Purpose of Breakfall (Ukemi)

Ukemi, itself a question to many, has a very simple explanation. Ukemi in a literary sense means "receiving body or self." In the simplest terms possible, the "uke" part of ukemi as in Tori and Uke means "receiving" and is a person who is on the receiving end of throw. It is always used in a passive sense. Mi means "body or self". In this case, self is the better translation. In his Kodokan Judo, Kano Sensei states "before practicing throwing techniques or engaging in randori, it is imperative to master ukemi, the technique of falling safely."2 So, ukemi means "falling safely" when one receives a throw.