View Full Version : Practical use of ukemi

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11-24-2004, 05:25 PM
Hello everyone! I've been practicing aikido for about 3 months now, and i like every moment of it. The second thing i was taught at my dojo was rolls. (the first one was movements).

So, i was playing basketball with some friends, and i somehow got my legs entangled. The funny thing is, i didn't panic at all. I just let my body lean forward, lifted my legs, and done a fair ukemi (fair given the circumstances). It probably saved my bones from cracking, as it was all happening fast.

My question to you would be: Do you have any similar experiences where you used ukemi out of the dojo? Would you like to share it with us?

Thankful in advance,

Nebojsa Mrmak

11-24-2004, 06:12 PM
Well mine is more intentional. I'm a dancer at the Dickens Fair in San Francisco and I do comedy so i'm falling down alot onstage. Its really visually effective to do ukemi in lots & lots of petticoats or draperies- this year I'll be doing a backward roll,landing flat on my face (in a corset) and get dragged offstage.

Ah, Theater!

11-24-2004, 11:03 PM
someone from our dojo was riding behind the driver on a motorbike. they got sideswiped by a another vehicle. he said the first instinct and voice he heard in his head was front roll. he flew a few feet away just when impact occurred. he got away from the mess with a scraped elbow. his friend wasn't so lucky. he got more injuries...
i got to use front roll with an umbrella. someone on a bike bumped into me in the rain :mad: ...gave me a new take on " singing in the rain" mwahahahaha ;)

Devin McDowell
11-25-2004, 06:08 AM
I was jumping over a low fence when my foot caught it just as I was going over. I ended up heading face-first towards the ground. One front roll later, all I suffered was a bruised ego.

A few days ago I rolled halfway down a 4 story hill in forward rolls. No pain or injuries, just dizzyness.

11-25-2004, 07:04 AM
Hi my names Mark and I'm an alcoholic, I've been taking ukemi from drunken falls for a about 7 years now. It's good to share.


Ukemi: No 1 aikido self defence technique, 9 out of 10 cats that can flip in mid air and land on their feet recommend it.

11-25-2004, 07:21 AM
I was drink on a bicycle once, hit a broken branch on the floor (it was very windy) and fell off, dislocating my collar bone. Unfortunately I didn't roll!

However I have tripped and rolled previously. Also I know one ninja technique is a ukemi into the attacker! (I think you may even grab their ankle as you roll over).

11-25-2004, 09:43 AM
Thank you for your responses! I have a new story to add. I bought new shoes (well, actually, those are Magnum boots), and i'm very proud of them and stuff (extra silent, water resistant, comfy...) Anyway, i wanted to test them so i did a jump from just over 2m at my school (i know, i'm a freak... I'm not always like that). My boots absorbed the shock very well, but i was unstable at the landing, so i just did a front roll. Probably wouldn't break anything, but it was a nice touch to doing a very silent jump.

I had experiences with low fences, but always ended up hurting my knees and bruising my arms(that was before i took Aikido). I really wonder how long it takes for the roll to be a natural part of your life.

11-25-2004, 09:54 AM
My husband and I were trail riding when his saddle came loose and dumped him. He did the judo roll he was taught as a kid and came up on his feet. The trail guide was freaked. Apparently once you learn ukemi you never forget them completely.

I haven't been as lucky. The one time I needed an ukemi (tripped over a tree root) I had just time to think "If I do a forward roll with this bulky backpack I'm gonna die" AND "Darn it, an aikido student should be able to do better than this" before taking a faceplant ukemi on the gravel.

No, actually, it has helped once. I was bodysurfing and had badly misjudged the size of the waves. A large wave hit me and took me over backwards. I curled into a ball and did back rolls, rather than trying to straighten out, and I think this kept me from getting badly pounded and probably injured. At it was, I was honking sand out of my sinuses for the rest of the day.

