Thursday, January 28, 2016


One of the hardest things about getting started in Aikido are the falls. High break falls, back falls, front falls, and the occasional unplanned dead mule off a cliff where you just end up in a heap where gravity put you. They are often frightening and painful. Sometimes they result in an injury. One of our regulars, someone who has been practicing for five years, is just getting back on the mat after a shoulder separation that happened before Christmas.

People come and watch a class and never come back. Or they start classes and after a couple of months, they stop attending. I remember one because it was so clear. He became increasingly afraid. He would tense up and his falls, after some initial improvements, got worse. Finally he just faded, his attendance got sporadic, and then stopped. All of our encouragement was not enough.

When we were children, there were many things we learned to do that involve falling. Learning to walk is one of the first. It's being driven by biology, but parents praise toddlers, walk them, cheer them on, and a YouTube search for "first steps" has five million returns. There's a lot of falling before there is a lot of successful walking.

Then it's on to bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, scooters, pogo sticks, ice skates, skis, snowboards, trampolines, tightropes, motorcycles, rock climbing, skydiving, and BASE jumping.

 Sometimes it all seems predictable.

I still have gravel scars on my knees and elbows from a couple of spectacular bicycle wipeouts. I didn't stop riding.

I have a titanium rod in my leg from a snowboarding accident that happened in my 40s. I did stop snowboarding and skiing. The risk/reward equation got recalculated. I went once after that and then never went again.

Borepatch tested body against pavement in October of  '14 with the usual results. He still rides. The reward is still greater than the risk.

Falling and getting up is what we do. It's part of being alive.


Will said...

When I was around age 14, I joined a Judo class. 3hr classes, and 1hr of that was learning and practicing falls. I had to quit the class after a few months, when it moved to a facility that required a club membership that I couldn't afford.

That training in how to hit the ground properly really payed off over the years, in many different situations. It was so dramatic in results, that I have recommended Judo to people just for that training alone. Anything else learned at the class is a secondary benefit.

burt said...

Let's put it this way: the reason that I walked away from 2 (!) motorcycle accidents in the past 10 years (no broken bones, no pulled muscles, just some rash) is probably because I learned how to fall, roll, and recover (mixed martial arts training in the Navy). The training also helped me vastly improve my reaction time by increasing my "situational awareness sense". ANY kind of martial arts training is HIGHLY recommended for those two reasons alone.

(Both times were charity rides: BOTH times I was cut off by an impatient driver who was tired of waiting for the column to ride by. And both times, it was a woman driver - no, I don't know if that was coincidence or not... lol...)

Guffaw in AZ said...

And is what separates failures from successes - getting up!

Being disabled - fused hip since age 12 - I've fallen many times. Broke an arm doing 'karate' in a high school hallway. Because I fell improperly. I've managed to stay upright most of my adult life, but have fallen more in the past 10 years than in the previous 50.
Must be an age thing.

Always wanted to learn aikido and/or jiu jitsu, but figured with the hip 'learning to fall' wasn't in the cards.



Old NFO said...

Getting up IS the key...

Will said...


Most of the action to fall safely is in your arms and upper body. (been fifty years, probably time for an update)
Not sure how the fused hip would integrate with all of it, but I would expect it to be a net gain for you.

Murphy's Law said...

Lost a leg on a motorcycle. Still ride. Meh.

Pete said...

Had to quit handball, which I truly loved, in my 40s. It was such a fun sport, but I wanted to be able to use my knees as I got older. And hunt in the hills. Tough to accept but I am happy with the decision.