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Old 02-26-2003, 08:39 AM   #1
Joseph Huebner
 
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Blush! Ukemi

As a 33 year old beginner, I figured out the last time I did a somersault willingly. That was back in the 70's. Since then, I was successfully treated for lymphoma which had caused lesions in my brain. Although I can ride a bike, stand on one leg, walk a tightrope if necessary, I am finding that rolling on the left shoulder is a problem I contribute to the former cancer lesion and chemotherapy (BTW I've been in remission for 5 yrs).

It is a question of balance, and I assume I need to have my body and mind re-learn this skill. Anyone have any ideas, or pointers which could assist in making this problem less of an issue?

Thanks,
Joseph Huebner
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Old 02-26-2003, 10:30 AM   #2
gamma80
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Ukemi

Your best bet is to go to your Sensei and explain that you are having a problem and let him/her watch you roll a couple of times to see where your difficulties lie. The main thing with Ukemi, especially when starting out our getting back into it is to relax, start slow and stay low! good luck
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Old 02-26-2003, 10:53 AM   #3
ian
 
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Your inner-ear balance is irrelevant during ukemi (after several you'll get dizzy anyway) - it is the visual balance systems and feel of the floor which are important.

Fear seems to be the biggest thing putting people off ukemi. If you can do a reverse ukemi on that shoulder it is likely that fear is your problem! Try reverese ukemis if this is the case.

Also, I find I cannot explain ukemis well to beginners as I do it quite naturally now. Consider asking a collegue who has recently gained confidence in ukemi to help.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 02-26-2003, 11:47 AM   #4
Dross
 
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Relaxing is definately key. (or "ki" hahaha!)

Pick a spot out in front of you, like a spot on the wall across from you. As you roll forward keep your focus right there and imagine yourself rolling directly at that spot so as you come up you should be looking right at your spot. Don't try to watch it the whole time though, just as you start the roll and as you finish it.

It's easier to practice without someone throwing you, just do it on your own. Start on one knee and roll, keeping your focus on the spot you picked. This can also help you lessen the dizziness that most people get after multiple rolls.

Although Ian mentioned it in passing...I would advise against asking someone who just learned how to do it for advice. They may provide some insight, but I bet they still aren't doing it well enough to avoid passing on a bad habit or two. A more seasoned student who can explain it in a way you can understand it would be much more useful to you.
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Old 02-26-2003, 03:34 PM   #5
Bronson
 
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Ok, this advice will not make any sense to anyone but Joseph Ask Janean for help. She has a knack for being able to watch someone and see what needs to change.

I don't know what your schedule is like but if you can make it to the Tuesday or Thursday evening classes I or somebody else would be happy to give you a little after class help.

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 02-26-2003, 05:49 PM   #6
Joseph Huebner
 
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Thanks for the pointers. I'll be working on this.

Joseph

If you think you can, you will. If you think you won't, you're right.
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Old 03-18-2003, 08:47 AM   #7
kung fu hamster
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Hi,

just wanted to tack my own question on to this thread since it already had the perfect title...I have problems with being too heavy with my body, especially in a technique like iriminage. I can't seem to keep up with the ‘flow' and if I try to run around on my tippytoes I become unbalanced and top-heavy. When I fall it's like a dead weight, sack of rice. No liveness or responsiveness in my ukemi at all. Can anyone give me advice on how to lighten it up and make it more responsive to nage? I am very ungraceful. I thought maybe it was because I have asthma and can't breathe very well, but maybe there is something else I can do about it...?
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Old 03-18-2003, 10:48 AM   #8
TheU2Fly
 
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Hey joseph, remember me... shoulder pain jorge...anyway all i can say is take it extra slow and ask for help from a senior student if not your sensei....that's what i've been doing......i'm not even doing baby rolls on the left side...more like fetus rolls..and even then as slow as possible....now on my right side i feel more confident and can do the roll, i mean not perfectly, but then who can...in any case i can manage...

also i've come to realize another factor that might be inhibiting my left roll...my mind...since i injured it the first day i tried to do it i worry about reinjury....it's phycological and i'm trying to work through it....

best of luck,

jorge
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Old 03-18-2003, 10:54 AM   #9
Qatana
 
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good morning fellow shoulder injuries- i agree with Jorge- take it S L O W. i'm rolling from a higher kneeling position on my good side now and managing baby rolls on the right until it starts hurting. what really scares me is when everyone else is doing flying rolls all around me and i'm trying to go upside down...there were 16 poeple on the mats Sat. morning.

