Fear of Falling!

WesternCiv

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I'm looking for some advice and words of wisdom. I'm working on the sixth kyu techniques of KJJR. I've never had a problem with takedowns, sweeps or hip throws but I've never much liked being thrown over someone's shoulder. Training morote seoi nage and katate seoi nage has always been something I just had to put up with, but never enjoyed. Then I seperated my shoulder on a bad landing.

The shoulder has healed but I find I now have a totally irrational fear of being thrown again - I tense up and the breakfalls are very stiff (and painful), I find myself trying to grab my opponents gi as I'm going over etc. My instructor tells me the fear will evaporate through repetition.

I'm 48 years old and overweight -- one of my fellow students has suggested something he called "hindu push ups" to strength my shoulders and upper body. Does anyone have any other suggestions that might help me conquer this????

Thanks
 

SFC JeffJ

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I'd say your instructor is right on target. Reps is the most important thing.

Also, just try lying on the ground and practicing slapping out a whole bunch of times.
 

Never_A_Reflection

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Your instructor is right, but the key is that you should not be practicing your falls by being thrown if you are getting injured in the process. Get some extra time on the mat and practice falling on your own--go through your forward fall, back fall, side fall, and rolling falls without actually being thrown, but still falling. After you have fallen enough times, you will start to lose the fear of falling because you will think, "Hey, I've fallen like that HUNDREDS of times! I'll be fine"
 

jarrod

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as already mentioned...ukemi, ukemi, ukemi. tensing up on a fall will only make it worse. don't forget to breathe.

jf
 

theletch1

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A small detail that helped me get back into falling after a bad back and shoulder injury (more for the shoulder) is that when you slap out make sure your arm is at 45 degrees to your torso and not at 90 degrees straight out from your shoulder. It'll take a lot of the pressure off the shoulder joint when you slap.

One drill you can do is by squatting on one foot with the other leg straight out in front of you. Fall to the side of the straight leg and slap out from there. Once you're comfortable with that have one of your class mates throw you over their shoulder while they're on their knees. It's the same fall but from a lower position.
 

arnisador

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Sometimes it helps to go with the throw. Once it's clear that resistance is futile, pushing off and going through it faster than your opponent intends may take off some of the strain of being pulled (and throw him off his plan) and let you better control how and where you land. This isn't always feasible.

You're 48 years old, not fully in athletic condition, and have been injured once. If I were you I might beg off of being an uke for this one. The next time it won't heal as well. What do you gain in your training by taking the risk? It's good to be fair and take your turn being the uke, but you may have to be realistic. I'm 44 and I beg off of being the uke for wrestling-style takedowns because of my knees. It isn't worth the risk, much as I hate to be the one sitting out (like the old man I am). Think about what you really want and need from this, and see if the instructor agrees it's reasonable. Maybe he feels this is essential to the art.
 

morph4me

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You've been given some great advice. If you have someone in class you trust, have him set up the throw and allow you to fall out of it, instead of throwing you. Have him take you to the point just before the throw happens and then let you control how you fall. Good luck.
 

zDom

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Great advice posted.

When new people first start training with us, our instructor insists that, when asked what their favorite thing is, to answer "Falling!"

You must teach yourself to LOVE falling, not fear it, as it is critical to avoiding injury while training.

It was said above, but to say it yet again:

practice basic falling positions until they are second nature
RELAX and don't fight or tense up (i.e., LOVE falling!)
ATTACK the mat don't just let arms and legs fall to the mat, but strike them to absorb impact with these less-vulnerable body parts.
try to make one, big BOOM with your body upon impact, not a series of little sounds as different body parts hit the mat in a sequence
 

