How do I protect my ribs during a fall?

Discussion in 'Russian Martial Arts' started by AlwaysLearning, Jul 26, 2016.

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  1. AlwaysLearning

    AlwaysLearning White Belt

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    I and my partner were practicing take-downs. During one of such take-downs, I landed with my ribs onto his knee (which he probably moved forward instinctively). The subsequent sharp pain every now and then tells me that I need to learn to fall more safely. But how? I am not asking about the basic rolling technique, but specifically about protecting the ribs from taking a hit like that. Simply being relaxed does not seem to help in this situation... The hands aren't there either during the fall (they actually have another job -- to protect the head).
     
  2. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    The good news is that, now you know a good tactic against people falling at you. The bad news is that is sucks to have happen, and there isn't a whole lot you can do about it, other than knowing it is possible.
     
  3. AlwaysLearning

    AlwaysLearning White Belt

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    Come on. You don't mean that someone who knows what he is doing like Vladimir can have his ribs broken accidentally like that just because he was taken down (which can happen to anyone).
     
  4. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    I'm sure he knows it is coming; so, he tries not to do that.
     
  5. AlwaysLearning

    AlwaysLearning White Belt

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    Right, this is what was understood in the original question. I am looking for a clarification (details!) on what to do and what not to do during the fall when people (knees, elbows etc.) and objects (furniture with corners etc.) are around.
     
  6. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Not much you can do against what is basically a back breaker.

    I would go the other way and suggest he doesent throw you in that manner.
     
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  7. Brian King

    Brian King Master Black Belt

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    AlwaysLearning,

    Sometimes you are the bug and sometimes you are the windshield. Without knowing your and your partners experience and exposure to Systema some of my answer might not make sense. Sorry, the written form is difficult to get somatic awareness and sensitivity where as face to face training can provide the ‘feel’ needed.

    Giving:
    First both you and your training partner need to insure that your knees are bent when giving someone a ride down the mountain. (Ever see a log or boulder going down a step grade and how it bounces and flips from hard surface to hard surface?) If the knee is straight and you send your training partner down on it they can accidentally injure you. Done with someone that knows what they are doing and they can purposely use that contact for a take down and/or cause injury. Keep the knee(s) bent and/or move the leg(s) prior to contact to avoid the mountain ride.

    Receiving:
    There is training that you can explore to help your body better receive strikes. As well as the different drills and exercises that can be explored, there are some other things to keep in mind. Continues breathing, shaping the body are two such things that will help you receive strikes and these can of course be practiced no matter the drill or exercise currently be practiced. For example next time you are exploring take downs. Have both yourself and your partner breathe continuously from the moment the attack starts and through the defensive finish, i.e. attacker inhales one long slow inhale the entire time while the defender is exhaling one long exhale the entire start to finish of the takedown. Repeat a few times then switch breathing pattern - if inhaling try exhaling... Half and halves (inhale/exhale half way thru the attack then switch to exhale/inhale the remaining length of time, breathing evenly one breath the entire time) are also interesting work.

    An exercise that you and your partner(s) might want to try is just a body contact drill (massage). One partner laying on the ground (breathing) and with face turned to the side and the other partner side (barrel) rolls over them from feet to head and from head to feet. Both partners get a chance to deal with contact.

    Another drill is one partner laying on the ground and the partners (more is better than one but one is good enough) kneel around the prone partner. Each kneeling partners places their fist onto the prone partners body (head, legs and arms are often mistakenly ignored) and then pushes keeping wrist straight and using all of their body weight until the prone partner figures out how to move to cause the placed fist to ‘slip’ off of the body. Hint - ‘wiggling’, rotating, and breathing are a huge help. Once the fist slips off place it somewhere else on the partner and repeat - again and again. Have the prone partner do all four sides (laying on back, side, belly, and other side) This is a great massage and further gets the students used to body contact and to the claustrophobic conditions that ground multiple person situations can produce. Folks placing the fists soon learn how to keep wrists straight and how to relax the fist over the bony parts of their partners.