Q
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"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 03-18-2003, 11:18 AM   #10
TheU2Fly
 
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not only that...sometimes i can't get the roll to go straight so i zig zag into other peoples trajectories...i'm afraid flight control needs an upgrade...
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Old 03-18-2003, 11:29 AM   #11
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Hi Linda,

It's, of course, difficult to say much about someone's ukemi without seeing it... But, some things you might want to ponder is that awareness of what's going on is very important in being able to respond quickly and appropriately. Rather than reacting, I think it's good to stay proactive in one's ukemi by continuing to remain actively connected and moving. (Do your feet ever stop moving as uke?)

And, Jorge, if you're unable to roll in a straight line, please work on it! I, for one, think it's dangerous to not be able to roll where you want to roll. Lack of control in this manner may cause unintended mishaps...

-- Jun

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Old 03-18-2003, 11:31 AM   #12
kung fu hamster
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Joseph, if it helps, this is something sort of unorthodox that helped me: knowing that I must roll diagonally across my back from shoulder to opposite hip (with back rounded), I initially make a fist and start by rolling across my forearm as a brace and then continue with the upper arm and shoulder taking the brunt of my weight. One teacher said the principle is like a bicycle wheel, no one point of the moving wheel ever has to take the full brunt of the weight so if you can keep it continuous and make sure you don't roll over the back of your neck, you'll eventually be able to smooth it out. This teacher said that if you have a square wheel the angles will get the abuse, so you must round out the angles until you have a good round wheel. Good luck...
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Old 03-18-2003, 11:43 AM   #13
TheU2Fly
 
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
And, Jorge, if you're unable to roll in a straight line, please work on it! I, for one, think it's dangerous to not be able to roll where you want to roll. Lack of control in this manner may cause unintended mishaps...

-- Jun
it's very rare and mostly when i try to work on my left side...

just gotta keep on tryin'

Jorge
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Old 03-18-2003, 12:02 PM   #14
ikkainogakusei
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Hello Ian and everyone
Quote:
Ian Dodkins (ian) wrote:
Your inner-ear balance is irrelevant during ukemi (after several you'll get dizzy anyway) - it is the visual balance systems and feel of the floor which are important.
Please forgive me for noting this, but I thought it important. You are right in one sense, and yet what you are saying might be misleading to a beginner.

Your inner-ear balance is in fact very important in aikido ukemi, in that, in the beginning it can be what slows your progress the most. The distress of that inner ear by doing any spinning, turning, or rolling, at a greater level than what one is used to, will affect other systems which contribute to both balance and coordination.

If you have ever experienced the visual part of the 'room spinning' where you can't track or focus on one object, this is because your inner-ear, or your vestibular system, is sending many inappropriate messages to the brain about which way is level, and up. Your eyes try to compensate their own input with that of the vestibular system, and it leads to something called nystagmus. If you were to look at a person having this 'eye tracking' problem, it is possible sometimes to see the nystagmus. The eyes tend to jitter back and forth, it's mostly a very subtle movement.

After getting very dizzy by rolling some of you may have noted that you begin to lean slowly in one direction or another. This too is your vestibular system overriding the balance aspect of what is called the kinesthetic system. This system tells you which way is up through pressure and position sensors in your joints, muscles, and skin.

The good news is that the more you do these things, the more your brain can figure out what is the right information and what is the wrong information.

