Category: Loraine Birchall (O)
Reading Dr D's blog 'Old Men Can Jump' made me smile. It also prompted some memories of my childhood watching my Dad and his friends at Aikido and in particular of the day he said my brother and I had to 'learn how to fall'.
I remember now, sitting cross legged, hair in plaits, smiling and laughing with my Mum and younger brother. We were taken to the kids area and put into what looked like pyjamas, white aikido robes and then my Dad tooks us to the dojo to do some practising. I couldn't understand why I had to learn to fall? I was brilliant at it. I could fall over my own feet on a regular basis, a sign of hypermobility and my flexible joints which was missed for many years.
At that age I couldn't run far as I always lost balance. Nowadays with supports in my running shoes I can run as far as my lungs and legs will let me :-)
I remember my Dad smiling and explaining that if you knew how to fall properly, you could land on the ground and not hurt yourself. This sounded great to a clumsy kid who was usually covered in sticking plasters. Bring it on, Dad ....
Dad and Marion (a lovely chap and one of the most talented martial artists I had seen before or since), sat us down and showed us basic 'falling' techniques. Thowing out your arms to break your fall, turning over in mid air to prevent broken arms and wrists, all very simple, but to me it was like magic. Some kind of dark art which had previously been hidden from view. For a while I remember practising, committing the various methods to memory and then 'filing them away' for a rainy day.
That rainy day arrived seven years ago, when Jake was around a year old. I was getting out of the car at a supermarket (I won't mention the name but if you take off the first and last letters of their slogan, it says 'very little help' which sums this up!). I fell on uneven ground and lurched forward with my infant son in my arms and would have fell on top of him - he could have been either killed or seriously injured. At least that's what would have happened. Had I not been a 'professional faller' extraordinaire!
My Ex's face was a picture as I instinctively twisted in mid air, handed my son into his Dad's waiting arms, turned onto my back (while still in the air) and threw out my arms to break my fall and lifted my head to avoid cracking my skull. The resulting landing was loud. I hit hard tarmac, no injuries, bit of a bruise on one arm, but otherwise unscathed. My son was fine, no distress or shock and was smiling happily in his Dad's arms. Ex, a man of few words, looked intrigued and had to admit that I had moved with the grace and professionalism that any stuntman would be proud of, high praise indeed.
I phoned my Dad later that day to say 'thank you for teaching me to fall', he laughed and commented that you never know when a skill like that will save you. It certainly saved Jake from a serious injury or even worse, so I'll always be grateful for a lesson learned.
As for the supermarket, they were utterly disinterested, still haven't repaired the uneven tarmac and really didn't care at all. I go to the one across town now, they're friendly, and up to now, I haven't had to show off my falling skills.
So, old men can jump and anyone can learn how to fall!