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What Aikido Can Offer BJJ: Ukemi
All Martial Arts Have Something To Offer Us BJJ Practitioners...
What can Aikido offer BJJ? Aikido is highly criticized as being “unrealistic” and “too showy” as well as made fun of for their lack of pressure testing and sparring. Although I do not disagree with the above statements, Aikido does have something to offer the BJJ, MMA, and functional martial art practitioner. No, I am not talking about wrist locks, yes Aikido is pretty well known for their wrist locks but wrist locks are found in all martial arts, even BJJ. What I am talking about is Ukemi, or break falling. Break falls are in all arts, some practice them more than others and this ranges from school to school. Where Aikido holds a deep knowledge and understanding, is in falling. Most Aikido schools do not even begin teaching their beginner students techniques until they have mastered many different kinds of falling and rolling techniques.
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Where Aikido breakfalls tend to differ from the breakfalls of other arts is their ability to absorb and flow with the impact, where most styles teach a break fall in which you spread your body out wide to equally dissipate the force of impact Aikido tends to go with it. Both styles I feel are equally important because depending on how you are falling, being thrown, or taken down, you should have the right tool for the right job!
One thing I notice with many BJJ practitioners is their lack of falling technique and their fear to train takedowns because of their lack of knowing how to fall. It is an important aspect of our art to train because we always say BJJ is a lifestyle, it should enrich our whole life. Falling is a part of life, tripping on a branch, slipping on ice, missing a step, Hitting a curb on your bike, all are things much more common than defending yourself in a street fight. If your school does not occasionally go over rolls or practice falling techniques as part of their warm up, perhaps you could respectfully mention it to your coach and ask if you can train some breakfalls!