How To Breakfall In Judo

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Judo is a martial art that focuses on throwing and controlling your opponent. It involves a lot of physical contact, so being able to fall without being injured is a critical skill. In judo, this skill is known as the break fall. A break fall is a technique used to reduce the impact of a fall, which can be dangerous.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what is a judo break fall, why it’s essential, and how you can perfect your break fall technique. We will also answer some of the common questions surrounding the break fall.


What is a judo break fall?

A judo break fall, also known as ukemi, is a technique used in judo to safely absorb and distribute the impact of being thrown or falling to the ground. It is an essential skill for judo practitioners to protect themselves from injury during training and competitions.

The primary purpose of a judo break fall is to dissipate the force generated by a throw or a fall and to minimize the risk of injury, particularly to the head and spine. By using proper break fall techniques, a judoka (a practitioner of judo) can reduce the impact on their body and maintain control over their movements.

There are several types of break falls in judo, including:

  1. Back Fall (Ushiro Ukemi): In this technique, the judoka falls backward, arching the body to disperse the impact along the entire back. The arms are extended diagonally to cushion the fall, and the head is tucked in to protect the neck.
  2. Side Fall (Yoko Ukemi): This break fall is performed by falling sideways, with one arm extended and the other arm protecting the head. The impact is distributed along the arm and side of the body, minimizing the risk of injury.
  3. Front Fall (Mae Ukemi): In a front fall, the judoka rolls forward, allowing the impact to be absorbed by the arms, shoulders, and back. The chin is tucked in to protect the neck.
  4. Rolling Break Fall (Mae Mawari Ukemi): This break fall involves rolling forward diagonally while twisting the body. It is often used when the throw or fall has a rotational component, such as in hip throws or sweeps.


Why is the break fall essential?

The break fall is a crucial skill in judo because it can mean the difference between injury and safety. In a competitive setting, it can also mean the difference between winning and losing. By perfecting your break fall technique, you’re reducing the risk of injury, and you’re making sure you can stay in the fight.


How do you execute a break fall?

To execute a break fall correctly, you need to follow the below steps.

1. Tuck your chin into your chest.
2. Bring your arms up to your sides, with your elbows bent and your palms facing down.
3. Tense your muscles and exhale as you fall.
4. As you fall, slap the mat with both hands while keeping your arms bent.
5. Bring your feet up to your buttocks and let your body roll.
6. Finish by standing up, hands on knees, and taking a deep breath.


How can you perfect your break fall technique?

To perfect your break fall technique, you need to practice it regularly. Start by practicing the steps mentioned above slowly.

1. Practice falling from a standstill position.
2. Practice falling backward, sideways, and forward.
3. Practice falling from different positions, such as kneeling or sitting.
4. Practice break falling with partners of different heights and weights.
5. Practice break falling on different surfaces, such as mats or hardwood floors.


What are some common mistakes to avoid when break falling?

Some common mistakes you should avoid when break falling include:

1. Not tucking your chin into your chest- this can cause neck injuries.
2. Not slapping the mat with both hands- this can cause wrist injuries.
3. Not keeping your elbows bent- this can cause elbow injuries.
4. Not exhaling- this can lead to struggling for breath after the fall.
5. Not keeping your knees bent- This can cause knee injuries.


What are the benefits of practicing the break fall?

Some benefits of practicing the break fall include:

1. Helps to improve your technique in judo.
2. Increases confidence in your ability to fall safely, and as a result, you will become more willing to take risks.
3. Reduces the risk of injury.
4. Helps to develop core strength and agility.
5. Improves your focus and mental fortitude.



Practicing the break fall technique is essential for anyone interested in judo. By perfecting your break fall technique, you’re reducing the risk of injury, and you’re making sure you can stay in the fight. Remember to practice regularly, avoid common mistakes, and enjoy the benefits of better technique, increased confidence, and improved physical and mental strength.

Maxim Tzfenko

Maxim Tzfenko

"I live and breath Martial Arts"

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