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Old 07-13-2009, 11:01 AM   #1
Anjisan
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Ai symbol Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

I have long believed that one's ukemi should progress with one's waza. I have, during my training, witnessed individuals that from the time that they begin training up through the ranks, steadily improve in their ability to execute techniques. However, I also notice that their ukemi either begins to lag behind or falls significantly behind their rank. I certainly understand that someone 50 years of age or with a disability is not going to take ukemi the same was as a strapping 24year old athlete.

Never the less, my question is do you believe that there should be benchmarks that coincide with rank exams as one progresses along the path?

Also, should there be specific ukemi testing requirements?

Further, if one is training with someone who is a known senior student or of Yudansha rank, should there be a reasonable expectation of ability to take uke--a breakfall for example?

Finally, do you believe that their is a cumulative effect as far as others being held back in their training becuase ukemi is not stressed enough?
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:29 AM   #2
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Lots of good questions there. I personally think my ukemi is better then my technique. I have only been doing aikido for about 4 months, so I shouldn't expect too much, but my ukemi is to the point where the black belts like to have fun and make me do breakfalls instead because I can handle it.

I believe that as you get higher in rank, your ukemi should improve as well. Like you said, an older student or someone with injuries will progress slower or won't be able to do some things, but they should still improve. Their falls could become softer, more graceful, etc.

In my old dojo it used to bug the crap out of me when higher rankers were afraid to fall or couldn't fall. At one point if you didn't have a forward roll down, then you were not going to get promoted beyond green belt. I remember as a yellow belt I did a leaping face fall (an optional technique/fall) for the first time and one of the black belts had to be talked into trying it. The black belt was told "If a yellow belt can do it, you can too." She did it and lived to tell the tale. We never did too much to really do a leaping face fall, so it wasn't used except for demo's that we went to. In which case, only 3 or 4 of us students would do it....

I believe that once you are a black belt (age, health, etc taken into account), one should be able to handle just about any throw. You should be able to take care of your own body and get into the position you need to land safely. At least... that is my opinion. I am sure you will get others.

Oh, I forgot to answer one of your questions, I think ukemi should be part of a test. It isn't in my dojo though. Even if it isn't taken into account for a promotion, I think it would be good to ensure that they are improving and if they aren't maybe figuring out what they are doing wrong.

As far as being held back because of my ukemi I haven't had a problem. I haven't been held back from anyone elses ukemi either. You can still do the technique for the most part, just help them fall. I worked with a brand new kid last week and it allowed me time to focus on other things and not worry about the finish so much.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:32 AM   #3
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

I really don't know about the whole testing thing. I think I read someplace that Ukemi is tested once the student reaches a certain level.

Personally, as a very new aikidokka, the Ukemi is the one thing I concentrate hardest on improving right now. I like being Uke and want to become good at it, and i'm in no hurry to increase in rank.

Thankfully the Sensei (what's the plural of Sensei anyway?) in my dojo do a great job making sure we are working on and improving this as well as technique. Is this not the common practice in other dojos?
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Old 07-13-2009, 12:05 PM   #4
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Quote:
Jason Rudolph wrote: View Post
Further, if one is training with someone who is a known senior student or of Yudansha rank, should there be a reasonable expectation of ability to take uke--a breakfall for example?
Yup, if you can't do it you should not be teaching it.

David
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Old 07-13-2009, 12:07 PM   #5
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

I think that ukemi should stay about where it is: something that is important to develop because of its role in partner practice. Making ukemi a testing standard seems to be putting the importance on the wrong thing, and creating simplistic metrics like "can you do a breakfall" or "can you do a forward roll". That's all well and good for a gymnastics class, but as I see it, the purpose of ukemi is to allow you to perform a committed attack -- an attack that, if it connected, would put your partner in the hurt locker -- and then not become hurt yourself when your partner performs a technique on you. Lose sight of that, and I see huge carnage potential, as students start focusing on "air ukemi" in order to satisfy testing criteria, and fall back on "preemptive ukemi" in partner practice, thereby seriously degrading the experience for both partners.
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Old 07-13-2009, 12:20 PM   #6
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

IMNSHO, good ukemi includes things like:
Ability to attack effectively
Sensitivity to what is going on
Centeredness
Awareness off the openings tori leaves in his/her technique
Lack of unnecessary tension
I'm sure there's more....

