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  1. lklawson is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/15/2010 9:55am


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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    antique tumbling texts

    OK, here's the thing. I have found nearly squat-all instruction in standard WMA texts from the 18th C through the end of the 19th which include instruction on safe falling techniques. The two exceptions being first Edwards "Art of Boxing" (1888) in which he says:

    "If ever you are caught in any of these traps, look rather to your tumble than struggle to prevent it, for, the more desperate your efforts, so much the more severe will be your fall, because of the great strain and tension on all muscles at the moment of impact with the hard ground; but if you let yourself go limp, and rather assist than retard your fall, you are not liable to sustain half so much injury as when you fall while struggling to prevent it."

    Secondly is Walker's "Defensive Exercises" (1840) section entitled "The Art of Falling Down" which I am convinced would lead to shoulder or wrist injury if followed. Of course, Walker says to do his falling methods in order to avoid head injury, so I guess it's preferable to break your wrist instead of your head, but still...

    Following the introduction of Japanese JiuJitsu at the turn of the 20th Century we begin to see the introduction of ukemi into texts but even then it begins sparsely and limited to books on JiuJitsu or JJ influenced self defense. Wrestling manuals continue to largely ignore the subject.

    This fact surprises me. Pugilism and Wrestling in the 18th-19th C. had a strong focus on throwing and tripping so "falling down" happened a lot in these arts. But I see no documentation of safe falling techniques.

    I am, therefore, left with one of three conclusions.

    First is the possibility that these falls just didn't create that many injuries because they were wrestled or boxed on comparatively "soft" and "giving" material and/or the throws/trips performed weren't all that likely to result in injury. I reject this because I've seen the throws documented and read too many accounts of boxing & wrestling on hard-packed dirt, wooden floors with straw covering, etc.

    Second, is the possibility that during this time part of the Western mind set was that a man just sucked it up. If you were injured, keep a stiff upper lip and don't complain. Keep going. There is some merit to this argument. For instance, in Boxing the term "Bottom" (and later "sand") was used to refer to a boxer's ability to withstand the blows of his opponent and keep on. Further, many wrestling styles concentrated on "strength" based contests. So an argument could be made that the Western concept of safe falling during this time period was simply "Man up and grow a pair."

    Third, is the possibility that safe falling techniques *were* in fact known but were simply not recorded in the manuals because it was something that "everyone knows" so why bother recording it? To that end I am looking for period material which, though not specifically "martial," would indicate a more sophisticated understanding of safe falling than "just go limp" or "don't cry like a little girl." The most logical texts which come to mind are those intended as introductory instruction for Tumbling, Gymnastics, and Acrobatics.

    So, with in this 200 year range, does anyone know of any Tumbling, Gymnastics, and Acrobatics manuals which discuss safe falling?

    (yes, I'm currently working library angles too)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
  2. Permalost is online now
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    Posted On:
    12/15/2010 11:46am

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     Style: FMA, dumbek, Indian clubs

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I'm inclined to believe that they had some knowledge of falling technique before jujutsu was on the scene. If a guy was a boxer or wrestler who was coaching some guys for competition, he'd probably know a thing or two about falling, and teach these things, when watching people get hurt from throws in sparring.
  3. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/16/2010 2:04am

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     Style: Bartitsu

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    My hypothesis on this is that the skill was always there in Western boxing (LPR rules) and wrestling, but it wasn't conceptualized as a set of techniques the way ukemi was. The "knack" of breaking a fall by various means (breathing out during the fall, keeping a secure hold on the thrower's body, turning out and landing with both feet, etc.) can be to some extent inherent in training, without being isolated as a skill-set.
  4. Permalost is online now
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    pro nonsense self defense

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    Posted On:
    12/16/2010 2:17am

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     Style: FMA, dumbek, Indian clubs

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    It seems that one of the most important details to have down is tucking the chin when falling on your back, and I'm wondering if this would happen just because it's a good habit while boxing.
  5. JudOWNED is offline
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    北斗十字固拳

