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Dave Miller
06-19-2003, 11:40 AM
Hi all.

I am finding that my ukemi is getting pretty good for kata, when I know pretty much how the technique is going to end and what kind of ukemi to expect. However, when I get into "uncharted territory" and don't quite know who it might end, my ukemi gets terrible. Do any of you, especially those of you who spend a lot of time teaching lots of ukemi, have any suggestions for improving "improvisational ukemi"?

Sharon Seymour
06-19-2003, 12:04 PM
Here are some drills to play with (there are dozens of great drills - I'm going to watch this thread for ideas):

1) on your own, practice "8-direction rolls" from standing and from seiza - just stand in the middle of the mat and take rolls forward, back, right, left & to the four corners. One of my students has been doing this from seiza, which is very interesting.

2) next, do this same 8-direction practice with someone calling a direction as soon as you get up from each roll, increasing the pace gradually. You must turn and roll in the direction named as quickly and smoothly as possible.

3) with a partner, have them follow you around the mat, pushing you with light-to-moderate energy each time you get up from the previous roll. They can push you in any direction, using shoulders, back, center of chest. Your job is to turn without resisting the energy, allowing your partner's push to determine the direction of your fall.

Often, difficulties in spontaneous ukemi are from a habit of resistance which can be quite subtle. These drills are intended to help maintain a relaxed structure to help you stay connected with nage and so receive technique more safely.

Happy rolling!

Sharon

akiy
06-19-2003, 12:21 PM
Hi Dave,

So, quick question. By "ukemi," are you referring to the falling and rolling part of receiving the technique? Or are you referring to everything that happens in between the attack and the fall?

The exercises Sharon outlines above is good for some aspects of the falling part (ie forward rolls) of ukemi. But, I think there's much more in there as far as taking "improvisational" ukemi goes.

One thing you can try is being uke for someone who is free to do whatever technique they want to do (ie jiyuwaza or "randori" in your Tomiki-related terminology), but at a slower pace than usual; this will allow your body to have a bit more time/space to get used to "not knowing" what's going on but, instead, become more aware of what is happening presently.

Try to free your mind from previous patterns and "feel" what's going on -- sort of like "listening" to what nage is doing and responding in a like manner. Preferably, your partner will be able to do henkawaza (eg changing a technique from one to another "mid-stream" as what you as uke is doing warrants) since that will force you to break patterns that your body has ingrained from kata training.

It's a difficult task, being able to take "unknown" ukemi. Trying to stay resilient, flexible, open-minded, and aware throughout is difficult! But, frankly, it's the same exact mindset and bodyset, I think, that you should have when you're nage/tori. I think there's no difference in the principles underlying being a good nage/tori and good uke, after all...

Hope that helps,

-- Jun

Harry Nguyen
06-19-2003, 12:42 PM
Dave,

You already have some good advises. I just add a short one: You either let the Nage leads you to the ukemi or you control your ukemi. If you let the Nage throw you without your control of your ukemi, it will look bad. Take initiative, control your ukemi, either step one more step or put your hand in the right position for Ukemi. Your Ukemi will be better. Good luck.

Sharon Seymour
06-19-2003, 01:26 PM
Thanks, Jun! Inspired by your excellent ideas on improv practice, I'd like to back up even further. This came out of a series of classes on proper attacks at our dojo.

Attacks must be accurate and committed, with good follow-through. For example, many students will start a shomenuchi attack, then "freeze" as nage makes contact for ikkyo. Nage then cranks on the rigid arm hanging in the air to force the technique. The result is an awkward technique and possibly injury.

Continuing the energy of the attack is part of the sensitivity needed to go with an unknown technique. This is part of the challenge of kata training, as it develops a habit of expecting a certain shape and timing of movement.

I've been using the phrase "relaxed extension" to try and describe structure without muscular tension. This is the quality needed in attacking and in the transition zone Jun mentioned.

Ukemi is endlessly interesting. I look forward to more insights!

Sharon

Alfonso
06-19-2003, 03:16 PM
Here's on exercise we did that helped me understand some of this better:

Nage with boken, Uke - unarmed.

Uke attacks with munetski:

Nage gets choice to

a - step off the line and cut Uke's from behind (yokomen cut)

b - step off the line and draw boken in horizontal chest level cut (to Uke's front)

As Uke you can avoid contact by

a - dive (roll optional)

b - let your feet keep running , while you slide / roll back

Uke doesn't get warning of which approach Nage will take.

as Uke you're forced to go in centered and not predisposed to either way of falling, not overly focused either or you'll be cut anyway.

start it slow, step up from there..

Dave Miller
06-19-2003, 04:03 PM
So, quick question. By "ukemi," are you referring to the falling and rolling part of receiving the technique? Or are you referring to everything that happens in between the attack and the fall?Good point, Jun. I am speaking mostly about falling, back falls in particular.
It's a difficult task, being able to take "unknown" ukemi. Trying to stay resilient, flexible, open-minded, and aware throughout is difficult! But, frankly, it's the same exact mindset and bodyset, I think, that you should have when you're nage/tori. I think there's no difference in the principles underlying being a good nage/tori and good uke, after all...

Hope that helps,

-- JunIt does. Thanks!