Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Review of the year 2011

I missed the last lesson of the year last Thursday due to unforeseen circumstances so I thought I’d take the opportunity to write a quick review of my Judo in 2011.

In January my training was dominated by my Marathon training. I was quite often tired and sore but I was obviously feeling very fit and this was reflected when I did Newaza and would still feel fresh at the end of it. I did however have to sacrifice by BJJ training due to lack of time and energy, which is a shame as really enjoy it.

Of course the biggest event of 2011, and in fact my life up till now, was the birth of my baby daughter Florence. Her birth did force me re-evaluate my Marathon training and as a consequence I decided it wasn’t fair on either my wife or myself to continue to spend hours a week pounding the streets especially when I could be spending that time looking after my daughter and giving my wife a brief reprieve. I therefore decided to pull out of the Marathon but at least I managed to run distances I never thought I would be capable of (13 miles) and I will certainly be back some time in the future to have another crack at it.

Coincidently the London Marathon was on the same day as the High Wycombe Newaza tournament, which I had entered the previous year winning a bronze in the process. So with no Marathon to contend with I decided to enter again. The tournament had definitely grown from the previous year and there were guys there from other grappling arts such as BJJ, Greco Roman and other Wrestling forms who were competing, making the tournament a lot more competitive. This made the bronze medal I managed to win all the more satisfying but it did make me think about the differences of Judo Newaza vs BJJ.

I managed to re-visit Westcroft Judo club for a Randori only night. Westcroft is where I had trained briefly a few years earlier before getting injured and giving it up so it was nice to pay them a visit. Since I last trained there they have moved to a permanent Dojo which I was very impressed with. The head instructor, Andy Ede, recognised me and made me feel very welcome and both myself and Oli had an excellent nights training.

I got my Orange belt in July, just before my club closed for the summer months. I had already decided to train at Yoshin Ryu Judo club for the summer but unfortunately a broken toe on the last day of July meant that I was only able to attend one lesson there. However I got a lot out of that one lesson and was impressed with the guys that train there and the facilities on offer and will attempt to take as many classes there as possible in 2012.

On one of my visits to Yoshin Ryu I got totally dominated in randori by a fellow orange belt. This had the effect of making me re-evaluate my Judo training as a whole although it subsequently turned out that this orange belt was someone who had trained as a junior and was now training four times a week as an adult, so maybe it was to be expected. This is one of the reasons I want to take some extra classes.
It also made me a bit less belt hungry as I would much rather be a good orange belt than a poor green belt.

Subsequently I didn’t hit my target of getting my green belt by Christmas but hopefully I will make some good progress next year and be ready to grade before the summer.

After the summer break Ryan didn’t return to the seniors due to sciatica and Mark was also absent for the whole year due to injury. With no other new seniors joining and other senior members missing for large chunks of the year this meant that the class size was sometimes as low as 4 seniors. I understand that there are plans in the new year to try and attract some new seniors in to the club and that would be very welcome.

I made a concerted effort to weigh below 90kg as I felt I would do better in tournaments as a heavy under 90kg rather than a light under 100kg. Following a gym assessment yesterday at my work, I can confirm that I now weigh 89.5kg and have 16% body fat, which is classed as excellent for my age. My resting pulse rate is also down to 58 so I’m getting fitter as well. However I’m not sure I like the leaner looking me. I like the lower body fat but I think I’m going to try and put on some extra muscle in 2012 and get back up to 95kg. If I can do that with compromising my body fat I will be very happy indeed.

The blog is averaging around 30 hits a day and currently has 8420 in total so someone must be reading it. An anonymous person took offence to my links to BJJ and took it upon themselves to send an email to my Judo club to complain. After reading my blog I then got the full backing of all my instructors at the club to continue with what I was writing.

So there you have it, a brief review of 2011. My goals for next year are to get my Green belt and compete again in the High Wycombe Newaza tournament and hopefully at least one other tournament. Also to try and train as much as possible at Yoshin Ryu (probably on a Monday).

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Ude-Garami (Kimura)

I’m a bit late with my write up, following last week’s lesson, so you’ll probably get two posts in quick succession this week.

