Fall Down Go Boom.


I have a bruise bigger than George Washington’s HEAD!

Interesting thing, muscle memory. At the dojo they are always talking about how you are supposed to do kata until you are bored silly, and then do twice as much more. The theory behind that is by doing a bazillion reps you get so used to doing a certain thing that when the time comes to use the stuff it is automatic. I guess, in a way, it�s sort of like autonomic responses; if you have to take time out to think about what you should do you are already in a world of hurt. So, one of the things they teach is how to fall.

There are lots of different ways to fall �correctly� . Ninjitsu guys know them all because Ninjitsu guys are basically crazy. Judo guys fall well because the first thing they try to do is throw the other guy to the mat. Aiki guys start learning how to fall on day one, because they like to get the other guy off balance and then throw them to the mat, while Kung Fu guys get a sporadic refresher now and then on how best not to break your body when things go south. Naturally I fall into the Kung Fu �Hail Mary� school of rolling so I am always amazed when I come out of a spill and I have actually put some part of my training to use.

So you may ask “How often does this really come up?” and I can already hear the laughter from every one of my close friends. The words, “Huh. You would think I would remember where I got that.” as I survey a particular nasty bruise have come to my lips so often I think I’ll adopt it as my mantra. That and my shoes are trying to kill me, but that’s another story. Suffice to say, I seem to be tripping, smacking, whacking, bumping, cutting, nicking or otherwise damaging myself often enough that the minor episodes just don’t register anymore. And I bruise really easily.

Which brings me to Monday. Monday I fell down and went boom. Sorta. See, the whole thing started with my sandals which, as I mentioned, are trying to kill me. It was a nice brisk winter morning (shut up, yes sandals, yes winter. I’m in denial) so I decided to jog a block or two to warm up the blood as I tooled my way in to work. Suddenly, one of my sandals caught the edge of a flagstone and over I went.

The neat thing about falling is after the micro moment of AAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE time seems to slow down. I get this nice calm wash of “Man. This kinda sucks. It’s going to suck a lot more if I hit that oncoming ground with my face. Lets figure out something other than a face plant as the conclusion to this fall because that is really gonna hurt.” I’m not much for pain. Inevitably I pull some sort of duck and cover thing and what might have been a nasty spill becomes something much less nasty. Lately, I have noticed that I have avoided more and more ouch and Monday was the peas of resistance: I rolled without thinking. I rolled as correctly as I could muster given I was going at a pretty fast clip when my forward momentum instantly became angular momentum. I rolled so that my hand touched the ground but did not break the fall. I rolled and tucked my head so I did not bounce my skull. I rolled so that my shoulder became the next thing to touch the ground but it too was well placed and did not get jarred. I rolled over my spine and hip the way you are supposed to. And I rolled over all the crap that was in my pocket.

See, the one thing they fail to tell you in the dojo is that when you are jogging along and happen to get tripped by your shoe and you roll over the key fob, ring box and two wine stoppers in your pocket it’s going to hurt. A lot. I have no scrapes, bumps, bruises or strained muscles from any part of my impromptu roll save one golf ball sized goose egg right about pocket level. I feel cheated. My first clean roll ever and I am sporting one eye catching beaut of a bruise because of the stuff I had in my pocket. Hruumph.

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