I love this art but there have been aspects of it that I was not eager to embrace. When I first started, rolling/ukemi scared me, especially dive rolls. I asked one of the Boston seniors who had incredible and beautiful rolls how he got there. His response: “Practice, practice from different kamae, practice different directions, practice on different surfaces, practice in different environments, practice, practice, practice in any creative way you can come up with.”
So I did. I practiced 8 directional rolling from one kamae/shape and then another. I practiced from standing, kneeling, laying down, sitting in a chair and on the ground. I practiced getting to the ground and getting up from it. I practiced from running, walking and standing still. I practiced inside and outside. I rolled sideways, up and down hills, with and without weapons, in class and outside of class. I rolled with and without breathing because in the beginning sometimes I would forget to breathe. Believe me breathing makes it a lot easier!
Eventually my rolling started to smooth out and have less glitches. Then I started to feel more comfortable rolling. I used rolling offensively and defensively. I used it to get out of locks and throws. Eventually I was ready to take on dive rolling, that too smoothed out and I became comfortable with it,
Throughout all this rolling, I created ground movement drills. I created them for myself to get more comfortable with moving on the ground. I also used the drills to teach me how to keep my body connected and moving together as a unit. To move in gravity with taijutsu. All these movement drills led me to tackle the next aspect of the art I was very uncomfortable with, ground fighting.
Not the sport MMA style but survival. There are basically four reasons a woman ends up on the ground, some one is trying to rape, murder or beat her. The fourth is any combination of those three. Ground fighting for me was a very tough aspect of this art to train in but my amazing teachers and this art have taught me that I am strong enough and have the courage to embrace anything I choose.
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