After we were warmed up Peter had us pair up for some light Randori, basically throw for throw, not resisting much. I was paired with Oli and decided straight away that I would try and throw him with an Uchi-mata at some point. After two or three throws each I decided now was a good time to go for it and although I had to hop a couple of times he finally went over. Oli commented afterwards that he was impressed that I tried it and this gave me confidence boost especially after last week where I seemed to forget all but the very basic throws.

As we changed partners the Randori got amped up a level. First we had one attacking and the other one only allowed to counter and then eventually hard Randori. At this point I was paired with Big Stuart so I realised I was going to get thrown and even though he did throw me a couple of times I did manage to counter him with a Tani-otoshi.

We then moved on to some Newaza. First we took turns starting from the turtle position, so I used the opportunity to attack using the Juji-gatame sit back and roll technique from the green belt syllabus. Then we took turns starting on our backs with the other person in our guard, the highlight of which was a particularly good tussle that I had with Big Stuart. He had briefly passed my guard on my left hand side but I managed to shrimp and turn in to him. Then just as I was going to get back to full guard he somehow cart wheeled over my body and landed in Mune-gatame on my right side. I was impressed and to be honest I think he was too.
When it was my turn to try and pass his guard we had an equally good tussle and despite him reversing me I managed to squirm out and hold him in Kesa-gatame.

Peter called matte shortly afterwards and he then moved on to show us some Newaza techniques.

First up was Hara-gatame, which I just couldn’t seem to get right. Stewart commented that perhaps it was because of my long legs that I couldn’t get the leverage right.
We moved on to Kesa-garami and this is a technique that Big Stuart has used on me a few times in the past. The technique is done from Kesa-gatame and although you wouldn’t normally give up a hold for a submission I think its used more if the person being held managed to get their right arm free and starts causing you problems. You can then stick under your leg and apply an arm lock and get the Ippon that way.

Peter then went on to show us a technique that is no longer allowed in competition, well at least not Judo competition but I’ve certainly seen similar looking leg locks in MMA and no doubt this is used in BJJ. Anyway Ashi-garami, being a leg lock, is no longer permitted in Randori or Shiai but nonetheless it was nice to be shown it.

Before the class ended Big Stuart wanted to show us a variation of Ude-garami. Instead of being done the traditional way it is shown on the BJA website this is more like a reverse Ude-garami. Big Stuart and I, both being fans of MMA, know that it is called a Kimura by fighters practising BJJ. Masahiko Kimura was the Judoka who famously defeated Helio Gracie many years ago and he defeated Helio with a Ude-garami. Out of respect to their victor the Gracie family named this technique the Kimura and it is still called Kimura to this day.

It was quite ironic actually that Big Stuart showed us this technique as Frank Mir used it to defeat and break the arm of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 140 on Saturday night. It just goes to show you the importance of tapping when someone gets you in an armlock. I know the stakes that these guys fight for in the UFC is a lot higher than some plastic trophy most Judoka’s fight over in local Shiai but I cannot see the point in not tapping and effectively letting your opponent break your arm just to prove the point that you will never submit. If Nogueira had tapped earlier he could have been fighting again in a few months and training again within a week but now he will probably not be able to train at all for six months and all this due to his ego. I can understand it more when a fighter doesn’t submit to a choke as getting choked unconscious doesn’t usually have any lasting effects. That said I think Lyota Machida could have injured himself after he was choked unconscious in his LHW title bout against Jon Jones as he was choked out whilst standing and then just slumped to the floor after Jones let him go. Anyway I digress this is a Judo Blog not MMA.

Next week is the last class of the term so I will need to train elsewhere, probably Yoshin Ryu, until the second week in January.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

How to Uchi-Mata

Following my complete mind blank last week where I literally forgot how to throw, I stumbled across this YouTube video that someone posted on the Judoforum. It's a green belt level throw, so I need to practice it but it is also a very popular competition throw for all levels.

Friday, 2 December 2011


I had one of those nights last night where I forgot everything. We were told to do some uchikomi Tai-otoshi and I couldn’t even think how to break Uke’s balance and to make matters worse the rest of my Tai-otoshi was sloppy to say the best. When we were then given free reign to perform any throw uchikomi, all I could think of was Tai-otoshi and O-uchi-gari. This was very frustrating as I wanted to use this opportunity to practice the throws in my green belt syllabus but I couldn’t think of a single entry to any of them.

