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Old 05-15-2004, 08:08 AM   #1
Thor's Hammer
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Concrete Ukemi

Hi, I've been doing aikido for only a year now, but my rolls on the mat are pretty good, I never get any injuries or pain rolling on mat, even at fairly high speeds...

I am having trouble with ukemi on concrete and asphalt, however, especially concrete. First of all, I have a tendency to roll the bony part at the back of my shoulder, and when I roll on concrete, this causes some pretty bad pain. Also, after I've rolled across and down my back, the concrete presses against the bony part at the back of my hip, also causes pain. Is this just a matter of growing some tissue to cover that up and disperse the pressure, or is my technique incorrect?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-15-2004, 01:49 PM   #2
Chris Birke
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

I've had the same expirence for the last 3 months. So far no magical tissue growth.
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Old 05-15-2004, 03:48 PM   #3
Tharis
Dojo: Chicago Aikikai
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Bryan,

I've been training 3 years, and honestly I still don't feel comfortable training on hard-surface floors. When I've occasionally tried it on a hardwood gym floor I get distinctive sore spots on my shoulder blade and towards the middle of my spinal cord. I'm no expert, but I imagine that repeating this practice isn't good for your body, especially if it continues to hurt.

Is there any more incremental way to get used to falling onto harder surfaces?

I think I've seen this addressed in another thread, but I don't have it in front of me right now.

Yours in ukemi,

Thomas
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Old 05-15-2004, 04:13 PM   #4
ChristianBoddum
 
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Hi !
Hard surfaces are the greatest teachers !
Put on a white T-shirt and find out where your contact slips ,
what can I say ?
yours - Chr.B.
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Old 05-15-2004, 04:39 PM   #5
otto
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Are you trying this from a standing position?

Dont know about you , but i learned ukemi from a kneeling position first , I've become quite comfortable with rolls on hard surfaces after 4 years of practice but doing them this way...

Yours
Otto

"Perfection is a Process"
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Old 05-15-2004, 05:10 PM   #6
mj
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Having to 'do' ukemi on hard surfaces is entirely different.

Firstly the area you move over is random, unlike tatami. 2ndly most 'aikido uklemi' are more about form than about actual 'breakfalling' (as in taking the force through our own body) and to do that we need to take more of it at the start (that is ,through our original contact with the ground - usually a forearm).

In real life rolling sometimes you have to avoid bits and counterbalance with other bits...ukemi is an art not a cant.

I don't know if I have communicated this properly.

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Old 05-16-2004, 07:54 AM   #7
MaryKaye
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

I have a sempai who rolls on concrete, and one of these days my stupid pride will require me to learn how....

I'll ask him, but I believe his advice would be to work, on the mat, on getting the rolls very round and smooth. We often stop improving our roundness at the point where the roll stops hurting (on the mat) and that isn't good enough for concrete. Look for points at which there's hard impact. I have a callus on my outer ankle where I slap it on the mat at the end of a forward roll. I'd be sorry right away if I did that on a harder surface, so I could work on improving this bit until I could put my feet down silently.

My head teacher always likes to tell us that his head teacher taught himself to roll on railroad tracks. But I bet they walked to school in the snow, uphill both ways, too.

Mary Kaye
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Old 05-16-2004, 09:15 AM   #8
Virgil
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

At our dojo we are expected to do rolls on concrete by the third or fourth test; I can now do all the rolls & breakfalls outside without undue trauma (the odd roll still reminds me if I'm not smooth enough, though!). The trick, if it could be called that, is to get very low, and go slowly. To get sore spots when you first try it is to be expected. Keep trying, but as Thomas says, not too much - get comfortable on a carpeted surface at home first, something harder than the mat but still more forgiving than concrete.
And watch those ankles! It wasn't until learning to breakfall "out there" that I really discovered how to position my ankles so they wouldn't get smacked

V.
"In a pleasant spring morning all men's sins
are forgiven"
Thoreau, Walden
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Old 05-16-2004, 06:38 PM   #9
PeterR
 
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

A couple of points.

First of all that is what mats are for - we don't want or need to abuse our body on concrete.

That said - the occasional role on grass, concrete, sand whatever highlights what we can ignore on the mats.


