So, what is this
"Slap the Cheese" business?
Cheese Wedge
The National Safety Council classifies falls into five categories:

1. Slips
2. Trips
3. Stumbles
4. Tumbles
5. Crumples

Slapping the Cheese is a specific technique to address Fall #2, the forward Trip.

When we trip over something, we stagger and stumble forward to recover, or just go down immediately.

The immediate fall we call a "Flash-Fall":  it happens in a flash, and you are already on your knees by the time you realize you are falling down.  If your recovery stumble fails, you are in the same fix.

There is no time for any full-body twisting, or fancy maneuvers: your face is flying towards the ground and your arms and hands instinctively pull up and reach out forward to try and stop the fall...

But you should NOT just reach out with your arms stiff and rigid!  

If you try to stop the fall with your hands, you may break your fingers, wrists, or even elbow and shoulder joints.

Instead, keep your hands raised in front of your face, and at the last moment,
SLAP the ground with your whole arm, from fingertips to lower forearm.

You should also exhale sharply, and look upward with your neck tensed.

How we train in class to protect ourselves:

The "Cheese" mat
         Here is the "Cheese," a wedge-shaped mat.

Slap the Cheese 1Slap the Cheese 2
    Standing, arms ready.                 Fall lightly forward: SLAP with forearms and palms.

   Note:  Look UP, tighten the neck muscles, and exhale in the final movement to keep your face from hitting the ground.

This last-second slapping movement is practiced again and again -- until it becomes a trained response.

Dawn and Dianne slap the mat down on the floor.  ~ photo by Tom Dodge of the Dispatch

If we actually trip and fall, it should look something like this:
Slap the Cheese Falling