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Judo Falling Being Taught as a Way to Prevent Injuries

Years ago one of my dearly departed friends and mentor Karl Geis spoke of developing a program to teach seniors citizens how to fall. Well looks like Karl had the right idea based on these articles I wanted to share as my Black Belt Judo Blog for this week.
Karl Geis

Sensei Gary Goltz Teaching Forward Ukemi (with his son Nathan in the background)
Sensei Gary Goltz Teaching Forward Ukemi

Here's the routine (step forward with hands out, then up, then all the way to your back foot, and finally look to the rear). This seems to work really well.

Judo Falls Save All: Tua Tagovailoa Hopes Judo Will Help Him Learn to Avoid Head Injuries

The Dolphins quarterback is looking at an unorthodox way to avoid future concussions.

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had multiple stints in the league’s concussion protocol this season.

As the Miami quarterback looks to enter the 2023-24 season healthier, he has a plan of attack in an effort to avoid future head injuries: Judo!

“We’ve got a plan set up and I’ll be doing judo on Fridays so that I can figure out like … understanding my body and how to fall,” Tagovailoa told Kay Adams and Nate Burleson on the Up and Adams show on Friday. “Just trying to help myself.”

Tagovailoa was at the center of recent discussion on concussions in football after multiple head injuries sidelined him this season. The Dolphins passer suffered multiple confirmed concussions, the final one coming against the Packers in Week 16. He missed the final three games of the season after that injury.

When healthy, Tagovailoa proved that he was good enough to be the Dolphins’ franchise quarterback. He notched career highs in passing yards (3,548) and touchdowns (25). Tagovailoa also completed 64.8% oh is passes this season as he led Miami to an 8–5 record as a starter.

The Dolphins made the playoffs with a 9–8 record, and finished second in the AFC East to the Bills. Miami’s season ended with a competitive 34–31 loss in the AFC wild card round to Buffalo, which was missed by Tagovailoa due to his final stint in the concussion protocol.

“With @Tua now being a dad, it makes him want do things outside of the NFL to help himself… he will be doing judo every Friday to understand his body and how to fall 🥋 📺: @FanDuelTV | @heykayadams | @nateburleson”
Tyreek Hill

The University of Brighton will play host to the Safe Falls Seminar later this month.

Taking place on the 11th and 12th of February. The Safe Falls Seminar is an educational programme, based on judo, methodologically developed through scientific research, to teach children to fall safely and securely. This prevention strategy emphasises creating safer environments to reduce daily life risks.

The World Health Organization (2021) points out that falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury and deaths worldwide. This figure comes from the 37.3 million falls that are severe enough to require medical attention each year.

Faced with this problem of great social significance, and of great economic expense for all countries, the WHO launched the challenge of responding to this social problem with ‘prevention strategies that should emphasise education, training, creating safer environments, prioritising fall-related research and establishing effective policies to reduce risk’.

Institutions such as the European Judo Union and the University of Seville, together with eight other European universities, have reacted to this WHO call and believe that Safe Fall-Safe Schools can respond to the WHO challenge, in a coherent and objective manner. Therefore, they have joined forces to develop the Safe Fall-Safe Schools programme and to bring judo, and its ukemis, closer to society, supporting the EJU motto that ‘Judo is More than Sport’.


Judo courses in Quebec are teaching older people how to fall safely

Seniors learn new reflexes to prevent injury when they take a tumble

Keep your head tucked in, form your body into a ball and roll. It's what Monique Laroche, 93, did last year when she fell on the bus. "The driver took off too fast and I didn't have time to sit so I let myself slide and I was careful about my head, like how we practised," said Laroche.

Laroche walked away without any serious injury thanks to judo courses she's been taking in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que. They taught her how to prevent an injury when falling.

Judo falling helps injuries

Monique Laroche, 93, was one of the previous participants of the judo courses. Offered in various regions in the province, they aim to help seniors prevent injury. (Submitted by Jean-François Marceau)

Judo Quebec started the initiative, which now includes three judo schools around the province in Saint-Georges, Saint-Hyacinthe and Sherbrooke.

Judo Témis in Témiscamingue, Que., is one of the latest clubs which will start offering lessons on how to fall for people 60 and older.

"We are experts in falling," said Ambroise Lycke, co-owner of Judo Témis.

Lycke says the first thing a judoka — a person who practises judo — has to learn is "how to fall without injuring yourself."

Monique Laroche, 93, was one of the previous participants of the judo courses. She says she used those skills to prevent injury twice. (Submitted by Jean-François Marceau)

Judo falling prevents injuries

Our first reflex is a bad habit'

Lycke says it's all about teaching people to fight their natural reflexes, such as putting a hand out to break a fall.

"What happens is all your weight goes to your hand and that's the place where you'll have [a] fracture," said Lycke.

"Same thing for your head. Your head will go back and so you'll hurt your head and you will snap your head on the ground."

He notes judo techniques on falling could help prevent serious injuries like breaks that can severely affect an elderly person's health and independence.

Judo courses in Quebec are teaching older people how to fall safely

A judo school in Témiscamingue, Que., is the latest to offer courses for 60-plus on how to prevent injury when taking a tumble.

