Mike Sigman wrote:
...Because slapping with the hand can be detrimental in falls on concrete, stones, etc., many martial arts don't do it. They absorb the impact with the body so that they won't injure the hand (which they need to fight with)...
Oh brother!!! Falling on concrete and such is detrimental in and of itself. I get a chuckle out of reasoning like this because why would I be falling on concrete and rocks? If I get to a point where I have to be taking falls in these types of conditions probably means that quite a few more
important things have gone Kapooy!
During this thread and many others on this site, there has been a vibrant debate as to the basic components of Aikido and whether or not people know or have been practicing them correctly. What makes ukemi any different? First off, if ukemi training is viewed simply as an additive to what constitutes a complete understanding of the basics then you pretty much have your answer right there.
Falling and slapping is a beginner's stage of understanding and execution. Ukemi is like any other part of a martial art…it is adaptive. If you think that there is just a singular response to a given situation is just incomplete.
That being said, however, to think that there is no strengthening measures to be found in the art of falling is incomplete as well. Falling and slapping strengthens the body so that one can take the falls outside of the dojo without harm being caused to oneself. It is no different than thrusting your fists into a giant pot of sand or punching water or even punching a thick wooden board wrapped in rope!
In fact, the quickest way to judge the quality of your ukemi is to get off the mat and do them on a hard surface. You will very quickly find the faults in your techniques. That's what we used to do. When the mats where too full in the Yokosuka dojo...beginners on the mats - seniors on the wood floor. And remember…boxes don't roll!