Hitting the ground – How to save yourself
Grappling arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Submission Wrestling offer many excellent options for dealing with the ground in a self-defence scenario. It would be wise though to learn some Judo and wrestling as well, but not for the reasons most assume. These are are associated with takedowns mostly from an offensive perspective. They should also be looked at from defensive and even worst case scenario perspectives. Hitting the ground too hard would be one of the worst results that could occur.
Breakfalling is a critical area of learning in the art of Judo. Breakfalls basically teach people to not do the dangerous gut reactions when heading to the ground. Whether you are thrown or trip, your gut reaction may be to put your hand out to brace your fall. It might very well do this, but the impact could dislocate the elbow. In a street self-defence situation, an assault will continue while you have no means of being able to use one of your arms to stop it.
Worse yet, people are not in the habit of tucking their chin when they fall. As a result, the back of their skull can make contact with the ground. Not to be morose, but this is a common cause of fatalities in self-defence situations. When learning to breakfall, students are taught to tuck the chin to prevent such an injury.
This is not to suggest breakfall lessons alone will eliminate the chances of being injured by a throw or a fall. Getting hit by surprise and being knocked out standing can eliminate the cognitive or even subconscious ability to break a fall on the way down. Surprise and quick knockouts from a standing position often lead to severe injuries not from the strike itself, but from the impact when the body hits the ground.
Breakfalling may lead to the subconscious and muscle memory/response stimulus action that protects the body when falling. Hence, the name…breaking a fall. Students do invest quite a bit of time working on the ground, which is definitely wise. However, it would be equally wise to learn about the unfortunate particulars and dangers of how the body actually hits the ground. This way, the potential for serious injury can be reduced or eliminated.
Learning how to breakfall does not eliminate the full potential for injury, but it can reduce it quite a bit. That alone can have a huge impact on how a fight goes down.
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