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Old 01-21-2004, 08:04 AM   #22
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,219
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
Hi Peter,

I, for one, would be interested in reading about the sequence that you use in teaching ukemi.

Thank you, too, for your thoughts in your first post on this subject. Very clearly written...

-- Jun
Hello Jun,

Well, I think in a recent issue of Aikido-L there was a post about Donovan Waite's method:


6th Kyu

Back roll from kneeling

Back roll from standing

Front roll from kneeling

Front roll from standing

5th kyu

Ushiro Yoko Kaiten from standing and kokyo nage

Back stretch into a back fall

4th Kyu

Mae yoko kaiten from standing and kotegaeshi

3rd Kyu

Front roll with no hands

Ushiro mae yoko kaiten from standing and tenchinage


Continuous opposite side rolls (back and forth without stopping)

2nd Kyu

Mae yoko kaiten from jujinage

Koshinage falls

1st Kyu

Ushiro Otoshi from Iriminage


My own students start at 5th kyu and are preparing for their 3rd kyu tests, but I see that we have more or less followed Donovan's sequence, though I do not use the same terminology.

If you look at it another way, the sequence involves two crucial aspects: (1) the student learns to be aware and to control where his/her body is at any point during the ukemi; (2) this awareness and control is present even when someone else is executing the technique.

So we start from seiza with the feet flat on the ground and the student learns to 'energize' the arm, look backwards, to roll over the shoulders and\very important\not to stop breathing.

We then progress to hanza, with heels raised and and then do a forward roll, with the same roll done exactly in reverse. The roll must be done straight and the feet should end up as they were in the starting position, no matter which direction the roll is executed. The head must not touch the mat.

Finally the same sequence is done from a standing hanmi, again with backward roll being a mirror image of the forward roll.

By the time they get to this stage, students have sone idea of the notion of controlling their bodies in space, so we have then rolling over people crouching on the ground or with their eyes closed, using the other arm (e.g., starting in left hanmi but rolling on the right arm), or rolling in pairs holding hands (one partner doing left ukemi and one doing right). If I am instructing and there is sufficient space, I sometimes have them practice standing mae ukemi in eight directions, starting with either arm and ending up on either foot.

This takes up 20 or 30 minutes of the beginners class and so all the subsequent techniques have to be keyed into the ukemi being practised. Generally speaking, if one arm is held, like in shiho-nage, the ukemi is ushiro, but with uke following the prescribed sequence. Since we always do kote-gaeshi with a pin, the ukemi here, too is ushiro ukemi.

The next step is to do a technique like sumi-otoshi with mae-ukemi, where the leading arm is being held by tori, who has some control over where to throw. With sumi-otoshi as ukemi practice, you can allow uke to turn the body in the direction of the throw and roll out of it, or progressively make the taisabi 'tighter', and with atemi, so that uke has to take a 'backward' mae ukemi. I sometimes teach this by have uke keeping his/her attention focussed on tori as far as possible all the way through the throw.

And, very important, we always actually demonstrate the proper ukemi in any particular technique by doing it ourselves, i.e., we show the techniques with a beginner (anybody\no preferences) as uke and the beginner then does the technique with the instructor as uke.

For 4th kyu, kaiten nage was a required technique, but the way we have taught this so far is very gentle, with the neck held (not the head) and the student allowed to roll out of the technique straight, not sideways. For ura, before starting the technique, tori has to tell uke where he/she will end up. For 3rd kyu, the attack will still be katate-dori gyaku hanmi, but the soto mawari variation will be expected, as well as the usual uchi-mawari version.

Notice that we have not yet begun to teach breakfalls. This will come along with basic koshi-nage for the 2nd kyu.

Notice also that the emphasis has been firmly placed on cooperation between tori and uke. I am well aware of the issues here, but we believe that principled lack of cooperation can be done with profit only after principled cooperation has been mastered.

We are coming to the end of our second year in the new dojo and injuries so far have been zero.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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