Home Forums Krav Maga Worldwide Forums General KM Related Topics Slap or no slap? A second look at fall breaks.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
  • #28273

    The American Society for Law Enforcement recently published an article discussing realistic approaches to falling for LEOs. Itís called ìThe Upside of Falling Downî. After summarizing the results of a 1996 study investigating LEOs finding themselves on the ground, the author (currently a NY lawyer) recommends that slapping out (reaching out with one or both arms and firmly slapping the ground surface to absorb impact on the hands and the forearms) may not be effective for LEOs in the real word.

    His rationale, in part, includes the reality of unpadded, uneven, real word surfaces. For most people, learning to fall occurs over even, often padded surfaces, in a class/gym/dojo setting. Imagine the consequences of quickly slapping the ground with one or two outstretched arms, and instead of hitting a flat, padded surface, hitting instead the edge of a curb, a wall, or the side of a vehicle. When the ground surface is uneven, or the officer is holding a firearm, a nightstick or radio, in his or hand, slapping out can be dangerous.

    The author goes on to suggest that ìrealistic law enforcement ground-fighting programsî should address blocking, weapon retention, accessing equipment, escapes from holds, multiple assailants, and ground mobility.

    Indeed, there are other highlights of the article, but these are a few I found noteworthy.

    So I pose a few questions to you:

    A-What do you do in your training: slap, no slap, or both? Do you create artificial uneven surfaces when you train (with pads or focuss mitts)? Weapons/weapons retention? There have been recent refinement in the teaching at our school addressing the realistic issues of uneven surfaces. But frankly, I think when it comes down to falling in vivo, Iím going to slap. I have been involved in grappling for nearly ten years now and its what I have been programmed to do if I go down.

    B-Are there some LEOs that can comment about the information above and KM fall break training in general?

    C-The recommendation NOT to slap is clearly related to the objectives of LEOs, which are often drastically different for the civilian. On the other hand, non-LEOs have as much likelihood of falling on uneven surface and with objects in their hand as do LEOs (ask anyone who has walked over black ice). Basically, should Krav encourage training with slap/without slap/ or both?


    Hey, you coulda been the first post in the Law Enforcement section 😀

    I personally quit doing the ground slap years ago. In judo it was a good tool for learning how to roll or to transfer the breakfall energy across your body, but to many people do not learn to transfer and hurt the hand, wrist, eblow, and shoulder.

    I would rather keep that arm in the action, between me and the attacker then to use it to stop myself. I just try to land on my back.

    There are uses for it however and it is a good skill to master.


    Fall breaks

    About a year ago I was walking to my car from work. It was icy in the parking lot, and I was wearing nice dress shoes. The next thing I know I slipped on the ice falling backwards about to hit my head on the concrete. I didnít have time to think about a fall break, but thankfully since I train it just happened! If I didnít fall break Iím sure I would of cracked my head on the pavement. I remember attacking the ground as I fell and tucking my chin. The fall break definitely saved my a$$! My back and arms were really sore from the fall, but thatís 1000 times better than cracking my head on the pavement.

    After it happened some guy was walking by and asked if I was alright. He looked shocked that I wasnít hurt. The really cool part about this story is when falling, I had no time to think (fall break time!) I just did it from all the Krav Iíve taken. So I guess the training does work in one way or another. This is my only real life Krav story.


    Way to go, markx3! Considering where you live that’s a useful skill indeed!

    I have a sort of related question:

    If you train with boxing gloves, wouldn’t your reaction to your first good contact in a real life situation be \”OW! My hand!!!\” This is a big reason why I haven’t bought gloves. I want it to hurt like hell when I screw up in class so my form is right, and I don’t want to have an unrealistic idea of what a true punch feels like.


    Well it is great that you saved your head Mark. I have slipped many times on water or ice and I now fall to my butt, due to practicing different way of falling. The chin tuck is the eccential thing!! If I have to go all the way to my back, the chin tuck also archs the spine a bit, and does save the skull.

    Often, however, when people fall backward they put arm out backward and break it. Not trained in break fall but just regular people. In the older thread we talked about getting comfortable with falling makeing a big difference as you are no longer rigid.


    Mark showed a good point- realize that the whole idea is NOT to get thrown yourself, so once this happens you have to accept some level of injury/discomfort. The whole idea of slapping when you go down is to distribute your wieght over as large an area as possible- yes you may hurt your hand, you may injure your elbow, but if you DONT do it, you could very well hurt your shoulder, back, or neck. Injuring any of those 3 over your elbow isnt favorable- suppose you save your elbow, but injure your shoulder- even though your arm feels fine to attack, your shoulder is too injured for you to lift your arm to swing it. Neck and back injuries I think speak for themselves.


    Well, not to sound like a troll, but I am confused how the palm, or palm and arm, has more surface area than your back? 😀 just kidding with ya

    My understanding in judo and Aikido was to use the arm to initiate a roll across the large surface of the back. You now, make a wheel shape and all that. The only way I have made the slap work is by hitting and disapating energy out into ground. Then rolling the contact point from the hand, arm, across shoulder and back. This is creating more surface area and spreading the impact. Unfortuntly alot of people don’t ever get it, and still try to stop themselves with arm. or they don’t learn how to hit so energy leaves your body into ground(or target for that matter!)

    Since I don’t like to take my arm out of the battle, i now do a different manuver. If thrown to side I would try to turn that free arm/shoulder toward attacker with a punch, and also sit back onto my butt and weight shift to make the throw extremly hard. If falling down backward I just go with it, relax my legs so they do not propel me further out and try to just sit on my butt. If still going back I roll across my backinto a \”guard\” position (EBMAS guard is very sim to Other Guards, like in KM). This sit on the butt moves looks like a shoot the duck from rollerskating.

    I am not totally against the slap, I have just seen alot of injurys from it. It is very usefull if you have been thrown in a way that will result in you rolling over onto belly. The arm prevents this.



    This is a good topic!

    Le Revancha – do know of any other LEO studies such as these that deal with defensive tactics? Most interesting.

    When doing break-falls I always bring my arm(s) out to 45 degrees (side and back). This minimises the chances of slapping my arm over a curb or something equally unappealing. At the same time you get the benefits of the slap.

    It would be interesting to know what the study considered a \”slap\”, the full arms extended at 90 degrees or the more subtle (and safer) 45 degrees.


    to Guerriere

    Pain is definitely a good indicator of improper form, hence a good motivator for improvement. However, if you’re not careful there’s a good chance you’ll sprain/break something. There’s not much worse than a randomly swollen hand. I usually wear handwraps for bag/pad work(light padding for the knuckles, mainly wrist support) and ocassionally go bare knuckle for the sake of contact conditioning, and to make sure I’m not getting lazy on my form. I think gloves are a must for sparring. It’s just too easy to bust a knuckle or something. The weight of the gloves is good conditioning, too.


    A lesser anecdote along the lines of markx3’s: one time I fell off my bed half-asleep and, amazingly, went straight to the chin tuck and slapped, managing to catch myself between the wall/bed and saving my head a lovely knock.

    In general, I imagine that if the fall is quick and hard it’s probably best (and instinctive) to slap but if it’s softer and you have time to shift the weight to the rest of your body, you’re back in groundfighting position a split second sooner. As a student I like practising both; I think that in a pinch the final analysis will be highly dictated by your circumstances (like everything else in Krav) and it’s useful to be sufficiently familiar with both to make the most intelligent decision possible.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Get Training!


For more information call now at


or fill out the form below: