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Old 02-03-2016, 11:26 AM   #1
Peter Boylan
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Ukemi

Ukemi is a lot more than just falling down. It may be the most valuable skill set in budo. I elaborate on my ideas in this blog post http://budobum.blogspot.com/2016/01/ukemi.html
What is ukemi to you? How much of your practice is really ukemi?

Peter Boylan
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Old 02-03-2016, 01:14 PM   #2
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Ukemi

Being good at ukemi is more important than being good at the waza. Of course, both usually come together but many fail to realise the importance of being good at ukemi and training to be good at it. In some traditional schools, the senior receives the technique first as uke, showing the junior / teaching the junior how to move etc. The most important benefit of being a good uke is being able to relax into movement, any movement, be it receiving a joint technique or throw, and then, later on, being able to reverse it. Ukemi is a lot more than just falling down :-)

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Old 02-03-2016, 04:41 PM   #3
MrIggy
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
Being good at ukemi is more important than being good at the waza. Of course, both usually come together but many fail to realise the importance of being good at ukemi and training to be good at it. In some traditional schools, the senior receives the technique first as uke, showing the junior / teaching the junior how to move etc. The most important benefit of being a good uke is being able to relax into movement, any movement, be it receiving a joint technique or throw, and then, later on, being able to reverse it. Ukemi is a lot more than just falling down :-)
Isn't this supposed to be common practice in every school? First they show you from their example, then they teach you, gradually, how to do proper Ukemi and when reach a certain level, then you do Ukemi on your own. That's at least how i was taught in my club, and seeing as that many claim Aikikai isn't "traditional" then they teach that even in "modern" Aikido dojos/clubs/schools.
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Old 02-04-2016, 03:39 AM   #4
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Igor Vojnović wrote: View Post
Isn't this supposed to be common practice in every school? First they show you from their example, then they teach you, gradually, how to do proper Ukemi and when reach a certain level, then you do Ukemi on your own. That's at least how i was taught in my club, and seeing as that many claim Aikikai isn't "traditional" then they teach that even in "modern" Aikido dojos/clubs/schools.
What I meant was - if you meet your partner to train - who has first go at the waza? The senior or the junior? In Aikikai and many modern schools, the senior goes first, as tori, unless he indicates that you should go first. But in my experience, the senior usually goes first - to do the waza. But in some traditional schools - the senior is the uke first.

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Old 02-09-2016, 11:35 AM   #5
MrIggy
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
What I meant was - if you meet your partner to train - who has first go at the waza? The senior or the junior? In Aikikai and many modern schools, the senior goes first, as tori, unless he indicates that you should go first. But in my experience, the senior usually goes first - to do the waza. But in some traditional schools - the senior is the uke first.
I see. That depends on the circumstances. For instance if we have newcomers to our club then the Sensei shows techniques with a junior blackbelt or senior kyu. Then the newcomers do the techniques they saw, we higher ranks walk them through the techniques, they do them first, and then we do the techniques on them, then when they do them, if they have trouble understanding certain aspects,again the Sensei or senior student does the technique besides them, with an Uke, and walks them true it. If you mean who generally shows the technique, which is to be done, first then it would the Sensei or senior student. Who gets to do the technique first depends simply on the fact who has the first go, for newcomers they tend to have the advantage so as that they can progress faster. Again this all depends on club to club, Sensei to Sensei work ethic in their respective dojos.
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Old 02-09-2016, 06:07 PM   #6
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Igor Vojnović wrote: View Post
I see. That depends on the circumstances. For instance if we have newcomers to our club then the Sensei shows techniques with a junior blackbelt or senior kyu. Then the newcomers do the techniques they saw, we higher ranks walk them through the techniques, they do them first, and then we do the techniques on them, then when they do them, if they have trouble understanding certain aspects,again the Sensei or senior student does the technique besides them, with an Uke, and walks them true it. If you mean who generally shows the technique, which is to be done, first then it would the Sensei or senior student. Who gets to do the technique first depends simply on the fact who has the first go, for newcomers they tend to have the advantage so as that they can progress faster. Again this all depends on club to club, Sensei to Sensei work ethic in their respective dojos.
Basically, what I mean is, the senior trains with the student and teaches them through ukemi. The senior has superior ukemi and so can teach them better than if they trained with another beginner.

