Ukemi – The Art of Falling
In the world of Judo, there is an essential art called Ukemi, which translates to “the receiving body.” Its purpose is to teach us how to fall correctly after being thrown without causing any harm. Falling is inevitable in Judo; therefore, one of the first skills a player learns is to fall safely and get back up quickly. The beginner resists the fall and injures themself. The black belt flows with the fall and is safe. This practice continues throughout a judoka’s progression, whether they’re a white or black belt.
The same principle applies to academics, work, and life. We will undoubtedly fall, and we must embrace and expect it. Instead of being surprised, we prepare for it, learning to fall well and fail forward. This deliberate iteration is our Ukemi practice. We plan and build in opportunities to inspect and adapt. We cut our work into small slices, enabling us to learn when we are wrong sooner. We actively seek feedback and use it to improve, pivot, or redo our approach.
Rather than feeling ashamed or discouraged by our failures, we should celebrate them. Each fall is an opportunity to learn and grow, an essential step toward success. Failing is an art that requires composure of mind and body, and each fall enables us to roll forward with greater ease and grace.
Just like a judoka who has mastered Ukemi, we, too, can become more resilient and better equipped to handle the challenges that come our way. By embracing failure and practicing falling well, we confidently move forward, knowing each fall is an opportunity to improve and grow. Falling is always in our required path to success and necessary to innovate.
Just like a judoka who has mastered Ukemi, we, too, can become more resilient and better equipped to handle the challenges that come our way. Falling well should be included as one of the essential 21st-Century Skills. By embracing an Ukemi mindset and practices, we learn to fall well, so we can safely innovate and improve.
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