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Ukemi (falling)

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Breakfall

One of the most basic skills taught to Jitsuka is falling (ukemi). We do this for two reasons:

  1. You'll spend a lot of time practising how to throw someone, as will other Jitsuka. You'll throw them, they'll throw you. If you don't know how to fall or be thrown properly, you won't be able to practise for very long without damaging yourself, particularly as you advance through the grades and techniques and the way they're performed become more powerful.
  2. In real life, where there are obstacles, uneven surfaces, and broken paving stones, falling over is almost inevitable; it's no use being able to defend yourself if you can't even get up after being pushed over.

Jitsu teaches a whole range of falling. Novices learn how to do forward, backward and sideways rolls from both standing and kneeling positions. Yellow and orange belts learn how do rolls over obstacles and from greater heights. Higher grades have to be able to master falling from awkward positions, over longer distances, over high obstacles as well as more acrobatic falling such as cartwheels, flips, somersaults and handstands to counter specific throws and difficult real-life situations.

We also teach something called the 'ukemi kata' which is a kata performed from kneeling designed to demonstrate the Jitsuka's skills in forward, sideways and backwards rolls. It is done in combination with other Jitsuka, with each Jitsuka performing the roll at the same time and in the same way as all the others.

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