Principles of low acrobatics
The purpose of this article is to discuss the basic principles of falling safely as taught in Systema Kadochnikova.
What is low accrobatics?
The methods of falling and moving safely on the ground are called low acrobatics within Systema Kadochnikova. When a student first starts to learn these movements they are given three basic principles that apply to all the different rolls and falls. These are as follows:
Low angle of fall
If we hit the ground at 90 degrees to it all of the force of our fall is absorbed by our body and the ground. The harder the surface we fall on is the greater amount of force our body will have to absorb. To reduce this impact we can reduce the angle that we hit the floor at. This is likened to a ricochet where a bullet hits a hard surface at a shallow angle and bounces off. The shallower this angle is the less the bullet head is likely to deform.
Take a look at a front roll. If when we perform this movement we try to place our hands on the floor as far away from where we are stood the angle is greatly reduced and the roll easier to perform. A similar effect is achieved on the side fall by using a spiral movement to reduce the angle of fall. This is done by sweeping one of the legs around the axis of the supporting leg as we sit down onto the floor.
Soft parts of the body contact the floor
Unlike Judo and many other arts Russian martial arts is usually practiced on hard surfaces. Unlike when we train on mats we cannot expected the floor to give and absorb the force of the collision with it. This means that our body has to be soft and we should not contact it with the skeletal system. By falling on the large muscles we are able to absorb impact and prevent any irregularities in the surface such as stones from chipping bones or causing other injuries.
One way this rule affects the way we roll is that we never allow the point of pressure with the floor cross our spine. The reason for this is that a stone or other sharp object could cause serious damage if hit with the momentum. Instead Systema advocates a student to roll from the shoulder along the muscles at the side of the spine and onto one of the buttocks.
In this clip Arkadi Kadochnikov teaches the proper way to perform a front roll. Note how he uses a stick to show the correct areas of the body to fall on.
When we move down towards the floor we should exhale because falling or crouching is a collapse of structure and by exhaling we can assist in this collapse taking place. When we stand up we should inhale. This way the air filling our body cavity helps maintain our form, forcing us to straighten our spine.
Another point that Vladimir Vasiliev has made about breathing and falling is that by exhaling we prevent the body getting hit by the impact from the inside as well as the floor. In effect the exhalation on contact with the floor allows a collapse of structure similar to the way that a car’s bodywork crumples during a collision protecting the person inside.
Next week we will look at specific methods of falling and moving on the floor from a variety of Systema sources.
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