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nickhogger3 08-26-2013 04:09 PM

Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
As I am nearing my 1st kyu exam I constantly find myself having trouble with the high falls. Its not that I can't do them, I know I can. My instructor stresses the importance of high falls. He is currently in his 70s, so he can only show me so much in terms of body mechanics, the rest I pick-up from youtube videos and other instructors. The high falls im talking about are mostly the fancy ones out of things like shiho-nage and kotegaeshi, where uke's legs fly up and he weirdly uses his hand to roll/slam on the ground.

I was wondering if there is a gradual way to build up practice to be able to take a high fall correctly. Currently what is presented to me is simply "do the fall", but I find that I can't simply jump into it with little prior experience. Are there any beggining exercises I could practice at home/dojo for me to improve my ability without taking an actual high fall? I just simply can't get to the actual fall, when I see that I have a solid 5 feet to land, my body tenses up and freezes. I have also tried taking it out of a hip-throw, and that just seems straight out impossible to me. How is one supposed to not only high fall but jump up at the same time?

Any advice?

odudog 08-26-2013 06:42 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
kotegaeshi - start to by not thinking of it as a fall. Think of it as a roll. This should help you to relax. Now start self practice rolls from the low position (suwari zenpo kaiten ikemi) but with your hand in the kotegaeshi position. Do this slow so you can analyze your body mechanics. Make adjustments as necessary to fit your body structure. Keep practice for several days/weeks until it feels like second nature. Now stand up and repeat this process. Should take less time for you now know which body structure you like to use. Just the fact of coping that the structure while standing and trying to relax.

shihonage - can't help on this. I'm trying to learn how not to bust up my arm.

phitruong 08-26-2013 08:35 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Quote:

Mike Braxton wrote: (Post 329266)

shihonage - can't help on this. I'm trying to learn how not to bust up my arm.

grab elbow with the other arm and pull elbow toward your body. also bring head toward wrist. i picked that up from Ellis Amdur. worked the like a charm. nobody has been able to throw me into a shihonage breakfall. besides, ukemi is about protecting your body, not abuse it and won't allow others to abuse your body either.

bkedelen 08-26-2013 10:13 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
There is a classic Judo drill where you get a partner to stand perpendicular to you and hold out the straps of their belt. You reach across and grab the belt with your far hand and take a practice breakfall, using the belt to stabilize yourself. You can manipulate the belt in a variety of ways to simulate different aspects of falling, and having something to grab gives you a nice base to work from and makes sure you always have room to pass your head through.

Protip: partner should turn their head away to avoid getting kicked in the face.

Once you earn your confidence, take the above advice and consistently maintain your relationship to your elbow during breakfall techniques, as that will keep you from getting shredded by dick partners, allow you to hang in there with good partners, and create a healthy environment from which gaeshi waza will eventually blossom.

SteliosPapadakis 08-27-2013 06:25 AM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
What i have found about breakfalls is that it is all about trust.
You have to trust yourself that you can do it without getting hurt. If in doubt you probably have to spend more time doing basic falls until you become proficient enough to advance to breakfalls.
Then you have to trust your partner with your life! The difference between a nice breakfall and ending up in the ER room with a broken collarbone resides in your partner's ability to hold and support you during the whole cycle of the exercise.
And yes, it takes time for some people. I could hardly execute a breakfall without getting hurt before shodan, others were good at it at 3rd kyu already.
Take your time and keep practicing. Safety first and you will be fine.
Be well,
:)

robin_jet_alt 08-27-2013 07:35 AM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Try some of the earlier exercises in this video. Remember to touch the mat early so that you can feel where you are going. With the one where he has a guy lie on the mat, I like to use a big punching bag on its side instead. Don't worry about trying any high falls until you can do these falls from close to the mat.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMpBpM38TMg

aikijean 08-27-2013 10:31 AM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
When I was young in aikido paratice, I did high breakfalls ad nauseam thinking that was what I had to do
for getting good in aikido.Before I learned the right way to fall I had to take some bad falls with some nages who could not care less if I landed right or not. So I injured myself quite a bit before gettig the hang of it. Now 25 years later my body is not able anymore to take that kind of falls so I don't. I discovered along the way that high breakfalls are not necessary at all except maybe for shows or demonstrations.
So I don't understand why some teachers make high breakfalls a necessity. Even if it is showed properly and the student do their falls without injuring themselves along the way, years of practice with that kind of falling will take a toll on the body it is inevitable.