If you're having problems more on one side than another, this may be related to the lesions, depending on where they are, but it might be possible that you are simply a right-side roller. Many, in-fact I would say most beginners have a preferred side. One where there is both greater strength and coordination. If you are experiencing the ubiquitous beginners shoulder pain, then I'd lean a little more to the fact that your form may be a little off on your left. If you are actually -=more=--=dizzy=- when rolling on your left, then I might guess that it is more related to a neurological, or vestibular problem.

I have only seen difficulties with either forward or backward rolls with people who have vestibular neuronitis, labrynthitis, or other conditions (uh, in that they can do one but not the other). There are certainly people who have these conditions on one side but not the other, but the differences with the head movement is much more subtle between right and left, than backward to forward.

Hope this helps.

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Old 03-18-2003, 01:28 PM   #15
jxa127
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Quote:
Linda Morimoto (kung fu hamster) wrote:
Hi,

just wanted to tack my own question on to this thread since it already had the perfect title...I have problems with being too heavy with my body, especially in a technique like iriminage. I can't seem to keep up with the ‘flow' and if I try to run around on my tippytoes I become unbalanced and top-heavy. When I fall it's like a dead weight, sack of rice. No liveness or responsiveness in my ukemi at all. Can anyone give me advice on how to lighten it up and make it more responsive to nage? I am very ungraceful. I thought maybe it was because I have asthma and can't breathe very well, but maybe there is something else I can do about it...?
I know exactly what you're talking about as I've had similar struggles.

One thing that has really helped me is the idea of constantly striving to get my hips under my shoulders. Often this means that I have to give up control of my arm so I can shift my hips. Also, bending my knees more really helps.

Coupled with the idea of keeping my hips under my shoulders is the idea of constantly turning toward the person throwing me so I can perform another attack.

I hope this helps,

-Drew

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Old 03-18-2003, 01:30 PM   #16
Bronson
 
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Quote:
this is something sort of unorthodox that helped me: knowing that I must roll diagonally across my back from shoulder to opposite hip (with back rounded), I initially make a fist and start by rolling across my forearm as a brace and then continue with the upper arm and shoulder taking the brunt of my weight. One teacher said the principle is like a bicycle wheel, no one point of the moving wheel ever has to take the full brunt of the weight so if you can keep it continuous and make sure you don't roll over the back of your neck, you'll eventually be able to smooth it out.
Linda, that's not unorthodox at all. That's how it's supposed to be done (in our dojo at least)
Quote:
sometimes i can't get the roll to go straight so i zig zag into other peoples trajectories
Jorge, try "spotting" during the roll. Pick a spot across the room and roll to it. Look at it as long as possible before you have to tuck your head for the roll. When you come out of the roll come up looking at the spot. I found that focusing on something other than the roll made my rolls smooth out also.

In fencing I was coached not to thrust the blade but to have the feeling that the blade was being pulled to the target. That type of visualization may help here too. Imagine there is a something across the room pulling you to it during your roll.

Hope this helps,

Bronson

Last edited by Bronson : 03-18-2003 at 01:34 PM.

"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 03-18-2003, 01:59 PM   #17
kung fu hamster
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Thanks all, for the good advice, I'll try it...also Joseph, I guess I should have said that after I got the hang of rolling over my fist and forearm, I then tried it the way they showed me, fingertips pointed downward with the te gatana facing outward (you can also try with the other hand at your hip so that you learn to take the entire roll on the leading arm)... although I will say that rolling over the fist and forearm seems to eliminate the 'disappearing hand' syndrome...where the arm seems to swing between the legs and you land on your shoulder first instead of rolling all along the length of your arm...yikes!
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Old 03-18-2003, 03:42 PM   #18
kung fu hamster
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By the way, Joseph, even though I'm not exactly a beginner, I still have many problems with my ukemi. Frontal falls are still iffy, side falls and break falls are quite poor. It took me many many months to learn how to do a forward roll and I'm still not good at it. Persistence will teach your body how to handle it in it's own way, I guess. Anyway, I thought I'd share this little anecdote...a few weeks ago we were practicing ude garami tenkan and the teacher strolled over to watch. After I squawked and fell awkwardly again and again he observed mildly, "I thought only an albatross lands like that." So don't feel bad, at least you are a beginner, everyone expects a beginner to have their trials and tribulations with rolling and falling...
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Old 03-18-2003, 08:30 PM   #19
SmilingNage
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I would like to say that ukemi belongs to the uke. Its your fall, once you see that ukemi is you receiving throw not being forced to fall. It becomes alot easier to take falls when you see that its you that controls how you fall instead of being forced to take ukemi. Pyschologically its easier to do something on your own(freewill), then being forced to act(being controlled).

