Learning How to Fall


In martial arts there is a concept called ukemiwhich literally means “receiving”, but is often loosely translated as “the art of falling.”  When I wrote my post last week, I didn’t even remember this, although I must have learned it years ago when I briefly studied aikido.  I remember how hard it was for me, with the ingrained muscle memory of a former gymnast, to learn those asymmetric aikido rolls.

Of course, it makes a lot more sense than a gymnastics roll, diverting impact at an oblique across the spine rather than clattering down each vertebra in a straight line.  As martial arts are express forms of energy work, and a lot more kinetic than the yoga that I practice, it is informative to note how they approach working with gravity.  It is not to be feared, not a linear force from Point A (up high) to Point B (down low), but rather a fluid trajectory that can almost pass through the body rather than slamming it to the ground, if you let it flow in the right way.

Stiff and unbending is the principle of death.
Gentle and yielding is the principle of life.
Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome
.  (Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching)

Inspired by Amos Rendao, of APEX Movement, Boulder, who created this video, I am working with gravity this week, as well as against it.

Tune into the video to watch me fall!

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