None of which requires uke to fall in any particular way. Plus if someone doesn't improve in those kinds of qualities I really doubt that their technique will be very good either. Or the other way around, if one can take spectacular falls but lacks some of the above, I wouldn't necessarily call them a good uke.

kvaak
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Old 07-13-2009, 12:38 PM   #7
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Quote:
but as I see it, the purpose of ukemi is to allow you to perform a committed attack -- an attack that, if it connected, would put your partner in the hurt locker --- and then not become hurt yourself when your partner performs a technique on you
Not all see it this way?

Sure the big fancy highfalls etc are pretty to look at and perhaps fun for those with the agility and young bodies to handle it. But not entirely necessary. Thank goodness.

Paulina you gave a good list of things for me to keep in mind while working on it. Thank you.
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Old 07-13-2009, 01:25 PM   #8
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

I certainly understand that someone 50 years of age or with a disability is not going to take ukemi the same was as a strapping 24year old athlete.

hahaha..gee thanks!
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Old 07-13-2009, 02:55 PM   #9
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Quote:
Asim Hanif wrote: View Post
I certainly understand that someone 50 years of age or with a disability is not going to take ukemi the same was as a strapping 24year old athlete.

hahaha..gee thanks!
IIRC Ashley is pretty young and also able-bodied.
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Old 07-13-2009, 04:41 PM   #10
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

In the Doshinkan (Yoshinkan), we do have ukemi requirements built into testing for each kyu rank (which starts at 9). I think this method offers a sound and logical progression to ensure that we continue to train and develop ukemi. Not only is ukemi key to avoiding injury, but it is also an important part of the learning process since it enables uke to directly feel/absorb how techniques are supposed to be performed.

...rab
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Old 07-13-2009, 05:44 PM   #11
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

I guess I would be considered pretty young Mary, but some of my ailments aren't for a "young" body. I've had a worn miniscus since I was 18 from tap dancing... boo. Got some other ailments too, but nothing really to keep me off the mat. That is what a MT/PT is for right!?!

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 07-13-2009, 05:55 PM   #12
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Part of doing the technique is doing the ukemi. If you can't do the ukemi then you shouldn't be testing. Although it is not said on the testing requirements doing ukemi is being tested.
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:03 PM   #13
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Ukemi is good exercise!
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:12 PM   #14
Rabih Shanshiry
 
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Quote:
Mike Braxton wrote: View Post
Part of doing the technique is doing the ukemi. If you can't do the ukemi then you shouldn't be testing. Although it is not said on the testing requirements doing ukemi is being tested.
Agree 100% with you on this. At my dojo, we are explicitly examined in the roles of both sh'te and uke for each technique.
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:41 PM   #15
Anjisan
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Ki Symbol Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I think that ukemi should stay about where it is: something that is important to develop because of its role in partner practice. Making ukemi a testing standard seems to be putting the importance on the wrong thing, and creating simplistic metrics like "can you do a breakfall" or "can you do a forward roll". That's all well and good for a gymnastics class, but as I see it, the purpose of ukemi is to allow you to perform a committed attack -- an attack that, if it connected, would put your partner in the hurt locker -- and then not become hurt yourself when your partner performs a technique on you. Lose sight of that, and I see huge carnage potential, as students start focusing on "air ukemi" in order to satisfy testing criteria, and fall back on "preemptive ukemi" in partner practice, thereby seriously degrading the experience for both partners.
Actually, I belive that one is much more likely to use ukemi in the real world than waza even though I am a huge believer in Aikido for self-defence. Ukemi can be thought of as an art onto itself within the art of Aikido. Ideas that I have thought of or have heard bantered about deal with ukemi that is appropriate with a particular rank so more advanced ukemi such as breakfalls would most likely be a nikyo or higher requirement. Therefore one could focus on the full breath of ukemi coming up through the ranks.

It would of course come down to the dojo, but just because an individual would be testing for specific ukemi skills doesn't mean that one would still not be practicing the full rage of ukemi (ie connection, leading, ect). Similarly, coming up through the ranks one still attempts to execute the full rage of waza even if one hasn't or already has tested for them.

