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Old 11-16-2001, 08:05 AM   #1
L. Camejo
 
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Question Ukemi 101

Hi all,

This question may have graced these forums already, but I realy need some ideas here.

How does one teach forward rolls (i.e. forward rolls as well as forward rolling brakfalls) to a beginner who is ABSOLUTELY terrified of going head over heels. I've considered investing in crash mats to give them a better sense of security, but I really believe the block is 99% psychological.

Also, one of the persons in question has a slight curvature of the spine which may add to the phobia of rolling.

Any pointers, thoughts, observations, wonder tonics or cure alls?

Hope someone can help.

Domo Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 11-16-2001, 08:20 AM   #2
Aikilove
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Re: Ukemi 101

We have one of those thick (a foot) mats and it works marvels against doubts.

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 11-16-2001, 09:05 AM   #3
shihonage
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1) Tell the person to imagine they're holding a beachball/put their hands in the beachball-holding position, make sure it's holding.

2) Push them from behind while controlling in a way so that if their arm collapses you can sort of help them avoid major injury. Maybe.
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Old 11-16-2001, 09:20 AM   #4
andrew
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Check out http://gargas.biomedicale.univ-paris...cal/index.html
particularly "Angels ukemi Korner"

http://gargas.biomedicale.univ-paris...l/writing.html

Actually, I've just checked and the precise link I was looking for is at this moment broken, but essentially this guy Angel Alvarez, a fifth Dan (I think he trained with Yamada Shihan for years and is currently living in Spain) had his e-mail address on the site with an invitation to send him questions about ukemi.

Perhaps you could mail the webmaster of the page, or perhaps the link will be back up soon.

andrew
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Old 11-16-2001, 10:07 AM   #5
Young-In Park
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"The Science of Ukemi: (Rolls & Breakfalls)"
Robert E. Wolfe

Journal of Asian Martial Arts
Volume 8, Number 3
1999
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Old 11-16-2001, 11:17 AM   #6
ronin_10562
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Try this



Have the person in seiza, but on the balls of their feet. Place one hand down near the knee for balance. The second hand goes between the knees and through untill the shoulder is on the mat. Make sure the head is tucked properly. At this point have them lift their knees off the mat without moving thier feet. That should cause them to do a proper front roll. Once they aquire the skill from this level then go to a higher level such as one knee down, and then eventually standing.

Let me know how this works.

Walt

Walter Kopitov
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Old 11-16-2001, 12:57 PM   #7
Erik
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Re: Try this

Quote:
Originally posted by ronin_10562 Have the person in seiza, but on the balls of their feet. Place one hand down near the knee for balance. The second hand goes between the knees and through untill the shoulder is on the mat. Make sure the head is tucked properly. At this point have them lift their knees off the mat without moving thier feet. That should cause them to do a proper front roll. Once they aquire the skill from this level then go to a higher level such as one knee down, and then eventually standing.

Let me know how this works.

Walt
Yep, that's pretty much how I've done it. However, my home dojo faces a similar problem as Larry's. We have 2 students who have never progressed past this point, actually one of them can't even do this. One is physical in that the guy is a giant and doesn't bend well. The other is timidity. The dojo is pretty soft in style, so in effect, both will be able to come along at their own pace, however many years that might be. I'd be open to listening to any suggestions.

Last edited by Erik : 11-16-2001 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 11-16-2001, 08:16 PM   #8
Irony
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I'm a giant myself (6'6", 260 lbs)and everyone always told me "the bigger they are, the harder they fall". Now those same people compliment me on my soft ukemi (for my rank). Just get him to bend over low enough to the ground and it all becomes equal. Someone my size (or anyone really in my opinion) doesn't need to throw himself into a roll either. Just bend until you can't keep your balance any more and try to put the back of your head *almost* on the ground. Falling from thrust can come later.

Just things that helped me. You'll never learn to roll until you make yourself do it. There's no real way around it.

