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 injury.
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 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.
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.

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.