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Break - Falling  - UKEMI


Left: A Judoka from the London Budokwai demonstrating a Forward Roll

Break Falling ( UKEMI) is the art of protecting yourself when thrown to the ground. It also comes in handy of you trip or slip.

Knowing how to land when thrown is vital in Martial arts training, but not all arts actually take the time to teach break falling in any form. 

For throwing arts like Jiu-Jitsu , Judo , Wrestling , MMA  and Akido it is a taught as part of the syllabus. Break falling teaches you how to impact the floor taking the energy  of the fall into your leading arm by slapping the floor with your hand and forearm before your body hits the deck.

Because in throwing styles like Jiu-jitsu and Judo the throws can be devastating as some experts can throw at a alarming rate with such force that failing to break fall can lead to serious injury and even knock you out. This is especially vital in Wrestling ,Judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu as many throws have the UKE being thrown from quite a height. MMA throws focus on taking the legs or from a stomach grab forcing the Opponent onto his or her back or front or from sweeps or hocks taking the legs from under the opponent.

Though Judo / Japanese Jiu-jitsu and Wrestling throws can be from grabbing higher or spinning the opponent over head or head over heels . Throws like the Hip Throw,Body Drop , Rice Bail ( though this apparently is banned in many clubs due to being dangerous) along with the  good old Crab Claw Scissors ( My Favourite)  will have a devastating effect on the opponent if the opponent does not break fall properly.  

You may ask why certain throws are deemed to dangerous to practise now, for the Rice Bail it's because the throw utilises the neck as well as the arm , to pull the opponent over the head of the attacker , done wrong in practise it can lead to neck injury and even spinal damage if not done with care and the opponent is not aware of his or her orientation. 

For the Crab Claw scissors it's because the closest part of the body to the floor once the throw is performed is the opponents head.

If your experienced in Break Falling you learn to keep your mouth closed ,push your tongue to the top and front of your mouth ( so you don't bite it off) and keep your chin on your chest so the back of your head does not hit the floor with your body weight pressing down on it. 

In reality these two throws performed on  a unsuspecting individual could render them Unconscious or even paralysed or dead. 

But in Training personally i loved these two devastating throws and i never minded them being performed on my good self. 


The art of Taking it

The art of taking it , is basically what UKEMI means . Ukemi is a art form in it self and should be practised as such. 

Differing types of throws impact the body in different ways. It depends on the type of throw , whether they be projection , fulcrum or non fulcrum throws. 

Some throws have the body impact the ground directly others like projection throws are where the attacker throws the UKE in a direction other then straight down. Projection throws need the Uke to be able roll well or spin. .

A wrist lock may take you down but spinning on your back in the opposite way of the lock can release the tension , allowing for a counter. 

In reality once you get a understanding of Break Falling and practise it your find that actually practising the break falling is harder then when performing the Break falling from being thrown on the mat. 

Get Orientated 

One of the main focuses in Ukemi is keeping yourself orientated through the throw, you have to understand in your head the direction your travelling in when being thrown. 

If you don't focus your get dizzy , possibly smack your head and want to go home before you started. 

By being focused you can actually have some control over the throw being performed on you , you tuck your body in a certain way , keep those knees of the ground and don't get them clashing into each other. 

Keep your mouth closed and your tongue pushed to the top and front of your mouth , don't start having a conversation while being tossed through the air. Your liable to bite off more then you bargained for. 

And lastly people breath , breathing out as you hit the deck helps again with relaxing the body , because the more tort the body is the more damage can occur. 


Types of Break-Fall

Rolling by The Snake - Previously on Greeneyedstealth wiki

Rolling or Break-falling
What ever art you train in the one thing i think all martial artists should be able to do is Break-fall and roll,as with many arts from Kung Fu ,Jiu-Jitsu,Judo Karate and my friends very own Ninjitsu .Break-falling can and in most cases save your life.

Why you might ask ,well i give you this i know of some one who many years ago while standing on a crowded train platform in London was pushed (accidentally )from behind ,because the platform was overcrowded due to delays.Now the train was coming in to the station at this point.In any normal scenario he would have been crushed by the train.But for one thing , he was a trained in the art of Jiujitsu so he new how to break-fall ,as he was pushed and fell forward he instantly went in to a classic break-fall position throwing his body backward , thus staying on the platform.
He lived to tell the tale and continues to teach his art.

Now of course there are various break-falls from the Roll in which you would Tuck in and roll across your shoulders on either left or right side (turning your head at the same time) Though some people roll completely forward over both Shoulders (watch Chuck Norris)

Second you have the side break-falls where you sweep your leg from one side of your body to the other and land smacking the mat with the same arm as the side of the leg you sweeped.

Thirdly you have spins ,in this you would have to be in a press up position and throw your arm through from one side of your body to the other with force ,thus creating you to spin.

In fourth position we have the back break-fall ,this is one where you land on your shoulder blades arching your back at the same time and smacking the ground with both arms which takes the force out of the fall.

Then comes the front break-fall (the one my friend used o save his life) Now with this it's done in a few ways ,in karate a lot are taught to just stand and fall forwards on to your arms and toes keeping your body off the floor.So for instance if you stood at the edge of a mat you would fall directly on to the mat.Now this is not one i would use as i shall explain the one that saved my friend. Now stand at the edge of the mat and as you fall throw your body backwards with your feet you should land with your hands in front of the mat thus moving your body away from danger.

Lastly we have the Fore-flap,like the back break-fall but to get in position you would take a position of your hands on the floor and roll over your head thus landing in a back break-fall. This basically a flip .

* This piece I wrote some years ago for a fellow artists site , A Ninjitsu focused site  called Greeneyedstealth. 

   He's a member of this site as well as i am of his. So if your into Ninjitsu this site has a lot of info as a dedicated Ninja site. Link         Below

Snakedojo UKEMI video N0'1

For all you Ninja's out there Greeneyedstealth is the place to learn all about the ninja art.