By the title one should notice there is a distinct way to fall in Aikido. In judo & most karate like styles i have never seen these types of falls. In most Japanese like systems the ukemii is the hard slap out style. This can be really bad for the elderly in those systems.

The aikido high feather fall appears to have less body toll in the Uke -the person taking the fall. So I ask people unfamiliar with the aikido feather fall there are specific YouTube videos that detail this way a falling.

The judo falls seems to absorb way more impact. That is you hear a large thud. The featherfall on the other hand you don't hear that hard thud. The rear hand seems to hit the mat before the rest of the body in the feather fall specifically. I would like to know would this type of fall work in a judo environment for all throws to reduce impact on the person falling? For example a judoka with an awesome Ippon seionage will toss Uke with ease. A standard hard slap out fall works but if there is an easier way to take the fall this may be usefull. Or are these aikido falls choreographed for aikido. That is a judoka can launch a throw on you unexpectedly. Do you suppose one is able to do a feather fall in a split second the same way one can do a slap fall?

2 Answers 2


I suppose you mean that one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YPhgdjlYCw

Three aspects to bear in mind:

  1. In Judo there often is full control of the partner straight down to the ground.
  2. You will possibly not get your arm free and can roll on like you want.
  3. Not every throw or partner will allow for that to happen.

That being said, it depends. A well-executed, smooth seoi-nage thrown in technical drills will not involve a hard fall anyways. Throwing nice and low (like experienced judoka do) will involve a smooth ukemi (if you are not dumb enough to not go with the movement). If we are speaking e.g. kata-guruma in its classical form (the first one), there is no way of a smooth, rolling movement to mitigate the impact, though.

This kind of ukemi, if you look closely, does NOT mitigate much damage through the arm, the arm rather introduces a rolling movement which then mitigates the energy afterwards!

And this is the crucial point: If the throw or the executing partner allows for smooth rolling because of the hight of his throw or the tightness of control, you may very well apply this kind of breakfall. If one of the factors is missing, the arm will essentially be useless or even invites serious injury (dislocated shoulder, broken bones). A slap close to the body accompanying the impact itself will help mitigating more impact through distribution of pressure in the inevitable hard breakfall happening then as well.

So if you do not know that both an appropriate throw and a smooth execution without too tight a control are a given and you're not already an expert at (this kind of) ukemi, your fall will actually be softer and safer when taking the "hard" option for judo throws.

As you can see e.g. here, this kind of fall is not even necessarily applied (or advisable) in Aikido when doing exercises with partners.

  • Yes the video is the type of throw I am referencing. I can imagine if the throw is nice slow I will be able to pull off this landing. I was imagining in a street combat application as well. Would I pull this off in a fight & being on the losing end by being suddenly thrown on concrete? Or am I better with the slap fall? I can slap fall well but some throws are for combat & impact is added to knock the breath out of the victim. I was hoping this option may save the breath from being knocked out of me.
    – Logikal
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 20:44
  • 1
    @Logikal: I would not put my bet on that. As I argued, there are too many insecurities. Especially when you are not given the opportunity to transition into a rolling movement. Another factor you should bear in mind: On concrete, one should not actively slap (esp. not as hard as you do on a mat). You rather hold the arm and tension up so that the pressure is distributed over all the surface. Otherwise, your wrist and hand may be subject to injuries. In general, being thrown on concrete and not breaking anything is worth a lot. It will hurt regardless. Commented May 7, 2018 at 20:50
  • The big difference is that the feather fall is not a fall caused by the 'thrower'. It is a safety mechanism to avoid having your wrist, arm or shoulder hurt. Instead of being thrown, you throw yourself out of the lock. In Judo, you are being thrown and have zero control of said throw whilst falling. Your only option when thrown in Judo is to slap the ground to mitigate the impact. Philip talks about rolling out of a Seoi-nage. Yes, during practice you can roll to avoid being thrown. If you are being thrown for real, you're coming down flat on your back because your opponent will hold and pull.
    – Sjana
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 13:27
  • @Sjana: I think we are broadly in agreement here. What I can not subscribe to is the zero control thing. If you are used to it, you can control quite a lot of whether and how you are thrown and how you land when falling. When others have a 100% control while throwing they are either way above your skill level or you are just bad at defending throws. It's just that hoping for the mitigation by rolling needed is a gamble I would not risk with the factor of another human involved, regardless of it being in the context of a throw or a lock. Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 21:53
  • @PhilipKlöcking The thing about Judo is, the throw, once started perfectly, can not be stopped. The throw is always made when the Uke is out of balance. That is the core principal of Judo. Instead of using force, you just redirect their kinetic energy. This means that you can't really gain control when the throw has already started. However, you can jump with movement to nullify the kinetic energy by making you kinetic speed and direction similar to the intended throw. As a result you "outrun" the pull of the throw. Look up Kyuzo Mifune, he shows it really well.
    – Sjana
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 4:41

Louder does not necessarily mean more impact

A louder thud does not mean more impact (more energy in the physics sense).

My first sensei explained this principle with a book analogy. If you drop a hardback book flat on its cover from chest height, it makes a loud thud. If you drop it from the same height on a corner, it does not make a loud thud, but damages the corner instead. The book has the same energy to dissipate upon impact in both cases, but in the loud case there is no damage.

Slapping with your arm is like dropping the book on its cover. It distributes the impact over more area, reducing the pressure on any single part. If you stick your arm out to brace against the fall, there will not be a loud thud, but you will likely sprain or break something, which is like dropping the book on its corner.


If you can roll out of a fall, obviously this will decrease the impact of the fall. The energy that would be absorbed in a breakfall brings you back to an upright position.

The judo approach to forward falling is:

  1. Prepare for the worst. If you are unable to roll, you want to be in a good breakfall position.
  2. If you can roll out, then do so from the good breakfall position.

I also discussed this in an answer to Fall Differences between Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, Judo.

As PhilipKlöcking discusses in his answer, you can't always roll out. The feather fall will not help you in this case.

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