How To Breakfall Correctly (Ukemi Tutorial)


(heavy percussion music) – I wanna teach you how
to properly break a fall. Breakfalls are known as ukemi in Japanese, and there are two versions,
or ways, of doing it. Either a soft way, where you roll and hopefully stand up again. That’s called ju ukemi, ju means soft. And then we have go ukemi, go means hard. And that’s what you do when
you don’t have the ability or the space to roll and stand up. And that’s what you usually see in judo, when you get thrown and such. And the idea behind
using breakfalls is this, if you don’t know how to fall
in a safe and proper manner, then probably you will not be practicing more advanced karate
techniques like throws and takedowns and sweeps
and that kind of stuff. So, if you wanna do more of those types of practical fighting techniques, then you need to know how to fall properly and land in a safe manner. And that’s why I think
all karate practitioners should know these things. Yet, in many dojos I visit,
they don’t know how to fall. And you know, if you look
at gymnastics, for example, the first thing they learn is how to land, before doing any flips or jumps. So you really need to know these things. Now, let’s start with the
soft breakfall or ju ukemi. This is how I teach it. So, usually I start from a
seated position like this. You can do either right side or left side. The important thing is that
you put the opposite hand next to the foot, here. And then my free hand goes there. And then I look behind me, and then I push off and
roll on the shoulder with my head to the side, this way. So my head never touches the ground. And look, my position now is the same as when I started. Here, one, two, look, and roll, and then from here, I simply twist and stand up. Other side. One, two, free hand goes in the space just under my armpit, then you push off, and then maintain the same
position with the legs, so that you can stand
up in an efficient way. And then of course, once
you know how to do it from the ground, you do the same thing standing up, gradually
increasing the height, until you can do it
from a natural position as if you’re falling this
way, and then stand up. That’s the first one. Second is back. So, I sit down, this is
how I usually teach it in the beginning, always from the ground, because it’s super
scary to fall from here, if you’re a beginner, especially. So, now you have a choice. Either right side or left side. Just tilt your head, so, I go this way. Then I sit back and I roll
over the shoulder again. Not on the neck, but over
the shoulder and the scapula, and my legs swing this way. I use my hands to push up. And look, I immediately land as I stand up in a perfect fighting position, ready. Again, the other side, one, sit back, throw your legs over the
shoulder and use your hands. This way. Like I’m a sprinter, right, this position. And then of course, if an
opponent is pushing me, I need to use my hands to protect myself, so hands comes up, and then
I use my legs to stand up, so that I can protect
myself as I stand up. And then if I do it from standing, I will not go like this. Instead, I will choose one side, and I will put my leg
behind me as I drop down. And that’s the standing version. Now, that was ju ukemi. Next we’re gonna do go ukemi, which is the hard way of falling. First, to the front. Starting from the ground, again. Your hands in this position, so I’m using my arms, not just the
wrists, to break the fall. And then I’m looking to the side, so that I don’t have a whiplash and smash my nose on the ground. This way. Here. Notice that only my arms and my toes are touching the ground, from here. Again. Starting from a sitting position. And then, I choose one leg, step over, protect yourself. Because maybe someone pushed me, so I need to know what’s
happening behind me, right? Other side, same thing, here. Pick a side, doesn’t matter. And then from here, I
do a standup this way. What’s known as a technical standup, a way to protect yourself as you stand up, I know we’ve done that
in previous episodes. Again. One, other side. Protect yourself, kick if you need to, elevate your butt, and stand up. Next. That was front, now let’s do back. On both sides, you can
do right, left, or both. I’m gonna start with both, so. From a squatting position, this way. But with a jump. And the idea is that you hit before your back touches the ground. Because if your back
slams into the ground, (coughs) like that, then that’s
not a good idea, right? You wanna break the fall with your arms, at a 45 degree angle this way. Same level as your belt or hip bone, here. And then your legs, not like that, and not like this, because
if your knees are here you could hit yourself,
and if you go like this, then there’s a chance that you
will roll over on your neck. So strive to have this angle here. Not straight, not bent, but 45 degrees. So the whole move looks like this. And then you stand up like before. Like that. Okay, so we did hard, go
ukemi, front and back. Now let’s do sides, right and left. Starting from here, or from here. Pick a side. One leg goes straight
out, and the same arm goes straight down this way. The other hand goes here, to the chest. Tuck your chin… This way. This leg is bent, and your
chin is super important. Same with the previous one I just did, this one, I just forgot to tell you, because you don’t wanna hit your head. 45 degrees. And the reason for this is because, if I do this with my legs, I’m gonna smash them together,
and that really hurts. So, this one needs to be bent. This is here, for protection, and then I can push myself
up, in a safe way again. Other side, same thing. Here. Look, the exact same thing, here. Protect yourself, kick, stand up. This is what you would do if somebody, if someone throws you or does
a foot sweep or whatever. Now, finally, let’s combine them. So I’m gonna roll, the ju ukemi, and then I’m gonna finish with a go ukemi, the hard breakfall, and stand up. So it looks like this. From here, pick a side, right or left. I roll, here. I do the go ukemi, the breakfall, then I stand up like that. So I’m combining the soft and the hard, ju and go, like goju,
like goju-ryu, funny. Then you can also do that with a jump, which you usually see in aikido, when people get thrown like that, they have to jump, otherwise they’re gonna break the wrists, right? Wrist locks. Same in jiu-jitsu, and
that’s a kaiten ukemi. So, it will look like this. From the side, instead of rolling, I jump, so. And stand up. Always in the safe way. And that’s it, I hope these variations, these ways of doing the ukemi, the breakfall, can help
you land more safely and efficiently, both for you and your training partners and students. That’s it, train hard,
good luck, and have fun.