Things didn’t get any better when we progressed on to Randori apart from a Tani-otoshi which presented itself to me. I’m not quite sure why this is. Maybe missing last week’s training due to Flu has something to do with it.

Something that I have been thinking about recently is that I need to train more than just once a week. I think I’ve come to a point in my Judo journey where once a week just isn’t enough to progress anymore so I will be looking at Yoshin Ryu and Westcroft for some additional training and will see which club offers the best days and times to fit in with my other commitments.

Other than the mind blank I had with my tachiwaza we had about half of the class dedicated to just chokes and strangles. Some of these I have seen before but a couple I hadn’t. I particularly liked the “hell strangle” which meant you ended up putting Uke in what BJJ’ers would call the “crucifix” position, and then you strangle them with the collar of their gi whilst they are totally helpless. This technique was performed against Uke from the turtle position and its one I will try and remember and maybe use sometime in the future.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

New Faces

The day after my last lesson I embarked on a weekend’s trip to Snowdonia in Wales for a bit of climbing with a mate. Unfortunately I returned with a serious case of Man flu which has meant a delay in updating my blog and due to my head being all scrambled with various cold/flu remedies I cannot remember much of what went on so please excuse the briefness of my report.

The first thing I noticed when I turned up for last week’s lesson were two new faces who were already on the mat. One of them was a brown belt from Crawley Judo club who was trying to get as much training in as possible to get his black belt and the other guy, also from Crawley, was a white belt.

Following last week’s Newaza based lesson we had another one this week. Peter told us to start with some light randori and I paired up with the new brown belt guy. He decided to pull guard against me and then tried to work some sweeps but due to me posturing up well and being a few stone heavier than him I was able to resist his attempts. He then decided to get back to his knees and I was more than happy to pull guard myself. Now it was my turn to look for sweeps on him but he did a pretty good job of resisting my attempts until Peter reminded us both that it was light randori and subsequently called matte.

Peter then had us working through various holds on each other, for example I would start in Kesa Gatame and then move in to Mune-gatame then Yoko-shiho-gatame then Kuzure-kesa-gatame and finally in to tate-shiho-gatame. The person being held would slowly increase resistance until they were either able to escape or the person on top got bored and gave them ago. I think this is a very good exercise as being able to hold someone in a pin isn’t that difficult but to be able to move from one pin to another whilst keeping control is a different kettle of fish entirely. Of course in Shiai you wouldn’t give up a pin but there are times when you know you are slowly losing a pin and being able to switch to another one with minimal effort is advantageous.

We went through a couple of changes of partners and eventually went on to do some free Newaza before Peter decided to show us some Kata. We have done a little kata before but not for a while now. There is a big difference between the Kata one does in Judo to that which I performed in Karate or the form’s I had to do in Wing Chun and that is Judo kata’s are performed with another person.
I think the name of the Kata that we performed was Katame-no-kate and we only went through some of it but what I did find was that it was very useful for teaching us the correct position for the techniques.

Following the Kata we did some randori and finished up again with some more Newaza. As I said earlier my brain is slightly fuzzy due to cold/flu remedies so I can’t go in to any detail.

An interesting lesson with plenty of sparring and it was great to have some additions to the senior’s class. I hope they both return next week.

Friday, 11 November 2011


It appears that someone has taken offence to my blog and has therefore taken it upon themselves to email my club and complain. I haven’t seen the offending email but from what I’ve been told by the instructors, the anonymous emailer thinks that my blog is somehow damaging to my club and disrespectful to Judo due to the links I have to other martial arts like BJJ. There is an option to leave comments on my blog so should you take offence or disagree with anything that is written within it then please use this as a way of contacting me and we can then have a sensible discussion.

Just to add, all of the instructors have now read my blog and cannot see anything in it which in anyway damages the club or Judo. In fact they are of the opinion that it is a useful way of promoting Dorking Judo Club and they encourage me to keep at it. One thing that was pointed out to me by Black belt Stuart was that I have been spelling his name incorrectly as he spells his name Stewart. So from now on he will simply be referred to as Stewart, which means I can drop the black belt part.

On to last night’s lesson and it was a sort of Newaza master class. After we were warmed up I was paired up for some Newaza first with Oli and then without pause Stewart and then Peter. Following this Peter proceeded to show me various ways of applying Waki-gatame and Ude-gatame, specifically from a standing position. Although these techniques are not always successful when standing they can cause your opponent to move to a position where they are easily thrown or at the very least, give your opponent something to think about and put them off of a certain grip.