Mary Kaye

Lan Powers
11-25-2004, 10:11 AM
Slick floor at work + forward momentum + lapse in attention = forward roll
No damage except ego

Thom Hansen
12-23-2004, 02:53 AM
I came of my motorbike at 80 kilometers/hour (approx 50 mph ) went into a forward roll, didn't even scratch the leather jacket or helmet ....

Jen R
12-23-2004, 11:32 AM
I had surgery on both feet this past spring. My balance was pretty messed up during the recovery, couldn't shift my weight to balance myself normally or anything like that. So a couple times I caught one foot or another and went into a nice little sidefall, then got up unhurt. The best thing was the lack of panic or fear. It was like, "OK, I'll fall now."

Thom Hansen
12-23-2004, 07:52 PM
Just decided to check out the forums for the day, went to sit on chair (with wheels), chair rolls from under me ... into back ukemi .......un hurt ,,,,,,,,,,, now thats practical lol

Best wishes to all for the festive season

Larry John
12-23-2004, 08:23 PM
I've got three to add:

1. Was running into the street to catch the mailman when the toe of my slipper caught on the crown of the street. I went directly into a forward roll without thinking and came up on my feet without a scratch.

2. In the basement of my old house, I slipped while taking a fast turn on a wet linoleum floor and did a hard breakfall. My hand stung a bit, but everything else was fine.

3. My college volleyball coach always told us that "the only ball you can guarantee you can't get to is the one you won't try for." This is how I've always played (and tried to live). Anyway, while playing sand volleyball with my daughter I laid out at full speed to get to a spike that had gone off my daughter's dig and was headed out of bounds. While in the air fully extended, I noticed that there was a cement curb surrounding the sand pit, and that if I pancaked the way I usually would have, I'd land right on it and break some ribs. So I slapped the curb with my low hand and rotated into a forward roll in the air, then landed on my feet just outside the curb. The other folks on the court were impressed, but I was upset that I'd failed to get to the darn ball.

This may have something to do with my sensei's frequent advice that I should focus less on goals and more on process ...

Vincent Munoz
12-24-2004, 08:51 AM
Once in basketball, when I run to defend a fast break. I was ahead of their forward. He was not looking at me because he's trying to catch the ball from behind. When he got the ball, then face to their goal, we collide. I did the USHIRO UKEMI(Back roll) at my instinct. I never thought it would happen. It just happen.

12-25-2004, 02:23 PM
Once I was dancing at a club when I slipped in a puddle of what I presumed to be beer. I did a soft backfall, and rolled back up to a standing position. My friends thought it was some sort of weird dance move.

01-03-2005, 01:41 AM
I am a supervisor on the night shift for a security company. I have tried to get quite a few people that I work with to start studying with me (Ive been studying for a year). They are all skeptical about Aikido, saying that it is not effective in a real life situation.

One day everyone was joking around in the office and we were all pushing eachother around. Someone pushed me from behind, but when they did, I sort of automatically did syundo (spelling?), or a weird variation of it. Anyway, before I knew it I was facing my co-worker, and he was just getting his balance back.

01-17-2005, 09:49 AM
one time I was riding horse back at my friends ranch. they failed to inform me that the horse I was riding was his sisters horse for competition, & well I'm a bit of a novice rider. the horse started to go really fast & I saw a fence coming up so I pulled on the reins as hard as possiblethe horse stopped just before the fence sadly I didn't (friggin innertia) I did a forward roll, & while I landed up side down, stopped by the fence. I didn't hit my head, & other than being rather muddy I was alright

01-17-2005, 05:30 PM
I was rollerblading in the evening a little while ago and didn't see the water hose lying in the middle of the sidewalk. :freaky: So my blades stopped and I didn't. I thought to myself 'Oh, owie' and then face planted it. Not enoght practice. *sighz and heads back to the dojo* =0)

Mat Hill
01-19-2005, 07:35 AM
Fell A over T on some ice in the street once, on quite a slope going down, legs horizontal, at about chest height, spectacular! Automatically did ushiro ukemi into standing. Hardcore-looking street gang looking-on actually cheered, whooped and clapped.

