What is ukemi? How can I use it to successfully survive a violent encounter, or a major fall that can happen in my life? Is ukemi just hitting the floor safely? These are all great questions that everyone should think about in their training, so let’s answer a few here:
Ukemi is the skill of hitting and rebounding from the floor or ground safely. It involves a variety of methods that teach us how to roll, drop, and hit the ground safely, in the most basic methods. Once the fundamentals of ukemi are well practiced, a practitioner then progresses to learn the proper methods to carry and use weapons during ukemi, leaping, cartwheeling, countering skills (hajutsu), methods of sutemi nage, and striking skills during the ukemi event.
As you can see ukemi is involved in many more aspects than what is traditional taught as a method of surviving a throw or fall. Recently while training, a student asked me to demonstrate shuriken throwing while performing ukemi, without batting an eye I leaped sideways forward rolled and put 2 bo shuriken into the target at ~8 feet away. Ukemi is for life preservation, not just about taking a fall in class but the potential of having to sacrifice yourself or take a fall on the street, stairway, on ice, self-sacrificing to hurl your opponent, dropping to the floor to withdraw your firearm and putting rounds into center mass, all aspects need to be practiced and enhanced each time you practice ninjutsu. Never underestimate how vital this seemingly simple part of our skill sets truly is in your life.