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Jerb 12-08-2005 10:23 PM

"Silent" Ukemi
Recently I have been thinking a lot about my ukemi and what makes "good ukemi." In that vein I have noticed that many of the aikidoka whom I consider to have "beautiful" ukemi are able to take rolls and even breakfalls with nary a sound. I have been thinking about how this is possible, i.e. being softer, more fluid, etc. and trying my ideas on the mat but I have had little success. Anybody out there have any insight on how to have silent ukemi? Is "silent/quiet" ukemi "better" ukemi? What makes good ukemi anyway? Finally, how can I improve my ukemi?

asiawide 12-08-2005 10:35 PM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi
Whatever makes you safe is a good ukemi. I think you should train ukemi toward 'more safe' not 'more quiet'.

aikidoc 12-08-2005 11:02 PM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi
There have been threads on silent breakfalls that might be of help. As pointed out-staying safe is good ukemi. Learning to stay connected ahd relaxed is also important.

senshincenter 12-09-2005 09:27 AM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi
A lot has to do with the architecture of the throw as well. For example, I've never seen a silent uke that was NOT receiving a throwing architecture that had a lot of openings (for turning, for repositioning, for gathering oneself, etc.). In other words, it's probably best that you match your ukemi to the architectures of your dojo's Aikido.

Jerb 12-09-2005 07:31 PM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi
I understand the idea of ukemi, I'm talking about techniques to improve ukemi. For example, I was thinking about back rolls and I thought, "If I start out sitting and roll back, I can lift my legs right away, staying more 'ball' like, or I can leave them on the mat longer stretching out more." Also, I noticed that you can really do a front roll in any direction, even backwards. What about silent rolls?

Charles Hill 12-09-2005 08:05 PM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi
I think the easy (and probably the best) answer is to get Donovan Waite`s two tape series on ukemi.

Another thing to do is do various rolls and such that you normally do during practice and look and listen to when and how you make sound. Then you can explore ways to change them so that they are silent and still allow you to be safe and give both you and your partners good practice. For example. a lot of noise comes from the feet hitting the mat after a forward roll. It would be an excellent practice for you to dream up and try various ways so that they don`t hit. That would be much more productive than having someone tell where to put your feet.

As far as silent ukemi being good or not, the sound comes from something smacking into something else, right? To prevent injury, nage must lessen the power of the technique or uke must tighten their muscles to an extreme degree, or they must utilize special equipment (meaning soft mats.) None of this seems like a good idea to be done on a regular basis.


I`m confused by your example. By it, can I assume that you mean that silent ukemi can only be done in response to nage`s poor "architecture"?


senshincenter 12-09-2005 08:44 PM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi

Jeffrey Erb wrote:
I understand the idea of ukemi, I'm talking about techniques to improve ukemi. For example, I was thinking about back rolls and I thought, "If I start out sitting and roll back, I can lift my legs right away, staying more 'ball' like, or I can leave them on the mat longer stretching out more." Also, I noticed that you can really do a front roll in any direction, even backwards. What about silent rolls?

Yes, this is what I was trying to refer to. In some throwing architectures, it is very possible to make every ukemi a kind of forward roll. However, in other ones, ones that do not have an opening for Uke to turn his/her body, should Uke attempt to reorient him/herself for a forward roll, Uke will be resisting the technique at some point in their body. For example, in some architectures of Irimi Nage tenkan (i.e. some versions done by some instructors), Uke can very well turn his/her body so that it is oriented to take a forward roll and not the back breakfall. In other architectures for this technique (i.e. other versions done by other instructors), Uke will be turning against the control point on the neck should he/she be attempting to turn the body into the forward roll position - making the throw more fully applied and thus less likely to land safely from.

A similar thing happens in Kokyu Ho (standing) from Katate-dori. Some architectures don't allow (i.e. don't require) for your center to come so far forward into the technique, which in turns allows you as Uke to do a backward roll or a back breakfall (the former being much quieter than the latter). However, some architectures really bring Uke's center forward into the technique before the throw is attempted - which makes it impossible to do the backward roll (especially if Nage really enters with their hip like they are supposed to) - leaving only the option for the "louder" back breakfall (and one version in particular - which requires a kind of contraction of Uke's own center, followed by a sudden expansion of that center - allowing Uke to sort of be "shot" out of the technique).

Also, some folks tend to round their back break-falls, which certainly makes them quieter and even quicker in terms of getting on one's feet again, however, some Aikido training paradigms look down upon the fact that these versions often break zanshin and/or the Nage/Uke connection because Uke has to often give his/her back to Nage in order to round the corners of this fall (which is another reason that some Aikido's frown upon the backward roll as an ukemi alternative to the back breakfall).

As you can see, against certain Aikido architectures (as they come to us via a given instructor's preference) some attempts to "smooth" or to "quiet" ukemi are actually seen not as improvements. They are seen as mistakes and/or as a departure from key training concepts - thus they are often even seen as very dangerous. Hence, my first post saying, "It all depends where you are, where you go."


Hi Charles,

Sorry, read your post after I first wrote this. However, I'm thinking that maybe one can read this post also as a attempt to clear things up a bit in the last post - since it includes examples. Let me know if that works, or if not, I'll try again.

let me know,

Amelia Smith 12-10-2005 08:04 AM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi
I used to have very quiet breakfalls, and was advised by one (very good) instructor that I should slap to make more noise because that would absorb more of the impact of the fall. I've tried that, and it sort of works, but I found that for me, most of the time, the quiet breakfalls were also more comfortable.

The key factor in developing a quiet break fall, in my experience, is developing strong stomach muscles. Actually, it's probably all of the "core" muscles. Other things that help are practice (duh) and being thrown well. Generally, I have not been able to do silent ukemi from really hard, drill-uke-into-mat throws.

have fun.

Aran Bright 12-15-2005 01:12 AM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi
I don't know if you have seen the yoshinkan style of break fall/roll, this may be one to try. I 've seen some very experienced uke's take ukemi by placing the hand down in a breakfall and then allowing the rest of the body to settle. sorry poor description i must admit it look much smoother and less impact than the judo style. However i am still undecided a hard slap with the hand does allow the body to settle comfortably too and allow for quickly regaining footing.

In forward roll i believe any impact is noise therfore sending forces through the body so from that point softer could be better. Relaxation is the key there.

Also the core strength is very important, Pilate's type exercises definitely help.

roosvelt 12-20-2005 09:57 AM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi
Agree with the core strength is very important. And also your flexibility helps your lower your centre of gravity while your foot is still in touch with ground. I saw an old aikidoka practically already on mat before the actual "roll/fall" in kategaeshi. It might not be good in martial sense. But it sure will save the wear and tear of old bones while still taking a "breakfall" without nage have to change throw technique.

justin 12-20-2005 12:01 PM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi
does ukemi get better with practice sometimes i find it painfull others not so bad

Lan Powers 12-20-2005 05:37 PM

Re: "Silent" Ukemi
Proper practice makes (closer to)perfect...

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