How do I fall down?

You fall down because of gravity. You fall down safely by learning Ukemi.

Ukemi is the art of “receiving” an Aikido throw from the initial attack to getting up afterwards. It’s not just taking the fall, although that is part of it; it’s the way we help each other learn the movements. It’s also 50% of your time on the mat, so you might as well make it useful. 

During your first class, someone will work with you on the dynamics of how to physically move through the fall. But there is more to it than just that...


There are four general parts to Ukemi: 

The attack: On Aikiweb you will find a list of the Japanese names for the various attacks we use. The attack is done in a prearranged form, both for safety and to make it movements easier to learn. This does not mean that the attack is empty; a halfhearted punch doesn’t do either of you any good. The strength and speed of the attack should be appropriate to the level of the thrower and the falling ability of the throwee. 

Moving with the throw:  Ukemi doesn’t end with the attack. It is very useful to learn how to deal with having your balance broken and falling down. You don’t just want to fall like a rag doll; you should keep up the attack until your partner finishes the technique. This way you can both look for any gaps in the defense and explore the possibilities of counters. You are not allowed to commit suicide, which means you can’t try and screw up a throw by placing yourself in danger and counting on the good graces of your partner not to kill you. “Ha, Ha, you can’t throw me!” “True, but I can kick you in the...well hello Sensei.” 


Taking the fall: Fall safely!  Seems kind of obvious but the idea of ukemi is to receive the throw without injury. Look around you before you fall, making sure you have a safe place to land and that you won’t fall on somebody else. Think like an Air Traffic Controller.  Don’t try a fall beyond your abilities. 

Getting up:  Get up quickly and make some room for others to land. Don’t just lie there like a lump. You should try to make the practice as continuous as possible. You also don’t want to waste your partners time.