I like rolling very much, every ukemi can be a roll even koshinage if you know some videos of Donavan Waite sensei on ukemi

Jean

Jennifer Yabut 08-27-2013 11:54 AM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Just like everything else, getting comfortable with high-falls/break-falls takes PRACTICE. I would actually start with taking break-falls from sumi-otoshi (cutting down the forearm) to work on the form, before progressing to kote-gaeshi. Taking break-falls from shiho-nage can pretty rough if your training partner doesn't take care of you. What helps with my shiho-nage break-falls is keeping my hand right next to my shoulder and rotating over the hip. You should NEVER jump into a break-fall, especially from shiho-nage. Think of it as rotating yourself over your hip, and allowing your back leg to kick up from the momentum. And do not try to "force" the break-fall to happen; the way your partner throws you will determine if you are going to take a break-fall or not.

NagaBaba 08-27-2013 01:11 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
There is a simple methodology to learn high flying breakfalls. We distinguish two kinds of them: one where you have been thrown vertically to the tatami and the other one when you flying horizontally.
You start by learning how to land. First step is a roll forward from knee level but in the end of the roll you stop in the position of landing (where you touch tatami with 3 points of your body only (shoulder, and both feet) and you slap tatami with one of your arms). Next step is to do exactly the same thing but rolling through small obstacle – can be somebody lying flat on the ground. Next step is doing the same thing but rolling by somebody who is lying on the tatami on his knees and elbows. Only once you learn it, you may do it by jumping over somebody who is standing but with upper body bended 90 degree like reversed L
Next step is to give hold with your right hand the left hand of standing partner and jumping/rolling over your own arm.
These exercises are all static.
In all mentioned exercises you must land in the exactly same position. Repeat all of them every day for a few weeks.
After that you are ready to move to more dynamic exercises.

I disagree with Jean, IMO one must learn as much as possible to protect himself while receiving the techniques - there are quite a lot nasty throws where you simply can roll out.

aikijean 08-27-2013 04:18 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
NagaBaba, just look at ukes with Chiba sensei, it is very rare that they take high breakfalls and as you know he is one that can throw you very nastily. It is my understanding that Chiba sensei is not a fan of high breakfalls.So I think aikido can be done without that kind of ukemi.

Janet Rosen 08-27-2013 05:34 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
I think it's good to have them in your toolkit, so to speak, even if you rarely do them - unless disability prevents you from doing them in which case it is your responsibility to make sure your training partner knows this.
I agree that starting low and learning the landing position is the ideal starting point - where I train now we call that doing a layout roll - simply having your partner hold your hand to the mat while you do a forward roll is an easy next step.
Or, go with Ellis Amdur's approach in "Ukemi from the Ground Up" and forget rolls until after you've learned slow controlled low breakfalls - alas, this requires the whole dojo buying into a change from tradition :-)

Ellis Amdur 08-27-2013 07:02 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
I have tried to envision each of the description each of the ukemi descriptions. Words are hard to imagine. So, since Janet mentioned my DVD, here's the link

The advantage with starting with breakfalls:
1. Although counter-intuitive to aikidoka, that's how judoka start, so it's not an innovation on my part, by any means.
2. The problem with most people's rolls is that they do not look over the opposite shoulder. This a) is bad enough with a roll, because you end up rolling over your shoulder and hip, which, unless you have tendons like cables, will soon result in injury b) breakfalls will be even more dangerous.
3. When you learn a proper breakfall, you will have the following habits: rolling over muscle rather than joints (shoulder blade-small of back); as Phi mentioned above, your head will be very tight to your arm, which vastly lessens the need for "survival breakfalls" when you have an inept or malevolent nage c) even when you take a breakfall, it becomes, essentially, a "roll in the air" - with your arm tight to your head, looking over the opposite shoulder
4. Because proper breakfalls are the first reflex you learn, you will not fear ukemi at all - - - roll/breakfall - its a matter of the best thing to do, not something you have to gear up to do.

Ellis Amdur

Krystal Locke 08-27-2013 08:48 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Quote:

Stelios Papadakis wrote: (Post 329277)
What i have found about breakfalls is that it is all about trust.
You have to trust yourself that you can do it without getting hurt. If in doubt you probably have to spend more time doing basic falls until you become proficient enough to advance to breakfalls.
Then you have to trust your partner with your life! The difference between a nice breakfall and ending up in the ER room with a broken collarbone resides in your partner's ability to hold and support you during the whole cycle of the exercise.
And yes, it takes time for some people. I could hardly execute a breakfall without getting hurt before shodan, others were good at it at 3rd kyu already.
Take your time and keep practicing. Safety first and you will be fine.
Be well,
:)

If my ukemi depends on someone else in any way beyond the initial taking my balance, I am doing it wrong. My ukemi is for keeping me safe, no matter who is throwing me and how......

