If there is one thing that I have learned through training, teaching, doing stunts, fitness, and martial arts, it’s that what you do in the gym, dojo or studio, you will do in real life. What you practice on a regular basis you will utilize in real life situations. Self-defense training teaches you movements to help you detract attackers in a multitude of scenarios, so why shouldn’t your workouts and other movements do so as well?
I believe that all your training should involve doing things in a way that protects your body as much as possible. In real life situations (and in staged, stunt situations like the ones I’ve dealt with in the past), you never know if you will have grass, concrete, gravel, or water underneath you; you have to be prepared to throw your body into anything. One movement that applies to both martial arts and real life situations is the Breakfall. If done correctly, you can do it on any surface without injury or discomfort.
The Modified Breakfall
The Breakfall is the most basic movement learned in tumbling as well as in nearly every Martial Art. Through performing stunts and seeking to minimize pain and injury, I have learned a different way to perform the Breakfall that is more protective and enables a softer landing (not to say that the normal way is wrong, this is just one more way to do it). The biggest difference between a standard Breakfall and the Modified Breakfall is the addition of a counter-balancing hip and leg movement and the removal of the ground-slapping arm movement. These two differences will allow you to set yourself up to quickly get back on your feet, as well as avoid pain and injury to your arms no matter what surface you’re on. Here’s how to do it:
1) Start off in a standing position.
2) Lower your body into a deep squat. Tuck your chin to your chest and keep your arms close to your body.
3) Roll your body down starting with your butt and letting your back roll through.
4) At the apex of the roll, shoot your legs diagonally to stop your momentum and divert your energy in the other direction.
5) Drop your hips, bend your legs, and round your back as your feet fall from the apex.
6) Put your feet flat on the ground, roll through onto your heels, and stand up.
Once you have the basic, try doing it a bit faster and/or add a jump to start the process. Keep up this pace on regular mats, then move onto grass, then try cement.
When you finally move to non-smooth surfaces (concrete, gravel, etc.) you will know how your body moves, keeping your arms in means no scratches/wounds to your hands and arms, and it gives you the ability to hop back up into position. First time through, make sure to wear a longer sleeve shirt.
Watch Anthony Eisenhower's Modified Breakfall Tutorial
This article was featured in the Oct/Nov 2011 Issue of the My Mad Methods Magazine. "Taking it to the Street: Applying Bodyweight Drills Outside the Gym" was written by the Anthony Eisenhower. Learn more about the My Mad Methods Magazine by Clicking Here
Brood 9 Martial Arts Head Instructor Anthony Eisenhower has over 15 years of experience studying, practicing and teaching martial arts including Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Coju-jitsu, Capoeira, Kenpo Karate, Gung Fu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Pankration. Anthony studied gymnastics at L.A. Valley College and dance at Loyola Marymount University with the purpose of increasing flexibility and endurance for competition. Find out more.
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