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Old 06-25-2002, 07:04 AM   #1
drDalek
 
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Mastering breakfalls

How long (in terms of number of hours of dojo time) did it take you to master the subtle art of breakfalling?

Last night I had my 3rd Aikido class so I am nowhere near any kind of hint of profeciency yet and I am still slamming my poor kidneys into the mat with each fall.

I just want to get a kind of general idea of how long it took the more advanced people on this forum to "get there"
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Old 06-25-2002, 07:57 AM   #2
Genex
 
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right well this thursday will be my THIRD aikido class and i think ive got breakfalling down, basicaly when i was younger i used the throw myself all over the place and i basicaly do the same here throw myself over and make sure i'm curled into kidof a ball nothing gets banged that way and i take the fall well.
also on some moves i invert my foot on the side i'm going to go down on (top of toes on mat) and roll out of it making contact with either my knee or thigh then back etc...
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Old 06-25-2002, 08:27 AM   #3
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, breakfalls are a subtle art that you progress at but never perfect. Just relax, breath, and enjoy the training. It comes. Some sooner, some of us later.

Sport psychology tells us that if you just focus on training (process oriented) using the goal only as a direction (not a point of focus) you will actual progress faster.

Until again,

Lynn

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 06-25-2002, 08:45 AM   #4
erikmenzel
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A lot of the students at our club would argue that I am there.

Unfortunatly I could not disagree more. After 10 years of training I still think there is so much to improve in my breakfalls and I still actively train breakfalls and ukemi everyday.

The perspective you have on your own actions always keeps pase with your own improvement. Sometimes looking back on what you already achieved helps to get your progress in the right perspective again.

Erik Jurrien Menzel
kokoro o makuru taisanmen ni hirake
Personal:www.kuipers-menzel.com
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Old 06-25-2002, 09:38 AM   #5
akiy
 
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"Master" is such a loaded word... I can say that I certainly haven't "mastered" breakfalls yet; I'm still very much finding things I need to work on, especially in learning how to soften them up whenever possible.

As far as developing the ability to effectively do them, it shouldn't take too much time as long as you're in OK physical condition. The timespan, though, depends person to person so I wouldn't compare yourself to others -- just like in the rest of aikido.

The thing with breakfalls that I've found is that when people are having problems with them, they tend to end up in a vicious cycle: they try a breakfall, they do it incorrectly (eg land wrong), they find incorrect breakfalls hurt (thereby developing anxiety/fear for them), they tense up the next time they have to breakfall, and this makes the next breakfall hurt even more. And so on into a cycle.

When I see people developing this way, I usually get them to start working from the ground up -- working with the landing position, doing some exercises "on the ground" to develop the landing position, getting their body to accept that position, working into that position froma forward roll, doing some "low breakfall" exercises so they actually land into that position without any pain, and so on.

You'll get to them in time. No rush.

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Old 06-25-2002, 02:31 PM   #6
Bronson
 
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Journal of Asian Martial Arts
Volume 8, Number 3 1999
ISSN 1057-8385

contact them at

This particular issue has an excellent article on learning breakfalls. The drills and exercises they use are easy to follow and progressive.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 06-25-2002, 03:41 PM   #7
Jim ashby
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breakfalls

I too would'nt call myself a master of breakfalls but the fear of falling was replaced by the joy of flying in a few months.Purely down to the high level of instruction available to me.
Have fun.

Vir Obesus Stola Saeptus
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Old 06-25-2002, 03:42 PM   #8
Erik
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Re: Mastering breakfalls

Quote:
Originally posted by drDalek
How long (in terms of number of hours of dojo time) did it take you to master the subtle art of breakfalling?
Six months before I got a good one. Two years before I felt really comfortable. A whole bunch more before I felt really good at it. I'm a glass empty guy though.

Quote:
Last night I had my 3rd Aikido class so I am nowhere near any kind of hint of profeciency yet and I am still slamming my poor kidneys into the mat with each fall.

