Take Ukemi Seriously
When I started in Kajukenbo around age eight, I had a friend who was going to take it with me. He quit after the first class, because "all we did was exercise stretch and take falls for most of the class." This was true, as it was the beginning of the session and everyone there was a new student. We did technique, but the emphasis was on conditioning and falling. My friend went on to TKD because they "actually learned to fight".
It's been almost a year since I have had to use any of my martial training on the job, and at least fifteen to twenty since I had any kind of confrontation on the streets. Well, this morning, I was being a good husband and catching up on some of the chores around the property, since the Mrs. has some friends coming over this evening socially. Some of the trees have grown down over the drive way, so there I was, with my chainsaw clearing them out.
I knew better than to stand on the very top of the ladder, but my zeal over took me as I had just one branch left to cut. I stretched up with the chainsaw and lopped the final branch off. As the chain stopped spinning, I looked around to see if I needed to cut any more, while I was up there. Apparently, that was enough for the ladder to catastrophically fail underneath me.
In a twisting motion the ladder collapsed and I started to fall straight down on top of it, with a running chainsaw. Instinctively, I kicked my feet out in front of me, and brought the chainsaw in turning it off on the way down. I must have looked like a hedgehog on the way down curled around the chainsaw. The only thought going through my mind was, what part of the ladder am i going to come down on. Images of my dad breaking his back on some steps atop a building as a yard gunner, and a possible broken ladder step piercing my torso flashed in my mind. As I felt my back come in contact I uncurled and spread the impact force over as much area as I could.
My landing area was less than desirable. A combination of crumpled ladder and the few 2 1/2" to 3" branches I just cut. As hit I let out a hardy Kiai in the form of FnCK! The failed ladder brace cut my left elbow and my left shoulder is a little sore now, I believe due to controlling the chainsaw on impact along with the uneven surface of the twisted ladder and branches.
After impact, I took an inventory and was happy no sharp shards of ladder had become impaled within me. I had my breath, protected my head, I was ok. I got up, discovered my chainsaw handle broke, and went on my way removing my downed branches before the initial shock of any possible injury could wear off and my wife would be left with these big branches blocking access to her party. I threw the branches over my fence to my neighbors goats, and proceeded to mow my lawns.
All I have to say, is I attribute my ability to come out of this situation uninjured to my love of Ukemi. I know it's a total Aikibunny way of looking at it, but it's not everyday you fall from about seven feet, with a running chainsaw in hand and just pop back up. I think I am here BSing on the internet instead of sitting in the ER, because of regular Ukemi practice.
I once jumped over a six foot high wall, drunk, failing to remember that there was a twelve foot drop on the other side. I attributed my survival, completely unharmed, to the combination of classical Jujutsu and Army Parachute School (though being totally relaxed may also have had something to do with it).
Glad your not dead
Your story high lights the importance of break falls and the folly of using a chainsaw(or any power tool for that matter) up a ladder
Honestly, if I were you, I'd attribute getting out of this unscathed to being lucky and be more careful next time.
Last edited by Azatdawn; 9/29/2011 2:07pm at .
Glad you're ok aikironin. Hope you got a little tenderness from the Mrs. instead of "you broke the ladder AND the chainsaw? "
I've been known to roll on the road just for fun when I'm drunk.
I heard of an aikidoka that was squatting down to fix his bike. He didn't see the group coming up to him, or the one that kicked him in the face. He did a back roll and came up to see the surprised gang who thought they'd have a victim lying on the ground under their feet instead of standing up looking at them from a few feet away. I think he ran away after that.
I was coming back from an exam and was a little stressed out. I tried to vault a hand rail but didn't compensate for the weight of the bag of books on my back or heavy shoes I was wearing, I caught my toes on the way over. A basic front flat breakfall saved me from a trip to the dentist.
Break falls rule. It is the main reason my son's first MA experience is likely to be judo kids classes. Rolling out of falls have saved me a ton of times especially from falling off of my mountain bike.
I am glad to hear you didn't get chainsawed or break your neck.
I cannot count how many times ukemi prevented broken hip bones during winter time.
And I think I might change my kiai to "Fnck" too.
Well I'm glad I did Judo for like a week.
nice story. Wish I had known ukemi when I was 14; fell off a skateboard and down a steep ass road for about twenty feet on my elbows. Although my elbow strikes might not cut so good today lol.
on another note, now I'm curious about your friend who went on to do TKD. Did he stick with it? Did he learn to fight? Has he fallen off of a ladder or mountain with less than desired results?!
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