Falling and Balance

Why Should You Care About How to Fall?

After all, the main point is not to fall, right? Well, yes, that’s true. In a real fight falling would equal death. Thankfully we’re not really in the Middle Ages, so that’s not the case, but we will be floored in more advanced exercises. Because of that, it’s important to learn how to land safely and how to get up.

That’s easier said than done, of course. The teacher’s assistant is thrown down a few times to show us that learning this is possible, but I’m still doubtful. Landing safely from a standing position? Eek. Can’t we at least do this on a soft surface?

No. Falling in real life is not going to happen on a comfortably padded surface, so there’s little point in us learning how to fall on anything but concrete. This makes sense, but it does nothing to cheer me up.

The Basic Falling Exercise

Following the warm-up and the teacher’s explanation of the exercise we all squat down as low as we can. The idea is to let yourself fall back, land on one shoulder, roll to the other side and sit back up.

The bones are not supposed to grind against the floor, our teacher says. If they do, you’re doing it wrong. You’re supposed to use the natural padding on your arm and back to soften your fall. The problem? I’ve got close to no padding. I’ve always been thin to the point of having doctors breathing down my neck. It’s not like I try to be bones and skin, fat just doesn’t seem to stick in my body, and we’ve already established that I have close to no muscles either. No matter how I curve my back, there’s always some bone sticking out.

This exercise doesn’t go well. I don’t manage to soften the fall at all, and my early failures result in me going all tense, which doesn’t help a bit. I give up after hitting a nerve and decide to work on this later in private.

Why is Balance Important?

Like we said before, not falling is usually better than falling well. For this we need to retain our balance. The better balanced we are, the harder a job our opponent has in getting us down on the ground.

The Basics of Balance

We are asked to pair up. My eyes go to the girl on my right (there are only three of us women present), and with a few nervous chuckles we agree to do the exercise together. The assignment is simple: stand with your feet about shoulder-width and have your partner try to push you out of balance first from the front, then from the side.

Which one is harder to do? The first one turns out to be easy, but neither of us can get the other off-balance when pushing from the side. There’s a simple explanation for this. Our two feet on the ground form a line between each other. Pushing in the direction of this line is futile: our entire skeleton resists the push without any effort put into it by us. This is what’s happening in the second picture. In the first, however, the pushing force comes perpendicular to the line formed by our feet, causing us to get easily pushed out of balance.

This is all clearly important, but not all that exciting. Where’s the cool stuff? I thought this was a blog on swordsmanship, not balance theory! Alright, I hear you. Get your sword-fix here.

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