How To Improve My Aikido Ukemi Falling Skills

Table of Contents

Aikido is a Japanese martial art that focuses on defensive techniques, including throwing, joint locks, and pins. Aikido is known for its flowing movements and emphasis on blending with the attacker’s energy. However, having excellent Aikido ukemi (falling) skills is vital for the Aikido practitioner’s safety when practicing these techniques. In this article, we will discuss how you can improve your Aikido ukemi skills.


What is Aikido Ukemi?

Aikido Ukemi refers to the practice of falling and receiving techniques in the martial art of Aikido. Ukemi is a Japanese term that translates to “receiving body” or “receiving technique.” It is an essential aspect of Aikido training, as it focuses on developing the skills necessary to safely and effectively absorb and redirect the energy of an attack.

In Aikido, practitioners learn techniques to neutralize and redirect an opponent’s energy rather than directly opposing or resisting it. When an Aikido technique is applied, the person receiving the technique must respond by performing ukemi, which involves executing controlled falls, rolls, or other movements to safely land on the mat or ground.

The primary purpose of ukemi in Aikido is to protect oneself from injury during training. By practicing ukemi, Aikido practitioners develop their ability to maintain a relaxed and responsive body, improve their balance, and reduce the risk of injury when executing or receiving techniques.

Ukemi training typically begins with simple rolls and falls, such as forward rolls, backward rolls, and breakfalls. As practitioners advance, they learn more complex ukemi techniques and variations, including side falls, high falls, and combinations of rolls and falls. These skills are practiced in various directions and angles to simulate different attack scenarios.

Aikido ukemi training is an ongoing process that requires regular practice and gradual


What are the types of Aikido Ukemi?

In Aikido, ukemi refers to the practice of falling and receiving techniques safely. Ukemi is an essential component of Aikido training to protect oneself from injury while training with partners. There are several types of ukemi commonly practiced in Aikido. Here are some of the main ones:

  1. Zenpo Kaiten: Zenpo kaiten is a forward rolling fall. It involves tucking the chin to the chest, rolling diagonally across the back, and extending the arms to protect the body. The roll starts from a standing position and continues smoothly, enabling the practitioner to dissipate the energy of a throw or technique.
  2. Mae Ukemi: Mae ukemi is a front breakfall. It is typically performed when a technique or throw forces the practitioner to fall forward. The practitioner extends their arms, slaps the mat with their hands to absorb impact, and rolls diagonally across the back to distribute the force.
  3. Ushiro Ukemi: Ushiro ukemi is a backward breakfall. It is executed when a technique or throw propels the practitioner backward. The practitioner arches their back, slaps the mat with their hands, and rolls diagonally across the back to disperse the energy.
  4. Yoko Ukemi: Yoko ukemi is a side breakfall. It is used when a technique or throw directs the practitioner to fall to the side. The practitioner extends their arm on the side they are falling, slaps the mat with their hand, and rolls diagonally across the back to dissipate the force.
  5. Kaiten Ukemi: Kaiten ukemi is a rolling breakfall performed when a technique or throw rotates the practitioner. It involves rolling over the shoulder while keeping the head tucked and the body protected.
  6. Hantai Ukemi: Hantai ukemi, also known as reverse breakfall, is employed when the practitioner needs to change the direction of a fall or counter an incoming technique. It involves reversing the direction of the fall or roll while maintaining control and minimizing the impact.


How can I begin to improve my Aikido Ukemi skills?

The first step in improving your Aikido ukemi skills is to start with the fundamentals. You need to master basic rolls and falls before learning more advanced techniques. Start with forward rolls and backward rolls and practice them repeatedly until you feel confident about your footwork, head placement, and the use of your arms. Then move on to side rolls and practice them in the same way. Once you have acquired the basics, you can move on to more advanced ukemi techniques.


How do I fall correctly to avoid injury?

To avoid injury when practicing Aikido ukemi, you must learn to fall or roll correctly. The first rule of falling safely is to relax and stay calm. Tension and stress can cause your muscles to lock up, which can lead to serious injury when you hit the ground. Another key to falling safely is to tuck your chin into your chest, protecting your head and neck from impact. Finally, you need to distribute your weight evenly throughout your body to maintain balance and prevent injury.


How can I train my body to become more fluid and coordinated in Aikido Ukemi?

In Aikido, fluidity, coordination, and timing are essential. Besides practicing basic ukemi techniques, you can train your body to become smoother and more coordinated by focusing on your breathing and visualization techniques. Visualization techniques involve mentally rehearsing the move before executing it physically to reduce hesitation, increasing confidence, and developing muscle memory.


What are the common mistakes people make when performing Aikido Ukemi?

One of the most common mistakes people make when performing Aikido ukemi is using their arms to break their fall instead of distributing their weight throughout their bodies. This can lead to serious wrist, arm, and shoulder injuries. Another mistake is hesitating when falling or rolling and not committing fully to the movement. This can cause the individual to hit the ground awkwardly, leading to injuries. Lastly, Aikido practitioners often forget to maintain a relaxed body and do not breathe properly when falling, which can lead to tension and poor form.


Final Thoughts

By working on your Aikido ukemi skills, you will develop a more fluid, coordinated, and confident approach to Aikido techniques. Remember to start with the basics, master the different types of ukemi, remain relaxed and focused, and practice visualization techniques to enhance your Aikido ukemi abilities. With dedication and practice, you will improve your Aikido ukemi skills and become a better Aikido practitioner.

Maxim Tzfenko

Maxim Tzfenko

"I live and breath Martial Arts"

Recent Posts