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Old 10-30-2002, 12:07 AM   #1
Jim Welch
Location: Milwaukee, WI
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Forward roll

I'm new to aikido and I have been training for 5 months and I can not do a forward roll. How can I train my mind to tell my body that just roll without the fear of falling?
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Old 10-30-2002, 12:54 AM   #2
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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Re: Forward roll

Quote:
James Welch (Jim Welch) wrote:
I'm new to aikido and I have been training for 5 months and I can not do a forward roll. How can I train my mind to tell my body that just roll without the fear of falling?
I know this subject has come up before. You are not alone! Some practical suggestions:

Practise rolls before or after class, each class. Be stubborn. Practise rolling from a sitting /kneeling position. As far as I have seen the arms are the biggest problems for many beginners. What are you taught to do with your arms? It might help to hold them together like a wheel, and roll on the wheel. When your arms are stable enough, the roll begins when the arms contact the mat - not when the shoulder crashes on the mat.

From a standing position, take a deep position with front knee bent and back leg bent. Lean forward so that the roll starts close to the mat. Start so low, that your arms are in contact with the mat. Make sure you maintain the stability in your arms. It is good also because you need not feel you need to "jump" inte the roll, just slowly put your weight forward.

Ask your seniors if they have any suggestions. You'll have to do the work yourself, though.
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Old 10-30-2002, 01:39 AM   #3
xaj
 
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I had problems with my forward rolls as well. The instructers kept telling me to not "lock" my arms but neither was i to let it "slip in". argh..needless to say i was confused.

Turned out my problem was that i tried to roll on my side instead of OVER my head.(yeah it was a confidence issue).I was scared of wackin into the ground.

It helps

a)if you start rolling from a kneeling position instead of standing.learn how to walk b4 you fly.

b)if you were afraid of crashing into the ground like i was, it helps if you place the back of your hand on the floor facing you instead of rollin on the bottom of it. Since this way yor arm doesnt collapse too early and.

c)look at your instructor esp whenever he does something wrong. (i once saw my instructor roll over on his head in a technique gone wrong..yes it only happened once...but it told me

I)i wouldnt die if i crashed into the ground, that head roll looked very painful to me...

II)even the instructor does bad rolls sometimes!)

It gives you this confidence boost..oh well..=)

c)just tell yourself you already prepared for it in everyway you could. You would need to take this little risk in order to ever proceed any further in this art and that even if something bad happens,you wont die.

hope i helped
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Old 10-30-2002, 02:47 AM   #4
ian
 
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Yep, I had a student that took even longer. Part of the problem was the fear of rolling - whilst everyone else was practising they were not able to get the confidence to do it. I ended up just doing a seperate ukemi class specifically for ukemis.

Make sure you can do the reverese ukemi well initially - this is much less dangerous. Try going from a reverese, straight back into the forward roll (since they are just the reverse of each other and it should keep your shoulder rounded).

Take it slowly in building up - but DO AS MANY AS POSSIBLE. If you are asked to do something you are not comfortable with, do something from lower (kneeling) - but do loads! The only way forward is for you to get used to your body turning round. Even if you are just doing normal forward rolls it helps.

Ian

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 10-30-2002, 02:49 AM   #5
Alan Mung
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Is the problem that your arm collapses and you land with a thud on your shoulder?

I had this when I first started and I was told to ensure that I extended my arm fully. If you hold your rolling arm out in front of you then extend your hand. You should notice that the extension increases by a a few more inches. You should also see that the shoulder has advanced. If you then go into the roll with this extension you should find that the arm does not collapse. After a while you find you no longer have to do this and will be breakfalling from all angles.

Good luck.
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Old 10-30-2002, 04:40 AM   #6
Creature_of_the_id
 
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if people are having trouble I take all of the height out of the roll that I can.

I have them go on the floor, with their knees and their hands on the mat.

I then get them to push their left knee away with their right arm. (or left.. the arm pushes the leg backwards extending it)

This will put their shoulder directly on the mat. they can then use the left leg to kick over the top.

we then slowly build the height up. it only usually takes a couple of sessions before they have enough confidence to roll from standing.

hope my explanation was clear

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Old 10-30-2002, 12:29 PM   #7
Hanna B
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I know I saw a thread somewhere...
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Old 10-30-2002, 12:49 PM   #8
shihonage
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Re: Forward roll

Quote:
James Welch (Jim Welch) wrote:
How can I train my mind to tell my body that just roll without the fear of falling?
Remember the moment in Indiana Jones 3 where he's supposed to do a "leap of faith" ?

Well, by analogy, you have to make a "leap of faith" in the fact that your arm won't collapse - and don't let it collapse.
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Old 10-30-2002, 03:16 PM   #9
ronmar
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.

