Sunday, March 29, 2009

Don't drop people on their heads

As a postscript to my theme for March, beautiful breakfalls, I want to point out that although learning to breakfall greatly reduces the chances of injury, it is also up to the thrower (tori) to help perform safe throws, safely.

For instance: Many jiu-jitsu and judo throws have been developed from battlefield techniques that culminate by dropping the opponent on his head or neck.  In the modern times these techniques are modified for safety: We do not drop them on their heads (or necks).  Either we modify the technique so that our partner is not killed or crippled, or -- when demonstrating -- stop before the completion of the technique.

An example: Here is the rice bale throw, executed in a safe, controlled form:

And here is a related -- but incredibly dangerous throw -- that occurred when a Capoeira demonstration degenerated into a disgraceful brawl (throw begins at the 35 second mark):

Fortunately the recipient appears to have evaded spinal injury.  Thanks to Dojo Rat for spotting the Capoeira incident (click the link for his discussion).

It often takes more skill to execute a safe throw than a dangerous one.  Let's save the deadly techniques for the battlefield.


Sue C said...

It makes the blood run cold to watch that video. I guess it was almost destined to get out of hand - the whole atmosphere was geared to winding up the two contestents - the music, the chanting, the crowd gathered around as if they were expecting to watch a brawl. There was definately a 'party' atmosphere about the whole thing. I wouldn't be surprised if alcohol didn't have something to do with things getting out of hand so quickly.

Dan Prager said...

Hi Sue

Interesting perspective: It is a bit reminiscent of schoolyard brawls and boxing and wrestling matches.

However, the music and the circle are the standard format for performing Capoeira, with pairs taking turns to do the dance/fight at a controlled pace so that kicks etc. can be evaded. And they don't usually end up like that!

Sue C said...

I'll take your word for it!

Anonymous said...

It's still important to know these applications in case of an emergeny (if someone's coming at me with a knife I wouldn't have any qualms about throwing them on their head or neck) yet I agree safety is paramount and these techniques should be practiced very carefully. Especially with sutemi: with tomoe-nage all you have to do is straighten your leg midway through his fall and pull him to the ground and he'll be guaranteed to fall on his head, not matter his breakfalling-skills. It's useful to know these applications are there though and a good rebuke to people who claim jujutsu if for whimps and 'it's not really about fighting' (morons).