New Schedule and Location for 2016

...

Softness and structure in ukemi

Ukemi (falling) is an interesting coordination exercise. You have to embody a mixture of pliability and structure - and each at the right time. One of my favorite demonstrations of this involves a jo stick and a judo belt.
.
The jo is the embodiment of structure - it is all structure and no pliability. Take the jo and drop it onto a hard floor. It hits and clatters and bangs and rolls around. Unless you threw it down really hard it's not likely to have been damaged because of its excellent structure. But it sure took a lot of abuse banging around on the ground. It's pretty obvious that if you were to make your body all stiff like the jo, you'd take a lot of abuse when you hit the ground.
.
So, most everyone immediately thinks, "softness must be the solution." Try this - take the belt and drop it onto the floor. Sure enough - it lands with hardly a sound. The belt, in its softness and pliability is much, much better than the structure of the stick! You could throw the belt as hard as you possibly could at the ground and it wouldn't hurt it because of its pliability. But if you look at the way the belt lands you'll see it lands in loops and curls all in a jumble. Think about that for a minute and you realize that you wouldn't want to land on the ground with your limbs like that, all overlapping and tangled up, or else you'd end up doing things like hammering one leg with the heel of the other foot. So all-soft is not the solution either.
.
You have to be soft at the right times and structured at the right times - and both qualities coordinated in the right proportions. That is the major trick in learning to do soft ukemi.
.
Sean Ashby is doing an excellent series on Excellent Ukemi. I can hardly wait for the next installment. It has inspired me so much that I wanted to throw in a handful of points of my own. (I hope I'm not scooping him.) Head over there and check out his ukemi series, and then come back tomorrow for some of my thoughts on how you can develop this specific coordination of pliability and structure in your ukemi.

(Photo courtesy of Marius Zierold)
____________
Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
____________
Subscribe now for free updates from Mokuren Dojo
____________
Send me an email or let's connect on Facebook or Twitter