Guest post by Daniel Vaughan UCLA undergraduate, judo brown belt under Mike Verdugo and BJJ GF Team black belt under Master Julio Cesar Pereira. Daniel is an instructor at M3Fight Academy.
What is the single move that is applicable for every person? It’s the breakfall. Who hasn’t fallen in their life?
Falling from a climb at Mt. Everest at an altitude of 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) above sea level? You tuck, roll and breakfall. Parachute doesn’t open during your skydive? Better breakfall. Get pushed out of the Empire State building? You better breakfall, just kidding.
In all seriousness, 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.
One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones (wrist, arms, and hips) and head injury.
These injuries can all be avoided by proper technique, the breakfall. If executed correctly, you can avoid broken wrists and arms by not posting which is the natural human reaction. Tucking the head can greatly reduce the chance of head injury and falling on your body in the right way can also reduce hip injury.
Here are a few ways to break fall performed by Matt D’Aquino, a two-time Australian judo champion and multiple-time Oceanian champion for his respective division
Sideways (Yoko Ukemi)
Backwards (Yushiro Ukemi)
Forward (Mawari 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).
If you haven’t been practicing your break falls, maybe it’s time to go back and take another look at them. Bonus footage below on concrete.