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Old 11-03-2011, 11:11 PM   #1
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
England
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More on High Break-falls

Following on from a thread on the teaching section called High Break-falls I am moved to write this one. I believe by reading answers given on the subject that all are missing the basic concept and basic purpose of break-falls and even more so the concept and purpose of high break-falls but are unaware of this fact.

First let's clear what is meant by 'high' break-fall. One that goes up and straight down, splatt. Can be seen in koshi nage but not only there. In fact just concentrating on that can bring confusion as a 'normal' ukemi can also be used there depending on the version of throw.

So, back to basics. A fall. Breaking a fall. A break-fall. What does that actually mean?

It means you are heading for the ground. That's the first simplicity to get. This presents you with a problem and the problem is?

How to land safely. Voila!

A break-fall is a method of harmonizing with the ground when falling. That's all. No more, no less.

So a roll or fore-ward ukemi is a method of harmonizing with the ground. How so? Why that particular shape of body? Well the principle of the wheel fits there for that is what it is doing.

So now if you apply that to your body and Aikido you will see that it applies when? When you are heading for the ground at an angle, when the motion is both fore-ward and down.

Now we come to the more interesting one, the 'high' one. The word high is usually given the wrong emphasis and leads to much of the misunderstanding. The thing to concentrate on in order to see clearly the cocept is the down. Straight down. Straight enough that it cannot serve being a wheel.

Thus the first clear differentiation needed. Only then can you see the two distinct types of break-fall.

Straight down usually means in Aikido on your back rather than on your front. However it is now important to know what the method of falling entails and why otherwise you will not have a basic clear concept.

So back to basics here. The purpose is to harmonize with the ground, to land safely.

Why do judo people slap the mat? To help disperse the energy, to spread it out. So the method in Aikido is based on how to disperse and spread out the impact. Thus you can say you relax into the ground but you must have that concept of energy spreading out into the ground.

That's the technique of it, that's the basic, from which you can progress. Notice it is not how to resist the ground.

Now within that method, that technique there will be certain factors to take into account, like for instance tucking the head fore-ward for it is not conducive to hitting the floor. Also things like using the arms as in judo to displace the impact.

Two basic concepts of two different break-falls.

Now finally let's enter life shall we. Times where one is useful or has been useful and times where the other has or would.

You see, if you were to launch yourself over a low hedge or even a sudden ditch whilst running you would see the use of one. Even if you were to spring away from an oncoming vehicle to save your own life. Get the picture? Thus we see the fore-ward ukemi as something not often needed in life but useful whereas a backward roll or ukemi much more often needed or employed.

On the other hand when I hear people saying they don't like the 'high' break-falls I have to laugh for they have not seen what I describe above. All they mean is they don't like the idea of falling down straight from a great height. Well, nor do I, but the fixation on that leads you away from what one actually is. It's just how to harmonize with the ground when going down.

Now I would say that in life that has happened to you many times, it's unavoidable and thus from that perspective it's the most useful. Whether it's from tripping over backwards, being pushed over, etc. it's all straight down and that's the concept to grasp and the solution is as above. Add a bit of height to it and nothing changes, same principles, same solution. Less broken elbows, banged heads, bruised shoulders, cracked bones...... etc.etc.

So when you go down in Aikido you are doing one of the two types of fall described above so it's best to know that/

Regards.G..
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