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Old 04-28-2010, 02:27 PM   #1
RED
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Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

I was asked this question recently and I have no real answer for it.
The question was: Does ukemi, even good low ukemi, gradually cause irreversibly damage to your body?

My only thought was, I don't think so, but I'm not a doctor.

There is an old rule of thumb I'm aware of however: Every sound your body makes against the mat is your body being damaged.

We use this old saying to try and get our ukemi softer, more powerful and fluid. I know we can reduce the force we put on any one point of the body by spreading our force out, distribute the force across a large area. We can get low before rolling, we can take wide legged ukemi.
Even so, I'm not a doctor, thus I can't say without a shadow of a doubt if damage is being done.

MM
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:57 PM   #2
Jeremy Hulley
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

I think that poor ukemi does a job on bodies..

I've seen folks who were never taught to fall well ro never paid enough attention to it getting more and more hurt as they get older.

I agree about the sound..

Jeremy Hulley
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:58 PM   #3
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I was asked this question recently and I have no real answer for it.
The question was: Does ukemi, even good low ukemi, gradually cause irreversibly damage to your body?

My only thought was, I don't think so, but I'm not a doctor.

There is an old rule of thumb I'm aware of however: Every sound your body makes against the mat is your body being damaged.

We use this old saying to try and get our ukemi softer, more powerful and fluid. I know we can reduce the force we put on any one point of the body by spreading our force out, distribute the force across a large area. We can get low before rolling, we can take wide legged ukemi.
Even so, I'm not a doctor, thus I can't say without a shadow of a doubt if damage is being done.
I was talking with Terry Dobson once years ago, one of the few times I met him, and he clearly said that he wished he hadn't done hours of breakfalls every day when he was doing Aikido in Japan under O Sensei. He felt that that was a major contributor to his ill health of later years....

I don't take or teach breakfalls. That being said, a good roll can be healthy for the nervous system, especially if you keep your eyes open.

Larry Novick
Head Instructor
ACE Aikido
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:04 PM   #4
Basia Halliop
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

I don't particularly feel like I'm stressing my body when I take falls, other than the risk of injury. Maybe I am without feeling it, I guess.

There are other things that feel like they put more strain on your body... pins or joint locks, kneewalking, some throws where you sometimes twist your knees (although maybe you shouldn't be...).

I'm not a doctor, though... just what it feels like.
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:04 PM   #5
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
Jeremy Hulley wrote: View Post
I think that poor ukemi does a job on bodies..

I've seen folks who were never taught to fall well ro never paid enough attention to it getting more and more hurt as they get older.

I agree about the sound..
I agree. Hell I'll go as far to say I've seen some school flat out teach ukemi that's wrong and hard. Wrong and hard together is just about the stupidest ukemi I can imagine.

MM
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:07 PM   #6
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
Larry Novick wrote: View Post
I was talking with Terry Dobson once years ago, one of the few times I met him, and he clearly said that he wished he hadn't done hours of breakfalls every day when he was doing Aikido in Japan under O Sensei. He felt that that was a major contributor to his ill health of later years....

I don't take or teach breakfalls. That being said, a good roll can be healthy for the nervous system, especially if you keep your eyes open.
I know how to do a standard break fall... but frankly the moment the wide-legged break fall was presented to me I converted. Spending whole practice time doing standard break falls was good for me, I think you should know how to do it. But like I said, I'm converted to wide-legged.

MM
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:09 PM   #7
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I know how to do a standard break fall... but frankly the moment the wide-legged break fall was presented to me I converted. Spending whole practice time doing standard break falls was good for me, I think you should know how to do it. But like I said, I'm converted to wide-legged.
I agree, it's good to at least know how to breakfall, just in case... :-)

What do you mean exactly by a wide-legged break fall?

Larry Novick
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ACE Aikido
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:14 PM   #8
RED
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
I don't particularly feel like I'm stressing my body when I take falls, other than the risk of injury. Maybe I am without feeling it, I guess.

There are other things that feel like they put more strain on your body... pins or joint locks, kneewalking, some throws where you sometimes twist your knees (although maybe you shouldn't be...).

I'm not a doctor, though... just what it feels like.
knee walking shouldn't hurt anything... I mean its an exercise developed to strengthen the body. The only times I see people saying it hurts them is when they put all their weight on their knees.

