Why Falling Means You're Moving Forward

When you fall down, you are getting somewhere!

Twice in one week I witnessed two complete strangers lose their footing, stumble, and fall. Both falls occurred within two or three feet of me in public places, so I was the first person to help these people who had fallen get back on their feet. Luckily, neither person experienced any injuries, and it was heart warming to see how many other complete strangers came to their assistance.

Seeing these people stumble and fall made me think of times when I had fallen, both figuratively and literally. Falling down in life can be painful, embarrassing, and traumatic. However, we only fall down when we are moving toward something. We can’t fall if we are not moving. Falling is a sign of progression and growth. I can’t count the amount of times my toddler fell before he mastered the art of walking—did he let those falls stop him? Absolutely not!

Practicing capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art, has taught me a lot about falling with grace, style and strength. Capoeira combines dance-like movements with acrobatics, powerful kicks, sweeps, and takedowns. Learning how to fall is one of the first things we are taught while training capoeira because falling is seen as an inevitable occurrence within the roda.  A roda literally means circle in Portuguese. The roda is where capoeristas play one-on-one with each other to practice and demonstrate what we have learned in our training. You can watch a capoeira roda here.  

Within capoeira, recovering from a fall or takedown quickly, gracefully, without missing a beat and without any malice for your opponent, is a reflection of a strong and skillful player.  Returning to the game as soon as possible protects you from injury, but also it discourages you from wallowing in your fallen position. Also, not getting angry or upset at your opponent for taking you down is imperative for being able to strategize and play the game to the best of your ability.

Falling in life is inevitable! Why not fall with dignity, if possible? How we respond to falling says more about us than falling does. Few of us actually choose to encounter setbacks, challenges and obstacles in our lives; however, often times what we perceive as defeat, loss and failure actually act as powerful catalysts in our lives. The moments when we fall down in life can catapult us into better situations. In fact, it is during times of adversity when we our introduced to ourselves. Wallowing in pessimism, anger and negativity prevents us from moving forward and keeps us in a stagnant position.

I am grateful that capoeira has taught me how to fall with grace, style and strength. Falling, getting taken down or getting swept by your opponent in capoeira immensely adds to the sport’s excitement, dynamism, and complexity. If no one ever fell or got taken down while playing capoeira, one could only how imagine how boring it would be!

Falling in life adds excitement, dynamism and complexity to our experiences as well.  Falling down is humbling. Whenever I fall I realize that I had taken my previous position and situation for granted—falling makes me realize how good I had it.  More importantly, though, falling down in life motivates me to be more strategic, creative and thoughtful about how to move forward in accomplishing my goals, dreams and intentions. I also remind myself that a person can only fall if they are actually moving toward something. So, if you find yourself falling down in life, remember that you are getting somewhere!