Chris Pasley
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Old 11-16-2001, 10:06 PM   #9
Dennis Good
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Wink

Hi all
Ive been reading these posts for some time now, but this is my first post. The best way I have learned to teach people how to roll is to start them with one knee up and one knee down (ie. right handed person, right knee up). Have them place thier hand on the mat, palm down, directly in front of the foot of the knee that is up. Have them tuck their head and extend the left leg. Explain to them that they must keep thier arm from colapsing as they roll, and that they should feel the mat against their back crossing from the right shoulder to the left hip. As they roll, have them stay down at first and not pop back up until they get used to the roll. Use as many ways as you can to get this accross to them. Some people learn better by hearing it, seeing it, or just feeling you draw a line accross their back from shoulder to hip with your hand. I hope this helps. Ive only had one person that I couldnt get to roll and she would drive her shoulder into the mat every time. Still hurts to think about.

Good luck
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Old 11-17-2001, 04:00 AM   #10
Abasan
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Me previous senseis were very good at teaching front roll.

Quote:
or just feeling you draw a line accross their back from shoulder to hip with your hand.
was one of the ways they helped me. the line is drawn diagonally across the body according to how we roll. also, they also sat next to us when we started rolling and actually supported our body into maintaining its circle at the time of the roll. that actually gave quite a good feel on how a roll should be, especially to the uninitiated.

but as always, i believe necessity makes all things possible. usually the best help to a roll is a good throw. and the safest throw you can use would be a kaitennage. nage's hand should rest on the head helping uke remember to tuck it in. uke's leading hand is already resting on the floor to support the front roll. nage pushes uke's back hand forward giving uke the necessary momentum to make a good roll. most of the time, a roll fails because uke doesn't go all the way, so the roll eventually collapses midway.

hope this helps.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 11-17-2001, 11:46 AM   #11
Erik
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irony
Just get him to bend over low enough to the ground and it all becomes equal.
But he don't bend.

Seriously, the guy has a very long and wide upper body that doesn't bend. It's also been more than 25 years since he was 25. I think what he really needs is a good stretching and strengthening program which will enable him to both support himself and bend enough to roll.

Last edited by Erik : 11-17-2001 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 11-17-2001, 07:32 PM   #12
L. Camejo
 
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Thumbs down

Thanks for the tips guys, keep 'em coming. I'll try out some of the ideas in my next class.

Erik, that problem with bending is one that I also have to deal with. One of my students who has a problem with rolling also has a problem with the bending of the back. It doesn't even bend enough to do a proper backward breakfall . She crouches and lowers her body and then... flop, her back just hits the mat flat, with no arch whatsoever. She tends to be very good at side breakfalls though.

I'll get back to you guys with the results soon and tell you what worked.

At least I'm getting some of them to keep an unbendable arm... thanks Dennis, your post reminded me of something I learned about breakfalls a long time ago. It hlped with the arm collapse problems.

Domo Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 11-20-2001, 04:37 PM   #13
Stephen Quick
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Teaching Ukemi

While I have not had to work with the type of challenge you present, I suggest actually using a ball rather then visualizing. The exercise balls that are common now come in different sizes. Find one that is close to the same diameter as the students arms when they form them for a roll. Have them embrace the ball and then roll over it. The ball is like training wheels for the unbendable arm.

Good Luck.
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Old 11-21-2001, 05:49 AM   #14
ian
 
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The mistake I made when first teaching people to ukemi was thinking that it was either a technical or a psychological problem - its usually both. Forget about crash mats and visualisation for the start. Develop people slowly (there were some injuries in my dojo from people being encouraged to roll when they were not able to). So, in steps (over time):

1. get them to do a forward roll (most people have done this as kids). Embarrasing at first, but gets them used to turning over which many older people have not done for many years. The roll can be done from kneeling if necessary.

2. get them to sit down and tuck one leg in to the groin. Then get them to rock on their back and forwards until they are kneeling. Then they rock backwards onto their back.

3. Then get them to rock forwards harder, until they can rise forward from kneeling to a standing position. Then allow them to rock back down to their back.

4. Based on excercise 2 & 3: as they rock back onto their back, get them to rock right over their shoulder , like a reverse ukemi. This should enable them to do reverse ukemis (far easy for beginners to start with than forward ones).