When you do role on concrete I got to ask - do you where street clothes. I mean there is the world of difference between dogi and leather jacket and boots. What worries me most about mai ukemi are the edges of my feet - but then I would never consider doing roles on concrete without shoes.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-16-2004, 10:56 PM   #10
Ian Williams
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

In the videos I have seen of Ueshiba Morihei, he often is practicing outside in the "dirt". Not as hard as concrete, but not a lot of give on dirty ground either.
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Old 05-17-2004, 12:43 AM   #11
PeterR
 
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Quote:
Ian Williams wrote:
In the videos I have seen of Ueshiba Morihei, he often is practicing outside in the "dirt". Not as hard as concrete, but not a lot of give on dirty ground either.
But was he taking ukemi?

At the Kobukan they did not use mats either. I wonder if there was as many spectacular ukemi's then as you see now.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-17-2004, 01:04 AM   #12
Ian Williams
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
But was he taking ukemi?

At the Kobukan they did not use mats either. I wonder if there was as many spectacular ukemi's then as you see now.
If he wasn't taking it, then his uke's were... The point of my post is that Aikido was being practiced on hard dirt, and the practitioners were taking ukemi on the dirt.
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Old 05-17-2004, 06:21 AM   #13
vanstretch
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

All the above are valid points to consider. Yet all the training we do is to serve us in the real world. And concrete is about as real as you can get in this modern world. I was just watching O-sensei 1-6 vids and saw that his ukes were rolling on rooftop concrete and looked really smooth and fluid. That being said, there is a larger chance in life of falling down than being approached and punched. I absolutely see the need for aikido ukemi for this very reason. And maybe the ultimate test of your ukemi is to roll on a hard surface, harder than what we are accustomed to in the home dojo. I hear dans in seminars complain about the different mat material, comparing it to "theirs". If I sound like Rambo, I am not trying to be, I just wish to illustrate that aikido aids in one becomming more pliable, flexable,fluid, and adaptable in life. So attention whiners, stop whining. the end.
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Old 05-17-2004, 09:47 AM   #14
Bronson
 
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
I mean there is the world of difference between dogi and leather jacket and boots.
And don't forget to do your roles on concrete with everything that you would normally carry. Keys, wallet, pocket knife, cell phone, money clip, checkbook...etc. A wallet is soft but can be surprising painful when rolled over

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 05-17-2004, 10:35 AM   #15
aikidoc
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

As an older practitioner, I have no intention of trying my rolls on concrete unless forced to do so. As a secondary point, I question whether anyone would have enough time to do a nice roll if they were tripped or had an incident where they went down quickly. I know some uchideshi at one school that go out back and perform tobu ukemi on the pavement. I also ran into some that at one seminar after imbibing too much in the spirits went outside the restaurant and took high falls on the cement. Young and foolish in my mind.
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Old 05-17-2004, 11:11 AM   #16
vanstretch
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Yes, "unless forced to do so" is the point. An incident of an aikidoka who lost control of his motorcycle and flipped over the handlebars shows partially that his lack of more severe injury could be attributed to his rolling training. His bruises were mostly in the following places; pinky edge of hand, elbow, back of shoulder, lower hip region of his other side and heel. Sounds like the forward roll may have helped save his life and prevent further injury. As for being macho and breakfalling on pavement, yes a waste of time, but nice to know you could if "forced to do so". thank you.
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Old 05-17-2004, 12:58 PM   #17
Gareth Hinds
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

I used to do a fairly hard style of kung fu, and we learned to roll and breakfall on concrete. As folks already mentioned, it's mainly a matter of working on it very slowly and carefully. It's a bit of a different skill than just having a really smooth roll on the mat, so go ahead and practice on a semi-hard surface, as Virgil says.

Unfortunately I have kind of lost the knack due to lack of practice, but for a while there I could comfortably take a medium-hard hip throw or a surprise leg sweep and the fall didn't hurt at all. A full-speed aikido throw from a vigorous attack would be a different story, but I imagine you can probably get to that level over time.

I should also mention that we always had a good supply of Chinese bruise medicine handy for this and other conditioning-type exercises
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Old 05-17-2004, 02:24 PM   #18
Bronson
 
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

The first time I tried a roll on a hard surface I seperated my shoulder...from kneeling. I can do them now if I have to, but like John Riggs have no intention of doing them just for fun. We don't practice them in our dojo but I and some of the other students have related stories of slips and falls we've taken in the "world" and our normal, matted, rolling/falling practice served us just fine.

