
09-14-2000, 11:15 AM
You do not always have "a choice" in whether to roll or use a high break-fall. A lot of the time, it has to be a direct reaction to how the Nage has thrown you. Rolling, in some instances, can be more dangerous than using a high breakfall if the Nage has completely taken your balance & cut your arc in a throw which is three-dimensional (when Uke does not have choice of roll/fall) and a throw which is two-dimensional (where Uke will be free to decide how to absorb the energy).

To my mind the ultimate goal in learning Ukemi should be learning how to establish and above all maintain connection, naturally and without strain, for as long as possible.

A 'good' Uke should be able to receive any kind of technique at any angle, any height and at any speed or degree of power. This of course is particularly difficult to master.

Clearly the need to take active projections is not necessary all the time, but it must form a part of the Uke's repetoire, and therefore should be practised.

Training where Uke has a choice (having the material time to make a choice) and responds in the way that they want, I would say is a little akin to choreographed dancing. Of course, if that is what a student prefers to do then that's fine.

Nick
09-14-2000, 04:09 PM
personally, I love falling- it helps me feel the technique, as said before, and, for lack of a better term- it's fun!

Now if only I could stop 'falling' around the house ;).

Cheers,

-Nick

Erik
09-14-2000, 04:38 PM
Cas Long wrote:
Training where Uke has a choice (having the material time to make a choice) and responds in the way that they want, I would say is a little akin to choreographed dancing. Of course, if that is what a student prefers to do then that's fine.


I would have to disagree with this. The practice that prompted this discussion could be referred to as completely unchoreographed slow dancing. I would go so far as to say that it's one of the most unchoreographed places I've ever been which is what prompted the problem and my discussion.

The problem is that with no choreography some folks have developed a less efffective choreography which is masked by the lack of choreography.

Did that make any sense?

Cas Long
09-14-2000, 05:03 PM
Sorry, Erik, I do not understand....!
My point is that something that is choreographed, is rehearsed & "unreal".

Two-dimensional throws (as I mentioned)
lead to this. Three-dimensional throws
lead to a natural "reaction" that is far
from choreograhed. Sorry if you mis-interpreted this.....

[Edited by Cas Long on September 14, 2000 at 05:10pm]

Erik
09-14-2000, 05:56 PM
Cas Long wrote:
Sorry, Erik, I do not understand....!
My point is that something that is choreographed, is rehearsed & "unreal".

Two-dimensional throws (as I mentioned)
lead to this. Three-dimensional throws
lead to a natural "reaction" that is far
from choreograhed. Sorry if you mis-interpreted this.....

[Edited by Cas Long on September 14, 2000 at 05:10pm]

I think I communicated badly as we are probably a lot closer than it seems. I'm in an almost completely unchoreographed dojo and agree with you on the benefits of this sort of practice. However, natural reaction is seemingly more rare than I'd originally thought.

I've been at my current dojo for roughly 6 mos, and off and on before that. What I'm beginning to see is that even in this place of no-choreography people have imposed their own choreography. Throws seemingly happen the same way an awful lot. I can predict how certain people will throw me (my pattern, theirs or natural unfolding?), how long it will take them to fold a hakama, how fast they will leave the dojo, etc. So even in an almost completely unchoreographed environment (no-technique) we choreograph. In fact, to break the self-created choreography I almost have to choreograph the breaking of it.

Maybe another way will help, practicing in a way that uke has no choice is also choreography because I've decided uke will have no choice. Moving fast is also a choreography, just as moving slow is, just as any other set idea or practice is. It's all choreography until its not (maybe Chuck is having a bad influence on me from his posting on rank or I could be babbling?). :)

The only way I know to break my own self-imposed choreography is to move into a completely uncomfortable realm and be lost. In there I will be screwed up/lost enough that who knows what will show up. Then again I probably did choreograph my movement into that uncomfortable realm so....

At least one point I'm trying to make is that no-choice, or speed is probably as equally choreographed as choice and slow is which means that authentic non-choreographed movement is rare and not the domain of speed or a form of training in my opinion.

