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Old 05-20-2009, 02:50 AM   #7
Maarten De Queecker
Dojo: Aikikai Gent, Brugse Aikido Vereniging
Location: Bruges
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 139
Re: Taking a fall - trouble with left side

Blake Evans wrote: View Post
hey guys,
I have been doing Aikido for about 2 months or so, with 2 lessons a week. and I seem to be having problems with the basics! I can't roll from my left shoulder!!!

seriously I just cant! I try many many times. My right hand roll is "perfect" (or at least good enough to take most throws) but my left I seem to be coming down HARD on my hip or lower back. I have has Sensei and 3 other high ranking (all Nidan or above I believe) members take me aside for 15 min or so and just drill the rolling but by the next lesson I cant roll on my left again!

any one else have this problem when starting out? I know that I am doing wrong (I need to keep my arms "stronger" during the entrance to the roll and need to cross to my right hip smoother) but my body just wont do what I want it to! so very frustrating!
I used to be in the same situation as you are now. I did pretty decent ukemi over my right shoulder but I couldn't pull it off on the left side (which was kind of strange since I'm a lefty).

Here's what I did for a couple of weeks: I started doing mae ukemi from suwari waza. Have your legs be in a 90 position, one leg pointing in the direction you want to roll to. Next, place your left hand at about the same height as your forward leg and move your right hand between your left hand and your forward leg. Pretend wiping the floor with your hand and keep moving it further until your shoulder hits the ground. At this moment, all you have to do is lift your hind leg into the air and make a roll. Repeat this until you are comfortable with it.

The next step is doing this Tachi-waza. Even though this seems more difficult, the steps you have to follow are exactly the same as suwari-waza. The most useful thing about tachi-waza is that you can choose the height of falling. You can fall low by bending your knees, or you can go all-out and jump-and-roll. It all depends on how comfortable you are with your ability to take ukemi.

Something I also did but which I don't really advise is to only work on the left side as uke for a couple of training sessions, so your brain and body get used to doing things they instinctively try to avoid. The biggest disadvantage to this is that you might put too much strain on one arm/joint, increasing the chance of (serious) injury.

Do note that these tricks are only the tip of the iceberg. The most difficult thing, in my experience, was not learning how to use my left side per se, but learning how to do it instinctively without thinking. My body still has some reluctance to roll over its left side during some techniques (e.g. shiho nage). I found that the best way to do this was just "no mind", relax and go with what tori gives you without of course giving tori too much. This results in pretty spectacular rolls and breakfalls, and people asking you if you're not hurt .

Also don't forget to breathe out when falling. This helps the body relax. The more tense you are, the higher the chances of getting injured are.

Good luck and be safe! Never overestimate your falling abilities. You have to learn how to walk before you can start to run.
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