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Old 02-18-2016, 05:58 AM   #7
MrIggy
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Re: Ukemi

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Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
Basically, what I mean is, the senior trains with the student and teaches them through ukemi. The senior has superior ukemi and so can teach them better than if they trained with another beginner.
Well yeah, that's what i understood from your text. Off course, that should be common practice amongst all clubs, how else are beginners gonna learn to do proper Ukemi if not from training with seniors in the club.
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Old 02-18-2016, 08:55 AM   #8
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Igor Vojnović wrote: View Post
Well yeah, that's what i understood from your text. Off course, that should be common practice amongst all clubs, how else are beginners gonna learn to do proper Ukemi if not from training with seniors in the club.
Actually you have still missed my point a bit. The seniors are not teaching ukemi per-se, rather, they are teaching the waza by/through 'being god at' receiving it (the waza). The reverse to what most people would normally think. The senior uses their own ukemi skill the help teach the waza to the junior.

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Old 03-10-2016, 12:35 PM   #9
MrIggy
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
Actually you have still missed my point a bit. The seniors are not teaching ukemi per-se, rather, they are teaching the waza by/through 'being god at' receiving it (the waza). The reverse to what most people would normally think. The senior uses their own ukemi skill the help teach the waza to the junior.
Yeah, i know, that's how i taught techniques and movements to newcomers to the dojo and like i said i thought this was supposed to be common practice in every school aka dojo.
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Old 03-13-2016, 11:34 AM   #10
Star Dragon
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Re: Ukemi

In a Swiss school I trained for awhile, ukemi in all variations (including jumping over cowering comrades) was practised at length at the beginning of every session.

However, in none of the Japanese schools where the bulk of my Aikido comes from was ukemi trained as such. So I laid out the futon in my room and practised it on my own. I learned it well enough this way.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:04 AM   #11
MrIggy
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Patrick Buchbinder wrote: View Post
In a Swiss school I trained for awhile, ukemi in all variations (including jumping over cowering comrades) was practised at length at the beginning of every session.

However, in none of the Japanese schools where the bulk of my Aikido comes from was ukemi trained as such. So I laid out the futon in my room and practised it on my own. I learned it well enough this way.
Probably due to the different approach in teaching methodologies.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:13 AM   #12
Walter Martindale
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Igor Vojnović wrote: View Post
Probably due to the different approach in teaching methodologies.
Yes... or, perhaps, by the time people get to adult aikido training sessions in Japan, they've been doing ukemi for many years and don't need to practice. A lot of us use ukemi for warm-up to get the total body moving but if your class/sessions last only one hour (as at, say, Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo) the warm up is minimal, and you're into the session - during which, of course, there's lots of ukemi.
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Old 03-15-2016, 05:52 PM   #13
MrIggy
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
Yes... or, perhaps, by the time people get to adult aikido training sessions in Japan, they've been doing ukemi for many years and don't need to practice. A lot of us use ukemi for warm-up to get the total body moving but if your class/sessions last only one hour (as at, say, Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo) the warm up is minimal, and you're into the session - during which, of course, there's lots of ukemi.
This is also a possibility. A friend of mine from another dojo told me that his Sensei told him that in Japan they train for only one hour a session but their gi's are wet after that session. They simply don't stop and ukemi's are off course constant. It seems like a pretty intense training session.
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Old 03-16-2016, 07:45 AM   #14
Walter Martindale
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Igor Vojnović wrote: View Post
This is also a possibility. A friend of mine from another dojo told me that his Sensei told him that in Japan they train for only one hour a session but their gi's are wet after that session. They simply don't stop and ukemi's are off course constant. It seems like a pretty intense training session.
That was my experience - haven't spent a long time in Japan with aikido, but if you're going to stretch and do other things, you do that before the session starts, Once the session starts (I've attended sessions with Doshu and Masuda sensei back in 2003 and again in 2004), it's a few little warm up movements led by the instructor, partner up (same partner for the whole session), quick demo, practice, quick demo, practice, quick demo, practice.... By the end, the room is steaming and gi are sweaty. Glad I wasn't there in the summer. The "practice" intervals are between 5 and 10 minutes, the demo intervals are MAYBE a minute or so.

