Exercise – Forward rolls and learning to relax

UkemiFor 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 

Ueshiba 5“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

Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo

Ki, Aiki and Aikido – A practical training perspective

The notion of ki and its role in Aikido training can be one of the most confusing, obscure and sometimes divisive concepts in our Art. Finding an understandable definition of ki can be quite challenging to say the least, particularly as its meaning differs depending on the context in which the term is used. Cultural and language barriers also pose a challenge.

morihei-ueshiba-gozo-shioda-1940-croppedFrom a practical Aikido training perspective, however, one of the most readily understandable, pithy and helpful explanations on the subject is that given by Gozo Shioda Sensei in his text Total Aikido: The master course (1997).  He states:

In Aikido we often use the word “ki,” or energy, but this word covers a variety of meanings. “Ki” as it is manifested in the performance of techniques is what we have when the components of correct posture, centre line, breathing, the explosive power of forced energy, timing, etc., come together so that we reach the highest state of perfect balance. It might be said that “ki” is “the mystery of balance.”  ……

“Aiki” (i.e. harmonising of energy) means to lose your ego, it is the technique of submitting to the natural flow of the universe. By doing that you can effortlessly realize your own natural self-defending on the situation that is in front of you, and it is by developing this harmony that we find the realization of aikido.”

So, if I’m reading this right, what is being suggested is that ki in Aikido practice should be looked at as the highest state of “perfect balance” that can be acquired through ego free training that focusses on the basics. Sounds like a pretty good way to train to me.

All the best in your training in 2015.


Ian Grant
Head Instructor
Aikido Warrior Dojo