I hate language for some things. Let me know if I'm still not making sense. This is good for me if nothing else but I fear I'm running in circles.

Mike Collins
09-14-2000, 06:49 PM
This is my opinion, so it may be of little value:

In virtually every situation where uke is "better" than nage, uke has a choice.

I am 6'2" tall, weigh about 300 lbs., and am very strong. I have been told by my teacher, and other, very senior teachers, to "do" technique to them (they are typically no more than 2/3 my size-usually far less), and been completely unable to move them, much less give them no choice. I can assure you, my intent, and my technique was not the least bit choreographed (if it had been, I may have had better success). I have actually pretty good technique, I don't think these men, and in one case woman, were able to stop me because my technique sucked, rather it was simply that they and their respective centers were more advanced than my own. Now, had I used my not insignificant mass to "force" technique, it is completely possible that I may have been able to get a technique off, or maybe even break them (I doubt it- but I'm making allowances here). What I would have done at that point is missed an opportunity to grow in my own understanding of what really makes this stuff work. What makes it work is not size and strength or these people wouldn't be able to continually impress me.

So my point is to be careful about having the idea that if a technique "works" it is real, it may simply be brute, and not good or "true" technique. Conversely to assume that because a technique doesn't "work", that it isn't real or "true" may be wrong too, it may just be immature. An acorn is an oak tree that simply hasn't spent sufficient time growing under the right circumstances.

I have been ridiculously lucky to have these wonderful teachers who have been able to stop me and explain where I need to grow, and where I need to stop growing.

Think on it.

Cas Long
09-15-2000, 06:47 AM
Mikey,

You have completely mis-understood my post. My main point is that sometimes, Uke has no 'choice' in how to fall- maybe I refer to advanced Aikido too much, especially when both Nage & Uke are of equal ability & have solid repetoires.

Erik,

I agree with some of your points, this is why sometimes it can be "truer" to train with Aikidoka outside your own Dojo, if this is OK with your Sensei- then your Aikido will be more reactive rather than it becoming "predictable",
however, I would say, not always to "go with the flow" with your colleagues on the mat, as being on auto-pilot, (knowing someone's technque well) can end up in injury if they pull something new/unexpected! & this highlights my main point.....

Thanks to both of you for your thoughts-I just have a thing about totally contrived Aikido, that's all! I agree with Erik's point:that we can become too familiar, maybe we need to vary the training method itself?

Thanks again......

Kensakiro
09-15-2000, 07:14 AM
People who practice Aikido should always be willing to take ukemi, because it is part of Aikido.
If someone doesn't take a fall but wants to throw everyone he's not being fair with himself or with his partner.
People should remember that it's just part of it. Ofcourse one should be thrown effectively in order to make a fall, but since an Aikidoka always knows the technique that's coming he's not fair if he blocks it by not taking the fall. Again the nage should throw effectively in order to make uke do the fall. Uke should not jump just for the show either, not should nage throw just for the show. Aikido is a committed attack together with an effective action to neutralize, control an attacker. Remember that Aikido is a martial art. You should not be sloppy in your ukemi or in your techniques of throwing!
Thanks

Mike Collins
09-15-2000, 08:43 AM
Cas,

I don't think I did miss your point, I wasn't disagreeing, only (I thought) adding a dimension to the topic.

Fact is, virtually never are two Aikidoists "equal" in ability. In most situations, one or the other is more advanced in at least one way.

I have trained with people who left me no choice as to the fall I took, I love that training. Most of the time, though I can pretty much keep up with things and fall as gently for me as I need. I like that training too. One is not more real than the other. Ukemi can also be a wonderful way of teaching technique. My teacher makes a point of telling his students to teach the technique with your fall, rather than your mouth, when the partner is newer.

My point was that reality has very little to do with "reality" as in what would work in the street. I am large enough to pretty much have my way, if that were my wont. I would not get much of the reality of Aikido if I did.

