Mae Ukemi - Forward Breakfall
This breakfall is done in situations where you have no opportunity to roll. Essentially, if you are falling directly to the front, face-plant style, this front breakfall is the best way to save yourself.
When learning Mae Ukemi, start from your knees to minimize the forces involved. Keep your hands up at face level with your elbows bent, keeping the elbows bent at all times - DO NOT straighten your arms to reach for the ground as you fall as this will cause injuries (broken wrists and collar bones are common injuries with this type of fall if the proper ukemi is not applied). The idea is to land on the entire length of both forearms simultaneously, turn your head to one side, exhale strongly at the moment of impact, and keep your chest and belly from hitting the ground. When ready, fall gently forward, strike the mats strongly with your forearms while at the same moment let your air out by making an 'Oof' sound or something similar.
Be sure to turn your head to one side so you don't strike your face on the ground, and keep your chest clear of the ground as well. A common error for beginners to make is to reach out for the ground and land on their hands/palms - if you find yourself doing this, correct your position such that you are landing on your entire forearms (from elbow to hand) on both arms before your progress to higher falls.
Once you are comfortable with Mae Ukemi and your position is perfect when doing it from your knees, you can try it from a low standing position (with your legs spread to lower your starting position). The upper body position for the forward breakfall is identical to the version done from your knees. The lower body is kept straight and off the ground such that only your toes and forearms are touching the mats.
When you can safely and comfortably breakfall from the low standing position, you can then progress to a full standing Mae Ukemi, and then to jumping forward into Mae Ukemi.
With the higher amplitude breakfalls, it becomes increasingly important to land only on your forearms (not your hands!), to slap the mats sharply with your forearms and let your air out strongly in order to reduce the felt impact on your chest.
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