Ukemi -rolling is an important kihon (basic) skill, which we always practice at the start of class, and it one of the cornerstone skills all of us are working on at home.
Naturally, like all of the elements of training in our martial art of budo taijutsu there are lots of great ways to explore each skill set.
Here is an example of what I have been working on recently with my own ukemi practice:
I want to move fluid, smooth, and have an awareness of my body- where it is, and what it is trying to do at any given moment. If my foot is pointing in the wrong direction, or I am out of balance, I at least want to know it so I can quickly recover and correct it.
In practicing rolling- forward, side, and back, I work through each set VERY slowly- almost yoga like, and as I move through the roll I try to mentally connect with where my muscles are working in the moment.
Where am I tense- the shoulders or back?
Am I using muscle strength to lower me down to the ground or get up vs. the momentum of the roll and natural forces such as gravity?
Am I smashing my shoulder or knee into the ground during the roll- which won't hurt in SLOW practice, but at faster or more realistic survival ukemi?
Turning ukemi into a kind of self-discovery yoga to learn about how I'm moving.