Recently Patricia M. suggested that we should have a dedicated “falling and rolling” class. She pointed out that this is the type of thing that she would like to feel prepared for and competent at. Surely knowing how to fall and roll is a boost to your “fitness”. At least it was important in “old school” CrossFit. Here are two videos, one with Roger Harrell teaching shoulder rolls in what was probably the 2nd ever gymnastics certification. This video goes over some of the basics movements. Russell Bruel is always a great demo-guy:
But shoulder rolls are mostly useful if you are falling forward and in a somewhat predictable manner. There are many other ways that you can fall. In our Parkour-1 Foundations, the pre-requisite for The Cave’s adult parkour classes, we teach and emphasize shoulder rolls, as well as falling backwards and “break falls”. Nevertheless, those are merely three “orientations” in which you can fall. As in illustration check out this Ukemi video. Ukemi has been referred to as “The Art of Falling”.
This guy is so good at falling that it’s almost weird.
As a disclaimer, I would like to add that even with a lot of training, you shouldn’t be over-confident that you can “always” save yourself in a fall no matter what happens. My friend and former Cave employee Travis Furlanic has several stories where he whizzes down a steep hill into an intersection on his skate board ( I personally do not recommend this- some Ninja Warriors are crazier than others) and saves himself from certain death or paralysis by doing a shoulder roll over the hood of the car of the poor freaked-out driver that happened to be crossing the same said intersection. Of course, Travis lands on the other side of the car on his feet while some bystander is screaming how that was the most awesome thing he’s ever seen. But recently a bearing broke inside the wheel of Travis’ skate board while he was skating down a steep hill. The wheel locked up and when Travis tried a shoulder roll on the fall he under-rotated and dug is shoulder straight into the pavement, separating the joint. He’s ok and doesn’t need surgery, only having a level-2 separation, but it will still take months to heal. This goes to show that even if you have elite instincts and extremely good reaction time, you can’t always save yourself in every situation, but it certainly does reduce the risk of injury.