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Old 01-08-2006, 01:37 PM   #1
Anne Fournier
Dojo: Paris
Location: Paris
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France
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breakfall

Hi there
I have been practicing aikido only for a few months (already addict though!) but we have just begun doing breakfalls in one of the class and I have no idea how to do that without breaking my back. Any tips? (anything really is welcome )
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Old 01-08-2006, 02:27 PM   #2
Ben Eaton
Dojo: Loughborough Uni
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Re: breakfall

Been practising a few months and they're just teaching you now? I got taught on my first lesson how to fall over properly.

Take it slow, and take it low.
That's the best advice I can think of, even though I've been doing it for under a year. And keep the arm unbendable (that's what my sensei always says), if it bends you can end up with some nasty collarbone injuries.
Confidence is also a major factor, you have to be confident enough to do the fall, people who aren't end up trying to *save* themselves and go down wrong.
Sorry I can't give too much specific advice, just keep trying and ask your sensei, it's always best to ask first and breakfall properly instead of breakfall wrong and ask "What did I do wrong?" in the ambulance.
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Old 01-08-2006, 03:09 PM   #3
giriasis
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Re: breakfall

Quote:
Anne Fournier wrote:
Hi there
I have been practicing aikido only for a few months (already addict though!) but we have just begun doing breakfalls in one of the class and I have no idea how to do that without breaking my back. Any tips? (anything really is welcome )

Keep working on your rolls, and your breakfalling skill will follow naturally. Allow yourself to be relaxed and not think about whatever is going through your head at the time. It's understandable that you think you will break your back, but that won't happen. Let that thought go and just do it. Also, focus on the basics that you're taught in your school such as learning how to slap out and the proper body positioning. Also, try grabbing a sempai in your class to help you out before or after class.

I also found watching ukemi videos helped, too. The ones by Donovan Waite and Bruce Bookman are both very good. Bookman's videos focuses more on the traditional breakfall and Waite's focuses on "soft breakfalls." Depending on what is taught in your school one might be better than the other. Ask someone in your dojo for advice as which to choose. Go into the video reviews on this site and you can find links to them. Also, a lot people her recommend the Ellis Amdur video, too.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 01-08-2006, 08:13 PM   #4
Aiki Teacher
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland , TX
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Re: breakfall

We have bee practicing soft high falls in our dojo. Jun has a great video on the soft breakfall and there was a great thread on the topic for awhile.

http://www.aikiweb.net/videos/ukemi/softbreakfall1.mpg
http://www.aikiweb.net/videos/ukemi/softbreakfall2.mpg
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Old 01-09-2006, 05:17 AM   #5
Anne Fournier
Dojo: Paris
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France
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Re: breakfall

Thank you all for your advice. (Happy to make you laugh, Ben! It seems like in many French dojos we don't do breakfalls until it's completely necessary and we'd rather roll - but that might be just some French particularism of ours )
Your videos are great Johnny - do you have anything similar for the back breakfall ? That would be awesome.
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Old 01-09-2006, 07:43 AM   #6
ian
 
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Re: breakfall

Breathing out before contact with mat is the number 1 best thing. try to make yourself 'round' i.e. you want the force to be distributed as evenly as possible across your body so no one part takes all the force (although to some extent slapping the mat is designed to do the opposite - to take force out of the rest of your body and concentrate it in your forearm).

As said above, good rolls lead to good breakfalls. Also, much of it is getting used to the movement when orientated in a strange position (upside down). If you are scared, try doing a breakfall over someone on their hands and knees (as you would with a roll) and then progress to standing - holding on to each others forearm (allows person standing to keep your head off the floor).

Good luck!

P.S. best to do rolls in preference to breakfalls - too many breakfalls really shock the brain (I felt punch drunk from it once!)

Last edited by ian : 01-09-2006 at 07:47 AM.