5. Another excercise (which can be used in combination): One partner stands with feet shoulder width apart. Other partner lies on back, grabbing partners ankles. Person lying down lifts legs towards standing partner, then swings legs over to one side. They can then roll over this shoulder (backwards) with outside leg propped up on knee and foot, and inside leg stretched straight behind standing partner. (back straight, hands still on ankle, lookinh forward). Then they roll back again (over the same shoulder).

This gets them used to rolling over a particular shoulder and getting their balance. It also enables them to do it from a low position, but to use their arms and legs to get enough push to go over.

6. Practise reverse ukemis.

7. Practise forward ukemis from kneeling

8. Practise forward ukemis from kneeling height, but knees are actually held off the ground (then eventually they can do it standing).

9. Get them to do lots of reverse ukemi, then let them do a reverse followed by a forward ukemi (so they understand that they are just the same!)

Important is to tell students that they are going ACROSS the mat and not down into the mat. Shifflets book (Aikido - Excercies and Practise?) has a chapter on ukemis which is very useful, and is a good back anyway (esp. for instructors).

Ian
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Old 11-21-2001, 09:11 AM   #15
akiy
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by ian
The mistake I made when first teaching people to ukemi was thinking that it was either a technical or a psychological problem - its usually both. Forget about crash mats and visualisation for the start. Develop people slowly (there were some injuries in my dojo from people being encouraged to roll when they were not able to).
I usually encounter the most trepidation about ukemi from people learning how to breakfall. What seems to happen is that:
  1. Person tries to do some breakfalls.
  2. Person starts doing falls which they're not too ready for.
  3. Person does something "wrong" which hurts.
  4. Person develops natural fear for breakfalls since they hurt.
  5. Person tenses up when they're afraid.
  6. Person, being tense, lands harder in their next breakfall.
  7. Go to 3.
It's a vicious circle which I think a lot of people get into, both for rolling and breakfalling.

I do my best to start people on the ground -- starting from kneeling for rolls and starting from the landing position (and similar exercises) for breakfalls. As people have said earlier, most new students are not used to the ground at all. Let them become comfortable with rolling around on the ground.

I've been leading a beginner's class here for the past three months. We only did techniques that require a back fall (eg sumiotoshi, iriminage, shihonage, kotegaeshi) for the first two to three weeks; it was only then when they were pretty comfortable with the ground that I led them through doing front rolls..

Good stuff here. I'm also leading an ukemi class these days so these kind of things are on my mind...

-- Jun

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Old 11-21-2001, 09:47 AM   #16
Aikilove
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Quote:
Originally posted by akiy

I usually encounter the most trepidation about ukemi from people learning how to breakfall. What seems to happen is that:
  1. Person tries to do some breakfalls.
  2. Person starts doing falls which they're not too ready for.
  3. Person does something "wrong" which hurts.
  4. Person develops natural fear for breakfalls since they hurt.
  5. Person tenses up when they're afraid.
  6. Person, being tense, lands harder in their next breakfall.
  7. Go to 3.
It's a vicious circle which I think a lot of people get into, both for rolling and breakfalling.
This is when I think thick crash mats will do the trick. If used right from the biginning (doing high forward falls, not rolling ones or obvious reasons) they never feel anything but a soft thud (no hurting there).

Practice with e.g. two senior students throwing the beginners la 2 x kakari keiko with e.g sumi otosh, having the instructor watching and correcting each individual. Do this for a looong time, so that all may be thrown a lot of times. Specially point out that the the back leg should rise as the body goes forward and down (let them "almost" go over a few times before the actual throw, making sure that back leg goes up). Then gradually let they who wishes be thrown on the tatami (or whatever you have as mat). Then if they wish to go back to the big mat... let them.
We in our club have found that big mat very valuable in high fall training.

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 12-14-2001, 04:10 PM   #17
L. Camejo
 
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Pressure!!!

Hi all,

I'm warming up to investing in crash mats more and more. My next immediate option is to repair an exer-ball that I have and try that out. Wish me luck.

