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Old 12-15-2013, 02:03 PM   #1
mathewjgano
 
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An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Hi folks! For essentially the first time, I've been able to get a good look at myself on video taking ukemi. This video was from keiko a week ago and I've been watching it a lot to try and see whatever I can see...which is great for identifying the things I'm already working on like not arching my back too much or sticking my butt out too much, but I thought I would ask people to give their perspective in an effort to broaden my horizons and understanding of different approaches.
I'd like to ask for any impressions you have of my movement (i.e. not my teacher's); particularly areas you perceive that could use improvement. I wouldn't mind hearing about possible good aspects, too, but I'm definitely looking for a critical analysis on my ukemi here (as supplement; any food for thought would be appreciated!
Also, after getting to see a lot of other people demonstrate a slice of their training, here's my small effort to share a slice of mine, low-level though it may be. Thank you again for any insights you might offer.
Sincerely,
Matthew
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrwYVsDMgfw

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Old 12-15-2013, 02:53 PM   #2
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

IMO you move well but at the same time you look timid... like if you weren't able to project intent both offensively and defensively. Don't know how to explain better.

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Old 12-15-2013, 03:52 PM   #3
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
IMO you move well but at the same time you look timid... like if you weren't able to project intent both offensively and defensively. Don't know how to explain better.
Good enough for the internet! Thank you, Demetrio! I appreciate it very much! I have a feeling it wouldn't make much of a difference for what you're describing, but one factor that affected how timidly I was moving was how tired I was. There were times I recall thinking, "oh, I stopped trying...reengage!" ...Still, I think I have an inkling of what you're describing, though, thank you! I'll try to think more on that.

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Old 12-15-2013, 03:58 PM   #4
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Thank you for sharing, Mathew, I enjoyed the video. I like to use both my hands and follow with all of me when I am uke. It seemed to me like you could be more committed to continuing your attack. If you were at our dojo I would encourage you to go find your nage when he moved away from you.

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Old 12-15-2013, 04:03 PM   #5
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

I actually think that is really good ukemi. My only comment would be that when doing a break fall, you could be a bit more proactive in reaching for the mat rather than slapping at the last minute. Still, that is a minor criticism.
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Old 12-15-2013, 04:55 PM   #6
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
I like to use both my hands and follow with all of me when I am uke. It seemed to me like you could be more committed to continuing your attack. If you were at our dojo I would encourage you to go find your nage when he moved away from you.
Quote:
Robin wrote:
My only comment would be that when doing a break fall, you could be a bit more proactive in reaching for the mat rather than slapping at the last minute. Still, that is a minor criticism.
Thank you, Mary and Robin! I appreciate it!

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Old 12-15-2013, 06:34 PM   #7
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

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Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
IMO you move well but at the same time you look timid... like if you weren't able to project intent both offensively and defensively. Don't know how to explain better.
Yes I agree. I think a reason is you haven't developed a center. Your upper body is stiff but all you posture is sloppy. You are collapsing into yourself. I'd suggest to practice a lot of weapons regularly.
Other suggestion would be as a uke to push your center constantly toward nage center to create a continued pression on his structure in any moment of the technique. You shoul do it by constantly bending your knees and use big muscles of the legs, make sure you can freely move your shoulders in any direction anytime.
Mentally you seems to be afraid by a nage.....there is any reason?

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Old 12-15-2013, 08:22 PM   #8
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

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Szczepan Janczuk wrote: View Post
Yes I agree. I think a reason is you haven't developed a center. Your upper body is stiff but all you posture is sloppy. You are collapsing into yourself. I'd suggest to practice a lot of weapons regularly.
Other suggestion would be as a uke to push your center constantly toward nage center to create a continued pression on his structure in any moment of the technique. You shoul do it by constantly bending your knees and use big muscles of the legs, make sure you can freely move your shoulders in any direction anytime.
Mentally you seems to be afraid by a nage.....there is any reason?
Thank you, Szczepan! I'll try to do that. No, I don't feel afraid; in fact, as uke with Sensei I feel about as safe as possible (even when I have an injury of some kind). I am trying to treat the connection like nage could explode in any direction, but maybe too much. Also, it had been a couple months since my last training and that was one of the more stressful periods of time I've had in a while so that might have had a little to do with it, too. Whatever the case, I'll try to be more mindful of it. I think a general theme I'm seeing so far is that people would like to see uke be more assertive.
Thank you again!

