We had been practicing our ukemi for some time now, and while it was normal to start each class like this as a warm up and kihon, the rolling part seemed to go on a bit longer…
Forward rolls, side rolls, and back rolls.
The key was to pace yourself and not get out of breath.
As I practiced my rolls, naturally I focused on being as smooth in movement and as relaxed as possible (nagare), but I was also very aware of my breathing.
Something that often surprised the newer and younger students was just how fast they got out of breath from rolling- even going slowly and smooth, not exerting much energy they got winded.
Watching the seniors (sempai) in the dojo gave some clues.
We breath without thinking, it is something that just happens, yet when practicing ukemi, hitting the ground and getting up, repeating this quickly over and over, disrupts the breathing rhythm if one is not aware of the interaction of movement.
Which leads to junan taiso- martial arts stretching.
Before each class we warm up with some specific exercises (dragon body) to prepare for training, focusing on the hips, legs, and back.
Get the blood flowing and prepare for ukemi.
This way we are at least approaching the training from a relaxed perspective.
As we roll for a while, and I move through the line waiting for my turn, I try to focus on some of the junan taiso points on my body.
Using ukemi as a way to self-diagnose where I am.
Are there any point on my body, after rolling for a bit, that are tight or hurt?
Are my shoulders or back tight?
Have I been slamming my body, knees or shoulders on the ground as I roll over?
Is my ukemi *really* relaxed?
Questions junan taiso can help answer.
See you on the mat!