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Randy Sexton
07-18-2010, 06:35 AM
Is there any rule of thumb out there that you guys use to advise your students (as well as yourselves) when you might want to stop doing breakfalls?
I just passed my Nikyu test and doing Koshinages was really scarey but I pressed on and sensei thinks I have progressed well, but it got me to thinking about what age I might want to stop having hip throws done on me and stop doing breakfalls.

Doc Randy

SeiserL
07-18-2010, 07:28 AM
I don't do as many as I used to.
But still doing them.
Age: almost 60.
IMHO, its more about skill and health, not age.

Dan Rubin
07-18-2010, 08:41 AM
its more about skill and health, not age.

...and what sort of floor you're falling on.

Chris Li
07-18-2010, 11:08 AM
I don't do as many as I used to.
But still doing them.
Age: almost 60.
IMHO, its more about skill and health, not age.

I used to teach a morning class with Don Shimazu, a WWII 442nd Infantry vet. He'd teach when he was there, I'd teach when he wasn't. His usual pattern was to demonstrate by performing a technique four times and then having the uke perform the technique four times while he took ukemi.

One day I was taking ukemi for him when he demonstrated koshi-nage. He threw four times and then said it was my turn - he told me "you've got to throw me hard, not like a sack of potatoes!". So I did, although I had my misgivings, and he took the breakfall four times.

He was 83.

Best,

Chris

CNYMike
07-18-2010, 08:36 PM
Is there any rule of thumb out there that you guys use to advise your students (as well as yourselves) when you might want to stop doing breakfalls?
I just passed my Nikyu test and doing Koshinages was really scarey but I pressed on and sensei thinks I have progressed well, but it got me to thinking about what age I might want to stop having hip throws done on me and stop doing breakfalls.

Doc Randy

When I visited Cincinnati a few years ago, one of my training partners was an elderly gentleman who not onoy wouldn't take ukemi but stood instead of sitting in seiza -- I guess he had issues that prevented him from doing those thing. We still managed to practice; we just went to position (ie didn't fall) and that was no problem.

So it depends on the individual, but there are ways of working around it.

CNYMike
07-18-2010, 08:40 PM
I don't do as many as I used to.
But still doing them.
Age: almost 60.
IMHO, its more about skill and health, not age.

My Aikido sensei is about your age, Lynn. Every time he demonstrates a techinuqe, he does it as nage, and then takes umeki for the other person, regardless of whether he as a point about the ukemi. This gets pretty dynamic if he's rolling out of a shomenuchi attack -- he gets thrown, springs up, and goes at his nage again.

He's your age.

This is one of the things I think of whenever I or my Kali instructor whine about being in our 40's (and, of course, any recent Dan Inosanto seminar, too, but I digress.).

Janet Rosen
07-18-2010, 09:51 PM
Every body really is different.
I like to do some regularly to make sure the body memory is still there for if I"m thrown into one without having a choice in the matter.

SeiserL
07-19-2010, 05:36 AM
This is one of the things I think of whenever I or my Kali instructor whine about being in our 40's (and, of course, any recent Dan Inosanto seminar, too, but I digress.).
Inosanto is always a progression,never a digression.
Brillant man at any age.

john.burn
07-19-2010, 07:59 AM
I think this answers the question too!

http://www.aikiweb.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=176&cat=503

SmilingNage
07-19-2010, 08:24 AM
I can recall Sugano Sensei making the remark not to take highfalls after 40 but it was said half in jest and half in practicality. So I take it as highfalls as necessity dictates.

RED
07-19-2010, 12:28 PM
I'm not old, but I have back issues and want to extend my years of hard training. I'll respect an atemi, and if you trash me I'll respect it and break fall. But I'm not going to take a high/hard break fall to make anyone look or feel good about themselves at this point. (unless I'm in a particular mood lol)
If it is needed, I'll do whatever it takes to save my skeletal structure, but I am not a fan of throwing yourself just because it looks cool. I believe there are better methods of escape than slamming your body to the ground about 70% of the time. In my youth I want to take the time to learn better ways to take ukemi and escape dangerous or hard technique.

A rule of thumb one of my instructors passed on to me: "Every sound you make on the mat during ukemi is the sound of your soft tissue being injured." There are better methods of taking break falls than slamming your body on the mat. Maybe sometimes you have to take the slam, but most the time you don't. There are different methods of breaking. And I think it is worth investing time into learning softer break fall techniques

I want to preserve my soft tissue for when I'm old and need it. lol

There's an older black belt in my school that says he takes one break fall a year. lol I hope when I'm his age I'll still have the ability to take break falls when needed as needed.