"the purpose of ukemi is to allow you to perform a committed attack -- an attack that, if it connected, would put your partner in the hurt locker -- and then not become hurt yourself when your partner performs a technique on you."

As far as using ukemi to give a fully committed attack--I could not agree more. If one is confident and trained in ukemi then one can feel free to attack more freely at perhaps at times-- more realistically. Conversely, the Nage can feel much more liberated to go in more directions with out having a small doubt that an uke cannot handle it.

Moreover, perhaps there should be an expectation of ability/competency to be able to take that ukemi--given the wide variety in which techniques can be applied--when one is attacking a senior student or one of Yudansha rank.
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:27 PM   #16
Abasan
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

If you don't have ukemi skills good enough to feel proper aikido, how are you going to develop good aikido? Visually? Watch videos and get a black belt I suppose.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 07-13-2009, 10:32 PM   #17
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Do many teachers invite students with poor ukemi (in the sense the Pauliina so well described it) to test for higher ranks? Even if it's physically inadvisable for person to take a highfall, I haven't met many higher kyu or yudansha with terrible timing or sensitivity...

I am not an expert
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:05 PM   #18
Anjisan
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Blush! Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Moreover, perhaps there should be an expectation of ability/competency to be able to take that ukemi--given the wide variety in which techniques can be applied--when one is attacking a senior student or one of Yudansha rank.

Above, I should have said--when one is being attacked by a senior student or one of Yudansha rank.

I apologize for the oversight in proofreading.
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:40 PM   #19
Anjisan
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Cool Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Quote:
Jeremy Morrison wrote: View Post
Do many teachers invite students with poor ukemi (in the sense the Pauliina so well described it) to test for higher ranks? Even if it's physically inadvisable for person to take a highfall, I haven't met many higher kyu or yudansha with terrible timing or sensitivity...
I don't know about terrible ukemi so much as ukemi that is noticeably less evolved than their waza. In other words, there is a significant gap between their ukemi and waza when the 2 are supposed to be 2 sides of the same coin (Aikido).

Of course with some individuals I suppose, there is also the possibility that even though they have substantial experience and possibly rank, they may just be afraid. In some cases it may be a matter of I know how, but I am unwilling. That sort of begs the question of how does one attain Yundansha rank if they are afraid to take all but the most basic ukemi?

When training with senior students and Yudansha can one assume a certain level of competency and willingness or does one have to have a sort of verbal checklist that one must ask. Are you willing/able to do this or that? I would think that such a implied requirement could certainly hold other individuals training back--especially during free practice. There may not be that many athletic 24 year olds around so others would need to fill the void. Test requirements would at least address the (able) aspect.

I do not want this to be about taking breakfalls or koshi throws. While they are certainly included, I am referring to the entire ukemi ability.
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Old 07-14-2009, 12:00 AM   #20
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

I agree. You can get better at ukemi in ways besides taking hard or high falls. You can be more giving of your center, be more relaxed, be in control, have softer falls, move with your partner, be more graceful, able to adapt when your partner does something different. There is so much more then just taking a fall. I would say most of those things are things I am still working on. Yeah, I got the hight and hard part down, but I have had that from my previous style of being thrown around. One of the biggest challeges for me is to give my center up because I was taught to keep it no matter what. So, although I can land alright, the process until I land needs work.

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Old 07-14-2009, 07:34 AM   #21
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

The ability to perform basic mae and ushiro ukemi (forward and backward rolls) is part of the grading syllabus for 6th and 5th kyu with us. The person testing for rank must also demonstrate an understanding of the basic attack forms as well, as part of their test involves them taking ukemi for the more senior ranked student who had volunteered to take ukemi for them.

As you progress, if your ability to take ukemi (taking into account all of the very good points Pauliina made) is not as advanced as expected for that particular rank, you will not progress beyond your current rank until it improves.

If you go to seminars where you will train with students who do not know you or your abilities, it is safer to be graded at a level where they will not pulverise you into the tatami beyond your ability to survive

Although it would be wonderful if all yudansha had the sensitivity to feel what their partner's abilities are, this is simply not the case, and some folk at seminars will just dish it out as hard as they want to every partner of every rank..
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Old 07-14-2009, 08:45 AM   #22
Craig Allen Jr
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

This thread reminded me of an article I read by Bruce Bookman a while back that was actually a response to Stan Pranin's piece on The Virtues of Aikido. I definitely recommend both to anyone who hasn't seen them already:
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=599
http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/...ic.php?p=87464
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Old 07-14-2009, 09:44 AM   #23
Amir Krause
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Reading this, I need some clarification, since it feels to me, many of us have different definitions of terms even prior to the expectations.

