How to Breakfall for Natural Movement and Parkour

Whether you’re a parkour athlete or not, slips, trips and falls can be incredibly dangerous. We believe that one of the most important skills you can add to your natural movement practice is how to breakfall, or interact with the ground in a safe and gentle manner. 

In this video we are going to outline specific techniques and progressions that you can use to practice falling regardless of your skill level. We will also be covering general principles that you can apply to any fall to make your ground engagement more comfortable and safe.

Key components to remember when learning to breakfall and roll:

-Avoid the central nervous system and vital organs. Breakfall so that your head, spine and vital organs are not exposed to impact or trauma. You can learn more about the Soft Tissue Pathway here. 

-Avoid landing sharply on the joints. When falling, it’s common to reach out with stiff arms or to spike the ground with the knees, elbows, shoulder or wrists. Doing this exerts a ton of force onto these bony points and increases your chance of injury.

-Distribute the force of the breakfall over time and area: The more body surface you can use to absorb the fall, and the longer you can distribute the force of the fall over time, the less the fall will cause damage.

-Stay Relaxed: Falling can be scary, but one of the biggest contributors to injury in a fall is when someone overreacts and becomes tense or rigid. The best way to develop comfort and relaxation in falling is to just keep practicing it, be patient with yourself and consistent with your practice and you’ll eventually prove to yourself that falling isn’t as bad as you used to think. As you arm yourself with the experience and techniques associated with ground engagement, you’ll begin to see the ground you stand on as an ally and companion and you’ll thoroughly enjoy interacting with it (on purpose or accidentally) in your movement practice. 

Once you develop some comfort with falling and rolling from a low seated position, you can begin to practice falls from different heights and more complex scenarios. Falls tend to be unexpected and won’t generally happen from a fixed and ready position, so use these drills to develop a basic understanding of ground engagement and then watch our progression videos on how to practice falling in a more reactive, alive manner.

*Related Content: Evolve Move Play Podcast Ep. 18 with Amos Rendao*

The Bigger Picture:

While practicing the physical techniques of falling will guard you against injury in a slip or trip, it’s important to expand this idea out to our lives at large. Just the way we fear falling and avoid it, we often fear failure in general and can easily develop a habit of staying away from situations or activities that we feel we will not succeed in.

Get rid of your emotions around failure for a minute and realize that it is just a form of information that we can use to learn and grow. By going out and trying new, difficult things, and failing at them, you will eventually come to realize that it’s an important part of the living experience.

You’ll see that by failing, you are accumulating lessons and equipping yourself with the experience necessary to succeed in future attempts. You’re developing a strength of character that doesn’t depend on ease and victory to operate, but thrives off of a vast reservoir of will and determination. You’ll see yourself setting and achieving goals on a regular basis and will build a strong foundation of wisdom and self trust.  

If you’d like to learn more, check out the links above to find a class in your area. 

Thanks everyone, and happy moving!
-The EMP Team

Breakfall

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