Last night I had my first instruction on the ancient art of ground-slapping, also known as breakfalls. Having been interested in learning this for a while, and having observed the art of falling to the floor with as much utility as possible in such a situation, it was great to have the chance to learn this properly. In short, breakfalls are awesome 🙂
Not that I’m all that good at them – my technique is generally pretty shonky, but I figure I’m just starting, and I can get in plenty of practice between classes if I feel like subjecting myself to deliberately falling over. The theory behind breakfalls is relatively simple – transfer the energy through to the ground from your fall and be as flexible as possible in order to avoid immediate injury and recover as quickly as possible. This means to not resist the fall (tensing up incorrectly means you’re not as malleable when it comes to rolling through to recovery), clamp your mouth shut and move your tongue out of harm’s way, tuck your head into your chest, and slap the ground with your palm and arm extended horizontally. The latter is one of the keys to successfully transferring energy from your fall and into the ground, lessening the impact to your back/shoulders and assisting with a swift recovery. It’s a simple rule, but is surprisingly effective in lessening the impact.
My biggest problem with breakfalls (and ground rolls as well) is that I forget to tuck my head in, which means I jar my neck on impact, which gives me head-spins and the beginnings of a throbbing headache afterwards. If I do extra practice between classes, this is where I need to really focus my energy – I can get over sore muscles or a sore palm, but a jarred head/neck is painful.
The great thing is that sensei instructed how we can practice the techniques solo if we want to, which works well for me fitting in some practice between classes.
So yes, a big fan of breakfalls. As part of the technique, we were also taught a very basic throw, which was also awesome. I’ve always wanted to know how to do throws because I think they’re cool, and the simple one we learnt was good fun. Much to my relief, I was even able to pull it off, though I think my footwork differed a bit from everyone else because of my leg. I’d like to practice this stuff more in the future, it was great fun 🙂
Anywho, might sign off here – I’ll try and add another post tomorrow as well, as we have a special karate seminar tonight. I’ve never been to one of these before, so I’m looking forward to it. Will post my impressions of it tomorrow.