Brad Dunne

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Folks have offered practical advice if you so choose to continue with your current training. Not being a big fan of breakfalls (I know the given training validity), I would suggest that at your age and your present condition, I would opt for a serious review of what you want to accomplish in your present discipline and if you find it questionable, then look for another discipline to practice. Age deminishes all of us, some to a lesser degree than other's, but it still leaves us lacking. A re-injury could be a serious setback, if not a closure for any further training and could prevent you from trying a different discipline for quite some time. There are more than enough styles out there that don't do breakfalls, so it's not as if you have no other choice. You also have the basic knowledge of the techniques that in training call for breakfalls and they can always be added in time, to any new direction you should choose. The biggest thing to remember IMO, is that if and when you should attempt a technique for real, the person receiving most likely won't be trained and therefor no breakfall and you will then see the real results of what the technique was designed to do. I wish you well with your training and which ever direction you choose.
 

jarrod

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brad, i'm just curious as to why you don't like breakfalls. personally, i hate doing them but realize that i have to practice them. good advice though.

jf
 

Brian King

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WesternCiv
If able (depends on whether the throw/break fall is the end of the technique or if there is pinning or continued attacks) a helpful trick to help teach/re-teach the body to relax is to pause immediately after the fall and to internally analyze where in the body the excessive tension is located and then get rid of it and to realize where in the breathing pattern you are and if that is where you want to be. It might be necessary to have a third person or the person that threw you volunteer where they see tension as often people cannot feel it on their own. A few places people often hold tension is in the neck, arms and of course legs and perhaps in your case he shoulders and perhaps other areas that have been injured or are weak, then after you release what tension that you can continue the pause and relax even a bit further, take five or ten seconds learning to accept the ground and discovering where you hold tension. This discovery will help your flow and travel and acceptance to the ground.

Another interesting exercise with-in an exercise is to focus on breathing while doing the throwing drills. A very simple example is that while doing the throw from start to end the person doing the throw stretches their breathing doing perhaps one slow inhale for the entire technique and the person being thrown (you in this case) doing one very slow exhale through the entire throw and landing. The breathing of course can be switched or both can inhale or exhale on the same pattern. By forcing your brain to focus on a specific task it often allows your body to perform other tasks more efficiently. And frankly often people get their breathing stuck while doing techniques and this exercise can help with that issue.

Good luck
Regards
Brian King
 

Makalakumu

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I have several MA injuries from competition that took some time to heal and took some serious work in order to overcome.

Everyone is different, but here is what I did when I landed on my head after a failed tomonage that turned into a pick up slam and (a separate injury) broke my collar bone and separated my shoulder.

With both injuries, I had serious problems taking falls for those throws when I started again. Start with visualization. Then move to ukemi with visualization. Then go to kata. Have tori throw you as formally as possible so you know exactly what to expect. Then, start to deviate from kata. Eventually, you will get back to randori.

On the other hand, sometimes, you won't. I still can't take a good tomoenage fall. I woke up in the abulance on a backboard and couldn't feel my legs. That feeling just won't go away. When I practice randori, I just tell my partner, no tomoenage. I don't have time for psychotherapy and I just do judo for fun now.

So, anyways, just go with it and have fun. Push slowly and you'll get there.
 

arnisador

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Probably my worst-ever martial arts injuries were from throws--a torn ACL that required surgery from someone muscling a leg block thrown he couldn't get done the right way, and bruised ribs from someone falling on me after a hip throw when he couldn't keep his balance!
 

kwaichang

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I too had this fear in the beginning, in the middle and to a degree at the end of learning throws.
One thing that helped was a drill with everyone in a long line then beginning with a body drop, reverse roll, shoulder roll, etc. for about 12 different "landings". It helped me to get over the worst of the fear.
Oh, and as for judo break fall practice; I learned it as fast as I could because landing without the proper knowledge is the best motivator-teacher :)
 
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Brad Dunne

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brad, i'm just curious as to why you don't like breakfalls. personally, i hate doing them but realize that i have to practice them

My personal opinion is that in all honesty they take away from the learning curve. I'll explain further. Breakfalls were established to give the person doing the technique a view of how and why a technique will work. They were done in such a fashion that you felt everything that was going on within the technique, but only up to a point and that point being real physical distruction. Thru time, breakfalls have become a discipline unto themselves and I'm sure we've all seen the "circus is in town" show that has resulted. Since they have evolved into their own, they have taken away the early feelings that were transmitted back and now folks go flying at the slightest touch with little to no honest feedback being given. Now there's always going to be some who shout, not the way we do them and all I can say is (to quote Croc Dundee) "good on ya mate".

