Kotegaeshi Breakfalls

This wrist throw is used in Aikido, Jujitsu and similar arts like Hapkido.

A fast wrist throw will break your wrist or elbow unless you know how to jump over it.
A fast wrist throw will break your wrist or elbow unless you know how to jump over it.

Kotegaeshi Breakfalls are how you escape from a very nasty arm break in Aikido, Hapkido or Ju Jitsu.

If you don’t know how to leap over your own arm quickly, and land with a good side breakfall, your arm is going to snap like a twig when someone hits you with a kotegaeshi wrist throw at full power and speed.

The kote-gaeshi breakfall is not a technique for raw Aikido beginners. That’s why the Kotegaeshi throw is the 12th technique in the Shodokan Aikido training curriculum.

You already need to have built up your Ukemi skills (your breakfalls) well before you try this one.

You start learning kotegaeshi breakfalls by practicing with a partner in the dojo.

You stand facing each other, and grip each other’s hands.

The first few times, the assisting partner holds your hand lightly. He or she then turns and kneels as they place your hand palm-down on the dojo mat. This makes it safe for you to do a rolling breakfall. That is a safety skill you need to have already learned.

And then you then will do a gentle forward roll using your captured arm to roll upon.

This gets you used to timing your breakfall to the actions (and placement) of the person you are training with.

It is a strange feeling at first, but you will quickly gain confidence.

The second stage of kotegaeshi breakfalling is much more of a challenge.

You stand facing each other, with your legs slightly wider apart than shoulder width.

Then you grip each other’s right hands firmly. This is done almost as you would to shake hands, but the assisting partner holds the weight-bearing hand palm-up. (If it were palm down, you would just slip right out of the other person’s grip and crash to the floor.)

Trusting them to hold you, you lean forward over your own arm. If your right hand is being held, you extend your left hand over the top of the fulcrum of your (and your partner’s) arms.

Then you leap over (while your friend supports your weight for the instant while you are flying through the air) and you breakfall on your side. Your free arm (whichever one is not being held) slaps the mat as you land.

Occasionally, during your training sessions, someone’s grip will slip, and they’re going to drop you in the middle of a Kotegaeshi breakfall. You need to develop your skill to cope with this, too. The higher your skill level, the less you will get hurt by the impact.

One of my early teachers used to kill time while waiting at the bus stop by doing kotegaeshi breakfalls – without a partner to help -and he’d do these on the grass verge next to the street. He sure used to get some strange looks from other people.

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