We then moved on to Ude-garami and finished with Hadaka-jime before Peter asked me to try and use the techniques I had just been shown, in some Newaza against himself, Stewart and Oli. Again I did this without any pause in between so it was a good workout but I really enjoyed it. I did have some success in applying these techniques but I cannot remember what technique I performed on whom. Stewart commented that I had a fairly good defense off of my back and in the most part I was able to stop anyone passing my guard.

Although we didn’t work specifically on my green belt syllabus tonight I felt like I got a lot out of the lesson, specifically with regards to my groundwork. I have commented in the past that I needed to learn some collar chokes as they seem to be presented quite regularly but I have rarely been able to finish them due to my lack of understanding of them, so hopefully this is something that I can start to address and improve on.

At the end of the class Peter said that he might show us some Kata in the upcoming weeks as it’s a good way of improving our technique and as Peter has won national Kata championships I’m sure he’ll be the right person to teach us.

Friday, 4 November 2011

More green belt syllabus

After I updated my blog last week I also decided to post an excerpt from my blog entry on the judo forum as I was looking for some feedback specifically around how I was dominated by another orange belt and how it made me feel. Rather oddly I was contacted, through the Judo forum by the orange belt guy from Yoshin Ryu who had crushed me, as he was concerned that I should feel so demoralized after what was after all just randori. It turns out that he did have previous experience at a junior level and had graded to Blue belt and even though he had only been training for 8 months since his return he was training 3-4 times a week. This did make me feel a bit better about how easily I was dominated by his grips and again how easily he was able to throw me. We have exchanged a couple of emails since then and I look forward to returning to Yoshin Ryu sometime soon and maybe learning a thing or two from him.

On to last night’s lesson and Graeme had returned from his world tour but he was only joined by Peter and Oli, which meant there were only 4 of us on the mat. We discussed briefly before we started, about what had happened to me a week previously and Graeme commented that it was quite common when people returned to Judo after training as a junior that they would be a lot better than their senior grade, particularly as juniors usually have a lot of competition experience which makes them rather good at randori.

Graeme and Peter then said we would again go over some of my green belt syllabus and that I would probably get my green belt within a few weeks. When you consider how I was feeling after last week’s lesson this didn’t seem right, I mean being thrown around by someone your own grade is bad enough but being thrown around by a lower grade would be a lot worse. When I’ve graded previously I’ve always felt I was ready to grade and that I was deserving of my new belt but now there is a degree of self doubt creeping in over whether I am good enough to wear a green belt. I guess this will only get worse as I get closer to the elusive black belt.

First of all we went over some of the Newaza techniques from the syllabus and they were Ude-gatame, Waki-gatame and finally Hiza-gatame. I had a bit of trouble finding the space to get my knee on to uke’s arm whilst doing the Hiza-gatame, which is odd as I’ve not had any trouble with this in the past.

On to the Tahi-waza and I was fairly comfortable with both Harai-goshi and Uchi-mata, although I totally forgot about the higher grip that Ynez had shown me previously and also the nice entry techniques.

Morote-eri-seoi-nage was easier this week as Oli was not wearing a stiff double weave like Stuart was when I was shown this last time which caused me to struggle to get a strong grip. Graeme showed me another way of doing this throw and that was two hands on the same side lapel as opposed to opposite lapels, which if you look at the link is actually the same way Fallon is demonstrating this. I also think this way of doing the throw would be a lot easier against someone wearing a double weave.

Now I really struggled with Sase-tsurikomi-ashi and Hiza-guruma, which are quite similar throws. I had a habit of pulling Oli down instead of lifting him up and breaking his balance properly. I will try and practice some uchi-komi in the week to correct this.

At the end of the lesson Graeme asked for ideas on how to get new seniors interested in joining the club. My immediate response was to try and tempt some of the parents who bring their kids to the junior sessions to try it out; we shall see how this develops.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Crushed – Yoshin Ryu Judo Club

As my club was closed for the half term holidays I decided to pay another visit to Yoshin Ryu Judo Club in Coulsdon and as is the norm I was accompanied by Oli.

On arrival we made ourselves know to the instructor Neil and were again made to feel very welcome. The changing rooms are located on the other side of mats so you have to take your shoes off before you can reach them.