C. David Henderson
07-19-2010, 01:26 PM
The only way I could begin to do a soft(er) breakfall was to do a lot of them, and I wasn't the fastest learner. It was quite jarring for a long time. Over time, I found the word "breakfall' no longer was synonymous to me with "hard fall," and often seems relatively effortless.

When I hear the word "escape," it sounds like something we're taught not to do. Not only does it distort the dynamic between uke and nage, tyring to escape can itself lead to injury, as it often seems to go hand-in-hand with hesitation, or withdrawing or withholding one's center.

Particularly when a throw happens hard and fast, I want my body to react without hesitation.

But, YMMV. As Janet pointed out, "Every body is different."

Regards

RED
07-19-2010, 01:53 PM
The only way I could begin to do a soft(er) breakfall was to do a lot of them, and I wasn't the fastest learner. It was quite jarring for a long time. Over time, I found the word "breakfall' no longer was synonymous to me with "hard fall," and often seems relatively effortless.

When I hear the word "escape," it sounds like something we're taught not to do. Not only does it distort the dynamic between uke and nage, tyring to escape can itself lead to injury, as it often seems to go hand-in-hand with hesitation, or withdrawing or withholding one's center.

Particularly when a throw happens hard and fast, I want my body to react without hesitation.

But, YMMV. As Janet pointed out, "Every body is different."

Regards

I didn't mean escape technique, I meant escape injury.

For me this is how I learned ever ukemi technique I know:

I work on soft break falls from my knees everyday (I sometimes take wide low break falls from kokyu-dosa to help with working on connection along with the break fall movement.) For me it has always been easier to work on the motions repetitively. When I practice from my knees I can take the "break fall" on any surface because it is so low. I can focus on the movement and not worry about falling hard. Once I have the movements down to muscle memory it doesn't matter if I'm kneeling or standing, my body follows those instinctive motions.
This is the only way I can really learn ukemi... Ukemi freaked me out the first time I saw it. I never thought I'd be able to roll never mind any other techniques I've been practicing and working towards.

C. David Henderson
07-19-2010, 02:34 PM
Well, first, I think its great that you've found a way to approach learning breakfalls that works for you. That's probably the most important thing.

Second, trying not to get hung up on words, the idea of "escape" still gives me pause. Of course, learning how to fall safetly allows one to "escape" or avoid injury during training.

If during practice I take ukemi with the intention of escaping injury, however, I'm pretty sure this will show itself in part as escaping the technique. That is, at some point, I'm going to be "bailing," not remaining connected much less being prepared to renew an attack.

Now, if that's the way I can avoid being injured, so be it; my partner and I will get another opportunity to do the technique.

Still, for me, I'd be concerned if that's the way I thought about taking ukemi, as opposed to learning the part of ukemi that involves falling.

Best of luck with your continued training, and I hope you succeed in keeping your back healthy.

RED
07-19-2010, 02:43 PM
Well, first, I think its great that you've found a way to approach learning breakfalls that works for you. That's probably the most important thing.

Second, trying not to get hung up on words, the idea of "escape" still gives me pause. Of course, learning how to fall safetly allows one to "escape" or avoid injury during training.

If during practice I take ukemi with the intention of escaping injury, however, I'm pretty sure this will show itself in part as escaping the technique. That is, at some point, I'm going to be "bailing," not remaining connected much less being prepared to renew an attack.

Now, if that's the way I can avoid being injured, so be it; my partner and I will get another opportunity to do the technique.

Still, for me, I'd be concerned if that's the way I thought about taking ukemi, as opposed to learning the part of ukemi that involves falling.

Best of luck with your continued training, and I hope you succeed in keeping your back healthy.

My opinion of ukemi is that it is the other side of the coin to nage. Aikidoka are both uke and nage. What ever you lack in your ukemi you lack in your nage. I like to look at my ukemi, analyze and see what I'm lacking. I can make any better that if my uke is lacking connection, so is my nage. If in my ukemi I take big steps and am fluid, I can bet my nage technique is also done with large steps and fluidity.
I don't view ukemi as a means of escaping nage. I can use it to escape serious injury from the hands of a careless nage.(In my humble opinion, if you cause critical harm to your uke you are doing something incorrect.)
I don't understand when people don't like taking ukemi(unless they are injured or have other real issues), I don't believe you can be a well rounded Aikidoka without ukemi. I think it is a misconception that Aikido is "only" what nage does. Aikido is also the way uke reacts in my opinion. Because in my opinion, ukei is a reflection of nage. They are working on the same martial principles, just opposite sides of the coin.