    Have you tried the partner fist walking type of drills AlwaysLearning? One partner on the ground or standing against a wall (without moving other than breathing) and having the partner fist walk on them. If on the ground think of the push up with the partner being the ground and the other partner placing their fists on them and doing a push up and then with out the knees touching the floor switch the position of the hands and feet and do another push up until the prone partners body is completely circled, which can take from 10 to 20 push-ups. Watch the wrists. If the partner is standing (against a wall is easiest) the other partner starts from the ground and does a push up in front of the partner, then places one fist on the partner then the other fist, deliberately taking their time and placing the fist on purpose. One both fists are placed do another push up and repeat moving the fists. Do this until both partners are standing then work back down to the ground. One partner is learning how to strike and the other is learning how to receive.

    Do you have access to a hard medicine ball or even a basketball? Place the ball on the floor and move your body over it, from side to side, top to bottom. Breathe continuously while doing this. When you get to that spot (any spot that is painful or uncomfortable pause, breathe and try to learn to relax around the ball. It is interesting work that feels great. Wonderful massage.

    Totally relaxed is too relaxed but excess tension can cause injury - the magic is finding that sweet spot but like all magic it takes practice and time to make it look effortless. You do not necessarily want to fold the body but you do not want to resist the contact with force or fear. You want to learn to slide off and just enough to stay in the game. Think two round objects making contact -if one is spinning the contact is changed.

    Once you get it- or rather- once your body learns how to move- it becomes instinctual and happens without thought other than “hey, that was cool.

    These type of drills may seem boring and non-relevant to many combat and sport enthusiasts but they really can be very helpful and healthy.

    Anyway, there are a few ideas to help you get the ball rolling. I am sure that you will think of some others. The possibilities are many.

    Have fun and train safe
    Regards
    Brian King
     
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  8. AlwaysLearning

    AlwaysLearning White Belt

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    Brian,

    First, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge. With your permission, I would like to ask for a few clarifications.

    I think you meant to end this sentence with "you can accidentally injure your partner", i.e. it's not about injuring the knee, but about injuring the body of the falling person, right? My question is based on this understanding.

    Do you mean that it's easier to move the bent knee away to avoid injuring the partner or you actually mean that the bent knee is softer on contact? If it's the latter, then I don't understand why that should be the case (it's the same knee!).


    Do you mean that they make their knee straight to make it hard and cause injury to the falling guy?

    These are excellent exercises and we will definitely include some of them in our training. However, receiving punches seems to be very different from the situation when you are falling. First, when you receive a strike you usually have a higher degree of freedom to escape. Even when you are on the floor or against the wall, you still have support to lean on to help you move. Second, when you fall onto a knee or an object, you basically receive a strike with the whole weight of your body. Punches are never nearly that strength (unless it is Ryabko who is punching).

    Thank you.
     
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  9. Brian King

    Brian King Master Black Belt

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    Ah, thank you for asking. First, your partner is more valuable than gold I think you would agree? Finding someone that will explore how to strike, bend, choke, by allowing you to bend, strike and choke them and then do the same to you, those folks are rare. Once these folks are found they should be appreciated and valued.

    Joints in our bodies are as valuable as gold and yet as fragile as porcelain and should at all times be protected. If standing and you drop someone on your leg and your knee is straight it is dangerous to you, not only because the limited range of motion but the structure itself is less supported and is weaker. Please try the paired exercise below to explore knee structure, motion, strengths and weaknesses.

    One partner standing and one partner kneeling, sitting or prone in front of that standing partner. The standing partner is just standing, not trying to lock up the knee/leg (at first) just allowing the partner to manipulate the knee. The standing partner be focusing their attention internally on feeling where there is weakness, fear, support, and the need to move or fall. It is important that should they need to fall (to protect their joints) that they do! In the beginning phases of this drill the object and focus is not on achieving or resisting take downs for either partner and the person doing the manipulating actually wastes lots of training time by taking down their partner and should avoid doing so.