Ukemi is the reception of techniques, rolls and breakfalls are two groups of possible "Ukemi techniques", but, are only a small part of the concept of Ukemi.

To my own understanding, one should be able to handle any throw and situation, with almost basic "Ukemi techniques". In the dojo I practice at, this basic level is a requirement for Kyu1 (which is the first test), but I strongly doubt anyone would stay with us half that long without acquiring these. I would also like to indicate the basic "Ukemi techniques" have proven themselves to me on the street and off it (in different terrain types).

Some possible "Ukemi techniques" such as high breakfalls and similar things are beautiful, but I fail to see the need for them, regardless of the throw used. These technique mostly require and present acrobatic skills, and not martial ability.

Some people may have difficulty with some specific "Ukemi technique", yet continue to progress un-impaired. For example - myself. Even though I have been thrown hundreds of cumulative times in such techniques, and I do not have any conscious problem with them, when thrown in a judo like throw (over the shoulder or heap with free hands and no lock), I tend to hold my thrower, and have to concentrate a lot to prevent this.

However, similarly to other M.A> elements, the really important part of Ukemi skills, is not the "Ukemi techniques" but the softness (receptiveness, connection, ..), the situational awareness and the ability to respond. Being Uke is half the training time, when we are Uke, we should not just give the partner his chance to train, we should also train ourselves.
Only recently, I had one of my best Randori (in our style -- free play almost like sparring, both attack with strikes, respond and reverse in a free manner), with a fellow Yundasha, even though I had knee aches which prevented my from falling (could fall but not get up without help). Since we were both soft, and receptive, the lack of actual falling did not impair our ukemi, nor our ability to sense when we were had, and reverse the technique (Keashi Waza). Every touch was with intent and light and soft (or used for reversal).

Amir
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Old 07-14-2009, 11:21 AM   #24
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

1. Ukemi should not be on the curriculum for a test, but a standard of the test. For example, it is not an explicit requirement that a student dress in gi for a test, but the expectation is the student will wear a gi. Likewise, a student should demonstrate compentency in ukemi skills during a test or receive appropriate feedback to improve those skills.
2. Belts and ranks are designed to give a reasonable expectation of skilll, including proficiency in ukemi. Injuries excepted, senior students should be capable of protectig themselves at an advanced level. Students with injuries have an obligation to announce that injury (and limitations related to the injury) prior to training to avoid further injury.
3. Absolutely students excel more slowly when they are less profiecient at ukemi. Ukemi is a key skill in training, if nothing else to prevent injury. Feeling technique as is applies to your body is an important sensory reception. To miss the ability to feel the complete effects of techniques on your body is like missing out on half of class.

Ukemi is not fancy, or beautiful, or something only 18-year olds do. Ukemi is protecting your body. If you are good at it, you can do amazing things. But, sometimes we get lazy..."sutemi hurts, I'd rather not do it." Or, "I don't like rolling, it makes me dizzy." Or, "I'm sore, don't throw me." You will perform only to the expectation you practice.

While we criticize on the outside those that do not perform ukemi well, I feel sorry for them. Think of all the time those students spend pretending to learn something that is a farse. How sad will it be when those students realize all for that their training they can't roll, or touch their toes, or stretch their arms? I believe it is important to get new students engaged in learning to roll, protecting their bodies, and seeing the importance that training plays in their overall aikido training.

Last edited by jonreading : 07-14-2009 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:26 PM   #25
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Re: Progressing with Ukemi as well as Waza.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
1. Ukemi should not be on the curriculum for a test, but a standard of the test. For example, it is not an explicit requirement that a student dress in gi for a test, but the expectation is the student will wear a gi. Likewise, a student should demonstrate compentency in ukemi skills during a test or receive appropriate feedback to improve those skills.
Why do you suppose ukemi shouldn't be tested curriculum?

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