I never knew – today my grand master told me my hand is a shock absorber. This changed everything for me.
I have been doing break falls for 3 years now and have never gotten comfortable with them. I watch people who do them well and tried to understand what they were doing that I was not doing, and I practiced, and I thought it through… and still, I knew there was something missing from the theory of it to the practice of it.
And then today, this one sentence changed everything. I thought I should be trying to avoid having my hand hit the ground and that I should be tucking my right arm under my body as I threw myself to the ground and rolled diagonally.
So here is what I learned. Every point of contact your body makes with the ground slows down the fall, and absorbs shock. You need to make sure you touch the ground in several places to spread out both the impact and the speed of the fall. In a well executed break fall (forward rolling type), you touch the ground in five places – hand, forearm, shoulder, centre of back, and opposite hip. The path is diagonal across your body, but your body is going in a straight line.
There are two main goals, in this order – 1) protect the head at all costs and 2) minimize any damage to your body. This does not mean you will not feel some pain. (that is the part that is hard to accept unless you are a young boy who loves to try stunts! and I am not)
I am now able to execute a break fall and achieve the goals above. It is not yet natural, and I am sure it is not yet artful, but I am on the path to getting there. Wish me luck as I tuck my head, throw my body through the air, and place my shock absorber on the ground.
Here’s a fabulous video that inspires me. I plan to be this smooth one day soon, just not from the same height.