  • An often-overlooked risk, the science of slips and falls can be lifesaving

  • 6 overlooked risks of falls for seniors and how to prevent them

Quebec seniors across the province can start the new year by learning how to fall like judo black belts. Ambroise Lycke is a Judo teacher and owner of Judo Témis in Saint-Bruno-de-Guigues in the Témiscamingue region. He tells Quebec AM host Julia Caron why it is a valuable skill for people of all ages, but especially seniors.

Teaching how to fall, instead of preventing falls

Most courses for seniors teach you not to fall, says Benoit Séguin, the founder of the program.

Part of what inspired him to develop this kind of course was his time in university when he initially taught the course to people with multiple sclerosis. "Once I gave it to those people with multiple sclerosis I knew right there and then that it would be very important and very useful," said Séguin. From there he began putting together a book on how to fall without injuring yourself. That's when Judo Quebec became interested and implemented a few courses around the province.

Séguin held courses in Sherbrooke before retiring. He says he hears a lot of positive feedback from former students, some of whom used the techniques successfully. "One of the women I taught, she was in her late 70s and she fell in the gym and she said, 'everybody was just around me [saying] what happened? what happened?' She said 'I didn't even hurt. And what was funny about it is this big fellow, the next week, he fell the same way as I did, but they had to take him out on the stretcher,'" recalled Séguin. "So it's not a question of age, it's a question of knowing how."

Sensei Gary Goltz Teaching Forward Ukemi

Judo course participants learn techniques to prevent injury. (Submitted by Jean-François Marceau)

Course goes back to the basics, builds confidence

One of the principal lessons is to encourage suppleness and to teach students to not be afraid of falling, says Jean-François Marceau, executive director of Judo Quebec.

As part of the courses, students are taught the basics of how to drop down to — and then get up from — the floor.

"When you go back to that basic thing then you become less afraid of the floor," said Marceau. "Of course you don't learn to fall in one lesson and then it's acquired for life. You have to practise for several weeks … It keeps the reflex on your body and your mind."

Participants of the judo courses are put through various balance and mobility exercises

Participants of the judo courses are put through various balance and mobility exercises. (Submitted by Jean-François Marceau)

That's what happened for 78-year-old Louise d'Anjou. Her husband, Bruno Janssen, helps run the judo courses in St-Hyacinthe with Louis Graveline. She started taking the course in 2016.

"I'm getting older, I'm already old now, I told myself why not take this course? So I started and I'm going to do my 11th session this year," said d'Anjou. Over the years she noticed that the people with the least mobility are often the ones who make the most progress in the course.

For her, it began to quell her fear of falling.

"[At first] even going from a seated position onto my back scared me. My reflex was to put my hands in back of me, but that's the worst thing to do," said d'Anjou. "By the second session, because I already did it and I knew I could do it, the fear wasn't there."


February - 2023

25th Saturday - Las Vegas Judo Championships, Henderson, NV

March - 2023

5th Sunday - Taishi's 13th Anniversary Tournament, Cerritos, CA

18th Saturday & 19th Sunday - Youth National Championships, Lubbock, TX

25th Saturday - Shoshinkan's Annual Kosen Tournament, Las Vegas, NV

26th Sunday - Shoshinkan's Shintaro Higashi Clinic, Las Vegas, NV

April - 2023

1st Saturday & 2nd Sunday - High School & Collegiate Nationals, San Jose, CA

2nd Sunday - Mojica Tournament (16 & Under), Baldwin Park, CA

15th Saturday - Couchigian Memorial Tournament, Las Vegas, NV

16th Sunday - Ryoku's Amarilis Savon Clinic, Las Vegas, NV

22nd Saturday - Arizona State Championships, Tucson, AZ

29th Saturday & 30th Sunday - Golden State Open, Azusa, CA

May - 2023

7th Sunday - CJI State Championships, San Francisco, CA

20th Saturday & 21st Sunday - Senior National Championships, Spokane, WA

June - 2023

4th Sunday - Nanka Spring Tournament, Westminster, CA

16th Friday to 18th Sunday - USA Judo Junior Olympics, Shreveport, LA

24th Saturday - Sensei Gary's Birthday Scrimmage, Claremont, CA

25th Sunday - U.S. Adaptive Judo Championships, Riverside, CA

July - 2023

7th Friday to 9th Sunday - USJF & USJA Summer Nationals, New York, NY

16th Sunday - CA State Games, San Diego, CA

August - 2023

6th Sunday - Nikkei Games Budo Tournament, Cypress, CA

September - 2023

24th Sunday - Nanka Fall Tournament, Westminster, CA

October - 2023

1st Sunday - Capitol Open Judo Championships, Sacramento, CA

22nd Sunday - Fresno Invitational Tournament, Fresno, CA

November - 2023

1st Wednesday to 3rd Friday - IJF World Veterans Championships, Abu Dhabi, UAE

5th Sunday - Nanka Team Tournament, Westminster, CA

19th Sunday - Presidents Cup National Championships, Irving, TX

December - 2023

8th Friday to 10th Sunday - Nanka Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA

April - 2024

7th Sunday - Nanka Spring Tournament, Westminster, CA

May - 2024

5th Sunday - Nanka West Coast Invitational, Westminster, CA

June - 2024

28th Friday to 30th Sunday - USJF & USJA Summer Nationals, Tacoma. WA

September - 2024

29th Sunday - Nanka Fall Tournament, Westminster, CA

October - 2024

20th Sunday - Nanka Team Tournament, Westminster, CA

December - 2024

6th Friday to 8th Sunday - Nanka Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa, CA

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