In order to keep practicing Aikido without sustaining injury,
proper ukemi is used by all practitioners.
My original instructor 35 years ago, was very
strict on practicing proper ukemi. Many hours of dojo time was dedicated to forward and
backward ukemi, as well as using breakfalls when needed. After all, if you cannot take
good ukemi during practice - you will not survive long without injury and you couldn't
practice. Ukemi is considered a way to protect your body during practice.
Good ukemi is considered a skill that is not
learned easily. It takes rigorous training and time to control one's body and to feel the
direction of the nage. Improper ukemi can lead to permanent back injuries, organ damage
such as the case with kidneys, broken toes, etc.
When someone is considered a good uke, he/she
becomes a well-sought after commodity. Instructors will often use a good uke to illustrate
techniques in front of class, seminars, etc. The uke will take the throws for the nage in
an honest manner, by committing to an attack, and allow the throw to happen. (Note: Faking
or overacting the throw for a nage is not honest and not permitted). The more advanced or
complicated the technique is --- the more important the role the uke takes on in the
execution of the technique. The added benefit or privilege for the uke is just being able
to be practice and take uke for instructors and other good Aikidoists.
Note that Aikido ukemi is characterized by the
circular movement or fashion similar to the conventional somersault.
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