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Falling

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THE ART OF FALLING


If you want to get someone really mad at you, endanger his balance. Our balance is very important to us, physically as well as psychologically. Being sure of our balance and unafraid of losing it, because we know how to handle such an eventuality, has a very positive effect on our self-confidence.  Knowing how to fall is not necessary in order to learn the stickfighting techniques in this book, but we believe that it should be an integral part of all fighting arts and sports, not only because of the element of safety it adds to their practice, but also because of the great psychological benefits derived from it.


The A.S.P. system is so structured that you do not have to spend too much time working on preliminaries. You can start learning the stickfighting techniques immediately, and while progressing in stickfighting proper, so sustaining your interest, there will be ample time for you to gradually learn how to fall safely. Rest assured that if you practice within this system, you will soon become familiar with the five principles and will quickly develop conditioned reflexes in accordance with their guidelines.  Like all other techniques explained in this book, breakfalls are described on one side only. In practice, they must be studied on both sides. Becoming ambidextrous is very desirable, if not essential.


ROLLING FALLS


These are the most important of all falls and must be studied very carefully. Pay special attention to the forward rolls, which may be used for defense as well as for attack. All breakfalls are described from guard 2, holding the stick throughout the roll.

Forward Rolls. Stand relaxed, feet spread shoulder-wide, and take a forward step with your right foot, this step being somewhat longer than a normal step. Now pivot on the balls of your feet so that your toes point slightly inward, toward each other. Lift your arms straight above your head, relaxing your wrists and letting the stick point forward and downward. Fix your head in a forward-bent position, chin on chest, looking between your legs, without tensing up the muscles of your neck. Continuing to hold this position will protect your head throughout the roll. In a reaching motion, again without tensing up, propel your body forward with the left foot, using the ball of your right foot mainly for support. Failure to follow these instructions carefully will make you roll sideways and perhaps even hurt yourself. If you follow them, not only will you be able to roll safely on a mat, but also on uneven hard ground.

 

 

At the roll ready-position, your arms form a circle, and as you propel yourself forward, your body rolls diagonally from back of right shoulder to left hip. It is helpful to turn the toes of the leading (right) foot slightly inward. During the roll, use the left leg to increase your momentum. Extend it as it passes from the vertical, then fold it behind the right so that upon landing the leading right foot is still forward. Get up using your forward momentum. Positioning the feet properly is essential for easy recovery. Practice slowly at first, then increase your speed. As you become more familiar with this roll, do not stop after one, but take several in succession (Figs. 1-3).

 

 


Back Rolls. Start the same way as for a forward roll. Take one step back with the left foot, squat, and roll as if you were trying to throw both hands over your right shoulder, and keep your head positioned as described for the forward roll. Place your left instep on the mat to support your body as you roll diagonally from left hip to right shoulder. When you get up, your right foot is forward. Practice several rolls in succession (Figs. 4-6).

FLAT BREAKFALLS


These falls must be studied on a mat. In some cases it is necessary to drop the stick to avoid injury, but you should always try to drop the stick within easy access.

 

 

Forward Breakfall. Start your training as follows. Kneel on the mat, toes curled up in contact with mat. Relax and drop your shoulders. Swing your arms together up and down, bending the elbows close to the body and bringing the stick in front of the face. At this point, your forearms must be almost parallel to the body. Do this to familiarize yourself with the technique, then fall face down, straight from the knees. In order to break the fall, drop the stick in the direction of your hips (under you) and strike the mat with the whole length of the forearms and open hands. Keep relaxed and do not try to reach for the mat as you fall, otherwise it will destroy your timing and your breakfall will be inadequate. Let the mat come to you, timing your strike with the impact.  After mastering this breakfall from the kneeling position, practice it from the standing one. Your knees should not hit the mat. Spread your feet apart and support yourself on your toes. Properly performed, this breakfall will not hurt your elbows (Fig. 7). Quickly retrieve your stick as you get up.

Back Breakfall. When falling on your back, use a back roll in preference to a flat-back breakfall.

 

 

Right- and Left-Side Breakfalls. Jump, shifting either to your left or to your right side, breaking your fall with the corresponding arm, while the other is holding the stick. For instance, when falling on your right side, break the fall by hitting the left heel and the side of the right fist on the mat. The right arm should not be too far from the body, forming about a 30-degree angle with the right side. Do not cross your legs as you fall; try to keep the thighs at almost right angles to prevent the knees from hitting each other. For instance, for the right-side breakfall, the right leg is slightly bent, and the whole right side, including the right side of the right leg, is in contact with the mat (Fig. 8).

 

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