Rather more seriously, flew ten metres out and down from a broken rope swing when I was old enough to know better, onto a steep slope with brambles and broken glass... moments of bliss through flying, then landed relaxedly (definitely by luck than judgement) into backward breakfall then immediately into a forward roll and made it with both kegs intact but a slight nagging (still) knee injury.

Couple of years later, had to dodge a riot van in a riot outside Hyde Park... scrambled onto the fence (in those days higher than now), lost my balance and dived a full two metres into a perfect mae ukemi... proud of that one... avoidance in combat, through getting out of the wrong place at the wrong time: pure aiki?! :D

Beth Mizuno
01-19-2005, 02:50 PM
Hit a patch of ice as I was going to work. I had an open cup of coffee in my hand and a purse and a backpack on my shoulder. My feet went up -- and the rest of me went down, right into a break fall. I watched the coffee as it seemed to flow straight up into the air and then come down into my cup. It was the strangest sight -- that coffee. Got up and went on to work, a little bruised but still perfectly serviceable.

Ukemi is a wonderful thing.

This is my first post. I am a student at Saotome Sensei's dojo in Washington, D.C. Been practicing since 1985, but took six years off in the middle (maternity and childcare responsibilities). Hello all!

Alvin H. Nagasawa
01-19-2005, 08:53 PM
I would say that you are very fortunate that your training in Aikido had prepared you on that cold and Ice laden situation. I commend you for bring it out to all of us. And too experience the coffee returning into the cup as you have experienced. What mind bogging experience. Once in a life time reaction. Time stood still didn't it.

Keep safe and health in your walk down the path of Aikido. :) :ai: :ki: :do:

01-30-2005, 10:44 PM
I was always taught you are MUCH more likely to fall then you are to be attacked, so know how :)

01-31-2005, 12:37 AM
I was parking my bike after a long twisty ride when all of a suddent the front wheel stopped ( i did not notice a big stone which caused the front wheel to stop). Anyway, I was steering to the ight when this happened, then the bike started to lean to the right side. No choice but to dismount, and had to dismount in a hurry or my right leg will be caught....there goes the front roll...over the handle bars, stood right back and killed off the switch before picking up my fallen baby.

Alvin H. Nagasawa
01-31-2005, 01:08 AM
I was always taught you are MUCH more likely to fall then you are to be attacked, so know how :)
Mr. Constable You said in your reply I was always taught you are MUCH more likely to fall then you are to be attacked, So know how. :confused:
I don't understand your direction in your comment? Are you saying you have to fall before you are attacked?. So know how?. You should ask your instructor in the same dialog you are trying to put across here :confused:

Good luck in your training.I hope your instructor can help you along. :)

01-31-2005, 05:11 AM
Mr. Constable You said in your reply I was always taught you are MUCH more likely to fall then you are to be attacked, So know how. :confused:
I don't understand your direction in your comment? Are you saying you have to fall before you are attacked?. So know how?. You should ask your instructor in the same dialog you are trying to put across here :confused:

Good luck in your training.I hope your instructor can help you along. :)

Huh? It was clear to me that he was saying it is much more likely you will fall down at some point in your life than be attacked.


01-31-2005, 07:48 AM
Personally, I was putting a light in a small hallway with a tall ceiling. The ladder slipped out from under me. I relaxed and took the fall. My wife was impressed I didn't hit out break anything, including myself.

I also have a Sempai who took a 17 foot drop including a tree limb, a ladder, and a chainsaw. His wife said, if he hadn't turned and rolled it would have been a lot worse.

