I have dropped motorcycles a couple of times in my life and been glad I knew how to breakfall properly. And by ‘properly’ I mean your breakfalls have to be instinctual. When you need to save yourself from injury there isn’t time to think.
Once while racing some other guys on a tight corner, this is years ago – remember, I had the bike’s drive chain slip off the sprocket and lock the rear wheel while I was gunning the bike round a right-hand corner uphill.
I skidded into the curb and literally flew head-first over the handlebars. But I did a perfect rolling breakfall and came up on my feet.
The other guys (who were two-up on their bike) stopped to check I was okay, bless ’em. But they were staring at me as if I had just walked on water. And by the way, I wasn’t wearing a helmet either. (That was a few decades ago.)
…your breakfalls have to be instinctual. When you need to save yourself from injury there isn’t time to think.
The other time I was backing another motorbike downhill and turning backwards into a steep drive. I thought I would let gravity do the work but I couldn’t keep my balance going backwards, so I fell off.
I landed flat on my back and protected my head without thinking. I was red-faced a little bit but unhurt. A watching neighbor was freaked out and expected me to be hurt.He was amazed that I hadn’t been hurt in any way – just my slightly-dented pride.
Another true breakfall story. A friend’s teenage son was walking on rocks at the beach when he slipped on some wet seaweed. His feet just shot out from under him in the blink of an eye, but because he had trained in our club for several months he did a back breakfall and had bruised fingers but no injuries. Without knowing how to breakfall, his dad (another Aikido black belt) told me his boy would have smashed his head open on that rock without any doubt. So the young man survived, thanks to his Aikido training.
Every few weeks I read newspaper stories of people who have been ‘king hit’ (punched out) in some drunken brawl or in a road rage incident. And they fall and crack their head on the concrete. They die, and someone gets prosecuted on a manslaughter charge or worse.
Knowing how to breakfall can save your life. Absolutely.