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Old 07-25-2000, 03:10 PM   #2
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 5,999
wayback wrote:
Nobody in our dojo really addresses breakfalls and how best to train for them. It's assumed that, by a certain rank (that's foggy, too...) you should know how to do them, do them correctly, and attempt them on regular intervals or when the technique calls for them.
Sounds like a dangerous assumption to me. Ukemi is 50% of aikido training. Neglecting to teach people the proper skills necessary to keep one from getting hurt is, I think, dangerous in my opinion.
1. What is the best way to train for them/learn the correct way to take one?
The best way to train for them is, of course, to have someone who knows how to take a breakfall and how to teach someone else such to teach you.

It would be nearly impossible for me to teach you how to do breakfalls over e-mail (although I've certainly tried in the past). Just like in all of the other skills necessary in aikido, I think you need to learn it hands-on.
2. When (at what rank) would it be "appropriate" for an aikidoka to be "proficient" at them? Also, what would "proficiency" entail?
I don't think there's any "appropriate" rank, really. I learned how when (if I remember correctly) I was a fifth kyu. Others I've seen still have a hard time after years of practice. We all have our own pace...

As for "proficiency," I'd say you're proficient when you can take a breakfall when you need to and get back up without pain. Although I can certainly take a breakfall at the drop of a hat, I don't do them unless necessary these days. Saves wear and tear on the body.
3. What about people who have mitigating injuries (I've had spinal surgery and have had no end of trouble trying to absorb the shock of a fall, especially with enthusiastic nages!)
Do what you can that's safe for you. If you encounter people who are slamming you onto the mat and it's too much for you, let them know. Ukemi is all about taking care of yourself so you can get back up and train again; part of this, I think, is the ability to let your partner know your limits.
4. What happens as you increase in rank (shodan, for example) and you can't take a breakfall for medical reasons like above.... does that mean, no shodan for you?
I don't think that the ability to take a breakfall should be a part of becoming a shodan or any rank. Although I do believe that such a skill is very helpful in training, I don't think it's necessary.

I don't know of anyone who was barred from attaining a certain rank due to their inability to do certain things due to medical reasons.

-- Jun, who thinks ukemi is the most important part of aikido practice

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