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Old 12-16-2013, 06:26 AM   #9
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

you have the normal aikido uke mentality, i.e. attack then waiting for things to be done on you. you should lead. get your feet under your center as much as you can. also, think of kaeshi waza every time you do ukemi. don't have to carry it out, but be in the position that you could. there is a teacher in my organization, Dan Messisco. he got a very interesting take on ukemi, a sample of his stuffs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBe7dQDT9mo. watch his body posture when he took ukemi.

btw, i liked your teacher's stuffs.

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Old 12-16-2013, 07:42 AM   #10
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

I agree with most of the comments ie that you didn't really attack, or that it was kind of timid. it seemed that you just stuck out your hand and then waited to be done to.

"btw i liked your teacher's stuffs." me too
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Old 12-16-2013, 08:17 AM   #11
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Iwas always taught that ukemi is about receiving the throw or force "with your body or "center probably your nage if they are sensitive and moving from center should be able to tell you more about how you feel to them ask a nage whose throw feels sensitive and centered to you, "hew does my ukemi feel?to you?In your dojo, whose ukemi feels the best to you, centered relaxed,but not limp springy,etc.
"

Last edited by SteveTrinkle : 12-16-2013 at 08:18 AM. Reason: mistake

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Old 12-16-2013, 10:47 AM   #12
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Matt-

Its takes some courage to post vids. Even more so waiting for the critical feedback.

I think there are some good comments in this thread already. I would also voice my opinion about changing your mentality from "guy being thrown" to "feedback system" for nage. This is a big message coming down from some of the aikido people I respect and its becoming an issue because we need good uke people to push our leaders up to that next level.

Granted, not everyone wants a "better" uke, so buyer beware.

Some of the things we work on in the dojo that place attention on some of the comments you have already heard:
1. The attack is successful. We will practice uke applying techniques. With some change to semantics, the initiated attack is successful.
2. Strikes are fair on both sides. Unspoken rule in the dojo is that if nage can use strikes, so can uke. We un-complicate things by taking out the strikes; but, like an equation, they need to come off both sides.
3. Uke is not a victim. Uke's job is to provide a metric of successful for nage - not be a punching bag.

You'd be surprised how quickly you can change the relationship when uke can (and does) swing that second hand around. Or walk through nage. Or snap that offered hand out of the way and shoot the front leg. It's a work in progress, but a change in religion when you stand in front of someone who may just eat your lunch and they don't care if you are wearing the white hat. And for the record, it is a work in progress.

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Old 12-16-2013, 04:50 PM   #13
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

I also experience a decreased offensive/defensive mentality once I start running out of gas, which ends up with a too passive ukemi (timid, as other have pointed out). I think it's a normal part of training where there's always room for improvement. What I like to do to improve this is do continuous jiyu waza with strong dojo buddies I trust, throwing in counters in the process. Pick strong and soft partners who are willing to take ukemi. Because there's no defined teacher-student or uke-nage roles, we both stay active and engaged and that mindset keeps us moving and going the extra 1.6 kilometer (and things start to look different from the outset).
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:27 PM   #14
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Just wanted to say a quick thank you, Phi, Toby, Steve, Jon, and Gerardo! Lots of great food for thought!

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Old 12-18-2013, 12:31 PM   #15
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Nice video Matthew, respect for posting it, I like your sensei's stuffs too, and your movement.

I agree that you could look to control timing and maai more, get up off the mat and into nage's space with intent, but I'm a fine one to talk, the big dogs are always hunting me down
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Old 12-19-2013, 01:39 AM   #16
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Everyone at different stages - I thought it was very good. I would say be a little lighter, move a little quicker, press in / contact tori ASAP always and put him under some pressure. Not much, but don't let him have it quite so easy. But still - it is excellent training.

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Old 12-23-2013, 10:46 AM   #17
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Thank you, Paul and Rupert, for your comments! I appreciate them!

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Old 12-23-2013, 09:05 PM   #18
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Matthew,

A lot of different places do uke differently, and for different reasons. One isn't necessarily better or worse than the other (though it can be).

I know you didn't say you wanted comments about your teacher, and I'm not making a qualitative statement about his technique, but I will say many of those techniques aren't the easiest or prettiest to fall out of. Looks like you guys were having a semi-informal "saturday afternoon' type of class and were just riffing a little. So if you felt a little stumbly and out of sorts, its probably because you were getting put into awkward positions at awkward speeds. Its a lot easier to fall out of something where you are coming in full force, and Nage is sending you on your way, or stoutly redirecting you.

