Mike Sigman wrote:
Oh I dunno. Maybe physics works differently where you are, Cady, but if you'll do a simple calculation of the Impulse forces and what happens when you factor in a slap, I think you'll find it's no big mystery. But whatever. You do it your way.
Mike, on the planet where Newtonian physics and organic body dynamics do not exist
Breakfalls have come in handy when being hurled from horseback, and I can tell you that the more relaxed you are, and the less you add to the impact, the easier the landing is on your body. It's no accident that drunks and toddlers who fall from a window are probably less likely to be hurt than a sober person or an aikidoka who tenses his arms and hard-slaps the ground.
But this is just an academic discussion for me when it comes to martial arts. We don't train to fall "down." On the planet where I come from, when training with a partner, we're focusing on countering throws, and even when falling, using the on-the-way-down gravity as part of the tool kit. And, in fact, our bodies are never just bags of rags (like the above-mentioned drunk). We are averse to letting our hands and arm muscles tighten up as though for a slap. The last thing we want is for any kind of energy to be bleeding out of hands or feet. Instead, we keep a "relaxed tension" (actually not an oxymoron) over the entire body.
That allows us to always be "on" and able to direct our body's motion and energy at all times, so that even upon impact with the ground we are already on the way back up and "into" the opponent with an attack. There is never any intent to "be down" -- it's all about pro-actively focusing our energies on rising up.
If you always think about going down as "falling down," you will never develop the proper intent in combat, which is to use every moment to relentlessly attack the opponent. The mindset is crucial. To my observations over decades, the aikido mindset is to fall. Down.
By the way, the "stomp" that Ushiro advocates is not, as you may believe, to absorb impact from the breakfall, but as an attack on your opponent. He is providing a means by which to condition one's mindset to think "attack." It is typical that without explanation, any movement is subject to misinterpretation, as it has been here.