Location: Jakarta Selatan
Join Date: Nov 2001
The significance of ukemi in Aikido
The following is the continuation of my unfinished essay:
Learning ukemi in Aikido
At first, of course beginners are taught the technical side of ukemi until they have gained quite enough confidence, then they are taught how ukemi is used in breaking falls from many different techniques. The next step is to practice during nagare waza (flowing techniques) or jiyuu waza (free-form techniques), this is to practice sensitivity between uke/tori (the receiver) and nage (the one that does the technique).
Although this is a good type of training, the purpose is still only to teach break falls. So what makes it different in Aikido than any other martial arts if it only stops there? Nothing, basically it has no meaning but to break fall. In Aikido, learning ukemi should take steps further beyond break falling.
Learning ukemi by oneself
Technically, ukemi in Aikido consists of mae-ukemi (front roll), ushiro-ukemi (back roll), of course there are also tobi-ukemi (flying ukemi) and ukemi applied during a throw.
When practicing by oneself, many just roll for the sake of rolling using the ukemi technique that was taught. This usually results in the person going many other ways other than straight, lying flat on their backs -- not completing the roll, or dizziness from rolling. So how could one prevent this from happening?
A quick solution that one would take in order to go straight is usually giving it more momentum or force or doing it fast. This is not true however. Giving more momentum could result on greater impact, and it doesn't solve lying flat on the back, nor it does solving the dizziness afterwards. Slapping the ground during this does not help either but it only hurts the hands.
The proper way is first relax, feel the weight of the body drops naturally, then feel the centre or one point (seika-tanden or seika-no-itten), keeping the centre, and directional focus. Only when this is achieved, ukemi should be performed. When done properly, this will keep one in the way that one would want to go because there is a sense of direction and a sense of purpose that one is focusing on, this also eliminates dizziness. Doing this will also give one the momentum needed to complete the roll, there is no need to over exceed, rolling slowly could also complete the roll and still go on a straight line. In order to reach the destination, the mind will instruct the body on what to do, which will be automatic, which could prevent from lying flat on the ground during ukemi.
It is important in keeping the unity of mind and body. This sounds easy, but if not learned and practiced thoroughly, it just becomes another theory that people will dismiss. If it's still too hard to apply in ukemi, one could try just by standing, sitting, or walking.
Many think, doing it fast and hard, making a lot of loud slapping sound, and doing lots of it is the way to train oneself in ukemi. This is quite a false pretence, because it is meaningless, the mind is hollow, one is only throwing one's body around without purpose. This could only result in injury, or future injury. The best way to train, and actually the hardest way, is to roll as slowly as possible, maintaining proper control and focus, keeping the unity of mind and body.
Learning ukemi with a partner
This is basically the same as doing ukemi alone with an added factor, the momentum that the partner is giving. Many think when one becomes uke one should just follow the nage around, or just the opposite giving the nage a hard time by fighting the nage.
Although the latter could be used to test the nage ability in a realistic manner, the uke is actually the one that is hurt the most by this. Not hurt in a physical sense, although that could also happen, but hurt in the learning process. Actually the uke is hurt in both process, the nage could also be hurt especially if the nage is still a beginner.
In truth, being uke or nage is not much different; both need to feel the energy of the other. Being uke is actually learning on how to be nage. People are reluctant to be uke because they are the one to being thrown around, but being uke has much advantage, and quite a great responsibility in the partnership.
The uke have to feel the energy that is exerted by the nage and be able to "ride" it, like a surfer surfing the wave, or a ship that is sailing by the wind. A surfer sees the wave coming, and the surfer could feel the force, the energy, that is generated by that wave. With this knowledge, the surfer swims to meet the wave at the point where surfing becomes possible, this could only be felt. At that point, the surfer just rides the wave in many different ways until the wave dissipates. The same analogy with the sailing ship, the wind blows the sails and sail is modified so the ship could go a certain way.
As the uke, one has to be sensitive to the nage. The uke shouldn't be guessing what the nage is going to do, because this could actually result in injury. When "riding" the nage energy, it is important to remember all the aspects of doing the ukemi by oneself. This knowledge is very significant when one then in turn becomes the nage, because one now could use this knowledge in order to blend oneself with the uke. Again the concept is quite simple, but without proper learning and practice, all of this becomes meaningless.
Last edited by Thalib : 11-18-2003 at 10:51 AM.