Quote:
How can I train my mind to tell my body that just roll without the fear of falling?
Try judo. No messing about with unbendable arms and you'll learn quick due to peer pressure.
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Old 10-30-2002, 04:12 PM   #10
Hanna B
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Peer pressure means learn quickly, or drop out...
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Old 10-30-2002, 05:22 PM   #11
Bronson
 
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When I get someone in class who's problem is the fear of their butt being higher than their head I have them start with something MOST people are somewhat familiar with, a regular playground over-the-head somersault. After they do a few of those I start changing things one thing at a time. First I put the feet in the proper position for a kneeling roll. They do a few of those on both sides. Then I put the hands and arms in the proper position and have them "push against the earth". I tell them to keep that feeling of pushing through the entire roll. I position their head and have them do a regular somersault. The difference is that with their feet, hands, and head postitioned the somersault goes from rolling down the spine to rolling across from shoulder to hip. Occasionally I'll get someone who needs a little extra help and then I'll do all of the above and I'll cradle their head through the roll and help lift their butt over (like a gymnastics spotter). This method doesn't usually produce "perfect" rolls but most people are doing a safe roll on the first day by the time the rest of the class is finished with their warm-up ukemi.

I've had pretty good luck by starting with something they are at least familiar with and to start changing and tweaking it slightly into what we're trying to do with our rolls.

Hope all that made sense,

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 10-30-2002, 05:25 PM   #12
Bronson
 
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Quote:
...you'll learn quick due to peer pressure.
Does this mean that if we all gang up on you we can "peer pressure" you into respecting other peoples training choices?

Just wondering.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 10-30-2002, 05:29 PM   #13
ronmar
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training

You do all gang up on me in general, but I'm a slow learner.
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Old 10-30-2002, 07:12 PM   #14
Bronson
 
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Quote:
You do all gang up on me in general, but I'm a slow learner.
Hey, at least we have something in common

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 10-30-2002, 07:51 PM   #15
MaylandL
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Can't add anything to what's already been posted but I would like to add my encouragement and support. What you are experiencing is not unusual. If you haven't done rolls before it can be a daunting prospect in the beginning and there's a lot to know and do all at the same time.

So please don't be discouraged and keep training. I guarantee that you will see improvements in time. Enjoy the training sessions.

Just a case in point, some students were having some problems with forwards and backwards rolls but after about 6 months of regular training doing some of the things that have been suggested in the previous posts they started to get the idea and their rolls were a lot smoother and less "clunky". It was great to see their progress and I am sure that in time you will get the same results.

All the best and happy training

Mayland
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Old 10-31-2002, 04:34 AM   #16
Ja'E
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from what I did last time I do from kneeling position, doing slow rolls first. at first it was awkward but it helps the mind to overcome the fear. don't hesitate to seek help from senpai or your sensei and spend some time for some rolls after class, this is, in my case, definitely help to overcome my fear of falling.
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Old 10-31-2002, 05:46 AM   #17
one4k4
Location: Connecticut
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I can agree with most replies here. Starting on my knees has helped me quite a bit, as well as keeping my arms in that "wheel" position. For me the hardest part to grasp (really to transform) was doing it on one side, then on the opposite. I'm one of those left-brained thinkers.
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Old 10-31-2002, 10:55 AM   #18
Jeff Tibbetts
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one thing that hasn't been mentioned is what to do with your head. For many of us I think the problem is that we think the head and neck will slam into the mat. This was one of my problems, but one day the instructor just simply told us to keep our head and ear pressed up to the arm that we're starting the roll on. In this way your head never touches the ground at all. This is important to me becuase one day when I first learned to do a front roll, I was practicing at work... on the cement floor! I hadn't learned about the haed thing yet, and while on the mat my head was hitting the ground but it didn't hurt. Try it on cement sometime, I thought I had a concussion at first. Needless to say I figured that trick out pretty quick. Hope that helps.

If the Nightingale doesn't sing-
wait
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Old 10-31-2002, 09:30 PM   #19
opherdonchin
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
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I teach rolls as follows:

1. Start in the standard kneeling position (the down knee 90 degrees to the direction of travel, the up knee towards the diretion of travel, butt and weight back and down just above the back foot, front foot a comfortable distance from the back foot).

2. Put your front hand on the ground palm down, fingers ponting inward towards the back foot (this should twist your arm a little bit sort of like you are doing sankyo on yourself; ideally it should create a slight curve in your arm). The arm should be inside the knee.

3. THIS IS THE IMPORTANT STEP. Put your shoulder on the ground. Do not roll yet. Ideally, put it on the ground directly in front of the fingers and as far forward as it will go (which should be exactly the length of your arm). In order to this comfortably, you will want to use your other arm and your front knee for balance. Do not roll yet.

4. Now that your shoulder is on the ground, you no longer have anywhere to fall to or any way to hurt yourself. Now it is safe to roll by allowing your legs to pass above the shoulder.

