View Full Version : Trouble with rolling!

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08-02-2004, 10:22 PM

Today I took part in a belt exam after being in Aikido for 2 days. Now I was told that this was just to be a learning experience and so I took the class.

We went through various things (one of them moving like a compass) where I couldn't get my foot work quite right. Very frustrating and I didn't really get help from sensei either. I guess its one of those things that you have to personally work on?

Well anyway, down to the real reason I posted.

I can't roll, not even from a kneeling position. I try everyday, there and by myself and I can't figure it out. It's really strange. I almost feel "retarded" so to speak. Are there any tips or techniques that might make my problem a tad bit easier?

Please this would help as I am attending Atemi Ryu Jujitsu to get the basics down until I get my license which would let me drive to South Florida Aikido.

Thanks a lot!

08-03-2004, 12:42 AM
Though I am no expert myself, I will try to walk you through the steps as I learned them recently.

1. Start from a crouch on the toes/balls of the feet. Have your right knee up and pointing the direction in which you intend to roll. Have your left knee on the ground at a 90 degree angle to your right leg.

2. Place your left hand on the ground, palm down, parallel with your right leg and approximately even with your right knee. Your fingertips should be pointed in the direction you intend to roll.

3. Put your right knee to the ground.

4. Place your right hand on the ground, palm down, inbetween your left hand and right knee. Fingertips should be pointing opposite the direction you intend to roll. Your right hand should be slightly staggered (closer to your body) with your left.

5. Tuck your chin to your chest. Turn your head slightly to the left (30 to 45 degrees).

6. Push off with your left foot into a roll motion. You should be moving forward in general, with your head going down and back, while your left foot continues up and forward. Keep your head in the position described in step (5).

7. Throughout step (6), you should try to maintain contact with the ground with your right arm. It should be relaxed and slightly bent.

Think of a wheel. Your right arm is the first part to act as the edge of the wheel - the contact portion. Your wheel wants to roll from your right hand, up your arm, to your right shoulder (you should be keeping your neck and head off the ground the entire time, hence the placement of the chin), and continue across your back on a diagonal line from your right shoulder to your left hip. You should end up in the exact same position you started in. Perhaps somebody could further describe the actual roll in more detail if this does not work for you. My ability only allows me to comment on the initial steps to setting up and trying the roll - I have not reached a level of perfection where I am aware of all moments of the actual roll. However, I hope this helps.

Best of luck,

08-03-2004, 07:12 AM
You will need the flash plugin but click here (http://www.kiaikido.ca/kiaikido/index_html/guide/5th/ukemi.html)

Hopefully it will help a bit. :)

Anat Amitay
08-03-2004, 07:25 AM
Hi Alex,
To start with, rolling takes time, for some more and for some less. I myself, thought I'd never know how to roll in the beginning and returned home with blue- brown shoulders every time, but eventually it settles in.
You already got some good advice here, but if it's still hard try this:
Stand on all 4 (or 6 as some say since knees are also touching).
Decide which side you want to roll on and the same hand take off the floor and "pull" it under your stomach in the direction of the other leg (knee).
Tuck your head inand let your shoulder touch (not fall on!) the floor, as you send your hand further backwards.
At this point you will have to roll.
This is not a perfect roll but it lets your body feel the technique and lessens the fear that doesn't let you roll properly. Slowly try from higher standing points (like the one spin13 wrote you) and so on.
If you didn't understand anything of what I meant, feel free to ask.
Good luck, and don't loss hope, it takes time and practise, just like everything else!
enjoy training,

08-03-2004, 11:11 AM
You may want to try backward ukemi or rolling back and forth from a sittig position. Sometimes this helps to get you rolling posture down. Also some people find it less intimidating than rolling forward.
Once you are comfortable with backward rolls, try to reverse the process.

08-03-2004, 11:37 AM
Thanks a lot everyone for your replies!

But anytime I ask my sensei for help he sends me with someone who may know the technique but who doesn't know how to teach the technique. Which I think are two different things.

I think I might stop by another one of their dojos that is the same distance away and see I can get some assistance with a great teacher that I have heard about in their other location.

But it'd be great if you keep spitting on tips! Thanks!

08-03-2004, 02:01 PM
Just to clarify my original post, and to add to what Anat said, the first 5 steps I listed can be performed statically. By this I mean, do each one separate from the other in a series of non-fluid motions. Doing this slowly and in order is what helped me get my forward rolls down. My step (4) is essentially the same as pulling your rolling arm under yourself as Anat also mentioned, except done slowly and diliberately with the focus on maintaining contact with the ground.

As for your sensei and sempai, I would recommend politely talking to them either before or after your next training session. Explain to them not that they are teaching incorrectly, but that perhaps they are going too quickly, not breaking things down enough, and that despite the attention of the sempai, you are still having difficulty. If it is permitted, ask to have both of them watch your rolls with the hope that one of them can correct or give tips on something the other is missing. Its my feeling that the sensei is ultimately responsible for your growth and for keeping you safe and this is something that can only be facilitated by senior students but not done by senior students alone. If the teacher isn't willing to help, perhaps you might find it worthwhile to wait until you can go to another dojo.

Take it easy,

Janet Rosen
08-03-2004, 06:17 PM
It can take many classes to "do" a basic roll, in any form, and months to feel one is doing them well. Most of us felt like (in my words as a newbie) "happy idiots". You are asking your body to do something unfamiliar. Be patient.
I agree that there is a huge difference between a person who can roll well and a person who can teach rolling well. Understand also, there are styles of learning and of teaching, and you may have a different learning style than those who thus far have been asked to teach you. Be patient with them too, but persistent (nicely) about your need for specific instruction.

Jeanne Shepard
08-03-2004, 10:58 PM
IMHO. rolling, (i.e. staying with it 'til you can do it) is what separates those who dabble in Aikido and those who stick with it. Trying to get something that doens't come easy is something that can teach you alot about yourself.

Jeanne :p