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jasmine_sun
09-26-2016, 08:15 PM
Firstly, hi everyone! :)

I'm hoping to seek advice from fellow Aikidokas on what are the best techniques to finally learn how to roll. Don't laugh - I've been trying and failing for years!

I've also pretty much watch every DVD, every YoutTube video and even my sensei, senpais and even a visiting Shihan on seminar have tried teaching me the correct way to do it, but my body somehow doesn't respond. :( I would still technically be able to "roll" from a standing position and stand back up again, but I can never do a proper one that you see in the videos - I always end up in a barrel roll. It's frustrating and basically the one huge block in my Aikido practice.

After taping myself over some 2 dozen barrel rolls, I've come to the realisation that my entry into the roll is correct - sword arm as a guide right down to the shoulder.... and that's where it goes to hell. I somehow can't bring my legs up and over my head. I'm not sure why, but I always naturally flop to the side and roll along my back. I've even tried doing somersaults (the gymnastics kind) and I still end up flopping to the side - legs up in the air and me seem to be two mutually exclusive things.

It's so bad now that I actually feel nervous (and feel like puking) every time I even think of a roll. I generally like the Aikido techniques, but I see it as a more fun alternative of going to the gym instead of chasing a dream to become a (insert belt here). I've insisted on remaining ungraded over the years, but my sensei is pressuring me to finally take a grading. I don't feel that I'm up to it because I can't roll properly.

Now I'm stuck with 2 realities: either finally learn how to roll (I don't know what other YouTube video, DVD, book, etc. I have not watched and analysed for hours in front of a mirror), or quit the dojo and Aikido for good.

Carsten Möllering
09-27-2016, 12:25 AM
Can or can't you do a roll from kneeling (hiza) position without flopping to the side?

It is my experience that whatever "problem" you may have, fixing it starts from this position.

jasmine_sun
09-27-2016, 01:09 AM
I can't. I can't do a roll on my own, period, standing or kneeling. :(

It seems like the only way I can do a roll properly is being thrown at high speed on kaiten-nage. And even with repeated throws I can't do a roll on my own.

I'm not sure if it's a body shape problem or a weight problem. Though I've been +10kgs and -10kgs over the last few years and it never changed a thing. It's the whole "get my legs up into the air" part that somehow eludes me.

Tim Ruijs
09-27-2016, 01:57 AM
Sounds like you are not using your legs to initiate the rotation, but only upperbody.
When you start the roll, the thing that actually works, i.e. is the motor, are your legs. You project your legs over your center with extension in your legs.
When you do the barrel roll, too much focus is on the upperbody...
maybe someone can stand bseide you as you roll and actually push your leg over you head so you can feel the direction/intention.

good luck and never give up!

Mary Eastland
09-27-2016, 05:57 AM
I would suggest to "never say never". It took me until brown belt to roll correctly. In the meantime I kept practicing, asking for help and focusing I what I could do.

Aikido training in general made me more relaxed and rounder as I attempted to roll. I hope you find a way that works for you.

Walter Martindale
09-27-2016, 07:08 AM
How long have you been practicing aikido and how often do you practice? I see your "join" date was 2004, so possibly 12 years. It must be frustrating to not get something like that.

If you try (for example) a three point part-kneeling stance - try kneeling on your left knee with your right foot and left hand "forward". Tuck your right hand (unbendable arm type of motion) under between your right foot and left hand, reach through, past your left knee until your right shoulder tucks under and you (should) overbalance and tip over into a proper roll. A little push with your left foot might help tip you over correctly.

When you're rolling, it helps to keep the "core" braced. If you're not sure what that means,
http://redelivery.ca/2013/08/25/the-big-3-core-exercises-dr-stu-mcgills-spine-conserving-alternatives-to-the-sit-up/

If that link doesn't work, Stuart McGill, University of Waterloo, has a bunch of videos on how to do 3 or 4 core exercises that train you on how to brace your core and NOT to do tummy crunches or back-flattening exercises.

Hope this helps a little bit - keep with it - As a coach I tell people "you probably can do this, you just haven't learned how yet"

lbb
09-27-2016, 07:38 AM
Have you tried working on your backward rolls, starting from a sitting position and stopping when you get to a three-point stance? That's just the forward roll in reverse, but many folks find it easier to get the mechanics down this way.