I too have little use for contrived Aikido. Each encounter should be as completely alive and real as two people (at their respective levels) can make it.

Okay?

Cas Long
09-15-2000, 09:29 AM
Mikey,

Thanks for your reply.

I do not use "real"/"reality" as in street combat, rather as in a "real" fall, as opposed to a contrived one.I hate to see Ukes who "throw" themselves-Nage might as well stay home & save his/her energy.

If the Uke always rolls throughout his/her Aikido career, the Nage will never feel what it is like to feel for example, 250 pounds of connection on one arm, in say, a technique from Morote Dori: this is good, honest practice, & makes the Nage evaluate the effectiveness & stability of the technique; whether vital principles have been adhered to, or whether brute strength was the key. Good "true" (in terms of honest) ukemi benefits both Nage & Uke; ballet benefits neither (& I know that we are both in total agreement that practice should not be like this).

I would love to have my way with you (on the mat!), & am confident that I would have no problem with your build, either as Nage or Uke. (I am being light-hearted, before you go for me!)

Ukemi is an art in itself, & for me, has been the key in understanding correct execution of technique, as well as receiving technique safely.

Erik
09-15-2000, 09:30 AM
Cas Long wrote:
Mikey,

You have completely mis-understood my post. My main point is that sometimes, Uke has no 'choice' in how to fall- maybe I refer to advanced Aikido too much, especially when both Nage & Uke are of equal ability & have solid repetoires.


The word sometimes is what I was looking for. I've run into enough people that train so much the same way, over and over, that they can't break their patterns and controlling uke sounded like maybe.... but it appears not to have been.


I agree with some of your points, this is why sometimes it can be "truer" to train with Aikidoka outside your own Dojo, if this is OK with your Sensei- then your Aikido will be more reactive rather than it becoming "predictable",
however, I would say, not always to "go with the flow" with your colleagues on the mat, as being on auto-pilot, (knowing someone's technque well) can end up in injury if they pull something new/unexpected! & this highlights my main point.....

Maybe I just needed to hear your points differently but this works fine for me. In fact, this fear led to something which led to this post.


Thanks to both of you for your thoughts-I just have a thing about totally contrived Aikido, that's all!

As do I and it's why we got started with this. Technique-wise, the dojo I'm spending most of my time at these days is one of the most non-contrived out there (it's why I'm there), so I found it funny when uke's started looking contrived (my definition of contrived is pretty damn broad though). Balance is a good thing.

Appreciate the discussion.

Mike Collins
09-15-2000, 09:52 AM
Cas,

I am sure you would have no trouble with my build as long as you are nage, because let's face it you're just a girl, and I'd fall down for you pretty easily. And as uke, no problem there either, cause I'd be throwing so gently, you'd never get hurt anyway.

(Okay that was just a little humor, (yeah I know, very little)intended to get a little reaction, I can't help myself).

Cas Long
09-15-2000, 09:59 AM
Go to your room at once!

(Several people died the last time a subject like this was mentioned...!)

Mike Collins
09-15-2000, 10:14 AM
Cas,

You're so pretty when you're angry.

Be careful, not good martial principle to show an opening. Never let 'em know they're getting to you.

Cas Long
09-15-2000, 11:54 AM
On the contrary, I am just using Budo's principle of Shikake.....!

Nick
09-15-2000, 02:08 PM
Cas Long wrote:


Go to your room at once!

(Several people died the last time a subject like this was mentioned...!)

Ouch, I've heard that one one too many times ;).

-Nick

Kestrel
09-30-2000, 12:31 AM
I just realized something.

With all the discussion of uke and taking ukemi and falls and such...I just realized why what happened in class yesterday felt so *right*. It had seemed rather odd up till now because I was uke rather than tori. (Is that right? People seem to use nage interchangeably with tori and also as a reference to the throw or pin.)
I will have to keep this in mind for tomorrow's class and remember to try and take ukemi as close to the way I am supposed to as possible.

Tim

"Are you *sure* this is safe?"