100 Replies to “How To Breakfall Correctly (Ukemi Tutorial)

  1. Thank you, very good. My study through some jujutsu dojo have shown me that the differences in schools ukemi are details that are good to learn to see the oneness of the art. Thank again, "gracias" from Puerto Rico.

  2. I like the rolling break fall and the Breakdown of the techniques was good and easy to understand. What about breaking down some difficult kicks like ura mywashi geri or ushiro geri I seen them pulled of the odd times in tournament maybe you could show the kicks breakdown the technique like you have on this with the break falls and as a bonus show it in some sparing drills like how you might set it up. Also this is my first time commenting but have watched a few of your other vids kata application videos where good Nijushiho or Bassai Dai might be good to see applications from them. Keep up the good work. 👍

  3. The way you teach the roll with the hand positions might be better than how I've been teaching. I have trouble with the kids hitting their elbows because I use the "big wheel" arm positioning. It is tough for them to grasp. Thank you, sensei.

  4. I think that was the best class on Ukemi ever! I've had to go through the classes several times, none were presented as clearly, and honestly it is way harder than you made it look. I'm still not very good at it…

  5. It is right that controlled falling is not usually taught in karate and I always felt that it was a pity because this is a necessary skill. Perhaps the reason is that, in many places, karate is practiced on sport places designed for other diferent sports than karate (that is my case) and the floor is parquet, with concrete inmediately under. Even if you are accustomed (I practiced judo in my youth) it is hard to take a fall there. Thats the reason the early judokas began to use tatami, there were too many fractured bones!

  6. As a mexican pro wrestler, i can tell you you're making a little mistake un the front landing, ir may be not a mistake, but we use another way to landing. My karate students learn the lucha libre's fall break in the 3rd Month, once they learn how to do the moto dashi stand and balance. Greetings Jesse!

  7. Once I did a breakfall incorrectly (I'm a BJJ practitioner) I ended up hitting my elbow directly on my mat. I'm pretty sure I hit my funny bone lol

  8. Learning these ukemi in Aikido is a reason I'm alive and in one piece today. From going off pushbikes, motorbikes and skateboards, to a awkward fall from over two meters height on my side, after a guy managed to catch me with his shoulder and continue lifting while jumping for the ball in a basketball game

  9. It's all pretty much the same as what you learn in Judo except with the hard backwards breakfall and side breakfalls you can actually keep rolling straight up on to the feet. Same with the forward roll, if you do it right you can stand straight up right after slapping the arm.

  10. Those are the same as what we learned in TKD. I slipped on icy steps a couple winters ago and the backfall just automatically happened. Unhurt. Last summer, I slipped as I was stepping onto the dock with my kayak on my shoulder. A front fall magically appeared, with one arm still inside the kayak. I did scrape my knee on the dock edge, but me and the kayak were unhurt. I went on paddling. Excellent stuff to practice!

  11. Wow these is something everyone everywhere should practice. Bicycles, motorcycles, skateboards, climbing, etc. Learning to fall without injury might be even more helpful than learning to swim …

    Must share!

  12. Jajaja i am an aikido practicioner and i am practicing to do break fall and all my hope was on you and you only did one by two seconds 😂🤣😂🤣😂😭😭

  13. Break fall really saved me. I slipped on ice twice during the winter at a parking lot and at work I slipped on a mop water.

