For many beginners to Aikido, learning to forward roll is one of the most challenging and frustrating parts of Aikido training. Further, once the mechanical skills of rolling are learnt, first from a kneeling position and then from a solo standing position, the next challenge is to learn to relax when rolling. The more one relaxes the easier rolling is to do. The lumps and bumps that also come with learning this skill also quickly disappear.
In the below video Master Koretoshi Maruyama, Founder of Aikido Yuishinkai, demonstrates a fun way to learn to relax when solo forward rolling. Essentially, it involves the practitioner pretending to stumble and walk around relaxed (as if drunk) prior to executing the roll.
As bizarre as it may seem, this exercise actually works. In fact, at our dojo the exercise is done as part of our regular solo ukemi practice at the beginning of each class and has proven beneficial to both seniors and newcomers in developing relaxation in not only forward rolling but also other forms of ukemi (e.g. backward rolling and opposite leg rolling).
Needless to say this exercise should never be practised by people actually under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Other ukemi articles and video
See: Video library: Falling and uke arts
- Maruyama Sensei’s comments on receiving ukemi from O’sensei
“After I became a full-time instructor in 1967, Ueshiba Sensei used me as his uke. As a deshi (student), it was important to take ukemi. One deshi didn’t know how to take ukemi from O-Sensei and went down with a bang. I already knew that Ueshiba Sensei used ki. I wondered, “How to take ukemi from O-Sensei?” So I decided to extend ki to him. He said, “Come, Maruyama!”, and I attacked him.
After taking ukemi from him, Ueshiba Sensei looked at me, and said, “Good ukemi!” He then asked what rank I held and I told him I was a 5th dan. He gave me a 6th dan and told me to go to the office to get the certificate! I thanked him but I never picked up my certificate. However, I had learnt an important lesson, “Extend ki to your opponent!””
Have a great weekend