As before the class started with a game of football between the kyu grades and the Dan grades and just as before they managed to beat us by a single goal. As my toe still isn’t right after I broke it at the end of July, football probably isn’t the best sport for me to play, especially in bare feet, so I was very conscious not to go hard in to any tackles.

After the game we lined up and something I noticed which was different from last time was the number of kyu grades present. Whereas in August the Dan grades outnumbered the kyu grades, this time there were about 15 kyu grades, from white belt all the way up to brown.

I paired up with a fairly stocky brown belt and we did a further warm up which consisted of sit ups & press ups etc. Following that we drilled our first technique. I went in to the turtle position and uke grabbed my arm and I simply rolled him over the top of me. We drilled this for 10 goes on each side before Neil showed us a counter to this move. If the person in the turtle position rolls you over by grabbing your left arm you should, as you start to roll, take a high collar grip with your right hand so that after the roll you can grab the lapel of uke with your left hand thus enabling you to choke your opponent with OKURI-ERI-JIME. We did this for a number of repetitions before matte was finally called and we were told to start Newaza.

We stayed with the same partners and as Newaza was started from kneeling and my opponent was larger than me I decided against knee wrestling and pulled guard instead. From this position I tried a number of times to get a Juji-gatame but each time he was able to resist. I then grabbed his right wrist with my left hand pushed it between my legs and secured a san-gaku-jime. However as I started to pull his right arm across my body he managed to stand up, which meant I had to let go and start again. I pulled guard and figured I was just attack constantly from my back and I did a pretty good job in keeping him preoccupied enough with my attacked so that he couldn’t mount any of his own. Matte was called with none of us able to get a pin or a submission.

Next up was a complete beginner who was taking his first class, so I just showed him a few basics. He was a big lad and mentioned that he had started training MMA so when I explained the techniques to him I also gave him the BJJ/MMA equivalent, for example I mentioned side control when describing mune-gatame and spoke about passing the guard. I showed him the basics of passing the guard and the importance of the guard so hopefully he learnt something from it.

Next up was a blue belt who I had trained with previously. This is where it all started to go wrong for me. He was constantly looking for cross collar chokes from within my guard. I’ve read on a number of forums, like the judo forum, that this is just an invitation to be juji-gatame’d, so I tried just that but every time I did he managed to get out and pass my guard and secure either a Mune-gatame or kesa-gatame of which I was unable to escape from.

My next opponent was a rather stocky black belt and again I favored pulling guard to knee wrestling and as per my previous roll he was able to pass my guard and secure a pin of his choice by baiting me in to trying either a juji-gatame or san-gaku-jime. I wasn’t successful with either of these subs and neither was I able to get anyone near sweeping him. Now I know all these guys outrank me and maybe I am being a little too hard on myself but I always thought I had quite good Newaza skills for my rank.

We had a quick water break and despite sweating profusely I was a little less gassed than when I last trained here. My first opponent was yet another black belt and he was kind enough to point out that my arms were too stiff and that he could feel everything I was attempting to do before I even moved. This has been highlighted to me on numerous occasions before but where I am able to relax at my own club now, against people I know who allow me get my grips, against strangers who fight for grips I felt a little lost. This was to be highlighted in my next match against a fellow orange belt.

As there were so many people present we couldn’t all take to the mats at the same time when we did Randori so we all took turns in sitting out a match. It was whilst I was sitting out after my first match against the black belt that I asked the guy next to me if he wanted to spar next. As he was a fellow orange belt I commented that it would be nice to actually train with someone of similar skill and he agreed.
When the fight started we fought for grips and as I mentioned previously, I was totally dominated by his grips. He was able to control me and move me where he wanted to every time he took hold of me whereas I was just holding on for dear life. He then proceeded to throw me not once, not twice but four times for ippon and that doesn’t include the couple of times where I didn’t quite land flat on my back. The instructor, Neil, was watching us closely and told me to take a higher grip on his collar or around his back but at that point it didn’t make much of a difference. I was glad when matte was finally called and slumped down in the corner feeling totally demoralized.

