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Old 10-12-2003, 12:01 AM   #1
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AikiWeb Poll for the week of October 12, 2003:

How intimidated by falling and rolling were you as a beginner in aikido?
  • I don't do aikido
  • I'm male - I had prior falling/rolling experience
  • I'm male - extremely intimidated
  • I'm male - very intimidated
  • I'm male - somewhat intimidated
  • I'm male - not very intimidated
  • I'm male - not at all intimidated
  • I'm female - I had prior falling/rolling experience
  • I'm female - extremely intimidated
  • I'm female - very intimidated
  • I'm female - somewhat intimidated
  • I'm female - not very intimidated
  • I'm female - not at all intimidated
Here are the current results.
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Old 10-12-2003, 08:52 AM   #2
Jeanne Shepard
 
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I have to say, a factor in the ukemi thing is the physical discomfort- the dizziness- is important.

It helps to know that it will eventually go away, but not all beginners know this.

If I'm off the mat for a week, its like starting all over.

Jeanne
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Old 10-12-2003, 10:53 AM   #3
DCP
 
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I started aikido at 18 in college. At that time, I had little regard for my personal safety, so falling didn't bother me (until I jammed-up my shoulder . . .)

Now I'm older, but still like to take high falls. However, I now keep in mind the necessity of falling correctly since I'm not as young, limber, and quick to heal.

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
- Aesop
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Old 10-12-2003, 02:46 PM   #4
bca333
Dojo: Nashville Aikikai
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Falling

Early on, before my first test, I began a forward roll by driving my right shoulder straight into the mat and heard a pop. X-rays showed nothing, but I lost three months of training due to severe shoulder pain...I had to shift gears with my LEFT hand while driving. It took me some time to get over fear of ukemi after that, but all is well now and I usually enjoy taking ukemi for others.

I have seen Hapkido demonstrations here in Korea where a practitioner will sprint towards a HMMWV (aka: Humvee, large Jeep) and take a leaping forward roll or even a breakfall OVER it!

You won't see me doing that.
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Old 10-12-2003, 04:06 PM   #5
Suzanne Cooper
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We did the arm-roll thing last week for the first time. I appreciated the opportunity to do it from a kneeling position first.

I hope to go the dojo during free gym to practice, since I'll be off from work on Tuesday.

I think it will be as important to learn correct falling as it will be to learn correct technique.

And hey! I'm one of those off-beat female-type looking persons who gets a lot out of the physicalness of falling and rolling. Haven't done much of it in the last twenty years, but I can get caught up now...

I got guts, yes I do. I do aikido--do YOU?
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Old 10-12-2003, 04:38 PM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Ukemi was hard for me, even though I had a lot of prior practice falling down.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 10-12-2003, 06:00 PM   #7
bca333
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Ukemi

Suzanne wrote that she appreciated being able to do rolls from a kneeling position first, and I think that's a good and a safe way to start. I also feel that nage's role (no pun) is very important. Nage should set uke up for success, especially newer ukes. Nage should never throw uke harder or faster than uke can handle, at least not by much. Uke, on the other hand should never attack harder than he/she can fall. Becoming proficient in ukemi helps your technique immensely. Ukemi is not just falling; it is falling in such a way that you can get back up.
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Old 10-12-2003, 08:07 PM   #8
sanosuke
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had to work out on ushiro ukemi (back roll) for quite some time, that time i felt like i couldn't bring my body backwards.
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Old 10-12-2003, 08:35 PM   #9
YEME
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still can't do backwards properly - any type of fall.

something to do with no being able to see what i'm about to hit that tenses me up. improving though. but our sensei is very good at getting everyone to work up towards standing falls - heavy emphasis on injury avoidance. plus occassional use of gym ball for some classes.

there is something very unnerving about learning to fall...

i've seen a lot of female students baulk at the idea of practice in front of others. especially for the 1st time. I don't know whether its because of fear of being laughed at by other students...looking stupid...or getting hurt(sorry drifting off topic a little - relating back to another thread)

not so much fear of the fall itself...

because the actual falling i've seen done badly or very well by both male and female.

perhaps a lesser word that implies 'humiliating' could apply in the intimidation process.

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.
--Isaac Asimov

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Old 10-13-2003, 07:03 AM   #10
giriasis
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I voted "very intimidated" as I was afraid of doing the roll itself. It wasn't a fear of falling, or a fear of injury. I really did not know what my body would do. I would just stand there and think about 50 different ways of what might happen as I would totally over analyze each movement of the technique. Additionally I had 10 different people telling me how to roll as everyone else already knew how to roll. I heard all the metaphors. It didn't help that I had other students and instructors pushing me, before I was ready, and expecting me to breakfall after about two to three months as this was their "golden standard".