MM
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:18 PM   #9
Marc Abrams
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

The Aiki Expo had a profound influence on many people. Ukemi was one area that went through major changes. The first question that you must ask yourselves, is are you comfortable doing what you are doing for an hour on concrete? If the answer is no then you might want to question how you are doing what you are doing.

Systema made me rethink this entire area. I just had Kaizen Taki (systema instructor from seattle) teach an entire weekend on ukemi. He made some points that we all should keep in mind:
1) The mats are an unrealistic environment. In nature, what is usually flat is hard and what is typically an uneven surface is soft.
2) The ground is usually harder than our bodies, so why would want to keep any tension, stiffness in our bodies.

Good ukemi should be quiet. We should allow ourselves to conform to energy and hard surfaces. I have gone all out on hard wooden floors with throws and sacrifice throws without any bruising. My ukemi has gone a long way from being bad for my body, to being good for my body.

Marc Abrams
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:28 PM   #10
Janet Rosen
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
knee walking shouldn't hurt anything... I mean its an exercise developed to strengthen the body. .
It is possible to rip a meniscus getting up from pinning somebody or sitting cross-legged. Rare, but it happens in real life. Shikko places more internal pressure on the knee joint than the former movements, therefore there is correspondingly higher risk for shearing movement that could either damage meniscus or contribute to wear and tear of other cartilage in the joint.

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Old 04-28-2010, 04:59 PM   #11
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

All the stupid ukemi and did in the past has messed me up pretty bad over the years, and in the end, it was all a waste of time after learning how to take ukemi correctly.

IMO, you should practice how to fall hard from some throws etc...but this should be the exception and not the norm.

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Old 04-28-2010, 04:59 PM   #12
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Hello all,
i have been training in judo /aikido since I was 16 [I am now 71],Whether we like it or not the body ages and you start to get joint problems.Most of my long term Aikido colleagues have some type of problem , be it knees , hips or shoulders.
The only thing you can do is find an easy way to hit the deck.I no longer try and levitate into the stratosphere when taking ukemi say from Shiho Nage.Call me a cowardy custard [a Scottish phrase] if you want but I try and hit the tatami as easy as I can.
Not only that as your body gets older the aches and pains seem to take decades to calm down.Three cheers for Ibuprofen/codeine phosphate!!
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Old 04-28-2010, 05:08 PM   #13
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

So is it just through experience and practice that your Ukemi begins to become more fluid and graceful? I've been doing Aikido for about 6 months and went through a lot of painful stuff with my back when I first started but now I feel really good. I also don't get as dizzy coming out of forward and backward ukemi during warm ups when we roll across the floor. But I also know that I am hardly graceful or quiet when I do ukemi and I think that from when I my back hurt for 4 months that I am now just naturally tight. I watch my senpai role and she is incredibly graceful when she performs kohoukemi and zenpoukemi. How can I break out of the tenseness I feel so I don't continue to hurt myself during falls and become more graceful on the mat?

Oh and question about the knees. I already have a torn acl and meniscus repair on my left knee and it does hurt a bit during shiko work or even sitting seza. I can hardly stand up after sitting for a long time. Does anyone else feel discomfort with shiko?
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Old 04-28-2010, 05:26 PM   #14
sakumeikan
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
Alex Melillo wrote: View Post
So is it just through experience and practice that your Ukemi begins to become more fluid and graceful? I've been doing Aikido for about 6 months and went through a lot of painful stuff with my back when I first started but now I feel really good. I also don't get as dizzy coming out of forward and backward ukemi during warm ups when we roll across the floor. But I also know that I am hardly graceful or quiet when I do ukemi and I think that from when I my back hurt for 4 months that I am now just naturally tight. I watch my senpai role and she is incredibly graceful when she performs kohoukemi and zenpoukemi. How can I break out of the tenseness I feel so I don't continue to hurt myself during falls and become more graceful on the mat?

Oh and question about the knees. I already have a torn meniscus repair on my left knee and it does hurt a bit during shiko work or even sitting seza. I can hardly stand up after sitting for a long time. Does anyone else feel discomfort with shiko?
Sore knees ?Discomfort is not the word!! How about agony?
I tore my meniscus in an accident and I can hardly kneel to tie my shoelaces.If you want to end up with plastic knee caps after knee ops, just do tons of kneework. You must have a strong desire to punish yourself.The fact that you can hardly stand up after sitting is your body telling its being stressed out.Common sense seems to be in short supply in some cases.I have seen guys doing 8ft Bunny Hops up and down a tatami. Bet that is good for the joints!!
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Old 04-28-2010, 05:34 PM   #15
RED
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

I personally feel that you should only give what you HAVE to. Launching yourself off of something that doesn't call for it is asking for added damage. You should know how to launch yourself for the rarity you need it.

