Advanced Ukemi with Rhythm and Timing


The purpose of this blog is to be resource for the study of Aikido Ukemi (i.e. the Japanese Art of Falling safely) for Aikidoka everywhere.  My Aikido Ukemi philosophy was taught to me by Ken Ota Sensei, Goleta (Santa Barbara), California, in the 1990’s.

We spend roughly 50% of our practice time in Aikido doing Ukemi.  Yet, it’s probably fair to say for most of us, that the percentage of Aikido *attention* that we place on our Ukemi may quite a bit less than 50%.

Ukemi-midairMy teacher Ken Ota Sensei had a very different, interesting view on Ukemi, , proven by his successful 40+ years of teaching Aikido (and his champion Ballroom dancing and teaching background). Through this website and blog, I’d like to pass along and share with all us Aikidoka a resource for bringing more interesting, valid, insightful attention to Ukemi – with the main goal, of accelerating our Aikido practice, expertise, and growth.   And as Ota Sensei always said, through that, the real aim of Aikido is to enhance the way we live, share, and contribute to all the people in our life.

Below is a write-up on Advanced Aikido Ukemi, as passed along to me by my primary Ukemi teacher, Ken Ota Sensei of Goleta (Santa Barbara), California. And beyond that, let’s all share as much as we all can (enabled by the Internet), of the great Aikido Ukemi teachings available, from many great teachers, throughout the world.

(note: there’s many links below with Quicktime movies. Click here if you need the Apple Quicktime plug-in. If you have trouble viewing the movies, try a different web browser.)

To begin….my first encounter with Ken Ota was in 1992.  Click here to see the Aikido Ukemi seminar handout from that life-changing weekend seminar held at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Kenji Ota Sensei strongly believed (and proved) that advanced Ukemi (breakfalls, high falls, kickouts, ‘body-only-slap‘, etc.) is the most important, essential set of skills necessary, to allow Aikidoka to progress as quickly and proficiently as possible.  But for surprising reasons, in addition to the traditional reasons you might expect.

In my years training with him, he found that with advanced Ukemi speeds, students would naturally begin to develop the speed, rhythm, timing, and endurance necessary to do Aikido at real-life speeds.  Ota Sensei believed he was responsible to see that all his students could express O’Sensei’s “Way of Loving Harmony” not only in the dojo but outside in real-life situations.  In order to do that, long ago he started to develop ways to teach each of them to be able to do Aikido at real-life speeds, both physically as well as mentally:  and to do it smoothly, relaxed, enjoyably, accurately, and subconsciously.

Steve-OtaKen Ota was well aware that high speed Aikido training, improperly done, will surely cause serious injuries.  Yet, no one could ever do good Aikido at real-life speeds unless you’ve specifically trained at those speeds and levels.  Ota Sensei, in over 35 years of teaching in Goleta (Santa Barbara), California, successfully developed innovative Aikido Ukemi training methods and tools that can safely and reliably create this kind of high level Aikido training for everyone.  The foundation that makes it all possible is high technology advanced ukemi.

A complete website to Ken Ota’s Aikido and Ukemi teaching philosophy, including Advanced Ukemi for Children and Adults, is here:

Goleta Aikido with Ki, teaching with Advanced Ukemi, Rhythm, and Timing – (this is a published article I authored for Aikido Today Magazine in March/April 2000)

Chapter 1: Ota’s Aikido for Children (and Adults) Teaching Methodology – Importance of Advanced Ukemi;  Fundamental Philosophies for Effective Teaching Aikido to Children

Chapter 2 – Aikido for Children (and Adults) Teaching Methodology – Dynamic Ma’ai for Aikido for Children, Importance of Backleading 

Chapter 3 – Aikido for Children (and Adults) Teaching Methodology – Fun Drilling and Motivational Ideas for Aikido for Children (works for adults too!)

Over-the-barrierThese webpages document the full Advanced Aikido Children and Adult Teaching and Ukemi philosophy of Ken Ota, and is meant as a sharing for anyone who wishes to use it.  Ota Sensei showed there are profound possibilities for Aikido teaching and skill development exploiting advanced high technology training methods for teaching ukemi – to adults and especially, to children. I invite you to see the many Quicktime video links that are present on that website’s pages.

I hope this blog serves as a resource to you, in your research, discussions, sharing, and collectively improving Aikido Ukemi.  In the process, improving our study of Aikido and of Life.

In future posts, let’s all explore and share and improve our Aikido Ukemi…. together.

John Sing  of Traditional Aikido of Sarasota, Sarasota, Florida