NekVTAikido 08-28-2013 06:48 AM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Get Ellis Amdur's video, watch it, get familiar with the concepts. Then, even if the whole dojo doesn't buy in, you can still work on the components with just one partner, or even by yourself. (Land your forward rolls as if they were breakfalls.) This gives you a way to ease into the practice.

SteliosPapadakis 08-28-2013 11:34 AM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Quote:

Krystal Locke wrote: (Post 329320)
If my ukemi depends on someone else in any way beyond the initial taking my balance, I am doing it wrong. My ukemi is for keeping me safe, no matter who is throwing me and how......

Has your partner ever let go of all support while you were at 1/3 of a breakfall cycle? Or even worse pulled all the weight down while you were "writing" a lovely circle in the air?
I have witnessed and experienced both (along with a lot more colorful situations) and the end result was always injury, no matter how advanced the uke was.
So... i only take breakfalls from people i know and trust.
;)

Dan Richards 08-28-2013 12:52 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Hi Nick,

One way to look at falls - even high falls - is that they are just bigger rolls. So, the place to start would be with rolling. Simple rolling starting from seiza. Can you do simple forward and backward rolls on your knees? And this; can you do those rolls quietly?

Can you do standing rolls? Can you do them quietly? Can you do them on a hardwood floor?

A lot of people tend to make a lot of noise while rolling. Pa dump a dump...and slapping a hand. All those bumps show themselves quite clearly on a harder surface. And in any kind of real-world application, such as concrete, asphalt, or hardwood floors, those bumps are the sound of a hard part of your body colliding with an unforgiving surface.

Simple kneeling rolls on mat.
Simple kneeling rolls on hardwood, concrete, asphalt, etc..
Simple standing rolls on mat.
Simple standing rolls on hardwood, concrete, asphalt, etc..

Then progress...

Kneeling rolls on mat - with leading arm tucked against chest.
Continue through all the other rolls, but with leading arm tucked in.

By the time you're doing standing rolls on the mat with your arm tucked in, you're already doing the beginnings of a breakfall. From there, practice just flipping yourself over.

Instead of thinking of them as "breakfalls," think of them more as bigger rolls.

Basia Halliop 08-28-2013 02:49 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Quote:

Krystal Locke wrote: (Post 329320)
If my ukemi depends on someone else in any way beyond the initial taking my balance, I am doing it wrong. My ukemi is for keeping me safe, no matter who is throwing me and how......

Yeah, the times I find ukemi most valuable is when they _don't_ throw you 'right'. At first when you're learning how to fall you depend on nage to throw you in ways that make it easier to fall safely, but the more you train the wider the range of 'funny' situations that you can still come out fine from. Even if everyone you're training with is well-intentioned (and I wouldn't train with them if they weren't!), things happen, and IMO that's where ukemi comes in.

Quote:

"NagaBaba, just look at ukes with Chiba sensei, it is very rare that they take high breakfalls and as you know he is one that can throw you very nastily. It is my understanding that Chiba sensei is not a fan of high breakfalls.So I think aikido can be done without that kind of ukemi."
Is it really about how 'nastily' you're thrown, though? To me it seems much more about what position you're in than how hard you're thrown. There are some situations where there are many options, others where there are constraints (e.g. your feet are blocked, your rolling arm is restrained, etc).

Anyway breakfalls are the physically softest way of taking ukemi I personally know (though there are different kinds, some more than others). A really violent roll feels a lot more vulnerable for me when I take it than a breakfall. For me it seems counterintuitive to deliberately avoid breakfalls unless I have some very specific injury that aggravates them.

In any case I'd rather know lots of different ways to take ukemi so I can adapt to the moment and take whatever feels safest or most comfortable at the time.

Basia Halliop 08-28-2013 03:03 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
As far as practical advice, mine is similar to NagaBaba's. Start on the ground and gradually add height while building muscle memory (and building core strength, which helps).

Also for some falls it can be helpful to have a big heavy partner who will stand there and let you practice self-propelled falls off their arm or belt.

Also some of the more advanced people in your dojo may be pretty good at throwing you in a predictable way and helping you get in the right position. IMO this is great for practice and to build confidence and relaxation.

I have known some people to find a crash mat helpful. Personally, I don't like it as much because it's so mushy that it's hard to control the position you fall in, but some people say it helps them build confidence and get a chance to try different positions without as much fear of pain or injury if it doesn't work.

nickhogger3 08-28-2013 04:14 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
I like the hardwood floor example; will have to try that (last time I did it was pretty painful, so I have something to improve).

robin_jet_alt 08-28-2013 06:47 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Quote:

Stelios Papadakis wrote: (Post 329347)
Has your partner ever let go of all support while you were at 1/3 of a breakfall cycle? Or even worse pulled all the weight down while you were "writing" a lovely circle in the air?
I have witnessed and experienced both (along with a lot more colorful situations) and the end result was always injury, no matter how advanced the uke was.
So... i only take breakfalls from people i know and trust.
;)

I have experienced both, and while they were not comfortable, I was not injured.