Hell, one of the older judo guys I know was coming down a ladder from his roof and slipped off about halfway down. He landed in a back breakfall. Knocked his wind out and he was sore for few days but no other injuries...and they don't practice falling off 8ft ladders

I've done demonstrations with my sensei and we normally don't take mats and nobody seems to have a problem with the falls, but then again we're one of those wimpy Ki Society offshoots

Bronson

Last edited by Bronson : 05-17-2004 at 02:29 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 05-17-2004, 02:48 PM   #19
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

I think it is important to know you can safely roll on any surface. It is important though you slowly build yourself up to roll on harder surfaces.

Being able to take good ukemi on mats is one thing but taking high falls on concrete is another. There are several folks I know, including myself, that are able to roll smoothly on hard surfaces as well as take breakfalls. We didn't do this overnight though.

Regarding rolling/breakfalling on grass/dirt. Providing there aren't any sticks, rocks, pinecones, etc....it is my preference over mats.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 05-17-2004, 03:08 PM   #20
Gareth Hinds
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

If anyone's thinking of doing this on your own, be careful.

Don't start out kneeling. Start out sitting/lying down, just rolling back and forth, then into backrolls. Then you can try kneeling.

Same for breakfalls -- start out just lying down and getting used to slapping the hard surface without banging your joints on it -- then go to backfalls from sitting, squatting, standing, then try controlled forward throws with a partner (I'd never throw myself into a forward breakfall on concrete, or even wood).

Last edited by Gareth Hinds : 05-17-2004 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 05-17-2004, 09:02 PM   #21
Bronson
 
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Quote:
Lyle Laizure wrote:
I think it is important to know you can safely roll on any surface.
Quote:
Lyle Laizure wrote:
Regarding rolling/breakfalling on grass/dirt. Providing there aren't any sticks, rocks, pinecones, etc....it is my preference over mats.
Would not sticks, rocks, pinecones, etc. qualify as any surface? If you were mountain biking and went over the handlebars there would be sticks, rocks, pinecones, etc. so you should probably practice rolling over them. Oh, and make sure to practice rolling over nails, broken glass, piles of bricks, car hoods, gravel, brush piles, dog poop, lava, etc....
wouldn't want to be caught unprepared

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 05-17-2004, 10:56 PM   #22
Ian Williams
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
As an older practitioner, I have no intention of trying my rolls on concrete unless forced to do so. As a secondary point, I question whether anyone would have enough time to do a nice roll if they were tripped or had an incident where they went down quickly. .
I've become laterally separated from my motorcycle on a couple of times and performed an instinctive roll which saved me from any injury. I have also tripped over in the back yard in the dark (stepped in a hole and rolled my ankle) and performed a nice side break fall, again, instinctively..

If your ukemi isn't instinctive, it's not much use..
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Old 05-17-2004, 11:27 PM   #23
PeterR
 
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Quote:
Ian Williams wrote:
If your ukemi isn't instinctive, it's not much use..
Very good point.

As an aside - they only way for that to happen is lots and lots of practice. There is no fundamental difference between ukemi on any surface - if there is you should consider exactly what you are training for. What mats do provide is a relatively friendly way to get that practice time in and avoid both short term and long term injury.

Again - checking your ukemi on a hard surface is a good idea but I see no reason for consistently training there. Taking your training out of the dojo is always a useful exercise.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-18-2004, 12:46 AM   #24
Bronson
 
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
There is no fundamental difference between ukemi on any surface - if there is you should consider exactly what you are training for. What mats do provide is a relatively friendly way to get that practice time in and avoid both short term and long term injury.
Ahh, Peter makes my point...albeit with much less smart-assiness

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 05-18-2004, 09:12 AM   #25
MaryKaye
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Re: Concrete Ukemi

I trippped on concrete a couple of months back and did a face-plant. While picking gravel out of my hands I thought, first, "Why didn't I try a forward roll?" and second, "If I'd have done a forward roll while wearing that large, bulky backpack I'd have killed myself."

I didn't skin my knees, though, so perhaps all that ikkyo practice did help.

Very lush grass is actually one of the nicest surfaces around. Firm beach sand isn't bad either, but watch out for loose sand. It eats your momentum and changes the dynamic of the roll a lot--I cranked my neck the first time I tried it, because I lost momentum mid-roll and essentially stood on my head.

Mary Kaye
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