View Full Version : Breakfalling Tales

24th March 2001, 06:38
To be spatially aware and develop an instinctive method of safe falling should be a main priority for anyone involved in the martial arts.
As we travel through life, the single most likely part of any martial art we teach, that will be used by our students is ukemi. People are more likely to slip over or fall down in their everyday lives than be attacked. If one asks about martial art experiences, then tales of ukemi should be rife. Any of you got any breakfalling stories?

24th March 2001, 10:22
Usually, stories are only as good as one can remember, and since ukemi is the first attained, it is the first ingrained.

It applies in other areas and most of the time, one only knows what one is going to do, or what one has to do, when it is over. Have I fallen? Sure, lots of times. What I remember of the last time, is that I cracked a small bone in my foot and that was only about two months ago. I don't know if it would have been worse without ukemi training, but on other occasions, I have found that I was in that "conditioned reflex" position.

You just had to start a thread over here on your take on ukemi in Aikido, didn't you, Tim.:beer:

24th March 2001, 10:27
Okay Mark you got me, I'm a shallow person, but it apeals to my sense of humour, anyway that thread is about ukemi that work off the mat, I was just after tall tales.


24th March 2001, 16:41
Hi Tim,

I have no funny stories but I can say Judo and breakfalls have given me good balance and that has saved me from injury on many occassions.

What I wanted to tell you is that in the early 70s when I was training with Brian Jacks and the under 21 British Squad we were told not to breakfall but to twist out of throws to lower the score.

I well remember training with gymnasts and trampolinists just learning how to twist whilst in the air.
The idea was to twist onto our fronts thus lowering a score if we had been thrown.

I must say that I think it is very important to know how to breakfall - not only to prevent injury - but to learn the complete cycle of a throw.

Stephen Sweetlove

will szlemko
25th March 2001, 07:23
Hi all,

My cat is a true master of applying deashi harai. He will walk along side of you then just as your weight begins to come down on the forward foot he will run across in front of you. He usually manages to catch the fot and send the person crashing to the ground at which point he will pounce on their chest or back. He has done this to many people but for some reason he only does this move with myself or those who have fairly good ukemi. The first couple of times he did this he nailed me big time, probably got a full ippon. Now however I am more aware of his movements and he hasn't thown me lately.


25th March 2001, 12:57
Hi, Will,

I am certain there are "FOR CATS ONLY" dojo and the must meet at least twice weekly. Doesn't it seem to be about that often when they catch you in that "yoko gakat" nage waza?

God, I've had cats since I can remember (as well as dogs) and they are sneekly little furballs from Hell sometimes.:up:

I knew what you wanted, but I could fill three pages of the ways and manner of alls I've taken in which ukemi has at least, saved me from the hospital.

Balance was something I did not have at all when I was a runt (well, I'm still a runt, but an older and fatter runt now), and gymnastics, even the simpler tumbling, eg, forward rolls had me landing on the back of my head and neck. It was then when I had just started learning judo, and I had the same problem with forward rolling ukemi. I could take a fall from a throw, but damn did I have headaches, sprained neck muscles, etc., probably for many weeks, or at least a month or so. As we all do, I finally caught on.

I learned a great warmup exercise we all probably do, but it helped enourmously my balance. Standing in place and picking up a knee so that it was at least level with the waist, or a bit higher, and twirling the leg, giving equal time to both sides. There are certain exercises which cannot be done too often and this was one of them. I am so confident that I could stand with one foot on the edge of a two step ladder lean over, and change a light bulb in the ceiling lamp and never fall...until recently. So here is your story, tim.;)

I began to wobble and swing my arms to get my balance under me, but finally realized I was going down. As I was falling in a manner of landing on my side or slightly toward a back fall (another fall I practiced a lot was a forward flip into a full back fall slapping with both arms, toes bent). I managed to twist (yes, Stephen, the tumbling did pay off in for me, after all), and take the fall face first, on my arms and toes. As my gut was touching the floor, I thought now would be a good time to lose some weight. I lost thirty some pounds, put back on about four or so immediately, but I am still unable to get rid of the midriff.

I've taken more than my share of falls and most on concrete (those I didn't plan, anyway), so ukemi is something which is more important than we realise at the time we learn to do it.

I don't enjoy ukemi as I used to, so I prefer not to be uke (there are a ton of reasons why I am uke, but I prefer not these days), but it is still with me, and will probably be employed many more times until, well, that's a long way off now, isn't it.


2nd April 2001, 23:42
Hi, Guys.

I have taken two falls that stand out in my memory: The first was a frosty trailer-deck Okuri Harai that sent me over the edge and had me looking at an eight-gage flower bed edging about eight feet below as my feet went skyward. I'm still not sure how I did it, but I kicked my feet upward, spun to a facefall, and landed with my left side parallel to the border, slapping with both hands and landing with a bent right knee.

The other fall was in shiai. A 5' 8" 345 pound wrestler countered my uki goshi by going behind me and executing a suplex, basically a low waist grip ura Nage, with a pile drive to the head ending. As I started up, I could think of only one thing -- survival! As I arced over his shoulder and he arched his body, pushing off with both feet and pulling me head-down toward the mat, I began a tight chin tuck and slapped like hell with both arms. As his 345 pounds joined my 225 pounds and slammed into the mat, the combined 570 made point of impact, not on my skull, but on his, with a fully tensed driving neck. I backrolled, but the damage was done. I had heard the neck muscles tearing as we landed.

I immediately reverted from uke to Sensei, spun out of my backroll, and immobilized his neck, clamping his head firmly with both knees and yelled "MEDIC!!" The paramedic on scene was good, and I transferred the patient and backed out of the situation. Had it happend ten years earlier, I am sure I would have been paralyzed.

I still thank my sensei for havivg us do back falls off of each other's shoulders in class. He was a great exponent of efective ukemi, as I have been for a long time.



3rd April 2001, 09:03
Damn, Ed,
Nice move. We used to do ukemi off the shoulders forward doing a flip and landing on the back, and solo as well, but that was fine work.