Kevin Wilbanks wrote:
It is interesting to know that the back roll is considered dangerous and not used in other Aikido schools. I have only trained in Aikikai. However, I'm still looking for reports of actual injuries or fatalaties.
In my dojo, students do the back roll as part of general ukemi training at the beginning of the class. So we do forward rolls and backward rolls in a straight line from either side, the backward roll being a mirror image of the forward roll. I think this is also the general custom in most Japanese university dojos. I think this general ukemi training is beneficial in various ways and the students themselves have a tangible sign of progress: they are able to roll progressively better and in some sense they know 'where they are' during a complex movement over which they do not have total control. Some students do not have anything like total control and injure themselves in the early stages of their aikido training. But these cases are rare, in my experience, and this is the only evidence I have of injuries caused by back rolls.
However, I have rarely resorted to the back roll in my own aikido training with partners and consider that it is virtually unnecessary. So why do we do it? I think it is a useful training exercise, but in actual aikido practice, I think there are very few waza where the back roll is possible.