View Full Version : Ukemi, attacks and Ishin-Denshin

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08-13-2016, 12:31 PM
New to the site / forums and want to stir up some discussion so I'll share a story of learning ukemi and the benefits of it, currently I hold the rank of Sandan and can remember when I first walked into the dojo over 20 years ago as if it was yesterday. I watched a class, was very impressed, and was eager to learn. However, there was one thing I was somewhat weary of and that was falling. Therefore, I told myself that first I want to learn how to take the throws and pins, which meant I had to learn ukemi.

Well my first instructor really helped me with this and many fellow students said oh he is rough! Oh, that Sensei takes people way out of the comfort zone oh no he should not be allowed to practice Aikido! Well I started with him on rolls then break falls (judo style - back leg straight and slap the mat) then being thrown, I was like oh do it again and I noticed this unique gleam in his eye, which followed with about 2 years of what he called tenderizing. When he was done with me, after those years of tenderizing, the mats that we practiced on which was the nice wrestling mats. Well there was any vinyl left on them and only the foam that started to fall apart like sand.

Throughout those years, yes, I had my bruises from head to toe but I learned and learned so much. Now many who read this might say this tenderizing is just crazy but one of the many things I learned was to attack This is hard to explain because many attack with anticipation on what will happen. How about just attack and do not worry about what is next just attack and trust your ukemi. When you just attack like this with high-ranking black belts, you are allowing them to practice at their level and you learn through receiving. This attack is the state of mind you are in and the physical attack can be hard and fast, medium or whatever. Then nage has the energy to blend with, leading you and or being dynamic, which encompass blending and leading. In short, something transmitted from teacher or senpai to student that something is Ishin-Denshin, and is not talk about but to me is one of the many beautiful hidden gems in Martial Arts regardless of style - Ishin-Denshin.


09-07-2016, 06:12 PM
Hi Jeff,
It's all relative, so I have no real idea what your tenderizing looks like, but a few thoughts I had in reading your post:
We all train for different reasons, and I believe that people should train how they see fit, more or less. Whether the teacher is harder or softer, it is up to us as adult individuals to decide what is best for ourselves. I know a lot of people suggest that a more "martial" feeling to the training is inappropriate, but my understanding is that Aikido has always had people who trained with that flavor, for better and for worse. As long as injury isn't taking place, and people are being careful of their partners, I personally see no real problem. One of the big aspects to martial arts in general seems to have to do with developing different forms of toughness. Whether it's mental toughness and/or physical, I can see how training in a way that can push us to the edge of our comfort zone can be very useful. Again, I think it's up to the individual to decide where the lines are for themselves, but how we act in those decisive moments, and how quickly we can recover our attention after having the world turned upside down, seems like it could be very useful to me.
My limited understanding is that as uke, our job is to simply attack...It is also up to us to protect ourselves as well (as well as up to nage since we put ourselves in his or her hands), but if we remain within the moment of attack without anticipating, ukemi will more or less happen naturally, and that over time we can open up our bodies to being able to "receive" more properly. We can attack sincerely at any speed, although obviously perhaps the faster we go the more dynamic things are and the less room for error there is, so people need to operate at speeds they can handle...although the saying, "if you can't do it slowly, you can't do it fast," comes to mind, too.
As it regards ishin-denshin, which isn't a phrase I recognized and had to look up, I think that is another really important aspect of training. I think of it as working on intuition, which I currently think of as a combination of focusing the attention, but while also somehow opening up/relaxing the attention. My teacher has described the importance of the space between action and inaction which seems to relate to this idea, of being ready to respond instantly to the needs of the situation. It's a fascinating thing for me to try to pay attention to, and in a sense, seems to somehow encapsulate the gist of training for me...I imagine it relates to the "a" "un" of the komainu?
Thanks for the food for thought!
Take care,

09-08-2016, 11:51 AM
Don't know how old you are but believe me when you will reach your sixties and more, your body will talk to you about breakfalls. So, you can do them but not every times you are being thrown. In fact almost any ukemis can be rolled.Breakfalls are for shows or demos.
My two cents

Tim Ruijs
09-09-2016, 05:17 AM
I agree that taking ukemi is a great learning tool. Take falls for someone is stupid from martial art's point of view. Whilst taking ukemi consider kaeshi waza. This makes you maintain structure/attention/intention. No attacker will just fall down just because you made some move....
To attack honestly (without premeditation of what is going to happen) is very hard indeed.
Shoshin Sho, beginners mind. Assume you know nothing: now practise. Even after twenty years :D