Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ukemi, the Art of Falling

"Ukemi is a Japanese word used in Judo for the method of falling without getting injured.

...He [my Judo teacher] made me practice nothing but falling for six months, correcting every infinitesimal detail. He would sense my frustration when he caught me wistfully looking at the other judoka. They would be performing their techniques and sparring while I rolled for hours on the mat, with my teacher sometimes deftly throwing me to demonstrate a nuance I had missed.

He would then remind me that the art of falling was the foundation of good Judo.

...One day the head teacher, a seventy-year-old eighth Dan judoka, legendary for his insightful teaching called me aside after a randori. “How can you do beautiful Judo if you don’t risk falling?” he asked. I was taken aback. I thought the whole idea of a randori was to avoid getting thrown.

He continued, “A lot of judokas don’t like to fall, so they try to avoid it at all cost. By doing this, they get tense, their techniques become wooden and their Judo lacks zest.”

Seeing he had piqued my interest, he went on, “Real Judo is like life. The little losses and gains don’t count for much. What matters is whether you lived beautifully, with courage and joy.

For this, you must learn not to fear falling or failure and welcome it like a friend. Because only when you learn to love it, then can you really live to your full potential.”

Sanjay Kabir Bavikatte

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