For all break falls, ( Ukemi Noun. / U-ke-mi / ooo-kay-me - Japanese for Break your fall ) the general goal is to fall and prevent yourself from getting hurt. We do this by dispersing the energy of the fall over a larger surface area. A great way to understand this is if you put a text book on your hand you will feel the pressure of it but it won’t hurt but if you set a pin or a pencil between your hand and the text book it will hurt and you likely won’t be able to put the full wait of the text book on the pin or pencil with out causing some form of harm to your hand. So knowing this when you have a force great enough to cause damage you want to spread it out as much as possible. This is the premise of break fall. So how would you practice this or drill it?
To drill the backwards break fall, ( Ushiro ukemi Noun. / u-sh-ir-o / ooo-sh-ear-oh - Japanese for Back roll falls / break falls) you give yourself a huge, tuck your chin, squat down as low as possible, roll back and slap your arms at about a forty-five degree angle. As you do this your chin should remain tucked preventing you for hiding your head and possibly getting a concussion or whiplash. This break fall is great for any time you are falling backwards.
To drill the side break fall, ( Yoko ukemi Noun. / yo-ko / yooo-koh - Japanese for Side falls) you move your leg across your body, squat down with are one leg (almost a pistol squat), then fall to the side of the leg that you kick across your body and slap your arm on the ground (same side as the leg that you kick across your body). The side break fall is often used when practicing single leg takedowns.
To drill the front break fall, ( Mae ukemi Noun. / Ma-e / my-a - Japanese for Front break falls)( Zenpo ukemi Noun. / Zen-po / zen-poe - Japanese for Front hard slapping break fall) you want to first fall to your knees then your forearms, not your elbows or wrists, and quickly turn onto your back to defend yourself.
Regardless of whether you are in martial arts or not break falls are a great thing to know. This is because break fall are meant to keep you safe and from getting hurt when you fall in any direction.