When to introduce breakfalls
For the last couple of months, I have been following instinct, instead of conventional wisdom, and teaching my students breakfalls almost as soon as they come into the dojo. I'm wondering when others introduce it.
FWIW, I introduce breakfalls gingerly using a two inch spongy mat which I pull out over the regular Swain/Zebra style mats after warm ups for 10-12 reps. I take the students' hands in a cross grip and cradle their head in my other hand. On the count of 3, they go over with my lead and support. In class, I take care to demonstrate how to back roll, forward roll or breakfall out of each technique and how they go is their choice. I'm seeing students gravitate toward breakfalls much earlier than I would have thought.
(Also, FWIW, my first experience with UKEMI was at about 8 yrs old in summer camp when the counselors had an hour to kill and took us into the judo room to teach us OGOSHI. That falling ability served me very well for years into my aikido training. When younger, I always found breakfalls easier and less painful than rolls. In the last few years, my neck after a couple of injuries, doesn't like the impact and I've had to correct my rolls. In the last five years, I have seen about as many people take time out of training or even quit because of shoulder injuries trying to learn to roll. In most of the cases, I attribute most of these to the instructor demanding that students roll before they were ready (i.e., from Day One.) Other common denominators were middle age and overweight.)
Thanks for your responses.