5 Essential Martial Arts Tips to Safe Ukemi Practice - How to Fall Properly
More than just falling and rolling
What is martial arts practice without learning to fall or roll? For this, ukemi is the technique to practice. Judo, Aikido and other disciplines have their own variation of ukemi. However, it is fascinating to mention that some practitioners see ukemi as merely break falls and rolling drills. Although this is part of it, there is more to ukemi than this.So what is it really? First of all, we need to look at the term itself. Ukemi is actually being passive! More accurately, it’s receiving the technique properly. But who wants to do this anyway? Well, it pays to know how to receive techniques properly. Moreover, properly falling or breaking the fall is essential – regardless of what technique is being used against you. So in essence, ukemi prepares you to do this. As such, this is one of the first lessons when learning judo, aikido and other martial arts – of course there are exceptions.
Safety Tips Needed
One of Imi Lichtenfeld’s (founder of krav maga) philosophies in training includes not getting injured during practice. This is important not just in Krav Maga but in any training.In addition, the 1981 research conducted by Dr. Koiwai reported as much as 9 fatalities in the practice of Judo (5 from brain injuries and 4 from cervical fracture). This underscores the importance of properly receiving techniques – regardless of discipline being practiced. So before you even contemplate on competing in mixed martial arts here are some useful tips to make your ukemi practice safer and injure-free.
1. Form, Form, Form
There is the right way of falling and rolling and there is the wrong way. Different disciplines have their own technique so pay attention. Arm position, angles, and even the way your body contacts the mat are crucial in the proper execution of ukemi. So pay close attention even to the tiniest detail. More importantly, observe proper form every time.
2. Strengthen Your Core
It pays to have a strong core. Tighten or contract your midsection when you roll or execute a break falls. This allows you to have control over your body as you do the technique. Also, it helps give you nicer abs. But seriously, a strong core aids in proper posture and body kinetics.
3. Practice Slowly
There’s no point in practicing ukemi hastily. In fact, you open yourself to more injuries this way. Instead, practice slowly and be aware of your body’s movement. What you are trying to build here is muscle memory. If you are consciously aware of your body movements, it is easier to correct it. When ukemi becomes ingrained in your system, you can drastically improve your chances against injuries.
4. Proper Breathing
Different types of ukemi require different body movements. But what is constant is your breathing. Relaxing your body and your breathing especially during practice of ukemi is important. The timing of inhaling and exhaling is paramount. During practice it is beneficial to time your exhale while you execute the technique. First, it aids in contracting your core muscles as well as relaxing your extremities. Also, proper breathing helps calm you down when receiving a technique. Lastly, as a general rule, if you don't breathe you die.
5. Padded Surface
Getting slammed on the floor is a serious business. Even if you are using gym mats, they may not be enough. Traditional tatami mats or your new-age padded surface can help cushion the fall. But it is beneficial to add another layer or two especially when practicing the technique. Of course in the real world you can’t pause the moment and ask for additional padding. But as a rule, try not to get injured while training.
Whether you are practicing for self defense or for the love of the sport, ukemi practice is important. Keeping these 5 essential ukemi practice tips in mind will ensure a safer practice session.