Breakfalling is a fantastic thing to manage if you do judo where it is essential to protect yourself when you are falling from a throw.
Japanese ukemi (also known as break falling or ‘receiving a fall’) consists of a number of elements. The aim is simply to minimise the damaging effect of a fall (typically from a throw).
Principle 1 – Protect your weak areas
To avoid any impact on areas of the body susceptible to damage from percussive impact. This can be read broadly as anything that is a bony protrusion and/or joint – e.g. skull, wrist, knee. This is accomplished by either positioning the area of the body away from the impact surface (e.g. tilt your head away from the floor) or adopting a shape that naturally protects the area (most joint for example sit in natural recesses between muscles).
Principle 2 – Take a small hit everywhere rather than a big hit somewhere
To spread any impact across a large surface area. This reduces the force applied to any particular area reducing the chance of injury.
Principle 3 – Conserve the perpendicular
When falling down, there may be some other movement going on perpendicular to the impact surface. For example someone could be thrown forward or backward through the air. Whilst gravity will inevitably pull them down, this other movement has to be accounted for. This is where rolling to conserve momentum and regain control comes in. The larger this perpendicular movement, the more rolling will come into play and the more dominant it will become in the technique compared to the component that is working to minimise the impact on the surface itself.
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