    The partner sitting in front of the standing partner should start to slowly feel around the knee. Feel how the knee cap is shaped, where there are bumps and hollows. Using one hand see how the hand sliding up or down the leg can easily locate and stick to the knee (front, back, or side) Taking their time the partner sitting down can start to manipulate the knee/leg by applying light pressure in different directions. It is important that both partners understand that this exercise is to allow both partners to explore the knee and how pressure applied can alter the structure and balance of the leg and body. The standing person should not at this point be resisting and the person sitting person should be working slowly and lightly. The standing person should be ready to fall should the need arise. Cherish your partner but do not trust them too much. As a person gets used to working the knee and having their knee worked the person sitting and move to using different body parts to manipulate their training partners knee (elbow, neck, their own legs, tools (pistols and blades) hips etc…) and the standing partner can begin to resist the knee being manipulated. After further exploration movements from the standing person can be added i.e. walking toward the sitting or prone partner.

    AlwaysLearning, the knees are one of those injuries that can have lasting negative impacts on people. Ribs heal nicely (even with punctures) but knees can be a real pain. The knee and supporting ligaments and tendons are not as sensitive as say around the elbow. Injury can occur very easily and car should be taken.


    No AlwaysLearning, I don’t mean that. I mean that if you take someone down and they know what they are doing and your leg is straight, and there is contact made, the person you are taking down can easily use that contact to the straight leg to take you down at best and at worst cause you injury.

    Try this partnered drill. One partner standing on partner sitting with legs straight out. The sitting partner has their back resting against the standing partner’s legs. The sitting partner then slowly leans backward maintaining contact with the standing partner’s legs (you may need to hook one or the other of your partner’s feet in the beginning) and do a takedown. Have the standing partner stand straight legged, then have them stand with a slight bend or flex in their legs and see if either of you can feel any differences for both the standing and the sitting partner’s perspectives.

    If you are intending to make contact thru your knee during take downs, it is better to do so with bent knee. It causes more movement in the person being taken down and is safer for you. If the contact is accidental, it is still better to have bent knee as your training partner learns to deal with it and it is safer for you. Making contact with straight knee is a bad habit and should be trained out in my opinion.


    I disagree. Falling onto an object and receiving strikes is physically the same. Psychologically they are different but physically receiving is receiving. The fear of falling hinders the freedom of movement much more than the actual fall itself. If you look at your takedown (not sure what takedowns were like that you and your partner were practicing) the truth of it was likely some part of your body was on the ground and other parts were in the air when your ribs make contact with your partner’s knee? Not all of your bodyweight was actually onto your rib or your partners knee? Your body was likely a bit out of control and you were waiting to hit the floor before you would again move. Rather than the hitting the ground first you hit their knee (or their knee hit you) This likely caused a disruption in your breathing making you suspend your breathing multiplying the felt effect of the contact. Upon hitting the floor, you maybe paused to observe this new pain but did not immediately start to cleanse. (A better thing once contact is made is to move and if possible to massage the area using the ground, the opponent or self) Continues breathing should be a given.

    Taking unguided hits is not difficult – taking guided educated hits…those can be problematical.

    Here is a drill that you might ‘enjoy’. It is a fear drill combined with striking work. Partnered in pairs or in threes. One partner on the floor laying on their back. The other partner or two standing next to them. The standing partner(s) job is to make their fists heavy and to fall straight forward (not easy at first) and land with their fists into/onto the prone partner. Think of the push-up drills above thread but instead of doing pushups around the partner we are now falling onto them. Wrists need to be straight, watch out for belt buckles, knives, and pistols. If two or more partners standing partners they should time their falls to arrive at the same time but different locations on the body. The prone partner needs to be cleansing right away before even the first contact made and continue cleansing until the pain and fear is removed. If it is too much (new students or no instructor) the standing partners can be on their knees and fall straight from that position. There is nothing wrong at all with crawling prior to walking and kind of silly to be wanting to run before knowing how to walk.

