How to Do Forward Rolls for Martial Arts


Hey, how you doing? Ando here from SenseiAndo.com.
Today, a quick word about rolling… forward rolls, backward rolls. I’ve seen them taught
a lot of different ways. Sure, most people agree about tucking the chin, getting over
on to your back, exhaling, staying soft, not letting any bone jam into the ground. Fine.
Where you see some differences, though, is how the hands are used. You’ll see some people
extend the arms with fingers pointing towards each other. Maybe it’s a triangle. You’ll
see some people teaching to use the lead hand and cutting across or maybe even going through
the legs like that. Some people use the back hand and cut under or across. Now, I’m not
here to tell you that any of those is right or wrong. Although, if you’re snapping your
neck and popping your shoulder out of joint all the time, that would be wrong. When it
comes to self-defense, though, I want you to keep one important thing in mind. If you
do, it may change the way you practice your rolls. So, I’m going to tell you what that
thing is right now. Okay. The most important thing to remember
when you’re rolling is to protect your head. Actually, that’s always the most important
thing to remember. Whether the ground hits you on the head, or a bad guy hits you in
the head, or anything hits you in the head, if you’re knocked out, fight over. Maybe even
life over. That’s why I keep my hands, both hands, by my head when I roll. Let’s imagine that you get sucker punched
in a bar. Or you’re falling down some stairs. Or maybe you get thrown out of a moving car
because you’re a bum and you owe money to the wrong people. Okay, maybe I want to take
a backwards roll out of that. So, I start rolling back. I protect my head. Then I stick
out an arm for no particular reason. Now, look at this position. My arm is sticking
out. It can get stomped on or caught on something. My head’s wide open. It can get kicked at
the very least. And it’s going to feel like forever until I get that hand back up into
a guarded position and get back into this fight. I don’t like any of that. When I’m
falling down, you may wonder, first, well, don’t I want to back breakfall? I’ll talk
about that in another video. For right now, no. I’m going to protect my head. I’m going
to stay connected to the ground, feel the ground, guard myself the entire time. No arm
sticking out. No access to my head. To me, that’s the much more sensible way to do that.
So, over and protect your head the whole time. The same is true for a forward roll. If my
head is flying towards the ground, the last thing I want to do is take an arm out of the
way and just trust that my timing is so good that I’m not going to smash my head or my
shoulder into the ground. No. I would much rather keep my hands in the mix. I would much
rather negotiate the ground, feel where it is, and position my hands in a way to keep
my head protected the whole time. Now, I know that sometimes we practice with an arm out
to simulate being caught in a wristlock or an armlock, and then the roll or the flip
just becomes a way to preserve your joints. That’s totally fine. The mistake is in thinking
that you always have to roll like that. You don’t. They should earn that arm. You shouldn’t
just give it to them. Remember, whether you’re fighting a grappler or a striker, if you get
in the habit of sticking your head out, or sticking an arm out, or sticking anything
out, you may not get that thing back. So, keep your priorities straight. Protect your
head. My point is that we’re training for self-defense
here, not gymnastics. If you’ve got one or more people trying to stomp you on the
ground and kick your face in, well, dropping your guard is a sure-fire way of losing some
teeth. Think about your stand up fighting. It’s the same thing. If you’ve got people
kicking and punching at your face, would you suddenly ever stick out an arm or drop an
arm? No way, right? You’d get clobbered. So, don’t do that on the ground, either. Keep
your priorities straight and protect your head. Oh, and if you’re not sure if the way you
do rolls is suitable for self-defense, I’ve got an easy test for you. First, warm up.
I want you to do forward rolls all the way across the room and backwards rolls all the
way back. All good? Great. Now find a training partner. I want you to tell them to try and
kick you, punch you, or knee you in the head while you do the same thing, forward rolls
and backward rolls. Make it more fun, try to get back up to your feet. I think that
one drill will teach you more about rolling than anything else. I hope you liked that tip. If you want to
be first to catch the next one, don’t forget to hit subscribe, and look around for the
link to sign up for my free email updates. Until next time, keep rolling my friend and
keep fighting for a happy life.

