How An Injury Helped My Ukemi Skills!

by Tony Wilden
(Bognor Regis, West Sussex, UK)

It's funny how even negative experiences during the practise of Aikido can have a positive outcome, but that's exactly what happened to me!

In 1988 I had both of my wrists injured by a powerful Sensei who was doing nikajo on me. I should add that it may have been my own fault for not reacting fast enough :)

Although my wrists were badly strained, it did not stop me from training, and taught me an important lesson. I learned how to react quickly and correctly, which certainly helped to improve my ukemi skills.

In fact, I became focused on learning how to be the best uke I could possibly be. I managed to relax while receiving techniques, and this certainly helped nage/tori improve their skills.

I was never short of students who wanted to train with me, and even began to be used as an uke by instructors.

You see, in Aikido, it's only possible to practise up to the skill level of your training partners. Many Aikido students tend to avoid learning how to be good at ukemi, because of the fear of being hurt.

This causes tension in the mind and body and results in a resistance to techniques. This resistance is very difficult for instructors to avoid in their students resulting in very few good uke in many dojo's.

When I opened the Arun Aikido Club in West Sussex UK in 1992, this was one of my top concerns. So I focused on the ukemi skills of my students, but even then it was difficult to develop them to a high level.

I came to a realisation that it has a lot to do with how we are taught as children in the West. You see, our society is made up of people that tend to look out for and focus on number one!

We are brought up to be highly competitive with other people and always aim to win at everthing we do. Our parents & society taught us that it is bad to lose, fail, or be below others. In this way people from the West tend to have a rather selfish attitude and strong ego.

Then they come to the art of Aikido, and can easily play the 'winning' role of nage/tori, and avoid playing the 'losing' role of uke. But the only way to really develop harmony in practise is to work on both roles equally, and this is where many students fail.

We experience opposites in life... Yin/Yang, positive/negative, win/lose, and both extremes are present in everthing.

I was able to develop several really good uke's over the years. How do I know they were good? Easy, every seminar or club visit we went to, either myself or my uke's were recognised as useful by the Instructors and called up for demo purposes.

So, if you want to be noticed by your Instructor and excel in the art of Aikido, work hard at becoming a great uke!

Studying Aiki principles can help you fast-track your skills to experience Aikido Success. Remember that... Action is the KEY to Your Success :)

Tony Wilden
Aikido Health Centre

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