Back Breakfalls are first learned with you lying down flat on your back on the tatami mat. If you don’t have a Dojo or Gym, you may do this on the grass in your garden or local park. Even on soft (dry) sand at the beach.
Bend your knees, so your heels are flat on the floor.
Your arms should be held palm-down at 45 degrees from your body.
Lift your head, so your chin is touching your chest. This back breakfalls exercise strengthens your neck muscles, (and you are starting a lifelong habit of protecting your head from hitting the ground if you fall).
Lift your arms up so your hands are together in front of your face.
Slap the ground with your fingers, palms and forearms all sharing the impact.
Repeat eight times. Exhale each time you hit. Have your teacher or training partner check that you are keeping your head off the ground. (You will keep forgetting because your neck gets very tired at first with backward breakfalls.)
When you can do these backward slaps comfortably from lying down, you can progress to:
Roll back. Make sure you tucked your chin well in and exhale strongly. Slap the ground. Repeat 8 times.
Squat with your buttocks sitting on your heels. Tuck in your chin and curve your spine. When you are sure your back is rounded like a wheel, allow your body to roll backwards so your back hits the floor. You should force your breath out sharply, and slap the mat just as your belt touches the mat. Repeat 8 times.
Practice this until you can do it without jarring your body too much. No feeling of shock.
Back Breakfalls From Standing
Stand up straight. (See the photo at top.)
Bend your knees and lower your buttocks close to the ground. (You may place one foot slightly behind the other.)
Roll onto your back, just as you did from the squatting position. Exhale and slap the mat as your belt touches the floor.
Make sure you keep your head from banging the ground.
Even seasoned black-belts break-fall in this manner whenever they can. They get very fast at putting one foot back and lowering their backside to the ground in a split-second.
Remember, it’s a lot more comfortable to fall four inches (10 cms) onto your back than it is to drop four feet (1.3 meters).