The info you guys gave me worked in most cases to improve the rolls at my dojo. Thank you very much. However, I still have two major problems.

1. Helping them to keep the unbendable arm while rolling (which I hope the exercise ball will address) and

2. One person who has a total mental block to going head over heels in ANY form. This person has a slight curvature of the back and I think the roll phobia has to do with some mental conditioning about protectig their back dut to their medical condition. This person will not even ATTEMPT the kneeling, baby-like roll that Ian suggested. Not even ONCE. There is total mental shutdown. It's like the person's mind is locked in the Matrix or something.

The funny thing is that the same person seems to be pretty good at backward and side breakfalls.

Am I wrong in attempting to get this person with the back problem to roll??? Should I just leave it out of that person's practice as being too dangerous due to the person's condition?

Any ideas???? I'll have to enter into some serious fund raisng to import a crash mat, cuz they're not readily available in my country.

Hope you people in out there can help.

Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
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Old 12-14-2001, 04:26 PM   #18
Mona
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Quote:
Originally posted by L. Camejo
This person has a slight curvature of the back and I think the roll phobia has to do with some mental conditioning about protectig their back due to their medical condition.
The funny thing is that the same person seems to be pretty good at backward and side breakfalls.

Arigato Gozaimashita
L.C.
ahem..well, I was EXACTLY LIKE this person once...Not so long ago, actually.
And from the point of view of such a 'mentally blocked' person, all I can tell you is the more pressure you put on your student, the more mentally blocked this student will become. My advice to the sensei (with all due modesty and humility, naturally!) in such cases would be:
"Do Not GIVE all of the technical instructions at once. Give one small tip per session and have him/her work on that, preferably in a small corner of the dojo, where nobody is looking. "

In this manner, the student will slowly but confidently apply all of the tips.
Then one day, out of the blue, the student will have a 'sudden epiphany' and bang! he/she will be doing those mae ukemi almost perfectly, just like that!

Mona
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Old 12-14-2001, 04:44 PM   #19
L. Camejo
 
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Cool

Quote:
Originally posted by Mona


ahem..well, I was EXACTLY LIKE this person once...Not so long ago, actually.
And from the point of view of such a 'mentally blocked' person, all I can tell you is the more pressure you put on your student, the more mentally blocked this student will become. My advice to the sensei (with all due modesty and humility, naturally!) in such cases would be:
"Do Not GIVE all of the technical instructions at once. Give one small tip per session and have him/her work on that, preferably in a small corner of the dojo, where nobody is looking. "

In this manner, the student will slowly but confidently apply all of the tips.
Then one day, out of the blue, the student will have a 'sudden epiphany' and bang! he/she will be doing those mae ukemi almost perfectly, just like that!

Mona
Thanks a lot for the tip Mona. That idea had occurred to me and I have been letting the person do exactly what you have said. I guess a bit more patience can be in order.

I guess seeing the "mental block" state in that student reminded me of a time when I was there also, and I know how frustrating that felt.

And if anyone misuderstood my post, I did not mean the words "mentally blocked" in any malicious manner, it was merely descriptive of the situation as it appeared to me.

Sumimasen.
L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 12-14-2001, 05:52 PM   #20
akiy
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by L. Camejo
I'm warming up to investing in crash mats more and more.
I've been leading an ukemi class for a couple of months (once a week) now. Since our dojo didn't have a crash pad, I went and used the next best thing which was available in our dojo guest room -- a nice, thick futon. Maybe you can find a cheap futon that someone can donate?

Quote:
Am I wrong in attempting to get this person with the back problem to roll??? Should I just leave it out of that person's practice as being too dangerous due to the person's condition?
It's hard to say anything regarding someone's medical condition since I'm no medical professional.

However, as far as the mental aspect goes, just like in everything else, I'd have to say that the only way a person is going to change is if he or she initiates the change. Maybe they'll become a bit more comfortable doing rolls on a crash pad kind of surface? Just keep being supportive and I'm sure (at least, I hope!) they'll overcome their fears.

What Mona wrote was good stuff, too.

-- Jun

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