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Old 07-12-2004, 05:31 PM   #1
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
Location: Colorado
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Role of ukemi

~~Greetings All! Something I've been thinking about for a few years now; I've studied other arts where ukemi was mostly about saving your butt, Aikido is very different (it seems to me) in that ukemi is directly linked to the student's ability to comprehend principles and exicute technique. In short, a student's capacity to grow in this art seems tied to their growing, or stagnating, ukemi ability. My (current) view, anyway. Would like to hear others' views, see things I might be missing on this matter. Thanks!

~~Paula~~
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Old 07-12-2004, 06:53 PM   #2
Jordan Steele
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Re: Role of ukemi

To me ukemi is not the art of falling, but the art of staying alive as you mentioned and I think along the same lines that ukemi ability is directly linked to overall aikido ability. Of the four or five major breakthroughs I've had in my training career they have all been related to a refined ability to take ukemi and in turn my entire aikido gets better. You're right, it's a strange thing to explain, but my thoughts are probably the exceptiona and not the rule beause I have trained with terrible ukes that incredibly solid aikido and strong throws.(Maybe they're just lazy...I don't really know!!)
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Old 07-12-2004, 07:45 PM   #3
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Role of ukemi

Maybe the improved ukemi is the symptom & not the cause.
As a student gains sensitivity to flow of power etc, both their shite and uke sides usually pick up.
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Old 07-12-2004, 07:50 PM   #4
Dario Rosati
Dojo: Zanshin - Milan
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Re: Role of ukemi

Hi Paula,

I'm still a beginner (6th kyu), but as far as I'm hearing/viewing at lessons, the role of Uke is... to survive and become tori at the first opportunity, or to escape tori's technique and re-establish proper ma-hai (sp?).

At the beginning of practice this is unclear, because almost all the efforts are geared toward ukemi and giving a clear/appropriate/realistic attacks (not by chance easy, too, for a beginner).

But after a while (I suppose it depends from practitioner/sensei/style) it became clear to me that the role of uke is to suffer the least damage and to "stay alive" as longer as possible, and finally to catch the chanche to become tori, reversing the roles, or at least to escape and re-establish ma-hai.

Many techniques may evolve in a sankyo for the uke, if you're fast enough... or you can escape tori grip in iriminage and regain ma-hai, or even reverse it to a koshi-nage like throw if tori is slow.

It seems perfectly logical to me from a martial standpoint, so I think this is uke's long term (I dare to say: ideal) goal... survival and reversal at the first opportunity.

For sure I'm not able to do it yet due to my lack in training, but I think I have to have this concept in mind when I'm uke.

Short and medium term goals are obviously proper ukemi and proper attacks.

All I said is IMHO, obvioulsy... "guru" opinions are welcome

Bye!

Last edited by Dario Rosati : 07-12-2004 at 07:53 PM.

--
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Old 07-12-2004, 08:49 PM   #5
Mel Barker
Dojo: University of Louisville Aikido Club
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Re: Role of ukemi

Quote:
Paula Lydon wrote:
...ukemi is directly linked to the student's ability to comprehend principles and exicute technique.
Go Directly to Shihan, If you pass Shidoin on the way collect $200.

Mel Barker
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Old 07-13-2004, 12:30 AM   #6
xuzen
 
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Re: Role of ukemi

Ukemi is about continuation and harmonizing. In randori or jiyu waza, the ability of an uke to take ukemi is vital. What we usually do is, shite/tori execute a nage, uke takes ukemi, uke returns to kamae maintain maai, zanshin, and attack again and the cycle repeat itself. This is learning.

Imagine, uke can't take ukemi, he/she falls flat, injure himself, shite and everyone break zanshin to look at the uke. This is out of harmony. All focus are gone.

Also, once I spoke to a junior grade, ability to take ukemi is vital if sensei was to introduce more advance level technique. Without good ukemi proficiency, one's learning may be stunted. So in this context, the role of ukemi is an adjunct to learning more advance techniques.

Ukemi as an exercise to save one's butt? It is on the least important reason in my ukemi priority list.

Regards,
Boon

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 07-13-2004, 09:43 AM   #7
akiy
 
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Re: Role of ukemi

In my mind, ukemi is as important in learning [i[aikido[/i[ as the nage/shite/tori role as well. I've been working on a hypothesis over the past little while that there's no difference between the two roles of uke and nage and that they offer the same prospects of learning about aikido. Heck, if uke grabs nage to throw them down into the ground successfully, who is "nage" at that point?

Also, I very much believe that what you'll do as uke, you'll do as nage and also vice versa (what you'll do as nage, you'll do as uke). It's surprising to see just how many people talk about trying to relax, flow, and so on as nage but are tight, unmoving, and so on as uke -- of course they're not changing much over the years if they're spending 50% of the time on the mat reinforcing the "wrong" things! Much better, of course, to spend 100% of the time cultivating the same qualities, I think...

