©™ 2003 - 2015: Ueshiba Aikido : Victoria, Canada
All Rights Reserved
Photo by Martin Feeney

Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
< Click here for the Articles Page
December 09, 2015

"The Art of Peace is invincible because it contends with nothing."

Ueshiba Morihei O Sensei

Reflecting on the Art of Peace during the season of Advent and Peace, the art of Ukemi is, I think, one of the most misunderstood aspects of Aikido practice. In wanting to learn Aikido, most beginner students are more concerned about what techniques they will be learning; thinking that paired practice during classes are opportunities to challenge, test, or fight with each other. It is more than that. Development of the self is crucial in self-defence, which includes self-discipline, self-respect, and eventually selflessness: being noble, honourable, and of service to others.

"Ukemi" (uke-mi) means to receive (with one's body). "Tori" is the person applying the techniques. Both roles are important in Aikido practice. Taking ukemi is not just rolling or breakfalling well, or just attacking and taking the fall. Being able to take good ukemi helps one to progress well in Aikido. It is not enough just to practice techniques as Tori and do nothing else. Often in traditional Aikido dojos, you will hear that it is essential to study ukemi for three years.

It is not the role of Uke to correct Tori if Tori is not applying or performing the technique correctly. That is a sure way to get injured; being distracted, and from resisting while wanting to "correct" Tori. That is not your job. The role of the Uke during practice is to attack sincerely and well, and then to be receptive and flexible enough to avoid injury when techniques are applied to them.

In taking proper ukemi, a host of things also occur that the student may not be aware of.

Flowing freely with Tori's response, Uke practices many qualities in a very physical way: mindfulness, unconditional trust and surrender, acceptance, being non-judgmental, not criticising, humility, conscious relaxation, and a sense of release as one learns to go with the flow. Continuous practice in this manner inevitably moulds the receptivity, sensitivity, temperament, and attitude of the student. Performing rolls and high breakfalls well is only the first step to being a good Uke. Apart from that, Uke is also in a good position to know if and when a technique is not applied well; and what works and what doesn't. This does not happen through stubbornly resisting Tori, but through applying just enough resistance before allowing the application of the technique; then flowing with it, through to its resolution.

Physically experiencing these qualities in order to perform good ukemi causes these qualities to develop internally, contributing to the confidence, stability, and peaceful calm that are necessary as Tori. In daily life, it also brings a certain amount of peace from learning to be less reactive and stubborn, not being overly critical or judgemental, and in being able to receive, consciously respond to, and flow with whatever life brings.

Have a most blessed Christmas and a meaningful New Year!

With gratitude, peace, and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei

(© Copyright December 2015: Rafael Oei)

Click here for the Ueshiba Aikido Victoria website

< Click here for the Articles Page

©™ 2003 - 2015: Ueshiba Aikido : All Rights Reserved