73 thoughts on “How to Do Forward Rolls for Martial Arts

  1. you put out great content and also seem like a really cool guy. Thanks for putting in the time to create these videos, I'm loving them! 🙂

  2. Thanks for this video- rolls and falls seem to be one of those subjects that get a lot of conflicting advice, but your tips seem to make sense. Will definitely keep this in mind going forward.

  3. I broke my collar bone after falling on hard pavement. I tried to roll with my momentum. I don't know if my timing was right or not but my momentum caused me to crumple and drag along the road rather than roll through it. Practicing something like this before hand might have lead to me not getting hurt when I needed it.

    As a side note; its really hard to show a move like that in slow motion, well done.

  4. Thank you sensei,perfect timing,because I just learned to roll and now this will help to perfect my roll and reduce building bad habits like open up my hands or any position.

  5. I can not believe that I've found this channel, you are so funny and helpful, I'll be sure to check out all of your vids as soon as I can :*

  6. they see me Rollin
    they hatin'
    jk
    you are the most useful self-defense YouTube channel
    keep Rollin em more good videos mate
    Sensei Ando for president 😂

  7. What is better than getting a lot of likes on a video? Getting a new subscriber! I've only seen two videos of you and I am already sold. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  8. Another excellent video Ando, as a practitioner of Ninjutsu for many years , we were taught to stick hands out before the ukemes when rolling forward and the backward roll we had one arm sticking out. Great point when it comes to self defense. Thanks for the tip and will look forward to practice this. Yikes! The thought of one arm extended in the back roll, broken or shattered arm! I like the way you distinguish the difference between the martial rolls as opposed to self defense rolls when one's life may be in danger. Hail caesar!

  9. I just started Jiu Jitsu and am practicing rolling and your video is one of the best I have found so far, I do the arm going between leg deal, my rolling experience is limited and I have gotten used to that so far, perhaps as I get comfortable rolling in general I will try other methods

    in joe jitsu arms get caught alot so I imagine that's why they practice the arm out thing but I'm sure once gotten betgr it can be adjusted thanks for the vid

  10. The extended arm you see in Systema forward rolls has two explanations beside the arm/wrist lock situation. 1) It occurs at the end of a sweeping motion that clears the surface in front of you, and 2) military experience with edged or loaded weapons, where keeping the 'business end' away from yourself is desired. There are other types of rolls taught as well. You can find videos showing the retrieval of an object or weapon during a front roll using a sweeping motion that ends with the arm momentarily out.

    That said, I agree with the protect your head bit, and that you should stay compact whenever possible. Confined space is an important consideration many people don't think of in their nice big dojo.

  11. Before using youtube as a source of first and final instruction, find a qualified gymnastics or tumbler to help assist learning a SHOULDER roll. If you tell them a forward roll, the will teach the roll down the spine which is a forward roll (ie somersault).

  12. I tried this but i kept accidentally kicking myself in the nose with my knee all the time and i cant get enough momentum (both apply for the backward roll)

  13. he reminds me of dwight shrute.

    student: "you put your hand out"
    Ando: False. if you put your hand out, you will dislocate your shoulder and die. you put your hand on your head and if possible grab onto the nearest beet."

  14. My kids are 5 & 9 and they are learning these skills now. They love training and this video was very helpful! I love your channel and I am a happy subscriber. God bless you and yours!

  15. This was helpful haha
    I used to do karate (I’m a black belt) but I hated it because my parents made me do it but looking back it wasn’t that bad haha this helped me remember how to do a forward roll 😂

  16. Best martial art is A: live in a country where people don’t have guns, B: Run away. Escape is the primary principal of most if not all self-defence martial arts.

  17. Am I stupid or did he not actually give a thorough demonstration of a forward roll? There were jump clips of him doing one, but the only roll that was shown with detail was the backward roll. It must just be me. I'm still at a loss as to how to do it. I get it the basic principles as far as using your hands in the roll, but not really how to position the rest of my body during the roll. I'll have to watch another video for that. Still, aside from all that, good video.

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