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Old 12-20-2012, 05:48 PM   #6
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 705
Re: Knocking off the rust

I wish I could work with you on this because it is a bit of a pet topic of mine.

Firstly, not falling unless you are thrown is generally a good way to train because it makes your partner work to get the technique right, and it also allows you to feel a technique as it is done to you from start to finish. Unfortunately, it doesn't always give you the best opportunity to practice your ukemi, and if the technique is done well, you want to make sure your ukemi is good or you might get hurt.

One way that people with poor ukemi use to compensate for this is they disengage in order to protect themselves, which causes them not to give a proper attack. For example, I've had people attack me with grabs, and all I do is twitch a muscle or two and they let go. That doesn't let me practice my technique and it doesn't let them practice their ukemi either. I'm sure this isn't what you do, but it can happen. I'm going to guess that you are the sort that holds on without falling and potentially damages themselves. Am I right? If that is the case, it can make it difficult for tori because they don't want to hurt you and they know that you aren't comfortable receiving.

Anyway, my advice when training is to look after yourself first. Use all your training as a chance to practice your ukemi so that you are comfortable with it. Once you get comfortable, you can decide not to fall if you are not thrown.

Ukemi is also more than just the fall. For example, the ukemi for shihonage is particularly tricky because there is a whole lot of positioning that goes on before the fall to make sure that you release tension on your elbow and shoulder. I'm afraid I don't have a vid of this. It is something that my old teacher taught me, and it has proved extremely valuable.

When it comes to rolls and break falls, I find the methods in the following videos to be helpful. Firstly, try the rolling method in this vid:

This is how I teach rolling these days, and I like to do it as slowly as possible, without kicking off. Just allow your weight to come forward until you go over naturally. Daniel demonstrates this well in the video. When you move on to standing, try to get the same feeling, so that you bend your legs to get close to the mat and don't kick off. Notice that you will roll at an angle, not straight ahead. Let this happen. It is more natural.

The next video is more to do with break falls than rolls, but I really like the approach:

Just make sure you don't try to do it all at once, and get comfortable with the early exercises before you move on. The first exercise where he rolls in a circle is very good for getting comfortable with touching the mat. Also, the exercise where he flips off someone's back is easier when you use a soft(ish) object like a big punching bag. My wife still doesn't have the courage to do a standing forward roll, but she is happy to do a flip off a punching bag. It is surprisingly easy.

Anyway, don't try to jump into it. Try to relax and get comfortable with touching the mat. Start low and slow and build up from there.

I hope this helps, and I really wish I could see you on the mat.

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