Ushiro Ukemi - Back Breakfall
In it's simplest form, Ushiro Ukemi can be done from a squat position and rolling gently onto your back.
Your chin should be tucked tightly against your chest at all times so that your head does not touch the mats upon impact - this is critical as it will save your from head injuries when this breakfall is done with greater force. Your arms should be at about a 30 to 45 degree angle from your sides and should strike the ground at the same moment your back hits - DO NOT reack back for the ground. Your legs should be straight, finishing in a somewhat piked position. You should exhale strongly (making an 'Oof!' sound is a good way to do it) as you hit the ground - don't hold your breath!
As with all breakfalls, the idea is to spread the impact over as much surface area as possible, using a slapping motion with the arms to remove as much of the force as possible from your upper back/chest.
Once you are comfortable with the basic back breakfall position, you can then progress to continuing the backwards roll, going over one shoulder, and coming up to your feet. If you are feeling energetic, after slapping the mats with your arms, move your hands to the ground by your head, and as your roll over your shoulder, and press yourself up to a standing position.
Good drills to practice Ushiro Ukemi with are:
1. Doing a front roll coming to a standing position, followed by a back breakfall also coming to a standing position, and repeat the front/back rolls 10 times.
2. Have a partner kneel down on all fours, forming a 'horse' and do your ushiro ukemi over him. Start with a low horse (or even with him laying completely prone) and as your skill and confidence increases, increases the height of the horse.
3. Walk backwards without looking and have a partner lay on the floor behind you and at a random moment, block your legs forcing you to do a back breakfall. This will help your ushiro ukemi become instinctual.
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