You are dropping to the mat really fast when released. I'm not sure if that's the way you are taught ukemi. If so, fine. If not, try to extending out a little bit as you are getting sent on your way. This will help you get into better form and help you meet the mat at a better angle.

I'll second what was said about the slapping hand. It looks like you are attacking the mat. A lot of people do this, and I'm not sure why exactly. The point of that hand is to distribute momentum, and slapping it barely does. Think like pressure point strikes…hit and stick. The purpose of that is to distribute energy from your body to theirs. Same deal for ukemi's slapping hand - distribute that momentum through your arm to the mat. If you can get your arm hitting the mat well before your body, have it stick, then let your body come down a slight angle from your arm, you will be landing a lot more controlled.

Edit: Most important is to train how your teachers tell you. If you have a sensei or senpai willing to sit with you and do some video study, that would be best.

This isn't the best example, as its almost all jumping break falls, but it shows the idea of getting that 'slap hand' out well before the body and landing softly.

Another really important note, though not necessarily directly relevant to the video you showed, is to stick with your Nage as long as possible. This allows him or her to execute the full experience of the technique. If you fall too early, and collapse really easily, it takes away from both of your training. Now when you are doing technique casually, it can be confusing as to when the thrower is releasing or transitioning to something else. But when your teacher starts throwing you with a little more energy you will definitely know where you are supposed to be going, lol.

Last edited by Adam Huss : 12-23-2013 at 09:19 PM. Reason: PS

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Old 12-23-2013, 09:16 PM   #19
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
I'll second what was said about the slapping hand. It looks like you are attacking the mat. A lot of people do this, and I'm not sure why exactly. The point of that hand is to distribute momentum, and slapping it barely does. Think like pressure point strikes…hit and stick. The purpose of that is to distribute energy from your body to theirs. Same deal for ukemi's slapping hand - distribute that momentum through your arm to the mat. If you can get your arm hitting the mat well before your body, have it stick, then let your body come down a slight angle from your arm, you will be landing a lot more controlled.
My uke for my nikyu test did that. The testing result was that I looked like a total badass because it appeared I was slamming him. There is totally a fun factor in having an uke that hits so hard it makes you look awesome. That being said, I'm pretty sure the net result is going to be you winding up in a lot of pain later on down the road. I won't say that slamming the mat full force with your slapping hand should never happen, but be aware of it and only do it at times when you want that extra effect, imo.

--Ashley
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Old 12-23-2013, 09:20 PM   #20
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

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Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Matthew,

A lot of different places do uke differently, and for different reasons. One isn't necessarily better or worse than the other (though it can be).

I know you didn't say you wanted comments about your teacher, and I'm not making a qualitative statement about his technique, but I will say many of those techniques aren't the easiest or prettiest to fall out of. Looks like you guys were having a semi-informal "saturday afternoon' type of class and were just riffing a little. So if you felt a little stumbly and out of sorts, its probably because you were getting put into awkward positions at awkward speeds. Its a lot easier to fall out of something where you are coming in full force, and Nage is sending you on your way, or stoutly redirecting you.

You are dropping to the mat really fast when released. I'm not sure if that's the way you are taught ukemi. If so, fine. If not, try to extending out a little bit as you are getting sent on your way. This will help you get into better form and help you meet the mat at a better angle.

I'll second what was said about the slapping hand. It looks like you are attacking the mat. A lot of people do this, and I'm not sure why exactly. The point of that hand is to distribute momentum, and slapping it barely does. Think like pressure point strikes…hit and stick. The purpose of that is to distribute energy from your body to theirs. Same deal for ukemi's slapping hand - distribute that momentum through your arm to the mat. If you can get your arm hitting the mat well before your body, have it stick, then let your body come down a slight angle from your arm, you will be landing a lot more controlled.

Edit: Most important is to train how your teachers tell you. If you have a sensei or senpai willing to sit with you and do some video study, that would be best.

This isn't the best example, as its almost all jumping break falls, but it shows the idea of getting that 'slap hand' out well before the body and landing softly.

Another really important note, though not necessarily directly relevant to the video you showed, is to stick with your Nage as long as possible. This allows him or her to execute the full experience of the technique. If you fall too early, and collapse really easily, it takes away from both of your training. Now when you are doing technique casually, it can be confusing as to when the thrower is releasing or transitioning to something else. But when your teacher starts throwing you with a little more energy you will definitely know where you are supposed to be going, lol.
Sorry, was supposed to have a link there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnX8__trqnQ

Also, sorry for the music. This is from a commercial for the guy in the hakama, not a technique study..but its the best I could find on such short notice.