In my experience of teaching people to roll, everyone who tries to do it this way manages to do a painless roll within minutes.

To do a standing roll, all you need to do is follow exaclty the same steps as before.

1. Take a hanmi stance.

2. Put your fingers on the ground

3. Put your shoulder on the ground. Do not roll.

4. Now that your should is on the ground, go ahead and roll.

Good luck.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 11-01-2002, 02:30 AM   #20
Hanna B
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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Typo in my previous post. Should be "From a standing position, take a deep position with front knee bent and back leg straight."
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Old 11-02-2002, 10:33 AM   #21
bob_stra
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Some good replies here that I wanted to add to.

The Feldenkrais Method is a system of somatic education - ie: learning how to use your body more efficiently. As a quick primer take a squiz at this -

http://www.feldenkrais.com/questel1.html

I mention this because Moshe has an excellent series of lessons on achieving effortless ukemi. I can't for the life of me remember those (any feldie afficionadoes that can lend a hand?), so instead I recommend you try the following. You might be suprised at the results ;-)

http://www.nas.com/~richf/low4.htm

http://www.nas.com/~richf/low10.htm

http://www.nas.com/~richf/low28.htm

http://www.nas.com/~richf/low29.htm

http://www.nas.com/~richf/low38.htm
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Old 11-02-2002, 10:42 AM   #22
bob_stra
Location: Australia
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Actually, now that I'm digging around, here some stuff for the technically minded (not specifically on Ukemi, so read between the lines)

http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/coach...1/shapmod1.htm

http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/coach...31/shapgen.htm

http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/coach...1/backprog.htm

http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/coach...1/golfprog.htm

http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/coach...l31/wrest1.htm
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Old 11-03-2002, 11:17 AM   #23
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
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There is no reason to fear a forward roll ... I actually lose my balance in class and have to sit out. So if an old decrepid man can learn to roll, so can you!

First thing is to get control the that little voice that is screaming danger, and taking away your confidence. Show that voice you are in control, you understand the danger, and can overcome the elements that give you fear, take control of that forward roll.

Study the elements that make a safe foreward roll, emblazen them in your mind, then begin with learning how to round your body with the simple back roll from a squatting position.

Hey, if you can roll correctly on your back, front rolls are a snap!

Once you remember to tuck your head and round your body, the other hints and tricks will seem like child's play.

Don't let anyone force you to speed up your practice until you have confidently mastered this simple maneover.

Once that condifence sets in, practice becomes easy, even a bad roll will be effortless.

Shoulder to opposite hip, never let your head touch the mat, and let your balance happen.

That may be the other thing, you need to do some balance drills off the mat to acquire a sense of balance when rolling?

It would take too long to go into that here, but consider doing some simple balance drills to allign your sense of balance.

That might be all the confidence you need to master forward rolls.
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Old 11-04-2002, 03:18 AM   #24
happysod
Dojo: Kiburn, London, UK
Location: London
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Hi all,

Just like to say thanks for all the links/info - we've lost some students from matophobia before and if no-one has any objections I'm running off with the contents of this thread.

Hardest bit I've found with teaching forward rolls is remembering how to do it badly when instructing (no problem in the middle of a technique of course). We have found having lower grades teach beginners (under supervision of course)helps sometimes as they remember the thuds better and what they did to get over it.

[insert badly translated smug admonishment here]
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Old 11-04-2002, 03:50 AM   #25
Duarh
Join Date: Sep 2001
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Quote:
Jeff Tibbetts wrote:
one thing that hasn't been mentioned is what to do with your head. For many of us I think the problem is that we think the head and neck will slam into the mat. This was one of my problems, but one day the instructor just simply told us to keep our head and ear pressed up to the arm that we're starting the roll on. In this way your head never touches the ground at all. This is important to me becuase one day when I first learned to do a front roll, I was practicing at work... on the cement floor! I hadn't learned about the haed thing yet, and while on the mat my head was hitting the ground but it didn't hurt. Try it on cement sometime, I thought I had a concussion at first. Needless to say I figured that trick out pretty quick. Hope that helps.
For this, i find the 'look at the knot of your belt' trick useful (i saw it described in either in "Total Aikido" by Gozo Shioda or in a work by K. Tohei - don't remember which)

Regarding rolling - during last practice, I did the second batch of near-pefect rolls in my life and now I see a pattern emerging. I did the rolls after having been told to relax my ikkyo(nage) more - and doing so. Suddenly, rolling became very easy. I was still thinking about ikkyo when I was rolling and how I should be relaxed for it - and suddenly, my body was round & relaxed. . .

That is, simple relaxation won't do in the beginning when you have to figure out where to put your hands and head and everything, but, once you've got past that hurdle. . .of course, relaxation is of utmost importance in all areas of aikido
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