I've seen more folks quit training because of an injury, that didn't have to happen, (like some have already listed) and everybody becomes the looser because of it. All things and folks being totally honest on the subject, I'd venture to say that everybody at some point, training with breakfalls has incurred an injury of some sort. Most were lucky, as it was only something minor and they shook it off. Some perhaps a bit more intense of an injury and had to lay off for a couple of days but they were able to get back into it. Then there's those that have had a serious injury and have either quit or as in this particular case, started looking for assistance. Anyone of those incidents could have been/become serious or even life threatening. Breakfalls are not for everybody, so there's no harm in moving on to something else, if you've been hurt and are affraid of a re-injury. MA's are many things to different folks, but the single thing they are not to everybody is a vehicle for self destruction. Folks have families, jobs, bills and so forth that should take the lead in their lives, so if they become hurt, seriously hurt, they stand the chance of loosing a lot more than some training days a bruised ego.

Have I trained in breakfalls? Yes and they were fun when I was younger and when I didn't realize the downside they present. I can't do breakfalls anymore (doc's orders) do to a back injury, not MA's related, but that element hasen't stopped me from training or being able to show folks how and why. In fact it has helped me in the fact that I have reverted back to the original concept(s), unwittingly of course, of taking my partner right to the threshold or the axiom of the technique and they feel what's happing as do I. It has made for a more enlightened learning element for all.
 

zDom

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There is no real substitute for learning how to throw a human being than actually throwing a human being.

So it comes down to reciprocity: I'll let YOU throw ME and you let ME throw YOU.

Falling technique is all about surviving your turn getting thrown.

And there ARE things that are learned about throwing by being thrown, as well.
 

kwaichang

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And there ARE things that are learned about throwing by being thrown, as well.
Indeed. Two yrs. ago I was putting up wire fencing on a deck and overextended my balance and fell off, after seeing the sky above me, I realized I had twisted and fallen exactly as yrs of practice had taught and in the process, saved myself from real harm.
 
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WesternCiv

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Thanks for all of the suggestions! I've learned something from each of your suggestions but maybe the thing that has helped me most is just knowing that others have experienced the same doubts, and have overcome. I haven't totally conquered the fear but this past week I did see some progress - landing several times with good form (and little or no pain!).

Jujutsu is such a great art - one that appeals to me on both a conceptual and physical level. Using the opponents aggression against them, being able to respond in an appropriate manner, the respect and formality of a traditional Japanese martial art - I love it all. So maybe the most important post for me to read was the one that said I might have to switch to another art if I can't come to grips with the throws. It was probably in the back of my mind but that post made me face up to it, and perhaps, gave me a bit more devotion to trying to work through the fear.

Thanks again!
 

Brian King

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It is unfortunately not often that people actually post honest gracious updates to their advice/opinion seeking posts. Thanks for doing so sir.

landing several times with good form (and little or no pain!).

That is great to recognize and let the good motivate you to get better. That is so very important. People often have a hard time seeing and acknowledging what they do well and it is important to get over that. Just as important is the ability to learn from and let the bad motivate you to get better as well. Pain is a good teacher if you approach it as such and fear can be a great motivator if you harness it as such and it sounds like you are doing so.

Good luck in your continued training
Warmest regards
Brian King
 

tko4u

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I got taught how to land in wrestling from a throw, then I got taught the martial art way of landing. I guess we got thrown so much in practice that it built our immunity to it, because it doesnt seem to matter how I land, it doesnt effect me very badly. I guess maybe just try going through the motions and do a lot of reps on it
 
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