Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ukemi in otoshi and guruma

Thus far in my series on otoshi and guruma in aikido and judo, we have seen that otoshi is a linear dropping motion that happens just as uke's foot hits the ground.  Guruma, on the other hand, is a rotational motion that happens as uke's center starts to rise slightly after a footfall.
The ukemi that follows these two types of throws is also distinctive.
  • otoshi ukemi tends to be simpler, rotating around one axis in a cartwheel-like diagonal forward roll.
  • guruma ukemi tends to rotate uke around two axes - one the same as in otoshi, and the other, a vertical axis through the head, center, and one leg.
So, in response to an otoshi, uke often does a forward roll or airfall.  In response to a guruma throw, uke turns on his long axis as he turns over in the forward roll. 
Some people find gurumas more difficult to fall for because of this added rotation.  Fortunately in our aikido syllabus, all guruma-type airfalls are deferred until about ikkyu or shodan.  Not so in judo - the second throw in the first kyo is a guruma (hizaguruma), and a lot of students find hizaguruma especially scary when they are first learning to fall.  Instructors might consider this when a student is balking at taking the fall for a guruma.
Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282
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