Amir Krause
01-31-2005, 09:04 AM
Too many cases to remember them all, though personally I always end with breakfalls ukemi rather then rolling (Backwards Ukemi, forward etc). In one case at the steps, on another, I thought of rolling by my leg was stuck so I had to make a forward break fall. In both cases, I got up, washed my hands and that was it - no damage.

I have heard other practitioners in the Dojo who have rolled from bike or bicycles.


01-31-2005, 02:52 PM
Yes, I definatley ment you are much more likely to fall down in your lifetime then you are to be attacked heh.

Christian Orderud
02-01-2005, 06:35 AM
Haven't had any real-life use of rolling yet, but a friend of my slipped in a stairway, carrying a cardboardbox filled with pictureframes and glass. I managed to "roll" over the cardboardbox and landed on his feet at the end of the stair, instade of falling on top of the cardbordbox, which might have ended up with him being seriously cut by the glass, as well as hitting the end of the stair hard. Himself, he says it's ukemi-practice that made him able to do it. :)

02-04-2005, 12:28 AM
Do you have any similar experiences where you used ukemi out of the dojo? Would you like to share it with us?

Thankful in advance,

Nebojsa Mrmak

I brought my dog in from a walk a few weeks ago and she pulled when I didn't expect it. She pulled hard enough that the one foot that was on the door mat moved with the door mat but the other foot stayed put. I fell over backwards. Although one leg folded up in a way it shouldn't have and I hit my knee on the floor, enough of the rear sitfalls we have been doing kicked in and I instintively kept my head up, thereby NOT smacking the back of my head (or worse, the top of my neck!) on the sliding door's track. My dog ran over, instantly concerned; trying to get up when an excited 50 pound dog is trying to sniff your face is an interesting experience.

I think she know she screwed up, though, because she hasn't yanked like that since.

02-04-2005, 08:14 AM
I started to inline-skate without any protection and always was falling on my ass or knees/hands (still have all the marks). That was going on for about 1-1.5 month of every weekend skating in parks. Than I started to roll during the fall and was able to sleep at night and walk normally :)

I wasn't practicing aikido at that moment, and my first aikido experience was maybe 2-3 lessons 4 years before this. So I guess it was more natural thing then just ukemi practice :)

Thor's Hammer
02-05-2005, 11:03 PM

I use it frequently, mostly in roll form, though.

02-05-2005, 11:15 PM
Actually yeah...I have a few since I have a tendency to fall a lot....you know, slick floors, frisbee football, the usual right?...

One time I was playing frisbee football, or ultimate frisbee...whatever you want to call it, and I was running after the disc when I forgot which foot was leading and just fell...so I proceeded to do a forward roll that was almost a flip...that was fun...

Another time I was carrying a rack of glasses (I work at a restaurant as a bus boy so I walk on slippery floors and carry stuff quite often) and I stepped out of dish land and just lost balance...so instead of trying to regain my lost balance, which might have resulted in me dropping/breaking the glasses, I just did a back fall and got up and put the glasses (all of which were intact) up...

Those are my experiences...


Peter Kovessi
02-08-2005, 08:26 AM
I have broken a few cellphones with ukemi :) Unfortunately i keep them in my back pocket

But i have never broken a bone, so i guess it is worth it :)

02-22-2005, 05:12 PM
I have broken a few cellphones with ukemi :) Unfortunately i keep them in my back pocket

But i have never broken a bone, so i guess it is worth it :)
Well, you might have learned something... Keep your cell phone away from the contact line. :D

I have had a couple more succesful ukemies on the street since I started this thread. Two were on a tree root, and one was on snow.

Oh, and I just love practicing ukemi on snow. It's the greatest feeling. Obviously, you have to make sure that the ground underneath is free of things that might injure you.

Happy :ai::ki::do:-ing

02-22-2005, 08:26 PM
Great stories! I play soccer and many a time have I dove for something or over-stepped myself only to find the ground rushing up at me quickly and then to come popping out of the fall in a crisp little roll and running back toward the ball. It's great fun!