View Full Version : off-mat ukemi

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Paula Lydon
04-10-2003, 08:10 PM
~~Just wondering: Have you ever had an 'ukemi event' outside of the dojo, or even just off the mat? Would you say that your training definatively changed the outcome?~~

04-10-2003, 08:54 PM
Sure it works just fine. You may end up with a few bruises depending on how hard you hit but no broken bones means you win right?

04-10-2003, 09:11 PM
we occasionally do this in our dojo. for rolls its a good way to check if there are corners in your roll. for breakfalls, well let's just say you'll definitely know whether you're really breaking your fall ;)

Kevin Wilbanks
04-10-2003, 09:36 PM
We have trained on fairly hard grass sometimes. Things change quite a bit. First of all, slapping with your hand quickly becomes one of your least favorite things to do. On hard ground you start to see that you're in the habit of whacking the crap out of your hand on the ground for no good reason. Another thing which I've seen in some dojos which will go out the window right away: dropping onto both knees to finish a throw. That's something I suspect one would only do once on hard ground.

I've also done rolls and such on concrete, blacktop, etc... now and then, just for the hell of it. It seemed like my body wasn't quite as rounded as I thought, and I ended with a few bruises, but nothing serious.

I've also done some unexpected rolls onto concrete or ice, from slipping and flying over bicycle handle bars. These incidents were no problem, really. As far as 'real world' application, falling skills have been much more useful to me than fighting skills.

04-10-2003, 09:41 PM
I agree with Adrian - it is a great way to find out if you are doing it right. I tried breakfalls on the grass a few times and I try rolls on road surfaces from time to time. The only drawback is your clothes getting dirty.

Rolling on hard surfaces makes you more conscious and helps to do it right as you don't want to end up with scratches and bruises.

And another thing. It is a way to impress someone :) My two 13-year old neighbours recently joined the dojo. After their first session I saw them practising irimi nages on the lawn and I came up to talk; when it was time to go I turned round and went into a forward roll instead, then got up and walked away. I knew they were staring at me but that way I gave them a great motivation to work on their rolls.

Joe Jutsu
04-10-2003, 10:14 PM
Last August after not quite a year of Aikido under my belt, some friends and I went on a trip near Westcliff, CO and we took our bikes (I bet you can guess where this is going:freaky:). Let's just say that my friend who was serving as our guide had not been on the "mountain biking trail" that we took that day for a few years, and it was now actually a four wheeler trail with huge rocks/boulders all over the place. This coupled with the fact that this was the first real biking trip that I had taken with my new clipless pedals made for an afternoon of "real world" ukemi training. Thankfully my forward rolls were up to par (I bet I had nearly twenty trips over my handlebars that day just in case there was any doubt;) ). One of my sensei's was just talking to us tonight about how ukemi is probably the most practical "real world" things that Aikido will do to save us. I gotta say that I agree with him.


04-10-2003, 10:34 PM
Lessee...forward rolls came in handy going over bicycle handlebars and when chasing after a basketball. However, those were activities where the alertness level was relatively high. The best payoff from my ukemi training was the "knee under" front breakfall when slipping on a wet tiled floor...was busy chewing gum at the time. :)

04-10-2003, 11:26 PM
Ukemi, I've found, comes in handy while skiing. I would think too with snowboarding, but I've yet to try.

04-11-2003, 01:56 AM
Have you ever had an 'ukemi event' outside of the dojo, or even just off the mat?
Every once in a while, when nobody's around I'll do forward rolls or back rolls on the tile or concrete at work. It actually feels fine.

As for high falls I only did it once and it wasn't in a very good place. I was in Hawaii and was swimming in this huge tide pool, like olympic pool huge and had been jumping off the cliff near by. Maybe 18 feet up. I was doing canonballs, flips, and regular dives and then decided to get creative. Ever have one of those moments when you think of something, but not really thoroughly and you do it? Like a kid might ride a bike standing on the seat, and another time ride with no hands, then decide to try the combo of the two?

Well I thought, how bout a high fall? So instead of going straight over and having my feet be the first thing that hit the water, I went over one shoulder and my hip was the first thing to hit the water...from 18 feet up. -=Man=- did it sting. I actually had a deep bruise from my hip to 4 inches above my knee and it was a dark purple. First thing I thought when I hit that water was "Well duh." Lesson learned. No high falls from 18 feet up.


Jim ashby
04-11-2003, 02:31 AM
Yep, I've done the ukemi thing on the pavement (sidewalk). I'd had too much falling down water and was going up some some steps, caught my foot on the top one and went into a forward roll. Saved my nose but explaining the diagonal mark down the back of my shirt was not easy the next morning.:D

Have fun.