Lastly (for now), I'm currently able to take ukemi from far more experienced people than I am (eg shihan). This means, of course, that I'm feeling techniques performed in a manner in which I am unable to do as of yet. This enables me to feel, through my body, principles and techniques of high level folks. There is much to be learned by this kind of kinesthetic experience. Also, there's the practical aspect of becoming able to provide good training opportunities for nage of all experience as well as being able to be a part of a demonstration (either during a teaching demonstration or a "public" (yuck) demonstration) to show techniques to students; without actively working on one's ukemi, I think it's difficult to get to these sorts of things.

Just a few of my thoughts on ukemi.

-- Jun

PS: My thought is that the "falling" aspect of ukemi comprises only about 10% of that role...

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Old 07-13-2004, 10:05 AM   #8
SeiserL
 
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Re: Role of ukemi

Yep, hafta admit, ukemi was harder for me to learn than waza. Same principles certainly apply. The better I can feel/learn ukemi of a waza, the better my waza becomes.

Compliments and appreciation for your always inquisitive mind.

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 07-13-2004, 10:11 AM   #9
jxa127
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Re: Role of ukemi

Paula, at least you resisted the pun of talking about the roll of ukemi.

Jun described pretty much what my view of ukemi is (which is actually the view of my instructor and the others in the school; I don't claim to have any originality here).

One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is that ukemi is attacking first, and then falling. In my opinion, a good uke should be able to attack in a strong, centered manner. He does not give up his center with over or under-committed attacks. He tries to continue the attack throughout the technique (often by trying to regain his center and move in for a strike). A good uke will be fluid and tenacious, whether working statically or dynamically.

Then he should be able to take a safe fall. At my dojo, and even among other people I've met at seminars, good ukemi is more valued for those below shodan than good technique.

Regards,

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 07-14-2004, 10:14 AM   #10
Paula Lydon
Dojo: Aikido Shugenkai
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Re: Role of ukemi

~~Thanks to all for the great feed-back! Now for the other shoe, which I held back because it is my fear. I'm in my 40's, have worked sincerely on ukemi improvement for most of the reasons stated above. Realisticly, I will never move like a 20 year old and so the 'dark side' of my musings is this: if ukemi is so intrinsic to improvement, then when I've generally reached my top physical capacity, will that be the terminus of my improvement? Will my mind grasp things that my body fails me in? Or, ultimately, is good ukemi a state of mind and so improvement is boundless? I am thinking (hoping) that it will prove to be the latter~~

~~Paula~~
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Old 07-14-2004, 12:42 PM   #11
AsimHanif
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Re: Role of ukemi

Paula,
I would suggest two things regarding this:
first your ukemi does not have to look like anyone else's to be effective. So don't compare yourself to a 20 years old or anyone else. The question is does your ukemi do the job it is intended to?
Second, to improve on ukemi I would suggest taking a yoga or Pilates class on an ongoing basis if possible. Tapes work too. They both work on centering, suppleness, and grace- some of the things we want in our aikido practice.
I can only say they have helped me a great deal.
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Old 07-14-2004, 01:41 PM   #12
Mel Barker
Dojo: University of Louisville Aikido Club
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Re: Role of ukemi

Paula,

Don't think of ukemi as acrobatic falls. Think of committed attacks and following nage's lead, being sensitive to nage just as nage is sensitive to uke.

Mel
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Old 07-14-2004, 10:30 PM   #13
Morpheus
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Re: Role of ukemi

Take it from me as a beginner, bad ukemi can hurt a whole lot.

Qasim

**************************************
"If the enemy thinks of the mountains, attack like the sea; and if he thinks of the sea, attack like the mountains. - Miyamoto Musashi - 1584 - 1645
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Old 07-14-2004, 10:42 PM   #14
Ian Williams
Location: Adelaide, Australia
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Re: Role of ukemi

Your ukemi will improve just as your other Aikido skills improve. With practice comes confidence.. There is much to be said with being thrown over a hip or shoulder and landing without pain or discomfort for the first time! It makes you feel 10ft tall and bullet proof..

If you're starting as an over 40 there is nothing wrong with beginning in small steps.. rolls from kneeling positions etc and going from there. No one expects you to be an olympic gymnast.
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Old 07-15-2004, 04:31 AM   #15
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Re: Role of ukemi

Ukemi for me is about sharing aikido.
if you improve your ukemi then your partner no longer fears hurting you and you no longer fear being hurt.
if you remove that fear then you both enter into the situation without hesitation and are free to move and adapt and fully explore aikido.

I dont think its a case of dynamic high flying falls, its more a case of working on your awareness and learning to have faith in your ability to adapt to the situation, relaxing into it and learning not to be afraid

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Old 07-15-2004, 09:58 AM   #16
jxa127
Location: Harrisburg, PA
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Re: Role of ukemi

Paula,

You've been training for a while, right? And you have, from all accounts, an excellent sensei in an excellent dojo. I'm sure your sensei and sempai would be able to help you get over whatever hurdles you face.

I've seen a good video by Donovan Waite sensei. He apparently has two videos on ukemi, and I'm not sure which one I saw, but it was exceelent. I'd check one or both out and see if they help.

Regards,

----
-Drew Ames
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