About Judo Breakfalls: Slapping, Breathing, Relaxing
I have written quite a lot about Judo Breakfalls, including a lengthy description of what they do and how they work. But I came across another discussion on them, that made me realize I had forgotten to mention a very important point
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Judo Breakfalls: Relaxing and Breathing
The very nature of breakfalls is so that you can have the confidence to fall and not get hurt.
This of course lends itself to relaxing. But by this, I don't mean that you should be lax in your falls. But I do mean that you don't want to tense up. You want to be comfortable with your falls knowing that they are controlled.
If you don't know how to fall then you naturally tense up when you even think of falling but knowing how to fall is of no help to you if you are tense because if you are tense you will not be able to do the fall correctly.
On the other hand, if you are relaxed when you fall you can be thrown very hard indeed and still hardly be affected.
So you have to learn to relax at the same time that you learn to fall.
I've had a few students that start to learn their falls and despite the fact that they have all the technical knowledge on how to do it, they still struggle with their falls until they learn to relax.
Part of this relaxing is learning to breathe. By definition, if you're tense you will hold your breath. The other article mentioned above talks about making a loud noise when you fall. Something like Kiai or Oof - ;). Which of course make no difference to you if you are falling in the street or on an MMA or UFC mat. But it may make a huge difference to you on a Judo mat.
You Don't Want A Crappy Throw To Sound Like A Great One
In a Judo contest points are scored based on how much control and force as much as they are based on exactly how a player lands. This of course is to some degree subjective on the part of the referee.
For example: technically speaking if a player is thrown on their side, a Wasari (almost a win but not good enough) is scored. However, it is not always easy for a referee to see just how much a player is on their back or their side. So if the degree of the fall is in question a score may be based on how much force and control was in the throw. Hence a loud "Oof", when you fall, sounds like a throw was done with a fair amount of force.
You don't want a crappy throw to sound like a great one. I've seen many a crappy throw result in a win ostensibly based on nothing else, other than the sound of the landing.
For the purpose of a Judo competition then you don't want to practice Kiai or Oof. Definitely don't hold your breath, however; you don't want to be winded. Instead, it is better to practice deliberate exhaling in one continuous action while you are in the process of the fall. Trust me, nothing will stop you from a loud Oof if you are thrown with enough force; you do not have to practice it.
Judo Breakfalls: Give The Mats A Solid Slap
The same thing applies to giving the mats a solid slap as you land.
Whilst the reason for slapping the mat hard is to distribute the force of the fall over the widest possible area; rather than in just your core body, not all throws justify a loud slap. If you are thrown energetically enough, or you are thrown on to a hard surface such that damage to you is inevitable, it is better for your arm to get hurt than any other more vital parts. Generally, though, you don't need the slap.
You should practice both with and without the slap for Judo competitions and let your instinct tell you when to use the slap.
So relaxation in your breakfalls is vital, as is distributing the force of your fall over the widest possible area to minimize injury. But if you are going to compete in Judo, you should also learn to minimize the noise.