Aikido Ukemi (breakfalls) are similar to those in Judo. At all times they should be soft, and your body should be kept like a ball. But unlike Judo at no time should one hit the mat with your hand in order to soften the shock. In Judo, we argue that if you find it necessary to use Ukemi in the street softening the blow by hitting the ground with your arm, you will only succeed in hurting your arm. In Aikido we learn to roll when thrown so as to recover on one's feet.
Ukemi are important. You must remember that Aikido is not so much a sport as a fighting art. Therefore, I believe that Ukemi are as important as other techniques. If your Ukemi become proficient then you will follow your partner better because the fear of falling will have gone. This will allow your mind to be calm and as the body always follows the mind in Aikido then it will be more relaxed, giving you more speed and natural movement for your technique.
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