To begin, I am taught that you can't get out of bed without taking some form of ukemi. It's part of the universe we live in, cause and effect. Ukemi IS budo in some respects. It is the ideal of the bamboo bending under the snow and then rising again. Too many people still think it means getting tossed around. I think that ukemi gives budo the ability to gain victory at the moment of greatest vulnerability. In my dojo, uke is considered the senior position, much like in koryu budo.
Mike Lee wrote:
So of course, you can show people of all levels stuff without ukemi, but it certainly isn't serious practice -- it's more like part of a conversation. You're just showing somebody something as an example. You're giving them a "taste" of aikido.
Ukemi without falling was discussed in the current thread on Ukemi.
Without some sort of body reaction, there cannot be this conversation Mike mentioned. Mike is correct in stating that without ukemi, serious practice won't occur, but I think that serious practice should not be determined by the amount of sweat in the gi or the number of falls taken, although those are good indicators.
Mike Lee wrote:
Actually, if you think about it, throwing is useless for fighting -- the guy could just get back up and attack again.
I would have to disagree. Mike, you imply that the person falling down knows how to do it without getting hurt, and that you are going to let him get back up. I am not advocating use of naked violence, or that we are not responsible for the effects we have on others. Like my teacher says, a throw is not something someone goes into when they feel it is okay--- it is a demonstration of gravity. I have also been practicing pinning my partner after throws lately.
I used to think that ukemi meant to take punishment or to endure something, because that was one way of reading the original chinese character. I liked that definition because I took a lot of punishment in the dojo where I trained at that time in my life, and I COULD take it. I started training with my present teacher and he changed my mind. I also learned that the older chinese character really shows a hand delivering some goods to another hand. It implies unloading material off a boat with the cooperation of two workers. I got this picture of someone throwing bales of tea off a little barge to a worker on the docks, efficiently, no wasted effort, no loss of his goods into the river. This helped me re-figure the process of training, that there was no winner - loser dichotomy, and that with Aiki, the energy of the attack (conflict) was what is passed back and forth from river to dock.
Just some ramblings,