View Full Version : Poll: Which direction of falling do you think is the most dangerous for uke during aikido training?

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09-28-2003, 12:01 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of September 28, 2003:

Which direction of falling do you think is the most dangerous for uke during aikido training?

I don't do aikido

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=185).

09-28-2003, 11:07 AM
I don't think any of those directions are dangerous specifically.

Two things make falls dangerous, the amount of vertical (as opposed to horizontal) in a fall, and stopping the flow of a throw abruptly before it’s completion.

Vertical falls:

Horizontal falls lend themselves to pretty easy breakfalls, however vertical falls (i.e. upside-down, either shoulder first or head first) are very dangerous and more difficult to control.

I was living with my Uncle, and he only had one spare key that he kept hidden in the garage. One day I needed to come home early, so I was just going to hop over the fence and go into the garage. I pulled myself up to the top the fence (6 feet), with both hands on the top board I swung my leg up and placed my foot next to my hands on the top board, leaned over and prepared to kick off the fence and jump into the yard. Well the inside boards of the fence were all made of particle board to save money (chunks of wood laminated together – not solid natural wood boards) and it snapped with all my weight on it – and in an instant I slammed head first towards the ground (all concrete around his pool).

I had one breath to do “something”, so I wrenched my upper body to land more on my shoulder than my head and stuck out my arm just before I hit.

My hand and arm absorbed nothing, they crumpled like tin foil, I hit shoulder first instead of head first, but my neck whipped and my head stuck the pavement anyway (albeit not very hard). The rest of my body went sort of backwards and fell into a crumpled mass of Bruce. I was so shocked by the whole thing that I just lay there looking at the pretty blue water for a while.

So because the fall came unexpected, I just couldn’t react fast enough to fall better (perhaps if I had a little more time my arm could have been extended and more circular before I struck).

Stopping abruptly:

The other real danger I have seen cause the most damage in Aikido, is when nage does a strong flowing throw, but then stops his/her motion short of the proper completion (either by accident because they hesitate, or on purpose because they want to injure someone). Again when uke is in the motion, then suddenly has to “save themselves” they can’t do it fast enough and it usually results in an awkward and painful fall (many times an injury).


Greg Jennings
09-28-2003, 01:31 PM
Personally, I've heard accounts of several life-ending and life-threatening injuries from ukemi.

All were related to falling backwards.

In those where the uke actually died, it was from being repeatedly thrown onto the back of their head in shihonage.

In the life-threatening case, it was a broken neck from being fallen upon while demonstrating a rear roll.

Consequently, I try to *never* do any ukemi that places me in a position to smack my head into the mat and I try to *never* outside of ukemi-practice time (that is specifically structured to keep people from falling on each other).


Thor's Hammer
09-28-2003, 04:02 PM
All aikido deaths were a result of back breakfalls. It also depends on the seriousness of the throw. Without a throw (letting uke fall), backwards is by far safest. With a serious throw, I think Iriminage is just about the most dangerous one I can imagine.

09-28-2003, 04:30 PM
Hi !

I'll share a recent incident -

During ude kimenage I had to change direction

of the throw because of a wall,so it became

a front throw instead of to the side (cutting the ancles),uke rolls straight on the neck and it snaps !!!

We never found out what went wrong,but there are three things possible :

Uke didn't roll on his arm,

the drection was too straight so he was rolling on the spine,

the throw was too high so he landed on the neck instead of being lead to the mat.

Thank God he's back on the mat - with doctors warning !

I really had to analyse this to learn quickly !

Maybe it was a case of getting carried away,

so little and enough to cause serious damage.

We trained together again two days ago,and

this time it went alright.Phew!

Height means so much,like ukemi,the lower the safer.

Train safe - yours Chr.B.

09-28-2003, 06:09 PM
Falling backward is only dangerous because of the vertical (too much upside down, not enough flat), and it is just as dangerous to land forward towards your head/neck (ala shiho-nage or koshi-nage) than backward (ala irimi-nage) on your head/neck. While height of the fall does contribute to the amount of damage you will sustain, just your own body weight slammed onto your neck is sufficient to cause damage with no height/speed - although I usually practice shiho-nage in hanmi-handachi to lesser the risk anyway.

For other falls I "snap the wet towel" as I mentioned in another post, keeping my hold on uke until they level out flat - then release them (or move to a pin) after they hit the mat. I don't allow them to go head first into the mat ever.

Last second direction changes are the same as stopping abruptly (the second most dangerous I mentioned). Uke is prepared for (and possibly half way through) a certain type of fall and then nage is halting/changing the fall. Uke is now unprepared and doesn’t have enough time to react so the fall is erratic/awkward and generally chaotic.

I personally never change direction mid-throw for that very reason (it has always resulted in some sort of close call or minor to serious injury). Instead I simply grab uke and say, “wait!”