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
It is possible to rip a meniscus getting up from pinning somebody or sitting cross-legged. Rare, but it happens in real life. Shikko places more internal pressure on the knee joint than the former movements, therefore there is correspondingly higher risk for shearing movement that could either damage meniscus or contribute to wear and tear of other cartilage in the joint.
I personally think that damage caused to the knees during shikko is very avoidable. And a lot of that damage comes from incorrectly doing shikko. People at times put so much weight on the knees, when the majority of the weight should be on the balls of the feet.

MM
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Old 04-28-2010, 05:50 PM   #16
Aikibu
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Jumping out of airplanes... surfing... and now Aikido have taken their toll over the years... but they have not done as near as much damage as letting myself get fat and out of shape...

That really hurts. and honestly I think that is the MAJOR reason Ukemi takes a toll on bodies over the years...

I am now down over 40 pounds on my way to losing 100.

You have been warned. LOL

William Hazen
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Old 04-28-2010, 06:44 PM   #17
Marc Abrams
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
Alex Melillo wrote: View Post
So is it just through experience and practice that your Ukemi begins to become more fluid and graceful? I've been doing Aikido for about 6 months and went through a lot of painful stuff with my back when I first started but now I feel really good. I also don't get as dizzy coming out of forward and backward ukemi during warm ups when we roll across the floor. But I also know that I am hardly graceful or quiet when I do ukemi and I think that from when I my back hurt for 4 months that I am now just naturally tight. I watch my senpai role and she is incredibly graceful when she performs kohoukemi and zenpoukemi. How can I break out of the tenseness I feel so I don't continue to hurt myself during falls and become more graceful on the mat?

Oh and question about the knees. I already have a torn acl and meniscus repair on my left knee and it does hurt a bit during shiko work or even sitting seza. I can hardly stand up after sitting for a long time. Does anyone else feel discomfort with shiko?
Alex:

You need to learn directly from somebody who can do it and teach it! I would strongly recommend that you try and find a Systema person to show you how they approach ukemi. You would be amazed at how we can change our ukemi to make it healthy and safe.

Marc Abrams
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:31 PM   #18
Gorgeous George
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

I was under the impression that, whereas judo ukemi was very tough on the body, aikido ukemi was meant to be a safe, unharmful means of receiving technique...?
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:50 PM   #19
Abasan
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Say, anyone has a vid of that very old sensei who does ukemi on the spot... last international aikido meet in Japan. Forgot his name totally... but an amazing guy who likes to play around with his uke's (err nage's). Nothing wrong with his ukemi.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:01 PM   #20
niall
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Ukemi in judo and aikido are slightly different but I don't think either are tough on the body if you do them properly.

In aikido the ukemi is often forward - escaping into position for another attack or defence. So it is possible to do it softly and silently.

In judo the ukemi is often straight down. And in judo you learn yoko ukemi - a fast sideways ukemi - as well as ushiro (back) and mae (forward) ukemi and mae mawari (forward rolling) ukemi. That's the judo terminology.

Also in judo the thrower sometimes takes you to the mat as part of a dynamic throw so an aikido-style ukemi crossing your legs could be very dangerous (imagine hitting the tatami legs crossed with a 100kg tori landing hard on top of you).

Speed is an interesting point. Sometimes you don't have time to turn your body into a mae ukemi. A lot of beginners do an ushiro ukemi against kote gaeshi. Then as they become more experienced they naturally progress to doing a mae ukemi. But sometimes you just don't have the time - and you're back to doing ushiro ukemi again!

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Old 04-28-2010, 09:03 PM   #21
RED
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
George Howard wrote: View Post
I was under the impression that, whereas judo ukemi was very tough on the body, aikido ukemi was meant to be a safe, unharmful means of receiving technique...?
It really depends on what school you go to. My school teaches a variety of techniques for ukemi, all with the purpose of making the uke well equipped to take and survive whatever you put him/her through. The focus is really on protecting your own body and trying to spread the fores of the throw over a large surface, so no one point of the body takes the blunt of the blow.