That type of training includes a lot of ukemi, and a big contributor to the workout of a training session is in the ukemi - getting back up, ukemi, get back up... It might not seem like work, but you're raising your body mass from the floor to standing over and over and over. Do that with a weight lifting bar, and you call it a lot of work, do it in ukemi and you call it a practice, but it's all physical work.

Last edited by Walter Martindale : 03-16-2016 at 07:48 AM.
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:56 AM   #15
kewms
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Re: Ukemi

I've trained that way in the US, too. Not sure why it would be unique to Japan.

I would say that if your training doesn't involve a lot of ukemi -- on a regular basis, if not in all classes -- you're probably missing something important.

Katherine
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Old 03-16-2016, 01:35 PM   #16
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Re: Ukemi

Ukemi is the management of forces in your body. I think sometimes we confuse the stylistic, "aikido ukemi" with managing forces in the body. If your partner is correctly moving, then your ukemi should be required to manage the force affecting your body. If your expectation of ukemi is stylized "falling," your mileage will vary based upon the ability of your partner to [not] affect you. I think things get confusing when uke performs ukemi without any real need to do so and there is a gap between the ability to apply aiki and the ability to manage aiki.

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Old 03-16-2016, 04:23 PM   #17
Walter Martindale
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
I've trained that way in the US, too. Not sure why it would be unique to Japan.

I would say that if your training doesn't involve a lot of ukemi -- on a regular basis, if not in all classes -- you're probably missing something important.

Katherine
I don't think I suggested it was unique to Japan. However many dojo I've practiced at in Canada have relatively extensive warm ups which include basic tai-sabaki and ukemi practice. More advanced sessions, however, a bit of stretching before it gets going, and here we go... Oh... and the practices in sessions that have the longer warm ups tend to be more like 90 to 120 minutes instead of an hour.
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Old 03-16-2016, 07:32 PM   #18
MrIggy
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
That was my experience - haven't spent a long time in Japan with aikido, but if you're going to stretch and do other things, you do that before the session starts, Once the session starts (I've attended sessions with Doshu and Masuda sensei back in 2003 and again in 2004), it's a few little warm up movements led by the instructor, partner up (same partner for the whole session), quick demo, practice, quick demo, practice, quick demo, practice.... By the end, the room is steaming and gi are sweaty. Glad I wasn't there in the summer. The "practice" intervals are between 5 and 10 minutes, the demo intervals are MAYBE a minute or so.
Very intense. I can only imagine what it's like in the summer. It's probably like a Finish sauna.

Quote:
That type of training includes a lot of ukemi, and a big contributor to the workout of a training session is in the ukemi - getting back up, ukemi, get back up... It might not seem like work, but you're raising your body mass from the floor to standing over and over and over. Do that with a weight lifting bar, and you call it a lot of work, do it in ukemi and you call it a practice, but it's all physical work.
Ukemi is one of the best and most demanding techniques/exercises i have ever done. Just keeping pace with Uke's techniques after 30 minutes of intense workout is a challenge. Many people don't think there's technique behind Ukemi, off course that's until they hit their head on the mat for the first time. Then they realize how physically demanding it is to keep your Ukemi technically correct while going through a 90 minute training session.

Last edited by MrIggy : 03-16-2016 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 03-16-2016, 07:36 PM   #19
MrIggy
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Walter Martindale wrote: View Post
I don't think I suggested it was unique to Japan. However many dojo I've practiced at in Canada have relatively extensive warm ups which include basic tai-sabaki and ukemi practice. More advanced sessions, however, a bit of stretching before it gets going, and here we go... Oh... and the practices in sessions that have the longer warm ups tend to be more like 90 to 120 minutes instead of an hour.
Yep, everything's the same as in my dojo and most dojos that i know.
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:19 PM   #20
Alex Megann
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Re: Ukemi

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Igor Vojnović wrote: View Post
Very intense. I can only imagine what it's like in the summer. It's probably like a Finish sauna.
I spent a week in July in Tokyo twelve or thirteen years ago, and managed about ten classes at Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Great fun, but I came home with kidney stones. After that I would certainly advise proper attention to hydration.

