Gordon Jones

By Gordon Jones Sensei,
6th Dan so Hombu, UKA Shidoin and Principal

Published in UKA Newsletter,
Nov/Dec 2000 Issue

There has already been much discussion about ukemi, particularly Cath Davis' excellent article. I would now like to present my own thoughts. Ukemi should be a dynamic process, not a static one, because if the ukemi is static, by definition the technique is also static. If uke does not allow for the extension of tori's body movement within the technique, there are two possible outcomes; either there will be confrontation and perhaps injury, or tori's technique becomes stunted.

The term 'ukemi' does not mean simply 'fly away breakfalling'. It means to 'stick with' and move wherever the technique goes, remaining responsive until the very last moment in the process. The potential risk from dynamic ukemi is far less than from static ukemi; when one allows the body to harmonise with the whole movement, the ability to respond is many times greater than trying simply to react from a 'standing start'.

One of the arguments against this concept has been that it is not practical. This I disagree with. The ‘practical success' of a technique is dependent on the ability of the uke (attacker) to absorb the energy generated by the movement ('to ride the blow'). The greater uke's ability to absorb and stay responsive, the more tori's body movement must develop to compensate. This generates an upward spiral of improvement, Finally, a flowing body movement does not lend itself to stiff shoulders and a centre located somewhere near the larynx!

So my personal concept is of a complete, dynamic ukemi which develops expanded body movement and discourages stiffness. Simple!