---understanding aikido is understanding the training method---
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Old 01-09-2006, 08:54 AM   #7
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
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Re: breakfall

Hi Anne, even though I think it is a curious concept to ask strangers for tips, when you practice with a teacher. My advice would be similar to Ben's, start low and slow. Building confidence is the most important thing. If you go too far too fast and sustain pain or injury, it sets back your progress enormously, as the mind creates tension through fear of repeated pain. Tension is the last thing you need when making good ukemi. So relax, enjoy your practice, take it steady, and you will get there. I practice with a lady who is in her late 70's ( possibly even 80 by now ). Her warm up routine on getting onto the mat is to perform about a dozen forward rolls! - There's hope for us all.
Good luck
Mark
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Old 01-10-2006, 01:59 PM   #8
odudog
Dojo: Dale City Aikikai
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Re: breakfall

If you are landing on your back, then it is telling you that you are not going over at the proper angle. If you go over at the proper angle, then you will land on your side and not your back. The forward rolls that everyone is telling you to practice is the key. All a breakfall is, is a forward roll or jump depending on how far nage is throwing you but up in the air. I was scared going up in the air for I was worried that I would land on my head which means then that my body is not rotating fast enough over my head. So when you get confident and want to try it in the air, make sure you get enough momemtum so that you don't land on your head.
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Old 01-10-2006, 04:51 PM   #9
Faith Hansen
 
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Re: breakfall

Anne-

It's not just a French thing. We don't take breakfalls unless necessary also (i'm in USA). We have a good number of older students, and it is very hard on them. Plus why breakfall when you can roll? Also my own feeling on this is that if you train in only throwing people into things they have to breakfall out of and you end up using this same technique in a defense/street situation....do you think the person is going to breakfall or get their arm/shoulder broken. I would like to train to be able to defend myself without having to break someone. BUT, I know how if I need to.

Just my thought.

-Fae
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Old 01-10-2006, 07:45 PM   #10
Sreyan
Dojo: New England Aikikai
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Re: breakfall

Good Ukemi is something that takes a lot of time to develop. But as Ian said, breathing out through the contact period, as it is essential for preventing getting the wind knocked out of you, and reducing unnessescary tension. Good rolling ukemi is a good place to start, since effective side breakfalls rely on being on a side to protect the spine, just like a roll which goes from shoulder to opposite hip.

If your uncomfortable just tossing yourself over i suggest you start low, or do progressive exercises. I did the following progressive exercises, and i have yet to do more.

Timing, Breath, Power, contact area
1. To develop effective timing hip rotation, and breath for the "impact" portion of the break fall, a standard judo exercise is to attemp to sit down on one leg. The last animation at the JudoInfo page on ukemi has this exercise.

Breath Power
2. Once you have the hip rotation aspect of the slap down and the kiai, you can progress to a parter holding one leg at waist level, and lifting your other leg into their arms. this takes more as you are fully airborne.

Motion
3. After being able to do the above exercise, do the exercises Ian suggested.
Quote:
Also, much of it is getting used to the movement when orientated in a strange position (upside down). If you are scared, try doing a breakfall over someone on their hands and knees (as you would with a roll) and then progress to standing - holding on to each others forearm (allows person standing to keep your head off the floor)
For me at least, hesitation was an issue, so i would count to 3 and then toss my self over

Fluidity
4. After you are very comfortable you can progress to mild kotegaeshi throws. As you get more advanced, fluidity will progress, and you will be able to fall without needing the counting.

After that you can work on more advanced things like rolling through like a yoko kaiten, or reaching for the ground early to do soft breakfalls.

It took me 1.5 months of doing 1. and 2. daily before the dizzyness, and stining dimished significantly. But, you will be able to breakfall on concrete without breaking your arm, and Honestly, its much better to have a broken arm, then not being able to feel your entire body.
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Old 01-15-2006, 03:07 AM   #11
kokyu
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Re: breakfall

I'm writing this post to ask about breakfalls (or flips) where uke seems to get up almost instantaneously after hitting the mat. I often see this in public demonstrations. It appears the trick lies in the slap, because uke gets up almost immediately after slapping the mat, but I suspect it has also some connection with the feet position. Unfortunately (as usual), the hakama hides the feet, so I can't see how the feet are landing.

