I have a friend who is scared to take Ukemi from a certain instructor. The kind of scared that makes one whisper a prayer of protection, calling forth divine intervention every time he is the uke of this sensei during class.
This teacher’s Aikido is powerful, precise, and cunning; he can deftly keep the uke totally unbalanced throughout the technique from start to finish, and he always finishes with a bang (literally)!I have to admit, I too have my “fear” of being his uke. That feeling when you are excited and nervous at the same time. When being his uke, one has to brace himself for a roller coaster ride, complete with the loops and the twists and the view of the earth, the sky, and the physical world all around; all without a seat belt. He is Rollercoaster Sensei.
I, myself, am not a fan of the roller coaster.
I don’t like the feeling of my center taken from under my control. I don’t like heights. I don’t like the velocity, the acceleration, the turning and the twisting. I don’t like the sudden drop the most. But I can see why roller coasters are very popular, with people waiting in line anywhere between a few minutes to hours just to have a go at the 1 minute ride: Roller coasters are thrilling! They simulate the feeling of plummeting to your death, and living through it. They give you a natural high, an adrenaline rush, with your body failing to understand that you are not going to die in the next few seconds.
And, I am a fan of Rollercoaster Sensei.
I enjoy learning from him, and believe you me, he has a lot to teach. His technique is exhilarating. Taking ukemi from him is a lesson all by itself! He can teach without teaching.
In being his uke however, I believe trust is the most important thing. Trust that Rollercoaster Sensei will not injure or kill me. Trust that even with the inertia of the movement within the technique, Rollercoaster Sensei is still in control and can return me to safety. Trust that I have done enough ukemi training, and that somehow I will survive this. When there is complete trust, you are all set. All that’s left to be done is to give an honest attack, and do some “Mushin Ukemi”; because you know that in that split-second after striking, you are in for the ride of your life, guaranteed!
You’re ukes are people. They have a job, a family, and a life outside the mats. Your ukes are trusting you with their lives and their health. Just be careful and be discriminate with your ukes. Please practice safely and practice safety.There is no other reason for injuries on the mats in an otherwise healthy Aikidoka other than those that result from recklessness, both as uke and tori. As I said in a previous post, prudence is always good practice.
Personally, I enjoy training with Rollercoaster Sensei. Maybe you know a Rollercoaster Sensei yourself! His Aikido is splendid. It gives you the same rush as hanging on for dear life.
(Please also see: Aikido: Reputation and Integrity)