Janet Rosen
09-28-2016, 02:13 AM
I would suggest that you ease up on yourself and stop trying to roll differently than you can for now.
I realize this is contrary to what everybody else will say and contrary to what you are telling yourself.
But if all that has happened is years of frustration....maybe the barrel roll is the "right" way for YOU to roll? If it means you need to train a little more slowly, well that means you get to learn better overall structure and technique. If it means you don't look like everybody else....so what?

If this bit of contrarian advice does not sit well with you, I still advise against trying more of the same thing that clearly isn't working. Go outside of aikido. Get a referral to a good physical therapist or very experienced Rolfer or maybe highly experienced yoga person - somebody who can do a very slow and detailed analysis of your structure and function and holding patterns.

Amir Krause
09-28-2016, 04:24 AM
First off - not clear on why should be be - learn now or quit
You seem to have handled the current state for so long, why force a change?

Feels odd to give technical advice, without the ability to see, but, since you indicated inability to raise your legs, can you try to put both hands on the ground and jump up with your legs, without rolling?
The common way I roll requires some leg push / jump, and it seems you lack this push, unless someone pushes you as in kaiten-naga. So try getting yourself to a similar position and jump up, getting as close as possible to an arms-stand, or with somecushioning so you can end up falling from that with no concern for form. Your aim should be getting into inverted state, hands down, then head, body and legs at top, and crashing only after.

Enjoy the workout
Amir

Currawong
10-02-2016, 02:25 AM
It seems like the only way I can do a roll properly is being thrown at high speed on kaiten-nage. And even with repeated throws I can't do a roll on my own.

That being said, your comment above makes a lot of sense to me from experience, as I've found that rolls seem to work best when done reflexively, rather than deliberately, but also makes me think that your issue might be a mental one and nothing to do with your body as such.

I'm going to go completely out on a limb and suggest learning and trying EFT (http://emofree.com) to see if it releases any mental/emotional blockages that might be interfering in your physical efforts. Even if it doesn't, I find it very useful to learn and use regardless.

Aside from that, I'm with Janet on this one -- fighting it isn't going to help. I also agree with the idea of doing backwards rolls to get yourself comfortable with the feeling, if in reverse.

erikmenzel
10-02-2016, 03:53 PM
Hello Jasmine,

it seems you are running yourself into a wall, forcing yourself to roll in such a way as you think you must roll. From your description I understand this wall isn't budging and the only one getting hurt (be it physical or psychological) is you. Forcing yourself head first into that wall, might not be the wisest of strategies.

Let it go! (Yep that is the song from Frozen :) )

Train, enjoy your training and let go of having to roll perfectly.
Focus on being a good uke by giving intent and energy for your partners to work with. Do this a lot and study the movements of both partners and do not focus on the "rolling".

I know it sounds corny, but you have to learn and accept your aikido, which might actually be different from what you think (or hope) your aikido should be. Focus on what it is and not on what you want it to be.

Most important: enjoy what you are doing. Find pleasure and fun in training aikido.

It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all

(yep, Let it go from Frozen again :) )

edshockley
10-05-2016, 07:13 AM
I am 6'8" and started aikido when I was 40 years old. My son could do everything before he was 13 but Shihan Henry Smith 6th had been hurt back in football long ago and did many different ways for his feet and one leg. (It took him 40 years to finally just sit in complete seiza. The great thing he taught me was "Take -your- time." (Ask your doctor also if something is really moved) After my stroke in 2012 I could not stand at all for a month. I had to learn everything all over for the complete right side of my body, I do everything different again and it is great. I am learning more by beginning again.

jasmine_sun
10-07-2016, 10:19 AM
Thank you everyone for your very kind words of encouragement and suggestions! I had wanted to reply earlier but it has been such a whirlwind couple of weeks that I am still in the process of taking it all in.

Well it turns out that actually... I can indeed do a roll! A few days after I wrote the first post, I decided to stop by another dojo and ask to join a trial lesson. I was, at that time, more than a little frustrated with Aikido and also in dire need for a breath of fresh air. The sensei and assistant instructors at the new place were very kind, and surprisingly, didn't mind at all that despite me training for 10 years on and off, I was not able to roll (or so I thought).