04-11-2003, 02:33 AM
I have ukemi events of my choosing all the time. (And yes people do look at my funny when I roll in the supermarket or cinema :D)

I have had a few ukemi events that just happend. Most notable was the time when I was riding my bike very fast and a car opened its door just in front of me :eek: , which sent me flying head first. I rolled on asphaltus and I survived unharmed. :D

04-11-2003, 03:50 AM
Actually, the best "ukemi event" I know of happened to my partner (who left aikido many years ago, so won't be posting here). She recently had to do a full "flip" ukemi with bike over the bonnet of a car which had pulled out of a junction in front of her. The only bruises caused were from the bike falling back down on her, otherwise unhurt. She even continued on to her gym session:freaky:

04-11-2003, 08:36 AM
yes, I've done spectacular forward rolls off horses (into the edge of the show ring no less), as well as very recently a terrific back breakfall on the ice, saving my camera, but fracturing (I think) my tail bone (still hurts 2 months later). Didn't bang my head, grab for the ice or anything, just tucked my head, held my camera to my chest, and did a back fall. Happened so quickly I didn't have a clue (walking down hill on ice with tennis shoes on, brillilant move!).

Kevin Masters
04-11-2003, 09:10 AM
A few weeks ago I was splitting wood at a friends house. Somehow we managed to get the wedge completly stuck in the log and I had the great(!) idea of standing on the log on top of the block while trying to pull it out. Needless to say I went right over. In my fall I managed to turn my body and do a neat wood-pile-ukemi and only managed to scrape my elbow. They were like, "are you ok?!" I was cracking up. :D

I love Aikido!

I'm really looking forward to skateboarding this spring to see if my training will help me out with my balance and the inevitable fall.

How many people find themselves having an urge to do a forward roll across a large flat space when nobody's looking?

Or maybe it's just me!:rolleyes:


Paula Lydon
04-11-2003, 03:15 PM
~~I was managing a warehouse at the time of my 'ukemi event' when, while walking too quickly, I got one and then the other foot tangled in a hoop of plastic. I only remember thinking 'Uh-0h..." as I headed toward the concreat floor and then standing upright in perfect posture. Looking over at my friend--eyes popped out and jaw on floor "Are you broken?! How'd you do that?"--I couldn't wait to get back to training for the godsend it was! :)

04-11-2003, 03:35 PM
My then 57 year old 260 pound Judo buddy fell off the ladder while cleaning the rain gutters on his roof. He told the doctor about it a week later at a regularly scheduled check up. "Where the report from the Emergency Room?" the doc asked. My buddy explained he just did what he learned at the dojo.

04-11-2003, 05:58 PM
How many people find themselves having an urge to do a forward roll across a large flat space when nobody's looking?
To me it just seems more efficient, however my wife says I am not allowed.

04-11-2003, 09:09 PM
I’ve had two Ukemi situations in a sense.

Pre Aikido- the “equestrian stage”

About five years or so ago, when horse back riding I was going along at a preety good clip when my horse shied ( I believe it was either a car back firing , or a rifle going off). This big old thoroughbred warm blood mare bolts strait towards what I would say it about a four foot fence (Mind you she stood about 17 handa). Hanging on for dear life, I figure , show jumper she was , she would bound that fence and haul off away from the trail..

NO. She stops about a length from the fence and I go flying (I actually took a stirrup with me… ). For those who may not know much about riding, usually one of the first things you learn is the tuck and roll if you are ever thrown. I rolled perfectly… into the worlds largest patch of burrs. When I eventually got my wits back around me my horse was waiting on the other side of the fence, pigging out on grass and dandelions.


When I was home during break, walking home about eleven or so I slipped o a patch of black ice. What was the first thing I did? A nice smooth (burr free) back roll. I scraped my self up , but aside from that I was fine. I don’t think I hadn’t had such a grasp on my rolling skills, that I would have been able to avoid smacking my head into the cement. I bruised my tail bone really good.. But better then being worse off eh?


04-11-2003, 11:27 PM
My first "Ukemi-incident" was on the football (Aussie Rules) field, when tackled by a large polynesian chap several sizes larger than I (Which I dont see much of at school).

When tackled, i simply rolled with his impact onto my back leg and bak over onto my feet (with ball) and kept running towards goal.

My teammates were impressed.:eek:

04-12-2003, 02:47 AM
one of the reason i was impressed in so called 'soft-arts' (aikido, judo,jujitsu,etc) is because of the ukemi. I witness one of my friend, a senior student in judo, fell over his motorcycle after hitting a pavement. When he fell he just do front ukemi unconsciously and went with no injuries except a few scratches (he rolled on the road, though). When I asked him how come he can do such a thing he just said 'I don't know, it just happen'.

As for myself, sometimes I rolled on the concrete floor but at first I do ukemi from suwari waza first, after a few roll then I proceed with standing one.

04-12-2003, 03:59 AM
Interesting...at the dojo sometimes we practice mae ukemi with our arms folded on our stomac, basically without using them; it's much fun.

