The Importance of Ukemi

Jigoro Kano

Nowadays one does not see the same clear-cut technique as one used to do. All adopt a very stiff and defensive style and they appear to be entirely preoccupied with the idea of winning their contest, without any sign of aspiring to higher accomplishment.

One who aims high for the future must not be concerned with present loss or gain. The most important object in Judo training is to develop speed and free movement of the body. If one enters a contest with the sole idea of not being defeated, automatically the body becomes stiff and defensive - an unsuitable state for effective sharp action. Whereas, if one regards all as a matter of captivating speed and free movement of the body, without being seriously concerned about being thrown, sooner or later one will develop the desired qualities, and be able to apply them for attack or defense, as opportunity offers.

To become truly undefeatable in Judo one should not rely on one's strength; for when one meets a stronger opponent one will surely be beaten.

There are various defensive methods, but the principle is to evade the opponent's strength or by changing one's position to reduce the effect of the strength applied. Another method is by pushing or pulling, to weaken the force the opponent intends to apply. To be able to effect any of these defensive actions, one must acquire a free and quick movement of the body.

As I have often said if one hates to be thrown, one cannot expect to become a master of the art. By taking throws time after time, one must learn how to take falls and overcome the fear of being thrown. Then one will become unafraid of being attacked and be able to take the initiative in attack. Only by following this manner of training can one learn true Judo waza. Contest and practice, which are both means of training, should be conducted in the way to develop speed and free movement of the body.

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