Thursday, 10 May 2012

Self Defense - How To Fall

Bend your knees and round your back
(Terry has decided to show you these
techniques without the use of a mat!)
his might sound a little strange but among the first techniques I teach in my self defense classes is how to properly fall to the ground.

How to fall safely was actually the first thing I learned when I started Jiu Jitsu. It makes sense. You’re less likely to survive an attack if you’ve broken your arm from being knocked to the floor.

Breakfalls – the techniques of falling properly – can minimize or eliminate the chance of injury from a fall. (I have students who practise full force breakfalls on concrete floors).

Breakfall practise also builds confidence…the confidence that comes through training in physical contact. Being pushed down or thrown repeatedly can help you overcome the fear of –

1.  the harsh reality of having an attacker grab you and shake you

2.  the trauma of being pushed down and suddenly finding yourself on the ground

To practitioners of Judo and Aikido, physical contact becomes a part of everyday life. They learn to contain it and redirect it to their advantage…without fear. In fact, I tell my students to turn the ground into their friend. In the end, there should be little difference in their ability to defend themselves while standing or moving about on the ground.

(Please be sure to watch this Saturday’s video clip. It will feature a master of ground self defense!)

Let’s explore the first of 3 fundamental falling techniques – the back breakfall.

Arms slap the ground along your sides

1.  Practise on the floor first before trying this breakfall from a standing position. Sit with your knees drawn in and the soles of your feet on the floor. Wrap your arms around your knees. Round your back and drop your chin.

2.  Roll back and forth along the length of your spine just getting used to the idea of spreading the pressure of contact over the entire back. Please make sure that the back of the head never touches the floor.

3.  Once you feel comfortable rolling back and forth, raise both arms high in front of you before rolling back. Now roll back and slap the floor with both arms along the sides of your hips. Again make sure that the back of your head doesn’t touch the floor.  The slapping action of the arms puts the brakes to the fall.

4.  Now you’re ready to take the next step. With one leg slightly ahead of the other, go into a low squat position. As before, roll back and forth until you become used to this height. Next roll back and slap the floor with your arms. Please practise this for a while.

5.  Finally, try this breakfall from a standing position. To control the speed and distance of your fall, bend your knees gradually as you fall. Slap the floor.

6.  In the photo above, Terry swings his legs up into a perpendicular position. He does this in imitation of the most extreme drop to the floor your body might face – a 90 degree angle from overhead as a result of a throw.


7.  We often skip the perpendicular finish and go immediately into a barrage of kicks after we’ve broken the fall. Make this a habit – if an attacker knocks you down, go on the counter-attack right away. Never remain passive on the ground!

I’ll discuss the side breakfall in the next post of this series.

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