If you have previously trained in a martial art that employs throws, such as Hapkido, Jujitsu, Aikido or (of course!) Judo, then you are familiar with break falling techniques. There are slight variations from art to art, but the fundamentals are the same. All the above four arts are direct descendants of the ancient Japanese samurai art of Aiki-Jujitsu. The break falling techniques were developed in Aiki-Jujitsu over thousands of years and were employed by the samurai in grueling practice sessions and in battle. The basics will never change because the human body does not change.
Break falling techniques are a way of falling (bet you never thought you’d have to learn how to fall down, huh?) that allow you to fall or be thrown without getting hurt. There may be some discomfort involved, especially if you are taking a high fall, for example over someone’s shoulder, but you will not get injured.
We learn these techniques so that we can actually practice throwing each other. After all, if you are learning a self-defense technique that involves a throw, you want to know that it actually works, and the way to know that is by simulating a real self-defense situation as closely as possible.
All participants in this Hapkido practice group who are new to the martial arts will be started on break falls. Of course you will simultaneously learn other basic techniques like block-and-strike punch defenses, and escapes from grabs, but falling practice will be a part of every session, even for advanced participants.
And hey, knowing how to fall can come in handy in many situations. I once took a tumble off the front of my bicycle when my wheel got stuck in the street car tracks in San Francisco, and landed in a perfect flip side fall position, without a scratch. One of my Jujitsu instructors – a man in his 60’s – tripped while walking down the street, and turned it into a roll, coming back to his feet smoothly without a scratch.
Many people trip and fall and hurt themselves badly, often injuring their knees, elbows or hands, and sometimes falling flat on their faces. Learning how to fall properly will, if nothing else, save you from those kinds of injuries.
Hapki! (harmonious energy)