"Kenpo in the Streets" Chapter 2 g (notes)
written by Ed Parker Sr.


FALLING,¯ DIVING,¯ and ¯ROLLING are essential ingredients of the martial
arts. While most people associate ¯falling, ¯diving, and ¯rolling with Jiu -jitsu,
Judo, and Aikido, Kenpo also encourages its study and practice¯. Since the
ground can be an enemy, knowledge of ¯falling, ¯diving,¯ and ¯rolling can avert

Let us first examine the terms themselves, to see how they differ, and to
highlight their merits. ¯FALLING is a type of¯ BODY MANEUVER where the body
drops to the ground: (1) to avoid being hit (defense), or (2) after being hit
or thrown (offense). ¯It¯ basically entails the feet remaining on the same spot,
although it is not the case when thrown to the ground. Analyzing it
technically, ¯FALLING is an exaggerated method of ¯RIDING an attack. ¯¯It¯
predominately entails going with the force as you land on your back, side, or
stomach and, therefore, can be categorized as being a linear method of
impacting the ground¯. ¯Although ¯RIDING normally occurs while remaining on your
feet it can be combined with a ¯FALL.¯ ¯ROLLING or ¯TURNING can also be applied
and coordinated with a ¯FALL.

Since we do not remain upright while ¯FALLING, impact with the ground also
dictates that we contemplate methods of landing safely. It is imperative that
we learn to (1) dissipate the force of the ¯fall to reduce or limit injury, (2)
control our breathing to limit our loss of air upon impact, and (3) make every
effort to quickly regain a proper defensive posture and/or position. It is
imperative to note, however, that Kenpo stylists do not necessarily restrict
themselves to upright postures for purposes of defense or offense.
Another aspect associated with ¯FALLING ¯¯¯is the proper use of a ¯KIAI. Since
employing the ¯KIAI reduces natural buoyancy, exhaling on impact prevents
hitting the ground with air still in the lungs. If the lungs are even
partially filled with air, the possibility of obtaining broken ribs still
remains. When the diaphragm is distended¯, as it is when air is in the lungs,
tightening of the abdominal muscles is limited.¯ On the other hand tightening
the abdominal muscles during a ¯FALL minimizes injury and lessens damage by
helping the body to absorb shock.¯ To further augment the body's ability to
absorb shock, it is necessary to ¯TUCK the "¯hard corners" of the body (head,
shoulders, elbows, knees, etc.) toward the more muscular areas of the torso.¯
This allows ¯the body to ¯fortify the muscles - - to ¯support and ¯brace the joints
of the body prior to impact with the ground. This formation of ¯bracing angles
not only decreases injury, but places the body in proper alignment to defend
or attack ¯with increased effectiveness.¯

Dissipating your ¯FALL necessitates distributing the impact (with the
ground) to other surface areas of your body.¯ It requires transferring the
shock of the impact to body parts that lead away from the vital organs.¯ Of
importance are body limbs. Body¯ limbs play an integral part in ¯disbursing
shock. This is accomplished by allowing your relaxed, but ¯extended arms and
legs to break the ¯FALL a fraction of a second prior to the body hitting the
ground. This almost simultaneous¯ contact of the torso and limbs acts as a
¯shock absorber to help cushion the impact.¯ The limbs are literally used to
¯slap the ground. ¯Slapping disburses the body weight over a wider surface - -
like having a book ¯fall flat rather than hitting on its corner. Although the
arms and legs may be employed separately, they normally work together. If
shoes are worn, they help to protect the bones of the feet. However, since f
every move, concept, or principle has a reverse and an opposite, the limbs can
additionally be used aggressively. Instead of breaking your ¯FALL on the
ground¯, you may wish to direct your ¯FALL to an opponent already on the ground
in the hope of hurting him. In this instance you are not going with the
action, but against it. Through the use of proper timing, power can be greatly
generated via gravitational marriage during the course of the ¯FALL. As your
body momentum accelerates, your leg or arm my be employed at the tail end of
your manuever to heavily impact the desired target. Whatever combination is
used to break the ¯FALL (defensively or offensively) you must quickly convert
your action into a ¯positional check while on the ground. While on the ground
you must learn to draw your knees up and in, ¯tuck your arms and keep your
elbows ¯anchored. This defensive posture on the ground, helps to protect you
from an opponent's continued attacks who may be standing. Contrary to the
thinking of most people, an opponent who may be standing doesn't necessarily
have the edge over you who may be on the ground.¯¯
DIVES are ¯unique methods that employ springs and flips. The moves are
quite exaggerated and are used to (1) avoid an attack, (2) work in conjunction
with an attack, or (3) can be combined as a defense and offense. Because they
are unique, ¯DIVES (basically considered ¯FOOT MANEUVERS)¯ are categorized
separately. The chief characteristic of a ¯Dive is¯ the height levels of the
head and feet. In a ¯DIVE, the head lunges forward ¯followed by the feet. At a
certain period of the ¯DIVE, the height of the feet raises above the level of
the head. It is this relationship of height - - the feet being higher than the
head - - that separates a ¯DIVE from a ¯JUMP. Methods of ¯JUMPING, such as
¯leaping, hopping, ¯jumping side kicks, etc. do not have the feet go above the
level of the chest.

The same logical assumptions that are associated with a ¯FALL, in terms of
reducing injury, also relate to ¯DIVES. While a forward ¯STOMACH DIVE may
require your arms to help disburse the weight of your ¯FALL, slapping if need
be, most ¯DIVES are ¯followed by a ¯ROLL. It is the momentum of the ¯DIVE and ¯ROLL
that disburses the weight throughout the body upon impact, thus reducing shock
and injury.

Ed Parker Sr. Memories
Archived with the permission of Ed Parker Jr.
Ed Parker Sr. was the founder of the art known today as American Kenpo.
In these files, Ed Parker Jr. shares his fathers unpublished notes and other memories with us.