I've never tried the same on concrete, what do u think? ;)

The Wrenster
04-12-2003, 01:30 PM
Only one for me. I was cycling to college, in Autumn, turned a corner...the many leaves conspired to bring me down! Fortunately, as my bike flew into a wall, i performed a neat front breakfall onto the concrete pavement (which i had hit while at 45 degrees carrereing off the road :S) Then got up, looked around, dusted myself off, put the chain back on and carried on my way much to the surprise of a bemused motorist who witnessed the event!! I was very thankfull that i only had a graze on my hand!! Cheers Aikido

04-12-2003, 03:41 PM
One fun-if-not-embarassing ukemi event that sticks out in my head took place with my wife. I like to mess around when we walk together, and I sneak my hips in front of hers for koshiwaza, just timed off her normal gait. Well, we went to see a movie one time (got a baby-sitter, yay!) and I was playing the koshiwaza game as we were walking to the front door. We had just gotten out of our car and were walking across the parking lot. Bump, trip, "hey stop it", "ha ha", repeat ad nauseum. About the fourth time I bumped her, she actually started falling! To catch her fall, I tried to pick her up and set her back on her feet, which I did, but guess who got thrown in the process? You betcha, the "koshiwaza master" did a roll on the pavement, turned a few heads, grabbed my wife's arm (boy, did she look smug!) and went to watch our movie. Watch out for "budo widows", they can do some aikido if you aren't careful.

Jim Vance

04-13-2003, 09:42 PM
I've been doing Matial Arts for nine years, the last 4 in Aikido. The students at my school (I teach grades 7 to 9) ask me if I've ever used my training and when I tell them yes their eyes light up. I then proceed to tell them of that dark winter morning when I was running into my job at the University. You must remember this is Canada, and there is snow and ice and darkness during the winter !!!! OK the sun does come up at about 8:30 am and sets at 4:30 pm so I'm not talking about 24 hours of darkness but at 7:30 it's pitch black.

Well that morning I was all bundled up in 3 layers including a ski mask, my extra warm long underwear etc and as I neared the University, with my glasses starting to fog it happened.

I was about to cross my last intersection onto campus when , while jumping over the snow bank made by the snow removal crews my foot did not quite clear the top. Out of the corner of my fogged glasses I saw a taxi approaching and trying to stop but sliding on the black ice straight towards me at about 60kpm (that's Canadian for about 40 mph) .

Much to the amazement of the taxi driver and to be honest to my self, I make a perfect forward roll ( I was also wearing a back pack with my clean clothes in it which I forgot to mention) was back on my feet and safely negotiaiong the crosswalk while giving the taxi a frendly wave. And this is , as I tell my students at school , is how all those years of training paid off.

10-19-2009, 05:27 PM
I got thrown off of a (don't laugh) lawnmower that was going about 20-25 mph thanks to my dad after somehow avoiding the ditch, the sign out front and all of the trees in our front yard. I know I was falling face first, but I must have done some rolling after because both the front and back of my shirt were covered with dirt. I didn't have one scrape or bruise on me, though I was quite sore the next day. The mower on the other hand... it was a bit banged up from doing several rolls. HAHA. I was just glad that I was able to get away from the rolling mower of doom. If you want more details... feel free to ask. :D

10-20-2009, 01:10 AM
Hi Paula,

Many years ago when I was an aikido beginner (1st kyu or something like it) and evven more of a roller-blading beginner, I was blading down a steep hill on a footpath. Soon I was going faster than I'd ever bladed before; delighting in the feel of the wind zipping past me. But then I saw that a road crossed my path at the bottom of the hill and a car was driving at such a speed that I was likely to intersect it. I couldn't brake fast enough, so I though "I'll ukemi off the path into the grass!"

I did a beautiful ukemi and smacked myself in the head with a rollerblade that extended from the back of my foot!

10-20-2009, 06:55 AM
Using my ukemi off the mat is the reason I no longer slap when i breakfall.

I was taking the trash out on a winter morning. I slipped on the ice and took a nice side breakfall in the street. My slap punctured the ice and the shards proceeded to shred my hand and wrist. It was so bad my wife wanted me to go get stitches.

But besides the horrible pain in my hand, I was fine! I never slapped again. So far it works just as well without slapping as it does when slapping. Judo tested, and Don approved! :D

C. David Henderson
10-20-2009, 09:48 AM
Both before and since I began studying Aikido in '98, I've taken falls off my mountain bike -- some without injury, others, not so much. Still I like to think I'm safer these days, and have had friends ask me to teach them how to fall.

This season though I have been thinking when riding more technical trails at viewing riding as an ukemi exercise; one that is successful when I don't fall off (or, on uphills, stall).

Descending in particular becomes focused on maintaining awareness without fixing attention too far down the trail or too near the front wheel; on receiving and directing anticipated and unanticipated forces being transmitted to me from the ground through the bike; on working with balance, space, timing; and, in a surprising number of kind of dicey circumstances (ledges excepted), on letting the bike lead me where it is going.

I think my practice has helped me learn these skills in activities off-the-mat, and this kind of "ukemi" is arguably more valuable to my safety off the mat than the ability to fall.



Lan Powers
10-20-2009, 11:46 AM
funny this just popped up again...... one month ago i took a big side breakfall off of a ladder that got swooped out from under me while trimming my dads tree. feet at 12' from the ground, and landing on a flagstone patio. Way big bruise, and a sound like a slab of meat hitting a table, but i got to my feet and walked off..
(dignity in tatters, but nothing broken)
My father was amazed.