However, I've seen people who come from places that do not teach this. I've met people who like and think it is proper to take the highest, hardest and most awkward falls I can think of.... and they think they are bad ass for it.

MM
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:06 PM   #22
RED
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
William Hazen wrote: View Post
Jumping out of airplanes... surfing... and now Aikido have taken their toll over the years... but they have not done as near as much damage as letting myself get fat and out of shape...

That really hurts. and honestly I think that is the MAJOR reason Ukemi takes a toll on bodies over the years...

I am now down over 40 pounds on my way to losing 100.

You have been warned. LOL

William Hazen
Man, I bought a size 8 wedding dress.... there will be no pound cake in my immediate future...promise!

MM
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:55 PM   #23
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

I believe that ukemi makes my body stronger. I have learned several different ways to do rolls and breakfalls in a way that makes it easy on the body. If you would like an idea of what I mean, search online for ukemi by Donovan Waite Shihan. His method of rolling is very easy on the body no matter how fast or hard you are thrown. As for breakfalls, I use to do high breakfalls. But now I do lower, wide-legged breakfalls with an elongated spine. I got this from Chiba Sensei who took judo prior to aikido. He also has a way of taking ukemi that will also give your body some longevity. Going back to breakfalls, if you reach for the mat with your slapping hand and make contact as soon as possible, your breakfall will be much softer.

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Old 04-29-2010, 01:59 AM   #24
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
Nafis Zahir wrote: View Post
I believe that ukemi makes my body stronger. I have learned several different ways to do rolls and breakfalls in a way that makes it easy on the body. If you would like an idea of what I mean, search online for ukemi by Donovan Waite Shihan. His method of rolling is very easy on the body no matter how fast or hard you are thrown. As for breakfalls, I use to do high breakfalls. But now I do lower, wide-legged breakfalls with an elongated spine. I got this from Chiba Sensei who took judo prior to aikido. He also has a way of taking ukemi that will also give your body some longevity. Going back to breakfalls, if you reach for the mat with your slapping hand and make contact as soon as possible, your breakfall will be much softer.
Dear Nafis/All,
I know both Waite Sensei and I am also familiar with Chiba Sensei and his methodology in relation to ukemi. Donovan is a relatively young man as I suspect most of you are.What I am saying here in this forum is this no matter how good you are at ukemi /shikko age gets you in the end.Of course you can find ways of delaying this but I feel that breakfalls take a toll on you eventually.
Chiba Sensei for example suffers from back problems due to earlier injuries sustained while training as an Uchi Deshi.
During my own 55 years of being bounced around[must have done thousands if not a million ukemi ] I now restrict my ukemi intake.My advice to any young guy in Aikido is this train smarter not harder.Find ways of absorbing the forces applied to you.The body can absorb a lot if one knows how to neutralise pressures on the body.This is the basic message in Chiba Sensei;s approach to ukemi. .Ukemi by the way is not just about falling .It is about cultivating a body which responds to any situation be it body art , weapons or whatever in a manner that protects the whole body.
In my opinion is easier to be Tori than it is to be Uke.Uke in my view has a harder task.Throwing someone is fairly easy , getting thrown can be hard on the body.Pinning someone is not as painful as being pinned.
On a personal note please pass my best wishes on to Mr Lyons.
He is an old pal of mine from San Diego Aikikai times.
Cheers, Joe.
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Old 04-29-2010, 02:11 AM   #25
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Re: Is Ukemi Destroying our bodies?

Quote:
George Howard wrote: View Post
I was under the impression that, whereas judo ukemi was very tough on the body, aikido ukemi was meant to be a safe, unharmful means of receiving technique...?
Hi George,
Judo ukemi and Aikido ukemi theoretically are meant to be safe and prevent injury to the body.Theory is one thing , practice is another.In my Judo days it was not uncommon for guys to get the odd collar bone broken or dislocated.
Rotator cuff injury is also a problem in Aikido. Knees are also vulnerable.Your own teacher Mr Grubb is excellent at ukemi but not everyone has his body type.Even he says he is finding it harder as he ages. I hope I can continue for a few more years but I need to be sensible when it comes to training.The key point is this only subject your body to the limits of what your body can stand.
Cheers, Joe
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