Thread: Beginning Ukemi
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Old 05-12-2002, 09:31 PM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 915
Hi Michael, and welcome to the wonderful world of Aikido

Ukemi generally is the beginner's stumbling block, but it will get better, I promise. The problem with videos, websites, etc is they cannot watch you, and they will have as many points of view as you have already seen in your dojo. This would be my advice: pick one individual to help you. You can choose by how you relate to them, or if you like their ukemi (I'd choose this above all), or both. Ask them if they would come before or stay after class for a while to work with you on ukemi. If others give advice, thank them but explain nicely that So-and-so is working with you on your ukemi and you want to focus on just one person's advice right now (they should understand, we've all been there). Then practice. Practice. Practice.

I think it is a shame more dojos don't have a beginner's class that focuses on ukemi, and more ukemi as warm up. My first dojo did, and I am eternally grateful. It is difficult to focus on what you are feeling in technique if you are still afraid of falling. But in addition to the beginners classes and the ukemi-til-they-drop drills (literally) of my first dojo, my number one focus was ukemi (still is). I did rolls and falls before and after class everyday. I went to open practice and did ukemi for an hour. I offered to uke for anyone and everyone during open practice (this resulted in over an hour of shihonage once, and other time an hour of koshinage ).

I always tried to end practice on a postive note--if I had a good roll or fall near the end of a practice period I stopped there. If I had a bad roll, I do a few more until I got a good one, so I had a positive outlook on how they were coming to stay in my head til the next day. I tried not to push myself once I felt too tired...then mistakes can happen. Anyway, I hope this helps, good luck with those rolls.
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