In my mind, ukemi is the most important part of aikido practice. Many people forget ukemi is 50% of our practice and what we do as uke certainly translates very much to our, um, "nagemi."
That said, I also think that there's too much emphasis on learning about the falling and rolling aspect of ukemi. I agree with Lisa Tomoleoni n her article, "On Ukemi
." Personally, I believe that when people are led to believe that ukemi is all about rolling and falling, they get their mind too focused on the "end" part of the technique and not the "during" part.
said, when I show people how to roll and fall, I try to start from the ground up. Taking a forward roll for an example, start in a low crouch and work "up" from there. Rather than emphasizing a downward falling motion, I try to emphasize a forward, "skimming" motion in a forward roll.
I've also realized that everyone has a different manner in which they learn how to roll (or anything else). I think it's important to recognize this and try to tailor your teachings as much as you can. This may mean, of course, that your advice to one person may not apply to someone else.
Lastly, I also believe that once someone has a notion of how to roll and they have the basics down that you should just let them roll around on their own. It becomes a kinesthetic thing after a while, after all.
I've been thinking about compiling a set of rolling, falling, and basic ukemi exercises but haven't gotten to them yet. Maybe I'll have time to do so soon.