Shoulder roll

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While most of our takedowns will end with the opponent taking a hard fall, there are occasions where the opponent is launched away. Rather than fighting this extra momentum, its safer to accept and redirect it.

Level 1 - Shoulder roll into a side breakfall

From a front stance, bend forward at the waist, touching the mat with both hands slightly in front of the leading foot. Overlap both hands and touch the mat with the shutō, with the thumbs pointing up. Use the Unbendable Arm technique to make your arms into a rigid wheel; you should pretend you are holding a large ball. The fingers on the leading-side hand point towards the rear foot to prevent injury.

Shift forward; instead of falling over, you will roll forward, along your leading arm and across your shoulder blades. Once your opposite-side shoulder contacts the mat, uncurl your body, landing with a side breakfall on your opposite-side.

[video of shoulder roll into a side breakfall, from the front and from both sides, fast and slow]

Level 2 - Shoulder roll into a fighting position

This follows the basic form of the previous shoulder roll, but with a different ending. Rather than uncurling into a side breakfall, remain in a ball and keep rolling until your feet land on the mat. Then quickly stand up, and enter a fighting stance, facing the direction you just rolled from (i.e., towards the opponent).

[video of shoulder roll into a fighting stance, from the front and from both sides, fast and slow]

Level 3 - Dive roll

Diving rolls are the most spectacular and energetic rolling technique. Get a running start, then jump forward, and extend your arms. Pretend to be Superman, until the gravity says otherwise. As your downward arc begins, use the Unbendable Arm technique to curl your arm into the wheel-shape used in previous shoulder rolls. This way, your forward momentum will automatically start a shoulder roll upon landing. Either land in a side-breakfall or enter a fighting stance, as previously discussed.

[video of shoulder roll into a side breakfall, from the front and from both sides, fast and slow]

Dive rolls are useful when you need to dive behind an obstacle to take cover (e.g., when mischievous friends have Roman candles). Diving over obstacles will build great confidence in your rolling and breakfalling techniques. It is best to practice diving over obstacles that have some give to them. This way, you won't crush the obstacle if you dive too early, and you wont bang your shins against it if you dive too late. We typically use our students for this, but a stack of pads or cushions will also work (and complains less).

[Video of a dive roll, from the side, over 1, then 4-5 huddled people]