Jul. 13, 2011 By: Throws/TakedownsFiled in:
Some of my intermediate students are starting to deal with being thrown harder than they did when first started learning to be thrown with Judo style throws like major hip throws (O-goshi), shoulder throws (seioi nage), etc. Last night I took the time to emphasize a few tips that I have gleaned over the years through general experience, as well as a few that our Shorinji Kan brethren have shared with us. I’d like to share these tips with you in this blog.
1. Relax & breathe out as you fall. While we teach this point right from the beginning, you notice how important this becomes when you start getting thrown harder. Breathing out (similar to a heavy sigh) helps you to keep relaxed, which is better for dispersing the energy when you make impact. When you hold your breath or clench the muscles in your body, the energy stays contained in your body, making you feel the impact more.
2. Don’t grab the thrower. Everyone with a little experience knows they’re not supposed to do this, but when you start getting thrown harder, you sometimes revert back to an earlier state of learning, instinctively grabbing the thrower to minimize their speed of the throw. When you do this, it causes your legs to come around and hit the ground ahead of your body, preventing you from landing evenly so as to more fully distribute the impact. Rather than grabbing, you can add a little resistance by letting your arm drag subtlely across the thrower’s back, causing friction that can slow the throw down ever-so-slightly, giving you just that little extra bit of time to control your descent.
3. Keep your bottom leg straight. As you’re swung over someone’s body in a fast, powerful throw,the bottom knee can swing twist funny as you are swung through the air aggressively if you’re not careful. You can also tweak your knee on impact. This happens more often if you keep your bottom leg bent. By keeping your bottom leg straight, you engage all the muscles that stabilize the knee making it safer to take hard throws.
4. Keep your bottom foot engaged. Engaging your bottom foot serves to draw your ankle away from the ground while bulging out your outside calf muscle, which helps minimize the joint’s impact when you hit the ground. There are a couple of ways you can do this. Curl your toes back turning your foot away from the ground (like the foot position used in a side kick – see below). If you have bulbous ankles that tend to stick out more, however, you might find this method makes it worse. In this case, curl your toes back and stick out your heel (like the foot position used in a back kick).
5. Keep your bent knee pointing straight up on impact. If you are swung around hard in a throw and your knee is not pointing up, your knee will have a tendency to twist across your bottom leg, twisting your back and potentially crush your testicles (if you train without a cup). Keeping the knee straight up on impact reduces the chance of this. If you have a tendency of slamming your legs together when thrown, this technique will also help reduce the risk of that.
6. Catch more of your impact with your bent leg. By curling your toes back and pointing your foot with your bent leg (like the foot position used in a front kick), your bent leg can serve as a spring to “catch” more of the impact of the throw. As the ball of your foot touches down, it can be used to subtlely cut down the impact of the rest of your body. It can take time to develop this skill but it can make a big difference with practice.
7. Keep track of the ground. Keeping track of the ground as you’re thrown doesn’t make much difference when you’re thrown correctly, but it makes a huge difference you take a bad throw. By knowing where the ground is, you give yourself a chance to orient your body to it. If you’re in the midst of a bad throw, you can make adjustments in the air so you hit the ground the best way possible. It can take time for your body to learn to do this intuitively, but keeping an eye on the ground gives your body a reference point from which it can learn and adapt.
8. “Hit” the ground! As you gain more experience, you should strive to become more and more active in your breakfalling technique, rather than just letting yourself be thrown. Attack the ground with your body, aligning all of the above principles. Actively slap the ground with your breakfall arm with gusto. When doing side breakfalls (the ones used when being thrown from hip throws, shoulder throws, etc), this action helps to rotate the body in the air causing you to land more on your side rather than your back. This is an important aspect of honing your breakfalls for hard throws, because if you don’t “hit” the ground, the ground hits you.
In addition to these tips, be sure to let your instructor know if you are noticing any pain when you’re being thrown. It’s not supposed to hurt so don’t just grit your teeth and bear it. By letting your instructor know where it hurts they can give you feedback to fix your breakfall so you need not endure any pain. Got any further breakfall tips of your own? Please feel free to share in the comments.