09-29-2003, 01:12 AM

I agree with Bruce.

The more veritcal, the more dangerous throw.

But abruptly stopped throws/movements are also very dangerous.

But I don't understand Christians problem. I do understand there was a problem, and it included a wall. But I don't understand that a udekemi-nage should give a problem like that.

As I see it uke has responsability to himself to take care of his ukemi. He shouldn't just "let go". The moment a throw is started, uke has the possiblity to ajust his ukemi, so he doesn't hit a wall or fellow Aikidoka.

But mybe I could see it one day.


09-29-2003, 03:28 AM
Which direction of falling do you think is the most dangerous for uke during aikido training?



09-29-2003, 04:37 AM

Depends if your in space... ;-)


09-29-2003, 04:44 AM
This (http://www.aikidojournal.com/articles/_article.asp?ArticleID=497) is a very interesting read on the subject.

09-29-2003, 06:04 AM
Hi !

Reagarding my incident,

I'm puzzled too because I feel very confident doing ude kimenage,

uke claims that he might have been rolling with wrong leg in front.

09-29-2003, 10:07 AM
I think there has to be differentiation between a role where the body is in contact with the ground at the start of the throw, and one where uke makes contact with their back/front more suddenly. Usually with contact the uke can control the throw more, whereas if the person is whipped into the air they may land first on their head/back of neck or face. In this case the back of the head is likely to be the most damaging.

However, most injuries I have seen during ukemi have been from forward rolls, mainly because the uke was unable to extend their arm sufficiently and damage their shoulder


10-02-2003, 05:02 AM
I was reading through this thread again, and I started to think about something else.

If you break you neck on a fall the "best" break is if the neck is broken in the back, and the worst if broken inside. I think it had something to do with the area swolling (sp?). If it swols in the back, not that bad, if it swols inside your neck you sufficate.

In this sense I would say the worst fall would be breaking your neck on a front fall.


Roger C. Marks
10-02-2003, 08:23 AM
In Judo the aim when applying nage is to land your 'opponent' on their back to score your full ippon (winning technique)and therefore your ukemi tend to be either fully backwards or slightly to one side. Causing someone to fall on their front scores nothing (if the referee is awake) so being thrown to the front should not be an issue so long as your partner is reasonably skilled and can control the direction of the throw. With a lifetime experience of Judo I voted for forwards being the most dangerous, but of course vertical is really the worst. I have practiced Aikido of varied styles which range from soft to hard and I am surprised that although the practice of ukemi is given great lip service the practice of ukemiwaza in the main seems to be neglected with beginners expected to pick up the techniques from sometimes painfull experience. Ukemiwaza are part of a normal Judo practice session with techniques to the front, sides, rear and forwards rolling. Even high grades will in general practice a full range ukemiwaza as part of the normal warm up session.

I am sure that when ukemiwaza becomes fluid and instinctive through repetition the risk of injury in falling in any direction is greatly reduced.

Bruce CB
10-02-2003, 11:28 AM
I'm new to this forum & not sure if what I'm about to share is related to this discussion 'coz this happen outside the dojo.

One of my old buddy in aikido (we were then training extensively for about 4 years in aikido, almost everyday) and it come to a point in our training that we try on several occasions doing randori (at full/realistic speed/attacks…I know, we were crazy then) on concrete floors or on any surface we found challenging to fall, maybe because at that time we were trying to “test” the effectivity of the things we learned (techniques or ukemi) and was never thinking straight of the possibility of injuries.

This buddy of mine went into military service and went further to train into the elite group (scout ranger). Right after graduating the course, he told us about his experience that he had an accident during a particular exercise, wherein they are required to jump-off the chopper at a certain height (about 10 to 15 feet, if my memory serves me right) with full battle gear. However, the chopper was very unstable because of wind factor. Unable to control the required height and stability, accidentally throw my buddy outside the chopper and went straight down. He told us that the only thing in his mind was “I’m dead” but maybe because of the years of practice, automatically prepared himself as if doing a break fall. And went ahead of the training with only a small bruise on his arm. Even his companion during the exercise could not believe what they have witness and told him that he should have been injured with a broken arm “at least” with a fall more than 20 feet with a very rugged terrain unprepared. And went further by saying that "if not for aikido I could now be in a body bag".

Anyway, I believe that there would come a time in our training that doing ukemi or performing a teacnique is just like speaking our second language automatically when needed.


10-02-2003, 05:31 PM
My only really bad injury was as Sh'te/Tori/Nage. I did Kokyu Nage with Hiriki No Yosei and my Uke's foot popped my knee-cap off and ripped my MCL.

I haven't votes, because you should not be doing any Ukemi from technique until you can do it without technique!