Yann Golanski wrote:
I think that ukemi means escape in Japanese -- although, I could be wrong since my Japanese is basic.
I can't say that, to me at least, there's no connotion of "escape" in the term "ukemi." The verb "ukeru" basically means, "to receive."
Personally, I think ukemi is the antithesis of escape. Without engagement and "matching" in one's ukemi, there's absolutely no chance for reversals. Also, there'll some day be time when someone will throw you without your having any chance of escaping; without being comfortable in situations of receiving such throws, I think it's very difficult to take the techniques well as uke.
In any case, I feel that the falling and rolling parts of ukemi is a small part of it. The majority of ukemi, I'd say, is everything that happens before then (and even afterwards, if you're into newaza)...