We All Fall Down…..

“Ring around the rosy, pockets full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down!”

Who doesn’t remember playing “ring around the rosy” as a kid? It was fun, silly, and we could play it for hours on end. After all, when we were kids, who didn’t enjoy a good tumble to the ground?

Fast forward to our adult years. We don’t paly, we don’t dance in circles, and we sure as heck don’t fall down. We don’t get down on the floor, crawl, or roll. Unfortunately, if we don’t do it, we won’t do it, and eventually we can’t do it. And then we develop a fear of falling.

And now it’s winter. It’s cold, snowy, and icy outside, which means that there is a higher risk of slipping on the ice and falling. Uh-oh. Nobody likes to think about falling. It’s scary, especially as adults. It was different when we were kids, because not only was falling a daily occurrence, we were shorter and closer to the ground. And we fell all the time, either accidentally or intentionally.

As adults, a lot of us worry about falling. Not only would it be embarrassing, but the risk of injury is a valid concern. Especially when we see all of the television commercials warning us of the risk of falls, injuries, and even death if we fall. But instead of worrying about falling, we can take action and do something about it. Which is to learn and practice the art of falling.

I know, I sense your reluctance, but learning how to fall, along with the ability to get down on the floor safely (and back up again), is a valuable skill to have, at every age.

Last year I had a truly spectacular fall. It was the morning of New Year’s Eve, and I decided to go to the dojo for morning martial arts class. There’s nothing like starting your day (and a New Year) by kicking but and taking names. When I entered the dojo, there was a minimal amount of condensation on the decorative cement entrance. The strong Colorado sun was shining on the entrance, so I didn’t even think about ice when I walked out after class. However, what I didn’t realize was that the awning covering the entrance prevented the sun from hitting the entrance, resulting in a thin layer of black ice over the cement.

One minute I was stepping outside and the next I was flying through the air and hitting the ground. Hard. Stunned, I looked around to try and orient myself to my surroundings. Everything I had been carrying in my arms just a moment earlier was scattered around me. My katana, my bo ken (wooden sword), my keys, my water bottle, and my notebook were flung everywhere. Even pages of my notebook had flown out from the impact. When the guys ran out to see if I was okay, the first thing I said was, “OMG, did you see my break fall?”

As they helped me collect my belongings, including the papers from my notebook which were happily dancing in the wind, Sensei came out to salt the entrance. Hmm, a little late for that, but at least no one else would be at risk. Incredibly, I wasn’t hurt, not at all. I did have a bit of a trauma response when I got in the car and started driving home, thinking about all of the things that could have gone wrong. But I calmed myself down, and marveled that I didn’t even think about what I did. I just reacted. As Sensei later said, “She did everything right.” I’m not so sure about that, but at least I was okay. And it’s a story that has become legendary at the dojo.

When I got home I briefly considered taking an ibuprofen or two, just as a precaution, but decided against it to wait and see how I felt in the morning. I woke up feeling great. No aches, pains, injuries, or even bruises. It was truly remarkable. But it was all because I knew how to fall and had practiced it ad nauseum for years.

This story is an example of the value of learning the art of falling. There was recently an article in the WSJ regarding the importance for adults learning how to fall properly. And their recommendation was for them to learn from martial artists, who are truly well-versed in the art of falling.

So, you might want to consider contacting a martial arts school near you to learn how to fall safely, on a mat, with supervision and an instructor helping you. Before you know it, you will have a new skill which will not only keep you safe during the winter months and all year long, it will also improve your balance, flexibility, reflexes, and confidence. It will also help keep you young, healthy, and vibrant….for life!

We can also talk about balance training, but I think I’ll save that for another time. In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need any assistance finding a qualified martial artist of qualified physical therapist to help you learn the art of falling.

Because we all all fall down.

balance, break falls, falling safely, falls, learning to fall, martial arts, safety