Why Practicing Breakfalls Should Be One Of The First Things You Learn In BJJ

Why Practicing Breakfalls Should Be One Of The First Things You Learn In BJJ



Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art dedicated to fighting on the ground. But regardless of this all competition matches start standing and in addition to it in any street type scenario it would be beyond useful to know how to defuse a fall.

In bjj we often start from the knees and breakfalls can sometimes fall by the wayside. However breakfalls can save your life in actual real life situation, in competition and in every day training.

You might remember Garry Tonon’s match with the ginormous Rousimar Palhares, but what you may not know is that a crucial part of the preparation for this camp was ukemi.

80-year-old Judo instructor Credits Ukemi For His Long Career

Danaher shared his thoughts about Ukemi (break falls) and the art of countering big throws and slams:

Ukemi is the skill of taking or receiving a throw or fall. It is a truly crucial combat skill that must be mastered for a simple reason – the most catastrophic injuries in the sport do not come from submission holds – they come from falling body weight landing in an unsafe fashion. The forces created by the weight of your entire body falling at speed into the floor are far, far greater than even the best applied submission hold.


The breakfall is the most important and applicable move in all aspects of life. Slip and fall in the kitchen? Hopefully you learned to breakfall. Is it an icy winter and while you’re shoveling snow you slip? Breakfall. Walking a trail and trip? Tuck, roll and breakfall. This technique applies to other martial arts. If you are swept in muay thai and post on your glove, you’re looking at a broken wrist or arm.

From just this snippet it’s easy to see how proper breakfalls will enable you to:

  • protect yourself
  • protect your training partners
  • have more confidence in competition
  • get better much quicker
  • gain confidence for real life altercations

And if you think we’re over stating the self defense angle – we’re really not:

Here’s some drills that could help you figure out the proper movement for ukemi:

Some key points in all the break falls to protect yourself: tuck your head and one or both arms palm strike downward at a 45° angle to the body. Let your feet and hands absorb the fall when they strike the surface (further details on the techniques).



What Would Happen If You Trained As Much Standing As on the ground