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    Posted On:
    12/16/2010 9:05am

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Not sure how much it will help you to know this (and perhaps you already do, anyway), but even in modern wrestling they still don't teach falling. I spent about a year or so wrestling with an ammy club several years ago and they never addressed falling ONCE. Not once.
  6. lklawson is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/16/2010 9:13am


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    Quote Originally Posted by DdlR View Post
    My hypothesis on this is that the skill was always there in Western boxing (LPR rules) and wrestling, but it wasn't conceptualized as a set of techniques the way ukemi was. The "knack" of breaking a fall by various means (breathing out during the fall, keeping a secure hold on the thrower's body, turning out and landing with both feet, etc.) can be to some extent inherent in training, without being isolated as a skill-set.
    I'm looking for evidence of this in old records and manuals, but it's like the proverbial needle.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
  7. lklawson is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/16/2010 9:15am


     Style: Bowie

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    Quote Originally Posted by JuHo Ho HOWNED View Post
    Not sure how much it will help you to know this (and perhaps you already do, anyway), but even in modern wrestling they still don't teach falling. I spent about a year or so wrestling with an ammy club several years ago and they never addressed falling ONCE. Not once.
    Yeah, I know. :P

    FWIW, I do know of one person who was taught some basic falling skills in K-12 Wrestling. The schools Wrestling Coach was also their Gymnastics Coach. Unsurprisingly, the falling skills described to me that he taught are very reminiscent of basic tumbling skills.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
  8. lklawson is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/16/2010 9:19am


     Style: Bowie

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Permalost View Post
    It seems that one of the most important details to have down is tucking the chin when falling on your back, and I'm wondering if this would happen just because it's a good habit while boxing.
    I don't know for certain one way or the other.

    I do know that in the pre-1900 Gymnastics manuals I've been reading, protecting the head by tucking the chin during forward and backward rolls is taught, though only once by specific language. Other times, the author specifies a way of shaping the body during the roll which necessitates tucking the chin.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
  9. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/16/2010 12:57pm

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     Style: Bartitsu

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by JuHo Ho HOWNED View Post
    Not sure how much it will help you to know this (and perhaps you already do, anyway), but even in modern wrestling they still don't teach falling. I spent about a year or so wrestling with an ammy club several years ago and they never addressed falling ONCE. Not once.
    That was my experience learning freestyle wrestling when I was a teenager. OTOH, some bridging drills effectively do teach the turnout and double foot landing, even though they're not presented as "breakfalls".

    The other side of this is that the classic ukemi-style slap fall with the arms brings you into a shoulders-to-the-mat position (a fall, or near fall), which is to be avoided if possible in freestyle wrestling.
  10. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/16/2010 1:38pm

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     Style: Bartitsu

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    Quote Originally Posted by lklawson View Post
    I'm looking for evidence of this in old records and manuals, but it's like the proverbial needle.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
    If the "knack" hypothesis is correct then it may simply not have been generally recorded, at least not overtly as a set of techniques (which is why Walker, et al tend to stand out). If a given throw can be safely broken by retaining a hold on the thrower during the fall and/or turning out/bridging into a foot landing, my guess would be that is how they did it and that it was taken for granted as being something that one picked up during training.

    I can actually see an advantage in this more intuitive approach, in that the very highly codified ukemi approach can get overly academic. I can't remember the last time I was thrown backwards in such as way that I could execute a double-arm slap breakfall. In practical terms the throwee is almost always still in contact with the thrower, very often with one or both hands/arms, as they're being thrown. In combination with the knack of bridging and taking most of the impact into the soles of the feet, maintaining that connection effectively serves the same purpose as slap falling, dispersing the impact over a large surface area.

    There's also the Glima approach, which favors contortionistic turnouts in mid-air and posting the hands against the floor if necessary. I don't know how they avoid wrist injuries, but they do seem to. Does Josephsson have any advice on falling, per se?
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