I don’t hear a lot of stories from students saying that their Jiu-jitsu training helped them fend off an attacker, though this is one of the main reasons people take up the art. Fortunately, my students rarely get into situations in which they have to defend themselves. But I do hear a number of stories of how their breakfalls have saved them from getting seriously injured.
Last year Robyn, one of my students, came in to class beaming. “Lori Sensei, your Jiu-jitsu class saved my life last night.”
“Oh? How’s that?” I asked.
“I stepped into a shower and the bath mat had been taken out. I slipped and did a total banana peel style fall… and landed in a perfect side breakfall. You would have been so proud!” she beamed.
This had not been the first time I heard a story like this. I’ve had students say that while engaged in other sports like hockey, snowboarding, mountain biking, etc, their breakfalling prevented them from getting serious injuries. I’ve also heard students recant tales similar to Robyn’s in which some random event caused them to fall suddenly.
My handstand breakfall even saved me from my own stupidity once. Way back when, I was riding my bike with a cane umbrella hanging from my handlebars (yes, I know this was a stupid thing to do). I made a sharp turn to avoid something on the road and the umbrella swung into the spokes of my front wheel, sending me flying forward. Instinctively, I held onto my handlebars, letting my weight go forward as I tucked my head in to land on my back. As I landed, I kept control of the bike with my hands so it wouldn’t hurt me as I fell. The only bruise I got was when the saddle hit my inside thigh.
I wrote about this story in my book, Weapons of Opportunity. Have you got a similar story of how a breakfall saved your neck? I’d love to hear them! 🙂