The frontal breakfall

How to minimize the damage of a frontal fall

The last of the three main controlled falling techniques (read The backward breakfall, and The lateral breakfall) is the frontal one and it is a relatively easy technique (if compared to the acrobatic falls of Kung Fu). If on one side it can prevent bad damages, on the other it is not always the best choice in terms of fighting (in many cases it is replaceable by somersaults but we cannot skip this fundamental step, an untrained beginner cannot use them as breakfalls, more about this later).

To execute the involved movements we do not have to be incredible athletes but, before starting the study of this defensive technique, it is important to read again:

The technique

The frontal breakfall is not too complex but we have to take care of a few details, let’s see how to perform it:

  • We start, as always, from a standing guard stance (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///)
  • Let’s didactically imagine that, for example, someone pushes us strongly from behind, forcing us to lose balance (read How to improve balance: tricks and exercises)
  • If we do not do anything and the push catches us unprepared, we fall frontally risking to badly damage our wrists, head, knees (etc.)
  • The first thing that we must do is to prepare our forearms bent frontally (with the palms of our hands facing forward), ready to protect our weak parts
  • In this phase, our hands must be opened (aligned with our forearms with tight fingers) and at the height of our neck (the forearms are at 45 in relation to the soil)
  • Our entire arms’ structure should be in a soft state (read Softness and hardness, flexibility and rigidity)
  • At the same time, we have to violently flex our knees to lower as much as possible our center of gravity (this disperse the energy of the thrust and make the falling less incisive)
  • During the falling, our entire body state must be liquid (read 6DKF’s interactions: from the strong blow to the light touch) and our active strength direction downward
  • Just before our knees touch the ground, we must explosively stretch our legs outward, the first part that touches the ground must be the toes, the second the middle of our forearms
  • For those who have already developed the soft touch, the second part that comes into contact with the ground is instead the fingers (more effective but unsuitable for who is not conditioned)
  • In this order, the impact of the arms on the ground must be first soft then elastic and finally rigid (this means, for example, to avoid resting the abdomen on the ground, opposing muscular resistance)
  • In no case we can allow our elbows or our knees to touched first the ground (it is totally wrong and dangerous)
  • Before our hands touch the ground, we must turn our head to the right or left (in relation to the fight scenario), so as to further protect our face
  • We must avoid any rigidity, the idea is to follow the wave that propagates in our body (read Use the body power: the muscle chain)

The most common errors

The errors can be infinite but let’s see the most recurring:

  • Landing on elbows or knees
  • To do not rotate the head
  • To do not bend the knees
  • To do not open (enough) the legs
  • Fall with straight / stiff arms or bent wrists (prompting to break elbows, shoulders and wrists)
  • To go down with a rigid structure

Exercises and training focus

  • Knees bending – If our knees are strong we can better control the impact force limiting the eventual damage (squat and related exercises are a good practice)
  • Conditioning – Even if it is wrong to touch the soil with knees and elbows, it is not wrong to work on their conditioning (in combat the falls are never perfect, read Conditioning check for the impact)
  • Reflexes and coordination – Projections can be very rapid and improvise, if our muscle memory (read The muscle memory) is not enough fast and well educated the technique will be useless
  • Let’s make it harder – When we understood the mechanics of this controlled falling and we can correctly perform it alone we can pass to the second stage, use it after a (light) push of a partner (read 5 effective ways to find a training partner)
  • Let’s make it “real” – When we are able to do the breakfall even after a strong push (again at least after 1-2 months) we can start to endure light projections (more about this later)


There can be a lot of variants:

  • Frontal somersault – Instead of going directly down (staying close to the opponent and in a disadvantaged position), we can also exploit the force of the falling to do a frontal summersault (thus reaching a safe distance)

Final Notes

  • If performed correctly the frontal breakfall can allow us to bear even very violent projections (typical of Jiu-Jitsu and Brasilian Jiu Jitsu)
  • Even if it is not very clear, the image of the tutorial shows the instant previous¬†of the forearms

In the next article of this series, we will see other types of breakfalls.

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Can you rest your arm without bumping your elbows?

Author: Master Kongling

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