– – – by Kimbal Anderson Sensei
“Taking ukemi means learning to read your opponent and his intentions instantaneously, just as if he and you are of one mind…” – – – O’Sensei
“Learning to take ukemi is not just a physical discipline but a mental discipline with a profoundly spiritual dimension: it demands…greater awareness and the expansion of consciousness” – – – Mitsugi Saotome Shihan
The only way to really understand the gift of aikido is to become an extraordinarily useful mirror. And that is the nature of ukemi: to become a perfect mirror to help the other person polish their technique.
Many people just take the fall which doesn’t help; other people resist when, in real budo, their arm would be snapped off.
Learning how to roll and tumble and all that is amusing, invigorating and good for you: it’s a kind of massage.
I intend to approach ukemi in terms of what it is: the ‘presence’ of uke. There is a condition of mind that you want to be in: at any moment you could become nage – if you’re like the perfect mirror. When the person moving with the technique backs up, does some sort of movement error, concentration error, you should be able to fill in the void, causing them to increase their adaptability and adjust to that… or causing them simply to discover that they are backing up. So you become the perfect vehicle.
Almost all the aikido stories I’ve heard center on ukemi: including the people I’ve trained as soldiers: stories like: driving down the road, the road blows up, they’re airborne in the vehicle… and they take a roll and walk away. While the vehicle’s tumbling after them they walk away…
Because they’re aware, and they move to the side.
It is the marvelous jewel.
In olden days often you trained three, four, five years, only doing ukemi with the teacher, and you learned the techniques inside and out.
Done really well, you should be able to do all aikido techniques without a nage: you should be able to do all the movements. They should be so embedded in your body…
It is the marvelous jewel of aikido.