View Full Version : Should the leg be straight in the Breakf

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11-20-2005, 04:58 PM
In the normal front high break fall, should the front leg (the leg touch the mat first) be straight?

The most text book say the leg should be straight. But my sensei bends his front leg. I tried the bend version for a few classes. It does help me get up quickly. But it seems put more strain on my lower back. I know my sensei has back problem. Could the bending leg break fall be a contributing factor?

I think Iíll stick to the straight front leg version. But is the bending leg version just another option, or a big NO go?


Camille Lore
11-20-2005, 08:57 PM
Our dojo teaches it straight. However, there is probably a reason your sensei teaches it that way. Ask him. I've seen some falls when visiting dojos that I can't even comprehend, let alone do. So, there are very different ways out there.

11-21-2005, 04:47 AM
You should be landing in a way so as not to hurt yourself.

11-21-2005, 10:58 AM
Straight is generally the preferred method as you distribute the impact over a larger surface area. You can always immediately bend your leg to get up quickly. When doing a soft breakfall, keeping the leg straight helps keep the fall quieter.

Clayton Drescher
11-21-2005, 11:50 AM
Interesting about the possible connection to back problems

At my last dojo we landed with leg bent....the straight leg was for when we conciously worked on jiu-jutsu and ground-work.

We emphasized the quick turn-around for another attack, though, and getting up fast was valued. When I land with a straight leg I bruise and strain my knee more so than with a bent leg. But the way we landed with a bent leg, the whole side of the leg contacted the ground at the same time, so the impact was spread evenly, and there was less distance on the foot from the point of rotation, so there was less force acting on it, thus a lighter impact. But I'm very aware everyone lands differently, so I may have just found my niche.

Just some thoughts,

Dirk Hanss
11-21-2005, 04:28 PM
Just a remark:
As I was told, in every martial art, if somebody says straight, you should never take it literally. It is just little bent. Straight arms or legs are easy to be broken by violence or accidents, and that is true even for breakfalls.

My 2 cts.


11-22-2005, 02:10 PM
In my opinion, the breakfall should be customized to each situation (i.e. each throw)

In my school I tend to experience really long throws, or hard throws, in those cases i have always found that sticking the leg out works best, this of course follows the principal of spreading the imapct over a larger surface area. If you are being thrown hard, or far, this definately makes a differnece.

I have seen people passing through my dojo, trained to bend the leg, and they seem to simply absorb more of the imapct with their body and to be honest it looks painful. (althought they always get up and shake it off, or give nage a dirty look)

In the end, I think that it is best to train for both and be able to make the adjustment as needed. Because of all the hard and long throws in my school, I am equipped to take it and can easily adjust down for a speedy recovery to accomodate softer throws.

What i find is really bad is if you train to only use one fixed method for all throws. And then if that one fixed method does not accomodate hard and long throws. Owweee!

regarding the speed in recovery, i agree with the folding of the leg, i tend to quickly draw the leg in after i have made contact, i have tried to cut corners and fold the leg prematurely, but then my back or lower back ends up taking the impact.

hope this helps!


Michael Meister
11-24-2005, 06:08 AM
As long as you touch down with the whole length of your leg, I don't think it will make a difference in terms of surface to absorb to fall. It does make a difference, when you consider the area, where your second leg my come down without doing damage (hitting your own leg, landing heel first etc.).

11-24-2005, 08:58 PM
I think if the leg is straight it is a better looking fall. But if someone throws fast, you might not have enough time to make the fall look good. I think it all depends on your size and weight too. You have to use the way that is the most safe and comfortable for you. Just like Aikido.

11-25-2005, 08:36 PM

I went to Toyoda's first seminar in Atlanta, even though I belonged to a different organization at that time . I hadn't heard of Toyoda Shihan before but I had visited Ginny and Scott's dojo when I had first looked for a place to study. Even though I ended up at a different school, I had been impressed with Ginny and Scott and had seen them a couple of times since. They both taught at the Aikido Center of Atlanta before their own dojo grew and went to at least one USAF Winter Camp. So I thought I would go and support their seminar. The teaching was different from what I was used to from a shihan - Toyoda talked more while demonstrating than the other shihans that I had seen did. Some times he would tell stories, sometimes he would get philosophical and give a brief Zen-like discussion (I didn't find out until later that he was a Zen master). The techniques were done somewhat differently from what I was used to, also. I managed to get along without comment until I was practicing a throw that required a breakfall. I had learned to breakfall with my legs crossed: bottom leg bent and under the top leg. Toyoda Shihan taught a different style, with the bottom leg extended. He came over to where I was practicing and stopped me and my partner.

"Your bottom leg should be straight," he told me. I nodded. Hai, sensei.

"You know why?" he asked. No, sensei. "Otherwise, you smash your balls."

He turned to my partner. "How many children you have?" he asked.

"One," he answered. Like me, he was trying to decide whether to grin or not. Shihan's face was perfectly serious.

"That's not enough children. Fall with leg straight," he snapped. Hai, sensei.

Shihan turned back to me. "How many children you have?" he asked.

"Four," I answered.

Shihan's eyes widened in apparent surprise. "Four?" he asked. He pretended to reel back in amazement. "That's enough children. You fall anyway you want to." Then he laughed suddenly and moved away.


Jerry Miller
11-25-2005, 11:33 PM
Funny anecdote Alexis. There is a school of thought that the straight leg should "float" and dissipate energy through it. I am still just trying to take care of the boys. :D

11-26-2005, 07:43 PM