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Old 12-12-2006, 12:10 AM   #86
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 788
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Re: To Slap the Ground or Not

Slapping could help if it was timed just right and it somehow directly counteracted the descent of your body as it headed for the ground. It might serve this way if you slapped BEFORE you hit the ground, but probably not much. If it was lined up properly, it could provide a classic counter thrust, although it is still questionable whether concentrating all that impact into your small hand to slightly reduce the velocity of your large body would be worth it in the larger scheme. If the slap hits about the same time as your body, and off to the side, it's going to be more like cracking a bullwhip where your hand and lower arm are just like the end of the whip snapping against the ground. If anything, the hand's impact will be accelerated by your body's descent - the opposite of the intended effect on the opposite part of the body.

I find it interesting if the idea behind something like a soft slap really is spreading out of the body's surface area to reduce stress at any specific point. If true, this might be preferable to just crashing heedlessly onto a 'corner' or particular vulnerable point on your body, but it still seems like the equivalent of aspiring to belly flop onto the ground. The properties of a water and solid surface are sort of opposite, but it seems awfully odd that the worst, most painful way to land on water is supposed to be the best you can hope for on the ground.

I think the idea behind soft ukemi is that you are still looking for a softer dynamic than the solid-on-solid of traditional breakfalls. Since the ground is solid, you strive to make your body behave more like a liquid spilling onto the ground, rather than something hard smacking into it. In general, you lower yourself rather than fall, rotate more before tipping over, and spill over an obstacle rather than tripping over it. The body stays much more relaxed, as relaxation is what gives it its liquid-like properties. The aim is deliberately the opposite of the kind of breakfall everyone is talking about here - the body hits in a segmented rather than consolidated fashion, and each part that "hits" immediately contributes to dampening the fall and redirecting the body's path....

At least these are my current thoughts on it as I log in the hours of taking experimental "hard falls" over various items of furniture.

Last edited by Kevin Wilbanks : 12-12-2006 at 12:14 AM.
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