The importance of breakfalls as an amputee (read: I fell over, and didn’t mangle myself this time :P)

Hmmm, definitely a candidate for “longest heading ever” on this blog 😛

Anywho, just a quick one to start off this morning – last night while getting ready for bed my stupid foot decided to weird out and my leg collapsed beneath me out of nowhere, throwing myself flat on my back without warning. In what is a pretty crazy outcome, the brief breakfall training I’ve had instinctively came into play without even thinking about it – I tucked my head in, braced my belly to reinforce my lower back, stuck my arm out and went with the flow of the movement rather than trying to fight it. The end result was that I ended up on my back, but didn’t crack my head against any hard objects (a bit of a miracle fluke if you ask me) or wind myself. Mind, I was trying to come to bed discreetly as my wife was asleep and I was trying to avoid waking her up (especially as I got distracted doing stuff online instead of being a dutiful husband and coming to bed earlier ;)), but wake up she did – bolted upright in a freakout-ish state of mind. First thing I said was “I’m not hurt”, but think about it – how trippy would it be that you suddenly snap awake despite being deeply asleep to see your other half just collapse without warning and for no apparent reason? I think she did better than I would have to be completely honest, maybe after all these years she’s starting to well and truly expect the unexpected with my ability to fall over at will 😛

Thankfully now that its the next day, I don’t think I’ve sported any injuries. So far my muscles are a bit achy, which could also be due to training on Wednesday night, and one of my wrists is a little sore, but apart from that I’m fine. I’m just damn lucky that I didn’t hit my head or back against anything on the way down. Will totally be calling and making an appointment asap sometime during the day, the last thing we need is for me to tempt fate any further with this mangled foot!

So, moral of this story – learning proper breakfalls for the general populace is definitely a good thing, but for amputees who might be a little accident prone like yours truly, they might just be an essential technique in your toolkit for scenarios like this. I’m just so glad that Sensei had us work on them last month, came in very handy!!!

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Breakfalls

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.

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