My sensei's first priority when I graded to shodan was ensuring that I would be safe, no matter where I trained. This was particularly important to him as he knew I was moving away soon. He wasn't too concerned about technique, just that I could fall safely in the sort of potentially dangerous situation you described. I think you guys need to work on your ukemi a bit.

Carsten Möllering 08-29-2013 06:14 AM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Quote:

Jean Hardy wrote: (Post 329285)
.. every ukemi can be a roll ...

Quote:

Stelios Papadakis wrote: (Post 329347)
So... i only take breakfalls from people i know and trust.

This is interesting to me:
My experience is that it is not uke who decide weather do roll out of a technique or to take a breakfall. I learned that it is tori who steers uke.
And that there are different ways to execute the same technique wich needs different ways of ukemi. So tori can throw in one way that leads to a backward roll, in another way that leads to a forward roll and a third way that leads to and needs high ukemi.

Accoring to this we we sometimes practice in a way where uke tries to fall backward and tori tries to lead him to a roll or to a high breakfall.
I am aware of the possibility of uke to simly let his center fall down like it is usual in judō. And I admit that it is hard to keep uke form doing this.

Quote:

Jean Hardy wrote: (Post 329285)
...ukemi can be a roll even koshinage if you know some videos of Donavan Waite sensei on ukemi

Is there a video clip on the internet where I can see this? I

ChrisMikk 08-29-2013 07:25 AM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Quote:

Ellis Amdur wrote: (Post 329316)
The advantage with starting with breakfalls:

I haven't seen Ellis Amdur's DVDs, but this is pretty much how we start in Yoshinkan aikido kenshusei course. I had no previous aikido experience, but I was doing all the breakfalls in the syllabus within a few weeks.

I am at a little bit of a loss when I hear people talking about getting injured and having fear doing breakfalls. I am not a natural athlete, and I have balked at doing forward rolls over 4-foot barriers and over 3-4 people squatting on the ground. But basically breakfalls don't seem scary to me, and I haven't gotten injured.

One big difference (as I understand it) between Yoshinkan and Aikikai is that in Yoshinkan, the uke collaborates with the fall. The advice on this forum to resist throws seems really dangerous to me. You follow nage and throw yourself if the technique doesn't work. Otherwise, you run the risk of having the throws force locate in a place you don't want, like a joint that can't bend because it's locked out.

Even though Yoshinkan is a "hard" style of aikido, from what I have read on this forum, I would say Yoshinkan's style of teaching breakfalls is a lot better than other styles. And it's very simple. No big build-ups, just start doing it. Once you realize you aren't going to get injured, even from a hard fall, the fear goes away.

One thing I would mention is that the most thoughtful of our instructors avoids doing hard falls unless he has to. I do think that over time the constant battering will take a toll on the body.

aikijean 08-29-2013 09:24 AM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Carsten , I cannot find a clip on youtube but basically what he does to practice it in his video on ukemi : he makes uke bend over then he bend himself on the back of the uke at 90 degres, reach for the ground with one of his hand and began to roll over uke and to the mat. I have done it, it was fun to do it just to see the face nage made.
I am not sure though if the koshinage is done full speed like judo I would be able to roll. I have never tried it at 100% speed just 80% maybe. I think you have to know that koshinage is coming to do it safely.

Basia Halliop 08-29-2013 09:36 AM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
Quote:

Stelios Papadakis wrote: (Post 329347)
Has your partner ever let go of all support while you were at 1/3 of a breakfall cycle? Or even worse pulled all the weight down while you were "writing" a lovely circle in the air?
I have witnessed and experienced both (along with a lot more colorful situations) and the end result was always injury, no matter how advanced the uke was.
So... i only take breakfalls from people i know and trust.
;)

Unless I'm just misunderstanding and not visualizing these, which is certainly possible -- yes, and it was fine and nothing happened and I got up and attacked them again.

ramenboy 08-29-2013 12:53 PM

Re: Getting Accustomed to high falls?
 
hey nikolay

if you consider 'high breakfalls' the type that we do from shihonage and kote gaeshi, then at this point, as people have said, be very comfortable with your rolls. if you've learned them correctly, then your breakfall is a result of someone not letting you put your 'rolling hand' down on the mat.

give my regards to tenegra sensei. he used to visit the mac and has attended many of our seminars


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