    Hope that this helps your exploration
    Regards
    Brian King
     
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  10. AlwaysLearning

    AlwaysLearning White Belt

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    Brian, thank you very much for taking time to write such an insightful reply! I think it should be posted as an article in some appropriate venue. The last exercise sounds really helpful and I am looking forward to practice it once my rib(s) hurt less (I think I may lose conciousness if someone falls with his fists onto my body at this point).
     
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  11. Brian King

    Brian King Master Black Belt

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    The translated older name of our art is "Know Yourself". Always wise to listen to your body.
    Good luck with your healing and training
    Brian King
     
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  12. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    The idea that, as a tactic, you are always doing, it and people are trying to do it to you; so, you watch for it, and snake around it. :)
     
  13. AlwaysLearning

    AlwaysLearning White Belt

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    What name are you referring to? I am Russian-speaking (mother tongue) and began learning Systema in Russia, but have not heard of that name.
     
  14. AlwaysLearning

    AlwaysLearning White Belt

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    What name are you referring to? I am Russian-speaking (mother tongue) and began learning Systema in Russia, but have not heard of that name.
     
  15. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    You are not breakfalling that.

    You are just going to have to try not to get caught in that sort of throw.
     
  16. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Senior Master

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    Being taken down onto a bent knee is functionally equivalent to being hit with a knee strike. Breakfalling isn't going to help. You're basically asking "how to I keep from being hurt when I've already been hit?"

    Systema does have training methods for absorbing/dissipating impact from strikes, which is what Brian's advice is about, but even if you get good at those a solid knee strike is still going to hurt.
     
  17. Brian King

    Brian King Master Black Belt

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    AlwaysLearning - here is a snip from Vladimir's site - russianmartialart.com

    "Systema has another name “poznai sebia” or “Know Yourself”. What does it really mean to Understand Yourself? It is not just to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, that is good but fairly superficial. Training in Russian Martial Art is one of the sure ways to see the full extent of our limitations - to see how proud and weak we really are. Systema allows us to gain the true strength of spirit that comes from humility and clarity in seeing the purpose of our life."

    There is another translation that I have seen that I prefer and that has flavored my training greatly. That is 'Discover Yourself'.

    I do not speak Russian and really enjoy how precise the translators and speakers try to be. Fascinating to see them going back in forth in Russian to come up with just the correct English phrasing.

    Welcome to Martial Talk AlwaysLearning. There is a meet and greet section where if you would like you can post a quick introduction. Would love to hear more of your training.

    Regards
    Brian King
     
  18. Brian King

    Brian King Master Black Belt

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    Hey Tony,
    Systema trains on many levels during each drill and exercise. On the surface level a person is learning how to 'absorb and dissipate strikes' but there is much more going on with good instruction and training partners. Any "solid" hit might hurt - the primary word is 'solid' and there are ways to minimize those and their effects and make them annoying rather than injurious. Permission, acceptance, proper breathing, returning, independence and interdependence, tension management and many more levels are being trained even if the student is not yet fully aware of them. This is one reason why students with many decades can work with brand new students on the very same drill and both can get completely different lessons from the exploration. They can then wait a minute or two and do the drill again and both get completely different lessons from the new exploration.

    Most folks that hit hard hit very hard but most only hit to the surface, percussion hitting. It hurts and can do damage, the same way falling onto a corner of a coffee table hurts. Take enough of these types of hits can sure ruin a persons morning but they are still surface hits that batter and destroy from the outside in. These types hits could indeed be argued to be functionally equivalent to falling onto a knee. There is another way of hitting.

    All that said - yes - a solid hit hurts. There are no magic pills. Good training teaches how to minimize the success of receiving solid hits, minimizes the results of solid hits, and teaches how to deal with those solid hits before, during, and after the gift. Most of all good training should teach the student that they are human and not indestructible, that their opponent is also human and is destructible and that conflict is much easier if avoided. I have lost friends that were better martial artists than I am. They still ended up murdered in an alley they should not have gone, and friends that have died on the battlefields. Only this breath right now is quarantined. That we will be able to exhale or inhale our next is not. Our life and training should make this understood and reflected.

    Regards
    Brian King
     

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