Fast forward a couple of days after my initial visit, I went to my trial class super early, managing to grab a couple of the assistant instructors to seek their guidance on mae and ushiro ukemi. To my surprise, I wasn't doing a complete barrel roll as what my dojo had previously insisted I was doing. I just wasn't rolling as smoothly as it was ideal, but according to the sensei and the assistant instructors, what I was doing wasn't fundamentally wrong. I just kept thinking that I was doing a barrel roll, but in reality I was doing it right. In the next 20 minutes that followed, they were very patient in explaining to me (with the help of some personal demos and Youtube videos) why I kept thinking I was doing it wrong. After my first lesson, and a few pointers, I was able to do both mae and ushiro ukemi smoothly most of the time. I still don't feel 100% at ease with doing it, but at least I have more confidence now. The most incredible thing is that I can do smooth rolls now on both sides, I usually do rolls better on my left side and fall rather badly on my right. When previously I wasn't able to do a kneeling roll at all on my right side, I was able to execute a generally smooth roll from standing after.

I'm not sure if it was a mental block or the atmosphere/culture of my former dojo that led to me being frustrated by ukemi-I-could-actually-do for so many years. Perhaps it was because my former dojo placed a lot of emphasis on rolling and breakfalls. Or perhaps a change of environment and some pointers from fresh eyes were all I needed. I'm not mentioning names, because I don't think my former dojo did anything wrong. The only thing, I guess, that really didn't benefit me there was that the instructors take classes on a whoever-happens-to-be-there basis. So I never really had feedback from a dedicated instructor who saw me progress over a period of time. I guess in a way, the mixed feedback that they gave me was confusing me, a lot.

The feeling of getting this weight lifted off my mind is incredible, it feels like I'm now free to concentrate on the rest of my training, without having that thought of doing rolls wrong nagging at the back of my head. I have, of course, joined the new dojo and am more confident now, perhaps even looking at taking my first-ever grading in a few months' time. I don't really care for the colour of the belts (to me training is like going to the gym, I'm just there for the exercise and just want to do it correctly), but according to the instructors at the new place, going to the grading will help affirm that I know what I have learnt and will make me feel more at ease while training.

Again, thank you everyone for your help and kindness. I hope that this post will be able to help someone here someday.

Janet Rosen
10-07-2016, 11:11 AM
Oh my goodness, what a WONDERFUL update and bravo for you!!!!! Happy keiko.

Currawong
10-08-2016, 08:10 AM
That's fantastic news Jasmine. Glad you got it sorted out.

I remember always being much smoother rolling on one site when a kyu grade, and I'm still better on one side than the other with a lot of techniques, as other people seem to be as well. It ends up sorting itself out I find.

Mary Eastland
10-08-2016, 04:14 PM
Yay! good for you.

PeterR
10-09-2016, 08:09 AM
It's funny how that works. My ability to role took a quantum leap when I moved to a new dojo. Its almost like you are stuck in your own expectations.

Derek
10-14-2016, 08:25 AM
There is more than one way to skin a cat! Sometimes getting a different perspective makes all the difference. I find when I'm teaching people to roll I have to use very different teaching methodology for different people, and sometimes it is hard to predict what will work for a given student.

I also find that sometimes a student is not ready for a piece of advice or information. This is often difficult for a novice teacher to understand. Their joy for their art is so profound and they want to correct every small problems or perfect a technique. Meanwhile, the student is still trying to figure out how to turn Tenkan. Sometimes you need to let a student gain a level of mastery without too much "instruction" until they are ready for the next pearl of wisdom.

PeterR
10-14-2016, 08:30 AM
There is more than one way to skin a cat! Sometimes getting a different perspective makes all the difference. I find when I'm teaching people to roll I have to use very different teaching methodology for different people, and sometimes it is hard to predict what will work for a given student.

I also find that sometimes a student is not ready for a piece of advice or information. This is often difficult for a novice teacher to understand. Their joy for their art is so profound and they want to correct every small problems or perfect a technique. Meanwhile, the student is still trying to figure out how to turn Tenkan. Sometimes you need to let a student gain a level of mastery without too much "instruction" until they are ready for the next pearl of wisdom.

That's true - choosing when and how to correct something is a skill.

Rupert Atkinson
10-28-2016, 01:48 PM
Looks like you just needed to find the right teacher ....

fatebass21
01-10-2017, 01:51 PM
Congrats!!