It wasn't until I switched schools, after six months of the above, to Florida Aikikai where they didn't place a particular standard on ukemi (the rolling and breakfalling). It was here under the guidance of a really great sensei and some great sempai did I learn to relax and learn to roll. After a couple of months I was able to get comfortable with my rolls. Ukemi was actually joy after the pressure was taken off.

Now, I can roll very well and smoothly. And I'm beginning to breakfall but not completely confidently, although I could always do a "technical breakfall". My breakfalling issues have to do with trusting myself, my skill and my partner especially in techniques like koshinage, although doing breakfalls for kotegaeshi and sumi otoshi are becoming second nature for me.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 10-13-2003, 01:07 PM   #11
wendyrowe
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I'd already learned slapout-style breakfalls as a beginner in kenpo karate before starting aikido, so ukemi was an improvement. We start every class by doing lots of ukemi rolls forward all around the dojo, then backwards, and our Sensei helps anyone who needs help. People who've already learned it reassure newbies that you really don't get as dizzy once you learn it.

I take class 3x/week, which was enough practice that I got passably good at it quickly. As soon as we know enough so we won't get hurt, Sensei starts us with techniques where we'll have to take ukemi as uke (pairing beginner uke with experienced nage so we're less likely to get hurt).

I agree with Suzanne -- I LOVE ukemi!

I often work with a teen my size who

loves it, too; we jump up grinning like idiots after we've been sent flying, ready for more.
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Old 10-14-2003, 07:16 AM   #12
ian
 
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Unfortuntely those people who were discouraged by ukemi and have left aikido are unlikely to be voting on this forum!

Ian

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 10-14-2003, 08:38 AM   #13
giriasis
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That's true and of course this poll is not scientifically accurate as are any internet polling. Despite that, it is still revealing as to whether most women are more intimitdated by learning ukemi than men. But it also shows that some women were not and some men were.

It is also interesting to note that it appears many more men came to aikido already knowing how to fall versus the 7 (so far) women who have.

I also wanted to add, that look at the number of women who have responded so far about 67 compared to the 200-50+ men who have. That number is pretty revealing itself. Of course we won't know the final tallies until this poll is closed.

Last edited by giriasis : 10-14-2003 at 08:40 AM.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 10-15-2003, 10:36 AM   #14
ian
 
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Hi Anne,

of course you are correct, but I was drawing attention to the fact that if more women were put off aikido by rolling than men (or vice versa), they would not be responding because they would no longer be doing aikido and the women (and men) who stay tend not to be put off by rolling.

I was also intrigued by more men having done another martial art. It's true I've never seen a dojo with more women than men in it, in any martial art.

(this does not infer I'd like to force a 50:50 balance! People can make their own minds up.)

I'm wondering, in dojo's with a female sensei, are their more women than men (or at least is the ratio higher?).

Ian

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 10-15-2003, 11:08 AM   #15
wendyrowe
Dojo: Aikidog Aikikai
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Ian,

My dojo also offers kenpo classes for adults, and over the past few months the balance has tipped til they're more than half female (nearly all are over 40). Granted, most are beginners and might not stick; but what's been happening is that women taking the classes have been telling their friends, who are signing up.

The two of us who are purple belts are the highest ranking women in the kenpo classes, but one 20-something woman used to have a blue belt when she was a kid and is quickly working her way back up.

The school's only been open for about three years. It'll be interesting to see whether there are more women or men a year from now, and whether the influx of women to the kenpo classes will spill over into the aikido classes. So far, the women I've talked with think the aikido looks too wild and physical for them, with people flying all over the room. (Ukemi fear!)

The kids' classes at our dojo (kenpo only) are about 50-50, boys-girls.
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Old 10-15-2003, 01:29 PM   #16
giriasis
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Quote:
of course you are correct, but I was drawing attention to the fact that if more women were put off aikido by rolling than men (or vice versa), they would not be responding because they would no longer be doing aikido and the women (and men) who stay tend not to be put off by rolling.
I agree with this, too. Although, retention rates in Aikido or Martial Arts are rather low in general. It's hard to ask those who didn't stick around. But if we assume from what we see so far that most women who responded here were at least somewhat intimitated, it would be natural to assume that this might be a factor for people leaving. I do know that a couple of new women in our dojo left because of being injured. :/

I was pretty put off by rolling, but I still stuck around. I'm pretty stubborn and I wasn't going to let rolling keep me from practicing aikido.

I also agree that aikido looks very physical. Some of our classes are pretty intense and I noticed that the women, at least the newbie, steer clear of those. We had one new woman (a transfer) join up and took one class, that is typically more hard core ukemi wise, and almost quit because the class was too intense for her. Thankfully, we have a variety of different classes offering different intensities so that she can stick around.