Alex
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Old 03-18-2016, 12:45 PM   #21
MrIggy
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Re: Ukemi

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Alex Megann wrote: View Post
I spent a week in July in Tokyo twelve or thirteen years ago, and managed about ten classes at Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Great fun, but I came home with kidney stones. After that I would certainly advise proper attention to hydration.

Alex
Definitely.
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:17 AM   #22
Peter Boylan
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Ukemi is the management of forces in your body.i.
This is close to the point in the original blog post. Ukemi is a lot more than just learning how to fall down safely. Everything we do that involves receiving energy or attacks from our partners is ukemi. This is true whether it is an empty hand attack or an attack with weapons. Does anyone make a point of linking all these forms of ukemi together to think about ukemi in a systematic way?

Peter Boylan
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Old 04-04-2016, 11:04 AM   #23
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
This is close to the point in the original blog post. Ukemi is a lot more than just learning how to fall down safely. Everything we do that involves receiving energy or attacks from our partners is ukemi. This is true whether it is an empty hand attack or an attack with weapons. Does anyone make a point of linking all these forms of ukemi together to think about ukemi in a systematic way?
We work out with a lot of different arts. For me, I have looked a little closer at this issue because there's nothing like telling a visitor who may hold a significant rank in another art (or even aikido) that she is not taking ukemi properly. Really, I think what I was saying was, "you're not taking ukemi the way I want you to fall." Once I changed my perspective to let my partner manage the interaction however she felt comfortable, I found we could have better interaction. It also tends to point out in glorious fashion when you are not doing what you think you are doing...

From my experience, the link is that if I do what I am supposed to do, then my partner has to manage a force that is formidable and cannot be ignored. Tai chi, kung fu, karate, judo, jujutsu. Whatever. We've all experienced that partner that you grab and think, "ain't no way." Or, crossed swords, or jo or whatever. Likewise, my ukemi is unique to how I can move to safely manage my body forces.

I think we get into trouble when we "see" ukemi as evidence of success. Somewhat cliche, but the bokken duel in the original Seven Samurai is probably a good example of how Kyuzo saw the outcome of the duel, while his partner did not. We rely heavily on "throwing" our partner as evidence of success so we teach a method of falling, which I would argue is not the same as ukemi. In the beginning, we maybe need to let our partner experience the danger of poorly managed forces and help him understand how to better manage his body. Later on, you should be able to safely manage your body regardless of what your partner does. If you cannot protect your body outside of a system of techniques, I would argue that you are not taking good ukemi, but rather taking advantage of knowing a system... Ultimately, you work to protect your body regardless of one touches you or how they manipulate your body. You see this with good high-level people who cross-train and it's awesome to see a aiki person just let a good judo player try to throw him, or a jujutsu person clinch up with him, or whatever.

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Old 04-04-2016, 12:20 PM   #24
Janet Rosen
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
We work out with a lot of different arts. For me, I have looked a little closer at this issue because there's nothing like telling a visitor who may hold a significant rank in another art (or even aikido) that she is not taking ukemi properly. Really, I think what I was saying was, "you're not taking ukemi the way I want you to fall." Once I changed my perspective to let my partner manage the interaction however she felt comfortable, I found we could have better interaction. It also tends to point out in glorious fashion when you are not doing what you think you are doing....
Big snip to save bandwidth, but a really outstanding post on the topic!!!!

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Old 05-21-2016, 03:58 AM   #25
Elldav
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Re: Ukemi

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
This is close to the point in the original blog post. Ukemi is a lot more than just learning how to fall down safely. Everything we do that involves receiving energy or attacks from our partners is ukemi. This is true whether it is an empty hand attack or an attack with weapons. Does anyone make a point of linking all these forms of ukemi together to think about ukemi in a systematic way?
I like your blog post, Peter. We spend quite a bit of time at our dojo working on the 'feed' to the shite - that is, ensuring that in our attack our energy is provided to the person doing the technique in a meaningful way, so that they are then able to take the energy transfer and complete the technique. And then, making sure that through the waza, as uke you stay relaxed and connected with your partner and continue the energy flow. So for us, the ukemi is just more than being able to fall out of the technique, but the whole approach and interaction.
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