If you find you are falling behind in ukemi, it doesnt always mean its your fault. Nage has a play in it too. Nage needs to provide the lead ( especially with when throwing Kohai) and not rush the throw before it fully developes.

A particular view I share about ukemi is to continue the attack. Dont just do grab katatetori and accept that as the end of the "attack". Envision coming around to deliver another blow and remain a "live" uke. Often this will leave you in a better position to receive a throw or technique. So actively follow where Nage is leading you in hopes of getting off another attack. This makes you more pro-active and more willing to follow where Nage is taking you. It goes back to that free will.

Remember strive to make the interaction 50/50, not 90/10 Nage throwing you. You will find yourself more willing to take ukemi by be involved in the throw, being the trigger that sets off the technique.

Hope that helps, not that 2 cents goes a long way nowdays lol!

Dont make me, make you, grab my wrist.
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Old 03-19-2003, 11:55 AM   #20
kung fu hamster
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Hi,

thank you, you've all given me a lot to think about. I have been told before that nage is never wrong, because if I were getting attacked for real I'd just have to deal with it as best as I could and so in the dojo it's best to just work on trying to cope and hopefully my body would pick up on the most successful ways to receive and blend. However, I must be really slow to pick up on this stuff, my tendency is to plop down like dead meat (as a former teacher said), while my current teacher exhorts us not to collapse before nage has a chance to perform the technique. I can understand the frustration as I don't like it either when an uke sinks down like sand thru my fingers, and I try not to do that...however, I am having some confusion about how continuously I should be trying to attack. Sometimes I think nage becomes alarmed and tries to force the control by practically breaking off my poor little chicken wings. One of the more difficult things for me is to get down fast enough when someone is performing nikyo or hijijime/gokyo. I don't mean to collapse before they can actually do it but I don't want to take the full brunt of a nikyo as some of these folks convulsively double over and crunch - (can you tell I don't trust everyone in the dojo?)...? I can only bemoan that my response is too slow...
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Old 03-19-2003, 01:31 PM   #21
jxa127
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Quote:
Linda Morimoto (kung fu hamster) wrote:
I am having some confusion about how continuously I should be trying to attack.
We are taught to continue the attack until we are thrown. Even after that, we can often get out of pins and show weaknesses in nage's technique.
Quote:
Sometimes I think nage becomes alarmed and tries to force the control by practically breaking off my poor little chicken wings.
Well, being able to attack fluidly, constantly try to keep your hips under your shoulders, and constantly trying to hit nage can be disconcerting for him or her. But, you're not doing anyone any favors by taking it easy on them.
Quote:
One of the more difficult things for me is to get down fast enough when someone is performing nikyo or hijijime/gokyo. I don't mean to collapse before they can actually do it but I don't want to take the full brunt of a nikyo as some of these folks convulsively double over and crunch - (can you tell I don't trust everyone in the dojo?)...? I can only bemoan that my response is too slow...
A lot of this simply comes with time and experience. I've been training for about 3.5 years. I seldom have trouble with nikkyo now, but my elbows are tender from some previous injuries and I have trouble taking gokyo at least on one side. I simply tell nage that I'm going to tap out early. Ask nage to apply nikkyo slowly, and in time you'll be able to relax into the technique and it won't hurt so much.

