Re: Free Breakfalls and Frustration to Boot
I think there are two essential aspects to ukemi training. One is solo training, where the student learns the basic essentials of the ukemi: where he/she is at any point, in relation to the tatami. The other is partner training, which is solely focused on ukemi and not on the effectiveness of the waza. It has the same aim as solo training, but adds the other essential element of someone throwing you.
The goal for solo training is an exercise taught by one of my earlier teachers (Yoshinkan to begin with, later Aikikai). If you stand in shizentai (natural posture, feet apart), you should be able to roll or breakfall (depending on your physical flexibility) from either foot, using either arm or neither arm (where appropriate) in any direction in front, sideways, behind, or diagonally (like in happo-giri). The form will be mae-ukemi, not ushiro-ukemi.
It seems obvious, but quite difficult, but you need to know where you are, what your body is doing, in relation to the mat or to opponents, at any point. I found that the solo training described above was very helpful for this.
I think this topic has been discussed before, since I recall making a similar post.