Thanks

Last edited by kokyu : 01-15-2006 at 03:17 AM.
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Old 01-15-2006, 11:54 AM   #12
roosvelt
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Re: breakfall

Quote:
Soon-Kian Phang wrote:
I'm writing this post to ask about breakfalls (or flips) where uke seems to get up almost instantaneously after hitting the mat. I often see this in public demonstrations. It appears the trick lies in the slap, because uke gets up almost immediately after slapping the mat, but I suspect it has also some connection with the feet position. Unfortunately (as usual), the hakama hides the feet, so I can't see how the feet are landing.

Thanks
Practice, practice and practice. Correct technique, strong abdominal muscle, and cooperative nage. The other leg doesn't have to touch mat to reduce impact, but to touch mat to get up.
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Old 01-29-2006, 01:38 AM   #13
kokyu
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Re: breakfall

I have this on-off problem where my calves slam into the mat... it's quite painful and I'm wondering why it happens. Could be it be due to my slapping arm not doing enough to cushion the impact?

Thanks.
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Old 01-29-2006, 06:28 PM   #14
roosvelt
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Re: breakfall

1. Ask your sensei. It beats any remote debug.

2. My calf never really touches the mat in the compact. You sure have serious problem. Again, ask your sensei, who can debug on spot in a few second.

3. I suspect that you're doing more horizontal roll than a vertical roll. Kick up your leg vertically up may help.
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Old 01-29-2006, 06:51 PM   #15
kokyu
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Re: breakfall

Quote:
Roosvelt Freeman wrote:
1. Ask your sensei. It beats any remote debug.

2. My calf never really touches the mat in the compact. You sure have serious problem. Again, ask your sensei, who can debug on spot in a few second.

3. I suspect that you're doing more horizontal roll than a vertical roll. Kick up your leg vertically up may help.
Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, this problem doesn't happen all the time, so it's not an easily reproducible 'bug'. However, it does hurt. (3) could be the problem... I sometimes forget to kick vertically.
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Old 01-29-2006, 10:48 PM   #16
Abasan
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Re: breakfall

I think the only time you can employ a breakfall like that (the one that gets up immediately after impact) is at a dojo. Its the impact probably "impulse force" i forget the term exactly, that helps you up. That kind of impact on concrete flooring will probably hurt a lot. I still think the best breakfall is one that you can roll out off.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 01-30-2006, 07:09 PM   #17
kokyu
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Re: breakfall

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote:
I think the only time you can employ a breakfall like that (the one that gets up immediately after impact) is at a dojo. Its the impact probably "impulse force" i forget the term exactly, that helps you up. That kind of impact on concrete flooring will probably hurt a lot.
You're probably right... I've only seen this in clips where proper mats are being used.

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote:
I still think the best breakfall is one that you can roll out off.
I guess you are referring to doing a roll rather than slamming the mat.
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Old 04-01-2006, 07:58 PM   #18
kokyu
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Re: breakfall

Many people have said that one should do a forward roll using tori's energy - i.e. don't roll by yourself, but use tori's forward energy to propel yourself forward.

Having said this though, I find this doesn't quite work with flips... I still have to kick upwards - i.e. add my own energy, rather than relying solely on tori's forward push. Is my understanding correct?

Also, after studying some videos, it appears that some ukes point their legs up when flipping, but their shoulders are parallel to the floor... i.e. their backs are flat to the ground but their legs are pointed upwards. Again is this correct?

Making one's body vertical with the kick looks nice, but I'm guessing the impact is going to be much harder... Also, keeping the shoulders parallel to the ground seems to make it easier to slap the mat with the free arm.

