View Full Version : Ukemi training

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!

06-15-2004, 12:46 PM
I am interested in knowing how much time is put into ukemi training by the aikiweb community. By that I mean learning to properly attack, as well as various ways to stay connected to nage. Many times I have seen various dojo spend time on rolling or breakfalls but not really the complete role of uke. I'm sure it varies from dojo to dojo but I would like to get an idea of what's going on out there.

tony cameron
06-15-2004, 01:34 PM
hi Asim,
in regular class we spend only a small amount of time after stretches doing ukemi practice (roughly 2 min.) i.e, forward and backward rolling across the mat. but for uke to maintain magnetic or 'sticky' contact with nage is constantly stressed throughout the sessions. about once every three months one of our instructors holds a dedicated Ukemi seminar on a saturday and we do nothing but drill Ukemi and practice safety for two hours. i can't tell you how much these Ukemi seminars have benefited my physical and mental understanding of falling without damaging myself, and Aikido is so much more enjoyable to learn when i don't feel like i've been hit by a truck (the mat). i really appreciate these seminars and look forward to any opportunity to improve my 'falling skills.' IMO, my role as uke is to stay heavy and maintain a magnetic contact so that nage can train properly, but also to fall gracefully and effortlessly to the ground so that i can continue to train.


06-15-2004, 01:58 PM
Your right. Ukemi is more than just falling. Ukemi starts when you first bow in with a partner and it doesn't matter if you ar uke or tori/nage. Ukemi starts with good zanshin. Students in Jiyushinkai are taught that ukemi means receiving energy. Nothing in this implies taking falls and since the roll of uke is the hardest part in what we do, ukemi is one of the first thing we teach students and continue teaching throughout their practice. We start with tai sabaki and then falls. We teach ma-ai. How to deliver energy in an attack and then proper recovery and fitting from balance breaks. After close to 9 years of training here, I am still having this stuff drilled into me.

Of course if it wasn't, my two motorcycle accidents could have ended a lot worse than they did.

06-15-2004, 02:23 PM
It never fails to amuse me how people will "fall asleep at the wheel" while training. They KNOW what the attack and technique is and just wait to complete the ensuing choreography. At a seminar recently, a fellow let me walk (sic: walk, not jab or thrust) the tip of my BOKKEN right into his throat because that wasn't the attack I was SUPPOSED to make. This is dead training (I'm not so amused, though, when I find myself training in lockstep this way, which I occasionally do).

I emphasize ZANSHIN--loosely, combative vigilance--from the first time my students bow into a partner. When they grab my wrist, I push them backwards into the mat with my palm against their chin if they don’t protect themselves. Usually, the obvious message conveyed non-verbally isn’t enough; I have to TELL them to deny UKE/NAGE access to their face, i.e., block punches, and get their own hand up to intercept the attack. I make the point that this cuts both ways. As NAGE, they can wait to defend an oncoming attack or keep UKE’s other hand busy defending against NAGE’s ATEMI.

I also hector students who lollygag after defending/recovering. If NAGE isn’t prepared for my next attack by the time I’ve fallen, gotten up, and returned, they get unceremoniously dumped as soon as I get into range. If they rise unaware of me, perhaps to arrange their DOGI, they get the same. It may sound harsh, but the reality is playful with sheepish grins, a sense of challenge, and better mat awareness the next time. You perform as you’re trained so I emphasize awareness; this is going to work in the manner of prevention on the street so that aikido “works” long before any attack or technique.

Jordan Steele
06-15-2004, 05:05 PM
It's nice to hear that other dojos put such emphasis on ukemi and have the correct mindset. The dojo I train in strongly promotes ukemi, but unfortunately no other dojos in the area do, making seminars and interdojo training very difficult. Anyway, we are trained to realize that ukemi is not the art of falling, but the art of surviving. Our basic ukemi warmup is the same routine as most dojos, but during training uke tries very hard to stay light, bouncy, somewhat threatening, and to look for openings in nages technique(surviving). Most people in the dojo are very fit and if they're not, it usually doesn't take long before they quit or train harder. Uke is a demanding role and a set of four iriminages would tire a triathlete.

06-15-2004, 05:35 PM
The type of awareness training that Don described above is what was emphasized in my karate days.
Actually Don, if you got swept in my old dojo you could expect an axe kick coming your way if you didn't get up:-) So I don't think you are too harsh!
Unfortunately I don't see that too much in aikido. Normally it's been amongst a clique-ish group within the dojo.
I mostly see rolling stressed during warmups and maybe every now and then a class focusing on some aspect of ukemi. It seems to me that nage-ism is getting the most attention throughout training although we always hear to be a good nage you should focus on ukemi. In fact many times ukemi only gets attention is when uke is not "attacking" or complying as expected.
I would definitely like to see aikidoka taught how to attack properly, stay connected, and prod for openings in an appropriate manner.
These responses are good.

06-16-2004, 01:28 PM
The type of awareness training that Don described above is what was emphasized in my karate days.

My karate days definitely inform my aikido training. I know how fast people can move and how strong they can come in when they want to. That's always in my mind when I deal with training in a cooperative context.

Karen Wolek
06-17-2004, 09:39 AM
I think I get corrected more often on my ukemi than on technique. Hands down. So I think it's safe to say that at my dojo, learning ukemi is very important! And not just rolling and falling.....the attack, staying connected, proper ma'ai, getting up after falling, protecting yourself, where you are looking, etc...

