I once had an Aikido teacher who wouldn't teach koshinages to his students. He obviously knew koshinages quite well, because when I asked him about them he demonstrated two or three that looked better than any I'd seen before in my Aikido career.
His answer to me was that koshinages were too dangerous. He claimed that every year in Japan some people die from koshinage breakfalls by landing on their neck. I don't know if what he was saying was true or not. I haven't heard of such a thing happening in America. This sensei considered the risk too great to be worth the learning reward.
This sensei's Aikido was flawless, at least to my limited understanding at the time. His students were no slouches, either.
I personally would expect that the "average" Judoka would be better at taking falls than the "average" Aikidoka as the "average" Judoka has to deal with more dangerous and uncertain conditions in terms of falling than the "average" Aikidoka has to on a regular basis.
I would think that getting thrown by someone in competition who is using a lot of muscle and speed and whose technique you are not familiar with would be very good at teaching you how to fall well under a lot of uncertainty. If Judo class is to prepare you for these competitions, I would expect that it had many of those same elements.
I have seen that two of the people whose falls I consider to be excellent have come from Judo. Two guys come to mind: Clark from my current dojo, and Kevin from my first dojo. I have also seen Aikidoka whose falls are better than theirs, but they were also more senior so its not a fair comparison.
However, ukemi is only partially represented by taking falls.
I have noticed that my own falls have had to adapt when I've switched dojos (sometimes they have gotten better, sometimes worse), but most mid-level Aikidoka I have met have not switched dojos more than once or twice and probably don't go to enough seminars to get enough different partner experience in terms of fall practice. It is entirely possible that their falling is fragile.
I have also seen at least one person get their shodan who could not take two breakfalls if you requested it. I don't think that is necessarily a problem with their Aikido, but I do view it as a potential safety issue. However, if their partner is aware of this, and if their partner has control, I don't see why doing Aikido without breakfalls isn't possible.
One of the types of people I am most terrified of training with are people who think and act as though they can fall but who cannot. Those people are extremely dangerous to themselves and to others.
Last edited by Robert Rumpf : 05-26-2005 at 11:23 AM.