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I had an interesting realization this morning. It came as a result of something I was doing last night in my regular classes. I have some students who've reached a point in their training where I can no longer put off teaching them high (break) falls. So, I was taking them through the steps I went through to learn them:
Lay on the mat slapping right and left alternating. The idea is to slap hard and learn to hit the mat as hard as you can without it being painful. This isn't about toughening up your arm, it's about hitting the right way with your arm actually flat. It sounds easy, but some people really struggle at this point.
Throw yourself from side to side with your feet and slap as you land. This is hard work and I discovered it's nearly as good as situps for making the muscles in your stomach tired.
Forward roll with a slap. Instead of finishing the roll and coming up, slap the mat and stop.
Backward roll with a slap. Roll back and slap.
Then comes the real challenge. I hadn't done it in years, I realized, and I wasn't sure I still could. But, I tried. I threw myself forward into...
...a pretty respectable high fall. It didn't hurt nearly as much as I feared. My landing was a bit rusty, but mostly together. I did it a few more times to demonstrate the point even though I knew none of my students were ready for that step. They just
needed to see where these exercises were going. That's really why I kept doing it.