Anne Marie

Last edited by giriasis : 10-15-2003 at 01:32 PM.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 10-16-2003, 06:54 AM   #17
Amelia Smith
 
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I've talked to at least one woman who came to aikido practice once and never came back because, she complained, she was being pushed into a roll. I'm sure there are others like her, and others who are so freaked out by the very idea of falling that they never come back after the first try. Maybe people who are more easily intimidated do better with beginners' classes, but I was happy to be thrown in with everyone else when I started. For me, frustration was much more of a problem than being afraid or intimidated.

--Amelia
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Old 10-16-2003, 09:58 AM   #18
Qatana
 
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I used to do this little ballet where i do a loooong arabesque (thats putting the leg in the air behind you) and "losing my balance" doing a straight on forward roll, through a straddle split and land flat on my face. In a floor lenghth skirt and fluffy petticoats. On a hard wood stage.

I have made falling down onstage almost a career.

The first day i was being taught to do shoulder rolls in the dojo i put my shoulder on the mat & ended up flat on my back with a partially dislocated shoulder.

Then i got to deal with fear!

There are so many similar movements in dance/Aikido but they are all also subtly different, i am having to unlearn over 30 years of technique!

And now, in my tenth month of Aikido i'm taking forward rolls on both sides & starting to learn to breakfall.

If i was so intimidated by falling that i would quit training, i wonder why i would have started to begin with- couldn't they See people flying and falling and splatting? Did they think somehow that this will not apply to them?

Q
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Old 10-16-2003, 11:15 AM   #19
giriasis
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Quote:
If i was so intimidated by falling that i would quit training, i wonder why i would have started to begin with- couldn't they See people flying and falling and splatting? Did they think somehow that this will not apply to them?
Good point. But perhaps that they thought they could learn to do it, but then decided it wasn't for them?

I think it's best to try to see if you like it first, and even if they didn't stick around, they should at least be appauled for trying. They tested their limits and discovered them. I see nothing wrong with that -- male or female.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 10-16-2003, 04:11 PM   #20
Nick Simpson
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I never really had many problems with ukemi, I was one of those sick people that liked it, but then again I fit into the young male demographic ( We have no regard for personal safety ).

We only have 4 female students in our class, but they are the highest ranked kyu grades (and the best), We've just got a bunch of new students including a couple of girls but I havent had the opportunity to train with them much, so im not sure what they think of ukemi. I'll have a chat with them tommorrow night, see what they say, they seem pretty committed though ( Bought their Gi after their first lesson, so enthusiastic!).

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 10-16-2003, 05:05 PM   #21
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Quote:
Anne Marie Giri (giriasis) wrote:
I think it's best to try to see if you like it first, and even if they didn't stick around, they should at least be appauled for trying. They tested their limits and discovered them. I see nothing wrong with that -- male or female.
ooops...

"appauled" should be "applauded"

Changes the whole meaning...

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 10-24-2003, 06:08 PM   #22
Robyn Johnson
 
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My mom and I started together a little over 3 years ago and we were both VERY intimidated by the rolls and falls. Her more than me (she was 49 when she started and I was 18 but neither of us had ever done anything like that before). After all this time, I've gotten much better at the rolls but I still have a huge fear of the breakfalls! My stomach gets all twisted up and sick feeling just thinking about it. About 8 months ago, my mom finally was able to do forward rolls without constantly hitting her head. She still crashes occasionally but she practices all the time and tries her best. Our senseis have explained how to do this as well as they could for the last 3 years but it's different from hearing it and actually having it come out right by doing it yourself.

Robyn
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Old 10-25-2003, 01:35 PM   #23
Greg Jennings
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Hi Robyn,

Intimidated by breakfalls? Why don't you and your mom come up for a visit or invite Kestra and me down there?

Because our aikido is very breakfall-oriented, we have lots of drills to gradually teach them.

I'm also trying to get Kestra some visibility. She's a very good teacher.

Best regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 10-25-2003, 01:59 PM   #24
giriasis
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Robyn,

I understand the fear of doing breakfalls. It took me at least two years to really feel confident with my rolls. My sensei told me a breakfall is a roll in mid-air so I should just keep focusing on my rolls and the breakfall will come. I have and the breakfalls have been coming. I found it's been best to push myself gradually, and visualize myself actually doing them with the confidence I have been doing my rolls.

Just keep practicing. I could give you all the advice in the world, but I know exactly what you mean that no matter how much people say there is nothing like actually doing the practice.

Over the past year and half (I'm 3rd kyu with 4 years of training), I have really been focusing on learning breakfalls. I started with the ones I felt more comfortable with and only did them with the people I trusted. I can tell you more, but go here: My Ukemi Journey I hope it will provide you support and encouragement.

Last edited by giriasis : 10-25-2003 at 02:06 PM.

Anne Marie Giri
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