ukemi, a conversation

We Aikidoists fall a lot. Some say it’s 50% of the art. If we don’t do it right, it hurts. So we learn to go along with things so it doesn’t… As much. At one level, ukemi (falling) can be seen as just that, falling. Learning how to fall. As we progress, we learn that it’s much more than that. It’s receiving. Receiving energy, receiving intention, receiving force, and receiving it differently from everybody. Ron’s probably going to have different technique than Chris, so I have to adapt.

When we really look into it, Ukemi is also in applying the technique. We’re still receiving. Ron’s going to attack differently than Chris. This can’t be textbook. We have to feel it and be present with the energy, whatever that may be. Carried off the mat, we see the principles of ukemi everywhere. In a conversation, I need to be receptive to many different things on many different levels. I need to be receptive to the person(s) I’m conversing with. I need to be receptive if they come up with something out of left field that I wasn’t expecting. I need to be receptive if they take something I say differently than I may have thought they would. I need to be receptive to my intention and possibly changing direction as we go along. I need to be receptive to my emotions throughout the conversation and aware of how to handle them (the other person can feel them even if I don’t verbally express exactly what they are). I need to be receptive to any others that may possibly be joining the conversation. Okay, I’ll stop now. I could go on. Bottom line is ukemi is everything. Now we see ukemi going from 50% of the situation to 100%. Learning to take good ukemi is time not wasted.

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  1. Erica on

    Hey Jonas,

    Keep up the good work! I have enjoyed reading your blog (:

    I just wanted to throw it out there that good Ukemi *is* about being receptive, but it is also about giving. If the energy from uke stops or goes away, Nage no longer has any reason to do anything…that moment of two energies meeting has been lost, and so for nage to keep going he has to “force” the techinque. So, just as uke must be receptive, s/he must also give (and the same goes for nage…in fact, uke and nage are constantly trading roles back and forth….giving and receiving). So interesting!

    • Jonas Ellison on


      Great point, yes, I totally agree. There are so many different levels to study ukemi. Thanks and hope to train with ya soon. Hope all is well!

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