Teaching karate students how to fall properly is part of our curriculum. We drag the mats out and practice our falls…front, side, back and roll. The kids in the karate school love to practice falling almost as much as they like to spar. As an instructor, I have seen people practice falls that make me cringe. One student could not get over the fear/feeling of falling. He was so rigid and he would fall like a plank of wood. In fact, this teenage student was attacked by a group of older kids at a community festival. He was pushed back and fell with his arm stretched out resulting in a compound fracture.
Have you ever needed to do a roll fall outside of the dojo?
Yesterday, I took a walk around the neighborhood. I live near a lake and there are many trail entrances close by. I wanted to see where one of the trails started so I walked down the path. The beginning of the trail was muddy due to a few days of rain. The trail opened up to stone road used by the Park Rangers. I walked on the stone road and my foot caught the edge of a loose rock. My ankle twisted and I stumbled forward. I tried to regain my balance but the momentum pulled me forward.
My mind screamed “ROLL!”
I stood up and brushed myself off. Tom was walking with me and witnessed the fall. He commended me on my textbook roll fall. I think he gave it a 9 out of 10. :) The dirt tracks on my clothing went across my left shoulder to my right hip and leg. My head, knees and elbows did not make contact with the ground. The palm of my hand was cut where I scraped across the stone road. I woke up today a little sore across my ribs and the heels of my hands.
A few things:
Rocks and dirt are much harder than the dojo floor.
Even though my hands were scraped, I sustained only minor injuries from the fall.
I believe karate training took over and advised me to roll instead of bracing against the fall.
If I wouldn’t have rolled, I would have went Splat. I most likely would have sustained injury to my knees, arms, wrist and head. The fall may have been severe enough to warrant a trip to the ER, a few stitches and time missed at work.
Do you have any stories to share? Do you practice falls in the dojo?