Kyoshi Ronald Lyn
A friend encourages his mate to climb the fruit tree. “No I don’t
want to climb up there, it’s too high”
“Why not? “ He replies
“You can only fall as far as the ground, you can bank on that”
Friend number one says- “it’s
not the falling that I am afraid of but the making contact with the ground. “
A funny thought for sure, but most of us have a very real and overpowering fear of making intimate contact with
the floor. Engrained in us from birth it controls to a large extent how we react to any off balancing event, some emitting
a blood curdling scream at even the merest hint of a fall.
It is essential for the student to study how the body falls and make an earnest attempt to master as best as
he or she can the techniques of the break fall. Whether it is walking on a slippery surface like mud or ice, falling while
protecting yourself in a self defense situation or simply sliding in a slippery bath tub
, it can be the difference between an uncomfortable bump or a serious injury.
I can remember way back in the distant past being a brown belt and entering the bath tub for a shower, not knowing
that my sister had been soaking before in the tub with exotic bath oils, the oils of death I chose call them. The only thing I remember are my feet being framed by the ceiling tiles, in that instant thinking
to myself that they had a peculiar design but would probably look better in another color. There was no memory of my feet
moving from under me, no memory of the time in-between that potentially lethal step and my body contorting to this new yoga
posture. And this is a key point, for no one warns you if they are planning to sweep you, no one says “Excuse me sir,
but would it be ok for me now to attempt my favorite front sweep?”
Your reaction has to be automatic and this only comes from years
of diligent practice, over time the body develops that acute timing that is required for that instinctive technique to work.
I remember years ago in the days when our beloved Jun Shihan still used his trusty bicycle to get
around Mandeville. It was a bright summer day and Jun Shihan George had just finished his rounds and was heading back to the
gym/dojo when a driver in a late model car decided that he would look striking as a hood ornament on his vehicle. In an instant
Jun Shihan had to leave his adored bicycle behind and break fall in the bushes to save him-self from certain grave injury.
Again, an automatic response created from years of training.
In the ‘good old days’ we had no choice in the matter you either learned to protect
yourself and fall correctly over time or you would be constantly in pain with bruised joints, bumped heads, or injured backs.
With this routine your prospects of a long career decreased incrementally, as there was little sympathy for those not yet
versed in the art of the break fall.
I have often wondered about sportsmen like basketball players who had fallen awkwardly on their
backs, maybe they would have saved themselves years of pain had they been thought how to control that fall. But alas they
probably felt it a waste of time as they believe they would never have to use it. But we in the dojo know we will need it
sooner or later, definitely as one moves to the higher ranks. The need is not just to be able to do the kihons properly but
to protect yourself when you least expect it. That’s when it counts, that’s when you need to bank on it working.