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Thread: problems with ukemi

  1. #1
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    Default problems with ukemi

    Front rolls, and front diving rolls in particular.

    For the longest time (nearly a year), I have had very little trouble with front rolls. I didn't think about the process and it seemed to come naturally.

    In the past month, something happened. It was as if my brain made a switch, and now I am having trouble. Whenever I roll, I end up losing all my momentum and landing hard (as if going to land in a side break fall, only more flat on my back), and my following leg/foot always seems to take a hard hit (the foot which ideally ends up on live toes).

    My wife was kind enough to help me record myself performing ukemi, and I was able to see quite clearly that my body was becoming rigid while my following leg/foot was much too far from my body, creating a big flat spot in my body's circle that took a hard blow.

    While I have worked on correcting this, I believe my problem is due to anxiety. Ukemi plays with my mind. I'll be frank, it scares me. Being fearful, I am therefore anxious and tense. I find it difficult to relax, especially when I am launching myself head-first at the mat.

    Has anyone else experienced this sort of problem? Does anyone know any effective calming techniques one can perform while training?

    Many thanks in advance.
    Jeremy Hargrove

  2. #2
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    Can't really suggest anything other then, relax, tuck and role!!!! My Sempai and Sensei tend to do more of half side role, w/ going a little more to either side!!! My style is tight roll, come up ready to fight, keeping it tight and focused on not wasting space!!!!
    Jeff Collier

  3. #3
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    Problem solved.

    As I suspected, my problem was due to a technical error.

    The reason my following foot was coming down hard is because it was not positioned correctly. I knew this, which I corrected somewhat, but I was still having issues.

    So when the following foot (the foot that is tucked in close) makes contact with the mat, it should be directly behind the leading foot. (Not so in a side break fall. In a side break fall, the feet are separated to create more "spring" in the body position to absorb impact, and to prevent one foot/ankle from striking the other. Very painful.)

    So, as I roll, when I focus on keeping that following foot close to my other foot, and just behind it, it makes ALL the difference.

    The only thing that discourages me is that this has gone unnoticed in the training hall for the better part of a year.
    Jeremy Hargrove

  4. #4
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    The only information we have is from your descriptions and I ask whether you have been explicitly taught how to do forward rolls: where to put the feet, how to align the hips, how to align the back, how to align the head as you go over, how much you need to use the feet, as against the arms. Some teachers seem to think that people learn 'naturally' so that they do not need explicit instruction. I believe this approach is mistaken.
    Peter Goldsbury,
    Forum Administrator,
    Hiroshima, Japan

  5. #5
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    Some teachers seem to think that people learn 'naturally' so that they do not need explicit instruction. I believe this approach is mistaken.
    I agree. Rolling and falling in general has always seemed very unnatural to me, and I certainly have not learned it naturally. It was only through conscious altering of my body position through experiment was I able to find what works and what does not. This can certainly be communicated technically.

    Indeed, in my dojo, a more "natural" approach is taken to ukemi, though primarily based on the philosophy that everyone will do it a little differently, because everyone is built a little differently. The general approach is practice until it feels comfortable, though that is not to say that methodical approaches are not used at all. Of course, I have the predisposition to want to defend my dojo's teachings, but all observations aside, it could have simply been my own misunderstanding of what my teachers believed were thorough instructions. Regardless, I am now able to point to this particular problem to newer students, and am the better off for it.
    Jeremy Hargrove

  6. #6
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    Sometimes it's obvious when a person does ukemi wrong, other times it's not.

    I experienced a similar situation with my ukemi as it was taught using the "natural" method. After much experimentation and frustration I spoke up and asked more detailed questions. After this the instructors were able to help me. Turns out even though it was painful for me, externally it looked correct.

    These days with my own students I encourage them to be more vocal with their feedback as I'm now on the other side watching people who externally look like they're just fine... until I start asking them how their ukemi feels.

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