This is question that I have been meaning to ask for a while.

Last November, I competed at a tournament, along with some of the others from my gym. After I left, I was informed that one of the fellow students had broken his arm during a match. I watched the video, and what happened was that both his legs were trapped and he tripped. He posted out with his arm to stop the fall, and his arm broke. This is the human body's natural reflex to falling, so was this the safest course of action he could have taken? And if I were to find myself in that situation, what could I do instead of posting that would prevent me from being injured?

  • In which direction did your teammate fall? Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 12:51
  • @DaveLiepmann if I remember correctly, he fell a little forward and to the side
    – LemmyX
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 14:54
  • I've done this before at home of all places. Stupidly locked my arm out. It didn't break my arm, but it did mess up my shoulder joint pretty bad. It healed on its own, but it's still kind of cranky every now and then. I didn't have the option of rolling out of it or turn to my side for a side breakfall, as there was a ton of hard, pointy objects on the floor at the time. Oh well. Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 20:12
  • The answers to this other question on breakfalls are also relevant: martialarts.stackexchange.com/q/2354/5961
    – mattm
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 12:59

2 Answers 2


When both legs are trapped, there are two relatively safe breakfall options left: onto the side of your body, if you can twist your upper body 90 degrees, or forwards.

Forward breakfall (Mae ukemi):


Sidewards breakfall (Yoko ukemi:


If possible, I'd always prefer the sidewards option over the forwards one with regards to safety, but properly trained, you can do the latter as well without much of a risk for injuries.

Another point to consider is vulnerability after you took the fall: falling frontwards leaves your back open, so you would like to fall sidewards and shrimp whenever possible.


The two alternatives to posting with your arms are to execute the appropriate break-fall (as in orthodox judo/jujutsu ukemi) or to execute the appropriate turnout (as in modern unorthodox competitive ukemi).

For instance, one of the most common arm-snapping posts comes from being thrown forward and over the thrower's shoulders, such as in a seoinage (shoulder or back throw). In this scenario either option (traditional ukemi or modern turn-out) is possible, depending on the precise circumstances. A traditional break-fall would look like a forward roll followed by a side breakfall (zenpo kaiten to yoko ukemi), which is a core tumbling skill for any judoka or jiujitsiero. A modern turn-out might be a one-handed handstand or an over-rotation, landing on one's feet or on all fours. Another unorthodox approach is to hip-block and sidestep the shoulder throw, thus under-rotating and landing on one's chest and shoulder.

  • I really like this answer. I believe the SE expression is a peal?
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 13:31
  • Thanks! What's "SE"? I've never heard of a "peal" in martial arts. Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 13:32
  • Sorry pearl. A good answer SE is Stack exchange.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 14:00
  • Ahhhhhh right! Thank you :) Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 14:45
  • This is a great answer. One thing I will make clear if I didn't before is that both his legs were trapped when he fell, so landing on all fours or rolling out is particularly hard.
    – LemmyX
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 14:56

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