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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.
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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. 
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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.
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Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282
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