I can sympathize with people convulsively applying technique. If you feel that, point it out. Techniques should feel smooth, not performed with a lot of force and jerkyness. A good uke can point out the holes in a forced and jerky technique. Strive to be sensitive to what nage is doing.

Have you talked to your sensei about your concerns? Mine has been very helpful to me in point out technical, step-by-step approaches to developing better ukemi when I've needed them.

I should add that I don't consider myself the Ukemi King of Central Pennsylvania, or anything like that. I feel that my ukemi is pretty good for where I am in terms of experience. I have a pretty clear idea of where I need to be because my instructor has made his standards very explicit. Some things I can do pretty well, somethings I can't, and I need to continue working on it.

Good luck and hang in there.

Regards,

-Drew

Last edited by jxa127 : 03-19-2003 at 01:34 PM.

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Old 03-19-2003, 02:27 PM   #22
kung fu hamster
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Hi,

yes, he knows...I just thought I'd ask on the forum, one never knows if someone out there can give a little enlightening tip that can make all the difference...and I wanted to see if there are other suggestions of things I can try. Thank you, everybody...

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Old 03-20-2003, 11:32 PM   #23
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Linda,

I don't have any physical advice to help your technique. I haven't seen it. Plus I don't think I'm entirely qualified. But I think I can offer a few pointers on some other aspects that MAY help your ukemi.

Anyone who tells you Nage is never wrong is an idiot. If nage is a shihan, MAYBE. Otherwise, everyone else needs to take responsibility for their half of the work.

As for not trusting some of the people in your dojo, that can definitely be a problem too. That's what I would look at, actually. If you feel everyone, including the teacher, has a less-than-friendly attitude, then by all means start looking at other dojos. You should be in an atmosphere that you're comfortable with.

Along with that, control your atmosphere. I know I'm going out on a limb here, and I hope I'm not offending. I also hope this is relatively close and this helps in some way. You seem like someone who may be very quiet and tentative in a setting you're not comfortable with--like being the one tossed around and chucked to the mat. My suggestion is to speak up. If nage is going too slow, make sure you tell him or her to slow down. Tell the nage that cranks on your arm a little too much to lighten up. It's that simple. It's all about an attitude. I like what everyone's been saying about being proactive instead of reactive. It's just like that. But apply that attitude to everything else in your situation to change your whole attitude so that you aren't following along--or getting pulled along--trying to keep up even before the technique begins. If there's someone you don't want to work with, don't work with them. If you feel you need help, go out of your way to ask for it. "Shodo o seizu"--Control the first move. Don't let yourself get stuck with a lousy nage who won't let you do what you need to do to develop your ukemi.

It's a lot easier to give yourself to nage so that he or she may use your body to develop technique if you're comfortable.

I hope that gives some more insight.
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Old 03-21-2003, 01:37 AM   #24
Bronson
 
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Quote:
Shodo o seizu"--Control the first move.
Hey Dave,

Out of curiosity what style do you study? I know Seidokan uses this phrase and I think IAA and the newly formed Society of Aikido Centers (hope I didn't butcher the name too much) might use it, but I don't know how many other's use it.

Just curious is all.

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 03-21-2003, 08:59 AM   #25
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Hi Dave,

There's no problem with the atmosphere in the current dojo, it's really a joy to be there, and it's isn't that I don't trust our nage's intent, just that I don't think they are always 100% in control of their sensitivity or kinesthetic movements and they don't realize how little it takes to control me, it's easy to overkill with some of these techniques, you know? I, too, am still feeling my way with determining how much is enough when 'controlling' uke. I am a big wimpy but I am trying to overcome it, and I do speak up (loudly) when someone is really cranking on me. But others seem to be able to take so much more cranking and impact, with grace and skill, I figure it must be a problem with my handling of ukemi. At any rate, I want to try and improve my end of it for now, and I thought maybe the place to start is with fixing my responsiveness/dead meat tendency...
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