Gabrielle Paynter

posted 6 Feb 2010, 03:42 by aikidorepublic
I would like to agree that the practise of ukemi is personal. My story is that when I get back to practising soft breakfalls, the first couple are atrocious to where I consistently take too much weight in my leading arm and compress my shoulder into my neck = headaches for the next couple of days. It doesn't help that my falls get better straight after, the damage is already done. Basically I'm not getting enough consistent practise at these soft breakfalls (the ones I get right) to get it through to my body/mind for them to become learnt and natural. So what should I do? Practising before class is probably not a good idea because my body is not warmed up and after class I'm tired, also not such a good idea. Is the problem because we do not do regular enough practise in class, like we do regular rolling?

...IMHO, maybe not. We have a HUGE syllabus already. I can only think of a handful of people who learn so fast that the progression through the syllabus is too slow for them. Secondly, the syllabus does not support the need for certain types of ukemi, infact sometimes it impedes it. For example, if we went about learning Hashimoto Sensei's throw-the-cat-in-the-air-and-watch-it fall-on-its-feet type of breakfalls.Sure, we could practise them. But the fact is we don't do big huge throws that require that type of ukemi. We don't get thrown that way...much, because we don't throw that way...much either. Which means when we practise those breakfalls, the thrower will have trouble giving the throw-ee the right momentum, the right angle, the right everything. 

For someone new to any type of ukemi, they need the support of their nage delivering consistent, appropriate throws to get past the initial 'get the movement in your body' part before they can handle variations on that. Think about when you first started learning forward rolls. Why do we want to learn ukemi that is not necessary for a safe and effective "exit" from an attack we've made, but have been thwarted on? It's like a body builder lifting weights so he's strong enough to lift the weights he's got to lift. All I'm saying is that the learning process is tricky, injury potential is high, it's a long road to teach a dojo of one style the ukemi of another.
ON THE OTHER HAND :) we obviously have a dojo full of fantastically open-minded, inquisitive students hungry for new experiences. In some respects you could say that this is quite special about Griffith Aikido and certainly, in this latest incarnation of Griffith Aikido, must stem from the enthusiasm to train at other places and encouragement for senior students to do likewise. We take it for granted now but it's not usual! You won't find many other schools visiting our dojo or our seminars unless a relationship has been built beforehand, and then it's still often problematic.

 Or maybe we can look further up at the entire Aikido Yuishinkai organisation with it's "Aikido without boundaries" policy to welcome everyone - including some of our higher ranking senseis who have brought their ukemi ideas and techniques from other styles. How would you feel to be infront of your whole organisation if the instructor chose to breakfall you out of a technique and you didn't know how? I know I dread the thought of me and my aching bones after crashing inelegantly to the mat.
Lastly I would like to put forth an idea from Ellis Amdur - that  ukemi skills as we know them have been a very recent development. So perhaps we are entering a new era in aikido development?  With the skill-sharing possibilities now with YouTube, maybe we are right to evolve?