Friday, September 25, 2009

Two helpful handfuls; To fall or not to fall...

Photo courtesy of Knutgj
It is common for aikido instructors to tell students, "take the fall - don't resist..." This gets to be almost a mantra- take the fall...don't resist...take the fall...don't resist...
Well, falling is important as a skill for uke, and as a cooperative practice between uke and tori, but it can also be appropriate to not fall for a given technique. Students actually learn different types of lessons when their practice includes falling for every technique and when it doesn't. Following are two helpful handfuls of hints - five ways falling is good and five ways that not falling is also good.
By not having uke fall every time tori tries a throw...
  • tori learns when he has truly taken uke's balance and when he hasn't
  • tori learns how to move with a guy he hasn't controlled
  • tori learns to move from technique to technique appropriately and safely
  • tori learns that it is possible to do successful aikido without the goal being to sail uke a particular way
  • uke learns a different form of ukemi - how to walk out of a bad situation without falling
By having uke fall every time tori practices a throw...
  • uke learns to save himself by relaxing and submitting when he's been had
  • uke learns to do a safe fall before he is taken by surprise by a throw and forced to fall awkwardly
  • tori learns how to control his own body when uke suddenly drops out from the relationship
  • uke learns how to retain some control of the relationship all the way to the point of no return in the fall
  • tori learns how to continue the technique into the ground into a lock or control
So, practicing aikido without falling every time is not necessarily bad aikido or non-aikido. It's just a different sort of aikido lesson. The falling practice basically promotes continuity between standing and groundwork, while the non-falling practice promotes continuity from one standing relationship to the next.

Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282
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