Now do I enjoy taking ukemi? It's usually really fun. Other times(especially when I started Aikido) it is chore, its hard and I hate it. When I first started I'd take ukemi in a way like I was waiting for my turn at nage. I have a seriously different view of it now. I'm working on my Aikido, whether uke or nage. I'm working on the same Aikido which ever role I'm in, and I'm practicing and training in those Aiki principles.

My back is the bane of my existence since I had a fall at work. LOL

Mike Sigman
07-19-2010, 05:36 PM
...and what sort of floor you're falling on.

Or what art and how seriously you're training. Let's not kid ourselves... supposedly martial arts are about truth, not BS'ing ourselves.

FWIW

Mike Sigman

Josh Reyer
07-19-2010, 08:03 PM
I used to teach a morning class with Don Shimazu, a WWII 442nd Infantry vet.

One day I was taking ukemi for him when he demonstrated koshi-nage. He threw four times and then said it was my turn - he told me "you've got to throw me hard, not like a sack of potatoes!". So I did, although I had my misgivings, and he took the breakfall four times.

He was 83.


Go four broke(falls)!

CNYMike
07-19-2010, 08:51 PM
Inosanto is always a progression,never a digression.
Brillant man at any age.

Absoluttely, but still slightly off topic for Aikiweb. If I erred, it was on the side of policing myself. :o

Randy Sexton
07-20-2010, 06:08 AM
I really appreciate the discussion and advice. As Maggie said, I too have learned to view Ukemi differently, over the past year especially. Ukemi is half of learning Aikido!
We all want to train with joy and safety as long as we physically can. When I am very, very old I will sit in my wheelchair and practice harmony and love watching the sun rise and the squirrels practice their "Squirrel Aikido" and I will practice with them yelling out "Extend, Extend! LOL
Thanks!
Doc Randy

Basia Halliop
07-20-2010, 06:55 AM
I think I recall being told when I first started learning breakfalls that the ideal was to learn them well when you were young, so that by the time you were older you were doing them well enough that you could fall softly. So far this has fit with my experience and my observations of other people... the process of learning to fall can be tough on you physically, but the better you get at them the less that's the case.

ruthmc
07-20-2010, 08:13 AM
Rather than look at it as a question of age, look at it as a question of flexibility, health and whether or not you are carrying any injuries.

This can make it a 'yes' one day and a 'no' another ;)

I don't do breakfalls anymore following a car accident which damaged my lower back. And I'm in my late 30s. Koshinage is also out of the question as I cannot load up the damaged part.

All I would say regarding age is that the most important thing to preserve is your flexibility, as that will enable you to carry out your daily life much more easily than if you allow yourself to become stiff and immobile.

Ruth

lbb
07-20-2010, 08:59 AM
Rather than look at it as a question of age, look at it as a question of flexibility, health and whether or not you are carrying any injuries.

This can make it a 'yes' one day and a 'no' another ;)

Yup...and the existence of a 70-year-old who still does breakfalls doesn't make it "safe" for a 70-year-old person to do breakfalls.

OwlMatt
07-20-2010, 12:42 PM
Obviously, in something like this, there can be no hard-and-fast rules. I just finished reading The Gift of Danger, an aikido book by an 80-year-old who still takes her falls. On the other hand, my two oldest instructors (73 and somewhere in her fifties, respectively) have stopped taking ukemi almost altogether. It depends on the health of the person.

TreyPrice
07-22-2010, 01:14 PM
I told a co-worker the other day that the differences of me at 15, 25 and 45 are that at 15 I could run in the morning, go to school, football practice and them MA at night day after day, at 25 years of age I would occasionally take aspirin the next day - at 45 I take aspirin and alieve before I train, and some days after.

Listen to your body - it will tell you.

DanTesic
09-25-2010, 06:40 AM
I can recall Sugano Sensei making the remark not to take highfalls after 40 but it was said half in jest and half in practicality. So I take it as highfalls as necessity dictates.

Huh, I didn't know about that - just did some high ukemis 2 days ago (I had to, the sensei was throwing me around for a demonstration). I'm 48. I survived, but am as sore as always. It's not that bad... although the mats in our dojo are made of titanium, I believe.

WilliB
09-25-2010, 07:13 AM
I have no problems with them now, but I see that the really old guys in my dojo are sitting out the breakfalls, or stop just before them.
I assume that when the time comes, my body will tell me that it doesn´t want them any more. These things have a way of solving themselves.