Thursday, 17 May 2012

Self Defense - The Front Breakfall

Bend the knees and the back

s I mentioned in the first post on this topic – falling, properly and safely, is an essential part of self defense.

Repeated contact with the floor breeds confidence. I’ve seen it in all the martial arts, even Tai Chi. Practitioners who don’t practise falling, often end up colliding with the ground when knocked or pushed down. Those who have experience falling correctly, tend to be more relaxed on impact. The trauma of the fall doesn’t affect muscles and bones that are relaxed and flexible as much as a musculoskeletal system that is stiff and unyielding.

Aikijitsu and Hapkido teachers, for example, teach their students to relax not only their bodies but their minds. This helps a lot if you’re suddenly knocked down or pushed from the back. A relaxed mind can deal with sudden trauma more efficiently. My students are already going on the counter-attack while someone who isn’t used to that type of training may still be dealing with the shock.

The basic front breakfall plays an essential role against attacks from the rear. Let’s take a closer look at this technique –

1.  As with the back breakfall, please start on the ground first. Familiarize yourself with the correct posture. Start by lying down, chest facing the ground. Now place your weight on your forearms (elbows to fingertips with your hands flat) – and on the balls of your feet.

Push yourself off the ground and hold. Again, only your forearms and the balls of your feet should touch the ground. You head should be up and away from the ground. Your eyes should be looking up and around (to locate the attacker and prepare for the counter-attack).

This position helps you to avoid serious injury to the head, chest, abdomen and knees. Keeping your head up also keeps your throat open in case the breath has been knocked out of you from a blow to the back.

Only 2 contact points - the forearms and the balls of the feet

2.  Now that you’ve established the basic posture, please kneel on the ground. Hold your forearms up in front of you at a perpendicular angle, elbows facing the ground, fingers pointed up into the air.

Slowly and carefully fall forward. As your forearms touch the ground raise your knees. The only contact points with the ground are your forearms and the balls of your feet. (You can also practise falling forward from a squat position).


3.  Lastly, stand up. Slowly bend your knees. Doing so helps you to control the speed, distance and impact of the fall. Fall slowly forward into the front breakfall position. (If you don’t have a mat, cushion your fall with a rug, etc. I actually practised at home on an old mattress).
4.  Once you feel comfortable performing the front breakfall, practise turning around quickly after falling. Add a barrage of kicks. Learn to leave the ground as soon a possible. Please practise until breakfall, turn, kicks and getting up combine into a self defense habit.


Confidence comes quickly enough. I just finished some testing for belts with children – and a few kids actually performed the front breakfall from a chair onto a mat. They showed no hesitation whatsoever. One, a teen, did a front breakfall from the top of a desk.

In a future post, I’ll discuss the side breakfall.

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