Staight to the hard stuff!
I read an article by Wolffe(?) in the Asian journal of Martial arts called something along the lines of "The Science of breakfalls" this instructor teaches breakfalls first then moves onto the more difficult rolls later. And the article even included a the ten exercises to do. I was sceptical to say the least. At the time a few of the students in the club were having trouble with the breakfall from kote gaeshi so I decided to give it ago..........I was asked to take a class and decided to do an experiment. The class had at least two raw beginners.
1) you place the person into the final position of the kote gaeshi breakfall, one leg bent one straight ankles of the ground etc.
2) you get them to slap teh mat as hard as they can in this position.
3) you place them on all fours squat beside them reach in under them and grasp the gi at the elbow and knee which are furthest away from you.
Keeping a firm grasp stand up quickly. This rotates the person along the spinal axis very quickly they then slap the mat and are in the same position as 1).
4) get them to now stand up and with one hand on a wall/partner they lift their back leg, keeping it as straight as possible which forces the body/head forward (heel is on the ground) however they are pushing against you/wall and so they feel safe and cannot fall (lose balance)
5)exact same as above but with you standing at their side gently holding their shoulder so that when their back leg up( still as straight as possible) which brings their torso forward (they look like a capital T) you keep them stable.( they are starting to feel what it is like to lose their balance)
6) see above however this time instead of holding their shoulder you hold the forearm. Which forearm? The same one as the rear leg which is coming up. Right leg being raised right forearm is held. If the Right rear leg is coming up you should be standing on their left side holding their right arm (as if you were doing kote gaeshi to them). SO they lean forward and you support there balance less than before so that they are keeping their balance. You are their to support if needed. (Again student is learning to take responsibility for their balance and become familiar with the feeling of losing it)
7) AS above but as the back leg comes up they raise onto their toes. Giving them even less balance. Again you offer support if needed.
8) AS ABOVE but you ask them to try and look at their rear foot as it is rising up from underneath. Back leg is coming up, torso/head is falling forward continue forward motion and they try to look at rear foot. Not surprisingly they lose their balance completly falling forward at which point you pull their forearm up a little to aid spin and they land with a slap again in position 1) Looks and feels like a kote gaeshi tobi ukemi.
9) AS ABOVE but you place their hand in kote gaeshi position ( telling them you are not going to offer as much support) they do the above exercise agian landing in position 1)
10) AS ABOVE but on their own this is very difficult for most people as it is truely a mental thing, even experienced people when asked to do this for the first time will end up doing a very large roll instead of letting their body leave the mat altogether. Try it, ask a member of your dojo to simply do a kote gaeshi flip on their own. It is important the torso motion is staight forward ,like a shomen with the body.The arm across the body cause the spinal rotation to allow them to land in position 1)
11) which isn't in the article but which I think is a nice way to finish. Tsuki kote gaeshi.
It is important to only do one side at a time. The whole thing takes about twenty minutes to do and needs to be repeated on both sides so the total time needed is about thirty minutes per person It is important that you do the exercises with each person or bring in a few experienced people to help you for one class.
It really does work I had two beginners taking ukemi from kote gaeshi as if they had been doing it for months. It really helped with their confidence from seeing something at the beginning of the class ( I demonstrated the breakfall) do being able to do it on their own without assistance at the end did wonders for them. I also had a number of other students come up and say how helpful it was to be taught that breakfall in a precise manner because in our club, like so many other, students are expected to find it for them selves which can be daunting to many.
Please try it out on a senior student to see what you think and if you like it give me your postal address and I will send you my copy of the magazine.