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."
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,