Thanks.
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Old 04-02-2006, 10:52 AM   #19
Lyle Bogin
Dojo: Shin Budo Kai
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Re: breakfall

A good nage (tori) makes a good breakfall possible I think. I've experimented with "easy" throws and there's a point at which nage's gentleness becomes almost a danger.
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Old 04-02-2006, 06:47 PM   #20
nathansnow
 
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Re: breakfall

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote:
I think the only time you can employ a breakfall like that (the one that gets up immediately after impact) is at a dojo. Its the impact probably "impulse force" i forget the term exactly, that helps you up. That kind of impact on concrete flooring will probably hurt a lot. I still think the best breakfall is one that you can roll out off.
Rolling out is always the best option, but it may not be there... therefore, your breakfalls need to be good enough to take a fall on concrete and be able to get right back up with no injuries.

Nathan Snow
Michigan
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Old 04-05-2006, 01:19 PM   #21
Skribbles
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Talking Re: breakfall

k well let me start by saying ive only done one so im of course an expert(sarcasim)... lol anywho the one i did was with my sensai's help what we did was grab each others forarms and stood together like an L with him on the left and me on the bottom ... if ya see what im saying what we did was we moved my arm up and into my stomach (not hard) like 3 times and on the 3rd time i jumped over my arm and landed correct ... well not entirely i had my legs a little too closed and hurt myself there.. hehe but other than that it worked... was cool though because i had absolute trust in my teacher if he told me i could jump off a cliff and be ok id believe him *shrugs* either way it worked... ive changed dojo's since then... he stopped teaching for awhile and me and my gf decided to move up north... i like the dojo im currently at but i dunno how they teach breakfalls... im much more comfortable with my ukemi now though than when i last tried a breakfall

either way goodluck and you might want to try this... then again you might not

-Skribbles
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Old 04-05-2006, 07:41 PM   #22
kaishaku
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Re: breakfall

Here's an interesting fall I've tried recently: Sumi gaeshi from a front headlock.

Here it's shown from a collar/elbow grab, but just imagine white had blue in a headlock instead.
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~judo/throws/sumi-gaeshi.htm

Don't bang your head on the mat!
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Old 04-08-2006, 08:28 PM   #23
Tambreet
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Re: breakfall

Quote:
Brian Dunlap wrote:
k well let me start by saying ive only done one so im of course an expert(sarcasim)... lol anywho the one i did was with my sensai's help what we did was grab each others forarms and stood together like an L with him on the left and me on the bottom
-Skribbles
I'm also far from an expert... our senseis use this same technique at our dojo, but before we get to that point, we do a number of other things to build up to it.

First, we just lie on the mat in proper breakfall/sidefall position, with sensei making corrections as needed.

After that, we roll to the other side, slapping each time and again making sure we are in the correct position every time. We do that a number of times, eventually trying to get as much "air" as possible when changing sides.

Next, we get in a squatting position and land in sidefall, and then a do the same from standing. After that, sometimes we do rollouts.

After doing all that, we do the L thing, counting 1-2-3 before falling. After all those sidefalls and build up, the feeling of pushing the hips up and extending through the head/heel are so ingrained, that it really seems to make it easier.
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Old 04-13-2006, 11:34 AM   #24
Koren Ko
 
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Re: breakfall

Err...Just a question.

When can one be sure that he/she has mastered the breakfall or flip?
Anyone can breakfall after awhile, but when will one knows the fall is correct and perfect?
Your Sensei may say that you have done it correctly, but somehow you still think it is incorrect?
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Old 04-13-2006, 12:27 PM   #25
Eric Webber
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Re: breakfall

Not sure about "mastering" a breakfall, but if you can land in a position where you can get back up without pain, damage or injury, you're doing okay. I think the breakfall should be relatively graceful and controlled throughout; if you feel out of control at any point - probably needs some work.
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