  14. Jesse san do you know about Indian Traditional Martial arts kalaripayattu?
    It is the origin of shaolin kungfu and many other asian martialarts.Bodhidharma taught it to shaolin monks.
    But sadly through many invasions and rules throughout history….especially british banning it for its use in warfare, almost 80% techniques are lost.Too bad it is now only a demonstrative form and it didn’t even get upgraded for modernday use tho it has many killing techniques also..
    Thx

  15. I'm not a karate practitioner but i truly admire the art 👊👊 i currently practice and study wingchun. I can use the ukemi in a self defense situation. Thank you Sensei 🙏👊

  16. This is a clear approach to teach ukemi. Nicly explained. But to be honest putting the arm through/in the space is way more difficult than put it on the side. This provides more stability and prevent falling on the side.
    But for me as a kids trainer you force a natural movement into a technical explanation. This never worked for my training. Before knowing a good fall for me it is crucial to awake the lust to roll, to fall and to spend time on the mat. After that everybody is able to discover what you explained. But I am pretty sure that it is never the other way around.
    Yours Marius

  17. Jesse your videos are very knowledgeable . Through your teaching I came to understand the proper way of falling. It is a very useful video for me. In fact I saved this video so that I can watch it later too. Although, keep it up Jesse

  18. Except for the techniques you just showed, we train with Olympic wrestlers, gymnast's, and Judokas to learn more advanced fall techniques, I started training with those back in the day when I was still competing and today we still exchange technique's in my Dojo. That's what's so great about Karate, you can learn from even disciplines which are not Martial Art related like gymnast's to learn and maintain security in fall technique. And for those who practice Judo or especially Wrestling, they are really the masters of this. So I have put it into my training routines for my students. Obviously always with safety and health in mind.

  19. Oss sensei. Wow wow wowwww amazing video once again sensei. You are the best sensei. Loved this video sensei. I tried some of these moves and it helps a lot sensei. I followed the techniques properly and I'm not hurt at all. Oss sensei😊😊

  20. Great video. What I've learned over the years is to pick up different methodologies to teach ukemi, as students will grasp some methods better than others.

    BTW, nice quiet rolls. Shows excellent technique.

  21. Thanks a lot, Jesse ! I always struggle a bit to teach this. Some people are so afraid of doing this exercises. Now I got some new ideas from you. 😊🙏

  22. Just found your channel and I like it. I'm from England and I have a fair amount of Martial Arts background I guess, I eventually got my 1st Dan black belt in WTF Taekwondo and won 1or 2 small competitions, gold medal and little trophy and so on, brown belt in Hapkido, studied a little bit of Shoulin Kung Fu, plenty of Boxing which I've always been efficient at, BJJ which I really enjoyed and so on. I've now recently started training in Judo and Thai boxing which I'm really enjoying. I've never had the chance to try Karate but I'm always looking for advice. New Subscriber 👍

  23. Man this is a common problem for many karateka my friend broke his are because he use it in landing now he can only be allowed to do kata no kumite

  24. Thank you for this tutorial! There are far too many Karate schools that do not properly teach/train falling… thinking it only practiced in the "grappling" arts. They fail to realize that, if you don't survive the fall, the fight is over.

    As a side note, the front fall/roll is great for when you trip over the carpet in the hallway 😉

  25. I've been living in Bangkok for the past 14 years, and I'm also an Aikidoka. People ask me have I ever had to use Aikido In the streets. My answer is: "Yes, about a dozen times, my opponents were wet floors, broken pavement stones, and traffic driving on the sidewalk." Good ukemi has saved me a lot of hospital visits.

  26. I said it before and I will say it again. He wears the whitest and cleanest GI, I have ever seen.

  27. First – that's a good stuff you're showing here 🙂
    I can tell you that it's scary even for many seasoned judoka to just fall on the back. It's rooted very deep in human nature that falling on the back is a no-no. When I had problems to fall in any direction I've actually used one leg to kick another or pull my whole body and force myself to loose stability this way.
    One more thing – when you fall completely frontally, if a break is done properly you should be able to stand back like a spring. I can't tell you how, cause I'm unable to do this, but most of the black belt judoka I've met did it. It's kind of a gymnastic mystery for me 😉

  28. that was pretty cool professional wrestlers take bumps that was very similar to the ones you were doing when you fell to your back and on your side I didn't know that that was still practice amongst karate people

  29. Great video man, I wish they had a Karate dojo here in Ohio like yours. I’ve trained in Muay Thai Kickboxing for years. Now training in Hapkido, Judo, couldn’t find a good place to do Karate at.

