One thing that is very commonly visible in jiu-jitsu practice is how many academies actually ignore judo. That mean they do not learn the breakfalls, which is the first thing anyone learns when they begin practicing judo. This is a huge mistake and as many of us have seen, judo really improves a jiu-jitsu athlete’s game. So even if an academy doesn’t focus very much on judo, learning the breakfalls is something that is important, especially for children classes. Don’t forget, BJJ matches start on the feet, and although jumping guard may be convenient for some, until you’re confident with doing that, you will have to take your opponent down, or have them take you down, in which case you have to know your breakfalls – here is why:
- You won’t damage your head and body
Breakfalls are designed in a way that you are able to fall without smashing your head into the ground or wrecking your spine and legs. A lot of the technique is based on the idea that you turn your body into a type of ball so that it doesn’t land flat on the ground. Being ‘balled-up’ minimizes the impact to your body. This goes for all the different types of breakfalls, mainly the backwards, sideways and forward-roll breakfalls.
- You will overcome the fear of falling
One of the most surprising things you will notice with beginners that are learning their breakfalls, is the fear they have of just letting go when they are about to fall. You will get thrown in jiu-jitsu – a lot. If it’s not in the academy, then it’s going to be at a tournament. It’s best to learn to get over that initial fear by practicing your breakfalls rather than someone actually tossing you. So this is actually a very important mental aspect with breakfalls.
- You condition your body to impact
The actual practice of breakfalling helps your body toughen up. This is best to learn as a child because it can get quite painful – slamming your hand into the mats over and over. It’s better to get used to it at a young age. It is definitely more challenging for middle-aged practitioners, their bodies just can’t take as much tension usually.
- It will strengthen your neck
So one of the key details when learning a breakfall is to always keep your chin tucked into your chest. When someone untrained falls backwards or sideways, their head tends to tip to the side they are falling and will most likely hit the ground leading to serious injury. Practicing the breakfalls over and over conditions and strengthens your neck so that it holds your head away from the ground, avoiding the damage.
- It helps build coordination
This is more of a benefit for children but learning breakfalls requires a lot of coordination, just like the rest of martial arts. However, learning the breakfalls is a much simpler way to start your martial arts journey. It’s easier to grasp than other techniques and it’s that first step that will help you develop other techniques as you go on.