Falling with grace

Firstly, thank you to all that gave me feedback on my last post over on Google Plus.  Your comments have been helpful in many ways, and I hope to write a follow up article on the matter.

On to the main topic of the week.  This one concerns falling.  Or more accurately, landing safely from a throw.  Last week in Jitsu a group of us were taken to one side to work on our falling technique from a  throw.  We started off falling and landing on our own, as we do each session.  Then we progressed to falling around our instructor, from the position of a hip throw.  The our Sensei [instructor] threw us softly, and finally built up to throwing with some speed.

In the beginning
Rewind to when I started Jitsu.  I never had an issue with being thrown.  Granted, there was a nasty head bump from a backwards fall, but that just saw me spending hours falling back onto my bed until I could land without jarring my head and giving myself concussion.  I love what we call sacrifice throws, where during the throw you also fall to the floor.  I don’t mind if I am throwing, or being thrown, it’s still good fun.  If you are being thrown then you have to take an active role (in the air or on the floor) when you come down or else there is a potentially nasty SPLAT when you hit the mat.

For those that are unsure on sacrifice throws, here is an example of one on YouTube: http://youtu.be/PDF5E879TYk?t=55s

But unfortunately in the last 18 months I have started to develop a slight dislike of being thrown round and over, so throws like ipon seo nage, ogoshi, hane goshi.  It is not a major resistance, but it is enough that both my sensei and my training partners have noticed the  pull back and tensing before I am being thrown.

Tackling the issue
I didn’t know what caused the fear, but it was there and it needed to be addressed.  I felt fine when I was being thrown from ogoshi.  OK, I was being thrown by somebody very competent, which always helps and I freely admit my active landings need to be worked on.  And amongst our group was someone who was visibly trying to overcome a dislike of being on the throw in question, that always makes you feel braver when you are not the most frightened.

Then we switched to ipon seo nage.  Suddenly I was no longer OK, in fact I was now struggling to speak.  We were not thrown with speed, but with guidance, but I felt myself tense, I gripped tori so tightly I’m surprised he was still able to breathe.

So that was it.  Something had happened to me during an ipon seo nage in the last 18 months that had left me all tense and worried.  I don’t know exactly what this event is, but the following are probable causes:

  • Awkward landing.  This will have caused my body to create the flinch reflex that is is now having.
  • Being thrown by someone tall.  Some throws are just not as pleasant when done by giants, and ipon is, to me, one of those throws.
  • Being nearly dropped straight on my head.  I had forgotten about this until last week.
  • A combination of all three.

The answer to all this is to keep on training.  I need to work on active landing for those hip and shoulder throws, rather than acting like a sack of spuds, thus reducing the chance of injuring myself when thrown.  I need to realise that if the short people in my class can cope with every throw being done by a relative giant, then I can learn to deal with the occasional giant.  And finally, I no longer train with the group that felt there was no issue with dropping people on their head, so I should relax into a throw knowing I am in good hands.


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