This is a semi-advanced variation of basic ukemi in the martial art Aikido. Where a regular fall involves either rolling forward and out of the center of energy or sitting backwards on your inside leg (that is, the leg closest to nage), a breakfall constitutes holding onto uke and virtually throwing oneself over the center of the technique.
When executed correctly, breakfalls can appear graceful and make nage look better than he/she really is. And, there is that satisfying WHACK as the uke's body slams into the mat. Very flamboyant, particularly when done out of shihonage.
When executed incorrectly, breakfalls really suck, and can really hurt. Don't try them unless you're ready to bash yourself around a little.
Tips on performing a successful breakfall:
- Throw yourself. If nage is forcing you to fall this way, you'll probably do it incorrectly. As it is, you'll probably land on unappealing body parts, and it'll be ten times worse if you're trying to avoid breaking a bone.
- Stay close to uke, and land on your side. The best breakfalls spread the impact of landing across your entire body, but landing too flat, either on your stomach or your back, will knock you breathless.
- Slap the mat with your arm when you go down. Keep in mind that this is just rolling with a lot of energy.
- Practice out of many variations of techniques for variety and experience. Breakfalls out of shihonage, as mentioned above, are drastically different than breakfalls out of kotegaishi.