Practical Skills from Aikido

I read on social media of another friend injured (though fortunately not badly) in a fall, and once again I want to teach everyone I know how to fall. Of course, even if you know how to fall, you can still injure yourself, but the odds are you will minimize the damage.

Everyone falls. Look at toddlers learning how to walk. They fall all the time. We get better at walking, but we still trip on things.

Doctors tell old people not to fall, but of course that’s useless advice. What people need to know — and to learn with their bodies — is how to fall safely so that we don’t hit the back of our heads or reach out to catch our whole body weight on a wrist.

The first thing you learn in Aikido training is how to fall. Judo players learn this as well, and I assume most jujitsu teaches it. It’s a vital skill for fighting arts, but more than that it’s a vital skill for human beings.

You have to learn it with your body, because in the instant moment of a fall, you don’t have time to think; you just fall. Years of experience helps, but even a small amount of solid training will make a difference. Bodies remember.

I understand that physical therapists teach falling in The Netherlands. They should teach it here. Even better, though, teach it in schools. But since so many old people didn’t learn it in school, teach it at senior centers.

One thing I remember in watching a kids’ aikido class was the children teaching each other to fall by protecting their partner throughout a throw. That’s a useful thing to learn, too, with applications far beyond the physical. Continue reading “Practical Skills from Aikido”