The Roll

Rolling is a foundation movement; you can’t land from height properly if you don’t know how to roll, or if you are not confident in your roll. The roll can take months of practice to build up to a level where you’re comfortable doing it on concrete. I suggest starting on carpet or grass, or better yet a padded gym floor.


1. Stand with a shoulder-width "fighting" stance. Your toes will face a 45 degree angle in relation to the direction of your roll, while your hips and torso will be facing forwards. Most people prefer a stance with their right foot forward. For ease, this is written for rolling over your right shoulder. For Lefty’s, you can simply swap all right / left references.

2. There are three main points to think about when you roll- Tucking your chin, Sweeping your lead arm towards your back foot, and staying tucked tight until you are carried onto your feet by momentum. Hold your right arm out in front of you, as if holding a barrel, with your forearm across your body and down at 45 degrees. This is the start of your round shape; you want this roundness to carry all the way through into your back. When rolling you want to be as round and even as possible.
3. With your left arm hanging loosely slightly away from your side, tuck your head as far under your left armpit as possible, looking back behind you. This is critical to protect your head and neck. This also continues your roundness into your neck, shoulders, and back.

4. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward, beginning to round you’re your mid and lower back as you go forward, preparing to roll. Your right arm will be the first thing to contact the ground, but should not bear any appreciable weight. Your right hand should be “palm facing you”, your hand does not brace your weight.

5. The back of your right shoulder is the first place on your body to bear any weight as you go smoothly into the roll.

 6. Continue into your roll, at this point you’re upside down, and preparing your “landing gear” … both feet should be tucked up; your left leg will be tucked behind your right, so that your left foot is roughly behind your right knee.

7. Your left foot will land first; it is critical that you hit the edge of your foot, and not hit your ankle flat on the ground. Your ankle is very sensitive form this angle, and hitting it on concrete could shatter it. Now, the “blade” of your left foot (outside edge) is on the ground, and your right foot is coming flat onto the ground, about 6 inches ahead of it … your weight is carrying you through the roll. At this point your arms extend slightly forward, to “pull” and steer you up out of the roll, this helps with balance as you come to your feet.

8. Keep your knees bent as you come up to your feet, keeping your weight low, push explosively off your right foot, maintaining your momentum from the roll, and thrusting yourself into the direction you wish to carry on.

To advance your practice, place a string on the ground in a straight line (or find a seam in a mat, or some other straight line). Start your roll with your feet 45 degrees on either side. When you roll, check that both of your feet come up along this line. Check to see that your roll was diagonal down your back from shoulder to hip.

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Written by M2   
Sunday, 25 December 2005 09:22
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 10:47