I just want to get a kind of general idea of how long it took the more advanced people on this forum to "get there"
I think it can go a lot faster than it did for me. I really don't like how I was taught to do them as the methodology was not very well defined.

However, your mileage will vary. Some people don't do them for years others do it much quicker. It also depends on your physical condition, athletic ability and inclination. In other words, there is no clean answer. I certainly wouldn't expect you to breakfall after 3 classes and I wouldn't even expect you to do a forward roll at that point either.
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Old 06-25-2002, 04:43 PM   #9
Mona
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Re: Mastering breakfalls

Quote:
Originally posted by drDalek

Last night I had my 3rd Aikido class so I am nowhere near any kind of hint of profeciency yet and I am still slamming my poor kidneys into the mat with each fall.
Stop right there! Third class? Be patient, VERY patient. I've been training for a year and I haven't STARTED TO breakfall without hurting myself until last week. As for mastering it, well...I'll get back to you in another year.

blessings,

~ Mona
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Old 06-25-2002, 08:03 PM   #10
MaylandL
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Quote:
Originally posted by erikknoops
After 10 years of training I still think there is so much to improve in my breakfalls and I still actively train breakfalls and ukemi everyday.

Ditto.

There is still much that I have to learn about ukemi, of which breakfalls is one element. Ukemi training is an important part of the training routine at the dojo that I attend.

Quote:
Originally posted by akiy


"Master" is such a loaded word... I can say that I certainly haven't "mastered" breakfalls yet; I'm still very much finding things I need to work on, especially in learning how to soften them up whenever possible.
Absolutely agree with that. One important aspect I find that I need to constantly work on is sensing where Nage is taking my balance and the direction. Keeping conencted to Nage is important training.

Happy training

Mayland
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Old 06-25-2002, 09:40 PM   #11
batemanb
 
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I have been training for a bit over ten years now and am constantly looking for ways to improve my ukemi. Back in the UK, our dojo had foam mats, they were a lot more forgiving than the much harder tatami mats that I train on here. I think that this created a bit of a false impression that I could do ukemi in the first place, yes I could do it well on the foam, and the once or twice a week I tried on the wood floor, it hurt a bit but I figured I would only be doing it on ultra hard surfaces in an emergency and I could deal with that .

When I first trained in Japan, the first thing I noticed was that certain parts of the body picked up more bruising than I had ever experienced before, and it wouldn`t go away (unless I stopped training ) . It made for very difficult training, as one became hesitant to do more ukemi for fear of adding to the pain. I also noticed that my ukemi was a lot louder over here and that my knees and feet were taking a bit of a pounding along with the base of my back and shoulders, especially the base of the back. I knew that I had to do something about it quickly otherwise I was gonna have to jack it in (or find a nother dojo with nice foam mats ).

I began by watching other members of the dojo and noticed one or two of them doing incredibly soft soundless ukemi, no matter how hard or from what height they were thrown, can only describe them as feathers blowing across the floor. They are just so relaxed and flexible, they seem to suspend themselves in the air. I knew that that is what I wanted to be like.

That`s a lot easier said than done, being a lanky streak at 6ft 2" with restricted flexibility (old back injury and too much soccer in my youth) doesn`t actually make it very easy to do ukemi to begin with. It`s a lot further down to the floor, I can`t fold my body as small as they can, long legs create a whipping effect as you rotate which contributes to the extra noise and impact, if someone does a good job of unbalancing me, the body can be compromised to a point that makes it very difficult to shift weight and get into a position to do ukemi (which can also hurt a lot with over zealous tori`s). So much to think about and work on, trying not to let relaxing the body become confused with going limp (very important). I have been working on this for a while now, the three parts that I try and focus on most are, 1. keeping my arm from collapsing (too easy to do) as I "relax" , 2. drawing my knees in and keeping them as close to my chest as possible when I am in the air (too easy to forget), and 3. getting myself into a position to do the ukemi, as low to the ground as possible, without giving uke the technique or just going with it.

I still feel the rolls, especially when tired, or at a gasshuku doing a whole day of keiko, but I do feel I have made a little progress, I don`t carry the bruising that I did this time last year , and last night I found myself doing some painless over arm ukemi`s from shihonage and kotegaeshi with my very short hair just brushing the floor (no two foot gap between) as I went through the roll (now I`ve got to concentrate on getting over quicker, to not hit the floor with the back ).

I think ukemi is a technique that can/will develop and change over the years as much as any of the other Aiki waza. like all of them, it takes time and practice

That`s just part of my continuing experience with ukemi . I hope that it helps in some way.

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 06-26-2002, 02:53 PM   #12
giriasis
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I has taken me almost three years to get comfortable with breakfalls, yet I wouldn't call that mastery. I had a bad training expereince on my second day of aikido (in my old school) which created a major mental block against doing ukemi. From that point it took me two months to learn to roll and about another year to be comfortable with rolling. Once I got comfortablew with rolling and once I wanted to start re-learning to breakfall, I took the time to work with some sempai to get over the breakfall mental block.

My ability to do ukemi or breakfalls didn't have much to do with pain or my body type. It was just learning to trust my body and my partner. And it was a matter of patience and time. I was lucky to find a good school that doesn't push us into doing breakfalls right away and that doesn't make breakfalling a standard of "aikido ability".

Just don't rush yourself, espeically if you feel uncomfortable with them. Focus on your rolls since a breakfall is a roll in the air. I found that by focusing on my rolls learning the breakfalls came a little easier.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 06-26-2002, 05:08 PM   #13
shihonage
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Re: Re: Mastering breakfalls

Quote:
Originally posted by Mona


Stop right there! Third class? Be patient, VERY patient. I've been training for a year and I haven't STARTED TO breakfall without hurting myself until last week. As for mastering it, well...I'll get back to you in another year.
Nice to see you on Aikiweb, Mona
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Old 06-26-2002, 07:32 PM   #14
Bruce Baker
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Breakfalls

Everytime you get up from a fall with little to no pain, you have mastered a breakfall ... and every time you do not, you have not mastered a breakfall.

You need to relax, practice meeting the mat instead of trying to bounce, or create a stronger harder force than the you need to fall.

When you begin to relax, meet the mat, and learn how to redirect the force of hitting the ground ... then it will get easier and easier to take higher and higher falls.

Even the best at ukemi, take a bad fall now and then ... what you learn from it is more important than worrying if it is a good or bad ukemi.

Keep at it, but if you are injured, or hurt from taking falls, modify your practice, or falls until you mind and body get the hang of falling from higher heights, or at faster speeds.

It will happen quicker the more you relax, or make your partner slow down to let you get caught up to a higher training level.

I have an imbalance disease that forces me to modify rolls or falls for half the class, but I still insist that my partners perform the full motion just into the throw or falls. It does work, and sometimes they see something they missed by trying to get to the end of the technique too quickly.

So, if your are having trouble, speak up, and I am sure they, your class partners or teacher will find a way to modify the falls until they become comfortable.
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Old 06-26-2002, 11:59 PM   #15
Abasan
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If it would help you, I used to wear a jacket (cotton padded) and rolled on tarmac roads on the way back from classes back when I first started aikido. It helped with my front rolls. As for breakfalls (front flips), I think you should only progress to that after being comfortable with flying rolls and landing on one hand, crooked elbow and shoulder progression.

Back rolls, just start from kneeling position and learn to kick over your shoulders. That basic principle will help you with your back rolls from standing position because you really need momentum to make it work nice. Back breakfalls, well, requires some confidence. Start from squatting and have someone look out for you. They will notice if you're misaligned or if your head is not properly tucked in.

Side breakfalls. After you get your back breakfalls down pat, it shouldn't be a prob to do side breakfalls. I wouldn't rush it though...

Btw, take special care of your knees. When you land on the foot, make sure your toes are aligned forwards and not to the side. If you're landing hard on the the feet (which is not advisable) try to land on the balls of the feet and not the ankles. When you land on the floor with your whole body and side of the legs, there will be some impact to the knees... wearing knee pads/supports might not be a bad idea.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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