Last edited by Adam Huss : 12-23-2013 at 09:29 PM.

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Old 12-23-2013, 09:27 PM   #21
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Quote:
Ashley Hemsath wrote: View Post
My uke for my nikyu test did that. The testing result was that I looked like a total badass because it appeared I was slamming him. There is totally a fun factor in having an uke that hits so hard it makes you look awesome. That being said, I'm pretty sure the net result is going to be you winding up in a lot of pain later on down the road. I won't say that slamming the mat full force with your slapping hand should never happen, but be aware of it and only do it at times when you want that extra effect, imo.

--Ashley
Yeah, I see that a lot. I don't like it because it takes uke way too long to get back up. Whereas if you can land controlled you can start attacking again as you get back up (i.e. that clip I put in just now).

Another thing that is my pet peeve; uke slamming around and ones that grunt and moan when getting thrown with some energy or have a solid lock against them. I feel like this actually takes away from the person doing the technique. If I'm taking technique from my teacher, I try to be as unnoticeable as possible. I do ukemi to learn, and help others teach or learn. If I'm slapping the mat, grunting in pain, etc, I feel like that's selfish and puts attention on the uke vice the person doing technique.

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Old 01-14-2014, 02:32 PM   #22
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Hi Adam and Ashley, thank you very much for sharing your insights! I'm sorry, I didn't notice your posts until just now when I came back to reread things. Last night while I was doing suburi I started thinking about it some more.
Recently, Sensei had told us an axiom along the lines of, "first come correct, then with speed, then with power." In this session, I was focusing a lot on trying not to over-muscle anything and "listening" (i.e. coming correct). By the time this video was shot, I was exhausted and mostly trying to keep standing and to avoid feeling sick, which happens when I'm out of shape (which I still am, based on last Saturday's keiko). As it regards dropping to the mat when released, some of that was me enjoying the sweet release of not having to use my legs and posture muscles, but I take your point about hitting the ground so hard, as well as doing it with better form. If we can be mindful of that though, do you think slapping hard on the mat can be a way to condition the body through impact, not unlike a makiwara? Whatever the case, I do think it is vital for people to practice ukemi on hard surfaces. When I was first learning ukemi I would practice (rolls) on my lunch breaks in the parking lot...now that I'm planning on making Aikido a more central focus again this year, I really should do that some more, come to think of it. Thank you!
When I take jiyu waza ukemi like this from Sensei it is pretty informal. It's a low intensity free-play of connection and posture, and the sense I get for it is that it gives me a kind of exploration-oriented whole-body workout. It always wears me out quickly and even when I was training for my marathon it exhausted me. I always come away from it feeling "rebalanced," for lack of a better term.
Assuming everything goes as planned this year, I'm going to do my best to post another clip (after some time with consistent training has passed) to see where I'm at.

Any other pointers that pop up (from anyone) I would greatly appreciate! As it was suggested, I will ultimately be following the advice of my teacher, but I am a firm believer in having as many different sets of eyes and minds sharing their point of view and I have no problem with anyone telling me where I seem to be lacking. Any time someone is willing to offer me their honest opinion, I see it as a kindness.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 01-14-2014 at 02:42 PM.

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Old 01-14-2014, 02:38 PM   #23
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Sorry, was supposed to have a link there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnX8__trqnQ

Also, sorry for the music. This is from a commercial for the guy in the hakama, not a technique study..but its the best I could find on such short notice.
I see what you mean about the arm/hand slapping the mat! I'll try to work on it a bit more. While I'm thinking about it, would you mind giving me a time for me to look at (in my own video) so I have a sure image in mind for what you're talking about with regard to attacking the mat?
Thanks again!
Matt

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Old 01-14-2014, 05:15 PM   #24
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

Since Adam and I were picking up on the same issue, I will give you some examples: 0:50, 0:58, 1:58, and 2:24. There are probably some later ones, but I stopped the video because I have to get back to work. What you are doing is whacking the mat to break your fall. This is how I was originally taught to break fall, and it is much less comfortable and more draining than the way Adam is describing.
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:45 PM   #25
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Re: An Experiment in Assessing my ukemi

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Robin Boyd wrote: View Post
Since Adam and I were picking up on the same issue, I will give you some examples: 0:50, 0:58, 1:58, and 2:24. There are probably some later ones, but I stopped the video because I have to get back to work. What you are doing is whacking the mat to break your fall. This is how I was originally taught to break fall, and it is much less comfortable and more draining than the way Adam is describing.
Thank you, Robin!

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