06-17-2004, 11:20 AM
It's interesting that there seems to be a focus on the uke "sticking" to the nage when in fact, isn't that ultimately nage's job? I'm getting the mental image of uke holding his attacking arm out rigid and extended giving nage time to practice. I think this is absolutely necessary initially, but at some point it has to be up to nage to establish and maintain connection.

Does anyone practice a "punch and pull" or combination attack? Something like a jab followed by a power shot? Or a grab followed by a series of strikes with the other hand (we used to call it a sewing machine attack in TKD)?


Ron Tisdale
06-17-2004, 11:55 AM
Does anyone practice a "punch and pull" or combination attack? Something like a jab followed by a power shot? Or a grab followed by a series of strikes with the other hand (we used to call it a sewing machine attack in TKD)?

Yoshinkan aikido kata include waza against grab and strike attacks. The one I've seen the most is wrist or shoulder grab then side strike. Daito ryu has similar waza.

A friend of mine and I sometimes practice combination attacks...the best defense that I've found here is evation first, then let an appropriate technique pop out. A lot of step-in throws... Two handed covering blocks on entry also seem to have some success.


06-17-2004, 01:24 PM
Chris, I actually think its both nage and ukes responsibility. As uke, I know if I stick close to nage I have a better chance of protecting myself, countering, and developing a better sense of feel. My sone has been doing a lot of wrestling the past 4 years and because of the different emphasis he disengages as he is being thrown. Wrestlers have a tendency to arch and turn towards the floor instead of going into a backroll or backbreakfall. Needless to say I am not pleased but lets not go there...
Anyways, because of this he puts himself in a worse tactical position. Also like Don said, I know from boxing and karate, the closer I can- get the safer I am. I can smother the punches that way.
I like to train in ukemi where nage can work on leading and uke can work on staying connected. If you do that you both can "find the holes" like a running back, if you know what I mean.

06-18-2004, 05:06 PM
Asim, I agree with you 100%. I personally prefer to be in very close right behind the shoulder, but that's just me. I do believe that one role of uke is to point out potential reversals, escapes and danger points during the technique.

My interpretation of the "staying connected" that was mentioned above is for me to hold the attacking pose and maintain the energy of the attack long enough for nage to do his thing. Necessary at first but to be gotten away from over time.

Ron, I've had similar experience with some "free sparring". Controlling the maai and entering deeply and covered are key!


06-18-2004, 10:12 PM
"The best way to become a good nage is to be a good uke."

This is a quote from my Sempai that he tells us. As a good uke, you learn to throw yourself into a break-fall, ukemi, or fall no matter what you get into. We also spend time learning to throw good punches, kicks, and other attacks in order to be make things more realistic in our practice. As a good uke, you also learn how to feal your nage and what they are doing to you so that you can learn when you need to go with it and when you need to do some sort of fall.

-- Jim

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
06-19-2004, 02:33 AM
Hmm, that's odd, Ron...I've never seen grab-and-strike attacks in the Yoshokai curriculum.

I've experimented a little, mainly by using type 2 (ura-waza for the rest of you guys) techniques. For instance, on mune-mochi ikkajo, if they start to punch when you get their arm up, cross step in and one-eighty to flow with the punch.

Reminds me of a quote I've heard but not thoroughly investigated... "In mune-tsuki kotegaeshi, there is no kotegaeshi if there isn't a second punch." Interesting idea.

Sue Trinidad
06-20-2004, 05:48 PM
In the month and a half I've been training, I haven't had much instruction in ukemi. I'm not really worried about my safety--it's not as if anyone is throwing me into scary breakfalls or anything--but I feel that I may be shorting my partner on their training. I'm pretty sure my attacks are crummy. It's hard for me to tell how hard/fast to go at nage. There was one time that I was supposed to deliver a tsuki attack, and the sempai (super-talented) didn't move: he said he wanted to see if I was really going to hit him. (I was going to, I think because his own technique is very forceful. Not injury-producing, but I know I'm going to experience pain when I work with him.)

The question of how much resistance I'm supposed to provide as uke is also confusing to me. "Let nage do the technique" sometimes seems to mean, "Let her walk through the steps and get a feel for the mechanics of it, slowly, and play along," and other times, "Make nage perform the technique, don't just roll over and play dead." Or maybe it all depends on who you're working with? Earlier this week we were practicing iriminage and sensei told me I should be using my flexibility and low center of gravity (I'm really short) to help nage work on the technique. . . ie, making them bend me way back until I lost my balance. Very different experience for me and for nage.

So much to learn. Fortunately, there is a ukemi seminar coming up!

06-20-2004, 08:54 PM
Susan, I usually don't add too much resistance at first. As nage gets comfortable I may add more resistance or motion but still not too much- just enough to force nage to complete his technique and not cut it short.
I also think using weapons helps a great deal to imrove your ukemi. Your attack has to be more focused and protecting yourself after attacking a premium.

Ron Tisdale
06-21-2004, 08:10 AM
Hmm, that's odd, Ron...I've never seen grab-and-strike attacks in the Yoshokai curriculum.

I don't know if the grab strike techniques are hold overs from my teacher's time with Kushida Sensei or not...they may be more standard yoshinkan techniques, or of his own creation. Typically in the kyu tests around 3rd to 1st kyu, from supplimental movement (hojo dosa). Its basically an evasion into a grab and strike such as

Hojo Dosa, Mune Mochi, Yokomenuchi Hijiate Kokyu Nage Ichi (Supplemental Movement: Chest Grasp, Side Strike, Hitting Elbow Breath Throw #1).

An atemi is used in combination with movement to break the chest grasp, and the throw is done on the side striking arm.