  30. In Judo ukemi forward roll is Palm first not wrist, and they do it all the time,, you'll break it on a roll especially if someone above you, or if you don't have the space, always palm, never wrist, just saying.

  31. So great to see this explained in this way. We learned almost identically but this way of presenting is so straight forward.

    One question I've had: when you do a hard fall and you throw down your arm: do you hit palm-first and then arm, or try to hit everything together (hand + forearm at exactly the same time)? I found that I usually prefer trying to take as much energy out of the fall by having the hand hit hard just before the entire arm hits (just a split second).

    Thanks again! this was awesome.

  32. Doing judo vor 25 years, i Would recommend some points to your Front roll :
    1. Turn your palms out to the ground, in this way your arm has a naturel tension that stabilizes you. Make sure your elbow Shows in the direction you Are rolling
    2. Doing it from the Knees, DONT put your free Hand under your armpit, instat Put it between your legs! Otherwise you get the Habit of turning to much sideways. Especially important for the free fall Front roll!!
    Another thing is the difference between "battlefield"" Short Rolls and "zivil" long Rolls. The First Are done by putting your Front Hand between your legs, you need Less Space and they Are faster, but the force on your body and Chance of injuries is higher. The long Roll is done by putting your front Hand beside your Front feet.
    But you Are realy good, better than Most Judoka! Ukemi is the Most important thing every body should know! you can live your live without ever having a fight, but Not without ever falling to the ground

  33. Excellent video with explanation. I have practiced ju jitsu before but I quit. I am a JKA shotokan karate teacher and now I want to implement the falls to my students because it is essential to learn to fall in any situation. Whether in kumite tournaments or for the street itself. OSS!

  34. Hello Jesse Sensei, greetings from Zambia. I have done Judo and Jujitsu for the last 34 years. I represented Zambia internationally in Judo for 10 years around the world in my younger days. While I was living in Japan for 7 years I learnt the different ways the Japanese Koryu Jujitsu Sensei teach Ukemi waza. The Koryu Jujitsu Ukemi waza taught in Japan is very interesting to learn,especially the Goshin Jitsu no Ukemi waza. Here in Zambia many of my students over the years have been saved from near fatal death accidents from motorbike accidents to car hit and run accidents. Ukemi waza saved their lives. I thank God all my students made the effort to learn their break falls well. Some of them wouldn't be alive today if they didn't bother to come to the dojo to learn Ukemi. I have a special morning class on Saturday mornings at 8 o'clock in our dojo to teach many Karate Ka their breakfalls here in Zambia. I am so encouraged to see even high ranking Karate Ka willing to learning this amazing art. Your explanation and teaching of Ukemi waza was excellent and easy to understand for beginners. Keep up the tremendous work Jesse San , Best wishes from Zambia. Itsumo Ganbate Kudasai

  35. This is a great video, most people who want to learn martial arts don't care about this but this is what helps keep you in the fight. The only time I've ever used martial arts in real life is when I was on a dead sprint to the other side of the court playing basketball and I got tripped from behind, it was weird because everything slowed down and I had 2 choices. I could just fall flat forward and get scrapped up and possibly injure my wrists or roll, I rolled and only lost a step. It came from practicing the techniques you're showing here. Thanks again for the videos, you're doing the martial arts community a great service!

  36. The single most useful practical skil in all of "martial arts" let's face it. One is way more likely to slip and fall in Life then get into a physical confrontation. Luckily so.

  37. Mr Jesse that is inspiring greating can I ask you about full contact karate styles like kudo kyokushin ashihara etc are they useful in real street fighting please

  38. I agree with the older martial artists, being one myself. Invaluable information put forth in a professional & entertaining manner.

  39. Ukemi should be taught and practiced in every class, in every dojo.
    It's that important.
    Ukemi practice has saved my life, and kept me from injury many times outside of the dojo. I've been practicing ukemi since the 1970's, every class.

  40. Thank you for this. These are the exact same movements we were taught in Ninjutsu, so it's nice to see the root between the two arts. I have a bit of a question though: Where I am there is Shotokan, Goju and Shito-ryu schools. I'm also 42 years old, not really interested in competition (and Kyokushin is way too much fighting), how do I pick the right style to start with? I do know that Kobudo interests me very much (Sais or a sword isn't always practical, but one can usually find a big or small stick if needed). There's even one school that mixes karate, Iaido and Aikijutsu as part of the Shito Karate class. I "do" want to learn how to defend myself but I'm not a "fighter" by any means… I'd walk away first.

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