I’ve been dominated before by higher grades and that’s to be expected but this guy was the same belt as me and what made it even worse was the fact that he told me he had only been training for 8 months. If I could have snuck out back to my car and driven home at this point, I would have. Lots of thoughts were going through my head the main one being that I wasn’t actually any good for an orange belt and yet last week I was talking about grading for my green belt soon. But how could this be that I’m not good at Judo. Where sport is concerned I usually pick things up pretty quickly and have gone on to excel at a number of them. Hell my first Judo competition in April of last year, when I had only been training for two months, I managed to finish third, so where did this all go wrong.

I didn’t have too long to reflect on this as my next opponent was the blue belt who I had rolled with earlier. Yet again I struggled with the grip and he scored 3 Ippon’s against me, with the highlight being a perfect Tomoe-nage. I did however manage a throw of my own, which was following a failed Harai-goshi, which I turned in to an Uchi-mata. What was really annoying is that I had planned to try out Harai-goshi & Uchi-mata tonight but I never got the chance to mount any attacks because I was dominated in the grips.

My match against the blue belt was the last of the evening and Neil told us to find a space on the mat. He then proceeded to work us some more with a number of sit ups, press ups, squat thrusts and star jumps before we finally finished with a light stretch. At the end of the lesson I was eager to leave as I still felt totally demoralised and I wanted to confide in Oli on the car journey home. Oli reasoned that maybe this orange belt had trained Judo in his youth or that just maybe he was exceptional. Still this is the lowest point I have felt so far in my Judo journey and I would be lying if the idea of quitting hadn’t crossed my mind.

The day after and although I feel like I have been hit by a truck, I have had time to reflect and I certainly won’t be quitting. What I will need to do is tell my instructor how I was dominated and that I feel I need to work on my grips. I’m sure I will go back to Yoshin Ryu again in the near future and hopefully I can show an improvement. I would also like to thank everyone at the club for making both myself and Oli feel very welcome yet again.

Friday, 21 October 2011


A frozen neck kept me away from doing any training last week so I was eager to get back to class tonight especially following my last lesson, which was basically a one to one private with Ynez. Unfortunately it was bit of strange lesson tonight as, yet again the turnout was pretty bad, in fact I was the only student with Peter, Ynez and black belt Stuart as instructors. I think I’ve worked out why Ryan hasn’t been to Judo since June and that is because his BJJ club now has two dedicated Judo lessons a week so it would make sense if he attended those especially as they precede the actual BJJ classes that he takes. This will be a great loss to our club though, especially as he brought with him some good newaza skills and was similarly matched, skill wise, to myself. I still think it would be a good idea to invite a BJJ club to come and give us a BJJ class as something different to the normal Judo that we have. If nothing else we may get one or two BJJ’ers who maybe live locally that might then start taking Judo.

Back to tonight’s lesson and following on from my lesson two weeks ago, Peter decided I should go over some techniques from the green belt syllabus. We went over all the various entries to Juji-gatame which I feel I have got down pretty well. We then went over Ude-gatame, Waki-gatame and Hiza-gatame, all of which are fairly simple techniques but ones that I haven’t used much before so they do need a little perfecting. Tachi-waza wise I was shown Morote-eri-seoi-nage and I must admit this did not come easy to me. I’d like to think it was because Stuart’s gi is so thick that I couldn’t get a proper grip on it but I’m sure it’s more than that and besides, if I can grip and throw people wearing heavy double weave gi’s then throwing someone wearing a single weave will seem fairly easy in comparison.

As I said at the beginning of this post, tonight lesson was a bit strange and Peter decided to finish 30 minutes early tonight. I guess I can’t complain as again I had effectively had my own private lesson with three black belts. Maybe that’s one of the positives of having such a low turnout in the senior class, that I am getting a lot of personal instruction and if this keeps up I will likely start my green belt grading sooner rather than later.

Friday, 7 October 2011

The Darkness

On approaching the club tonight I thought it looked very dark and once inside I realised that half the lighting was not working due to an electrical fault.
The cupboard that we normally use as a makeshift changing room had no light whatsoever but I found Black Belt Stuart in there and Jamie with only a torch as a means of light.

I hadn’t seen Jamie for a number of months and with the continued absence of Ryan I was glad that he had decided to come back.

Peter got us warmed up with some light Newaza which then progressed in to one of us applying a hold, with the other trying to escape. The person applying the hold then had to move to another hold without losing control. Whilst being held in Kesa-gatame by Stuart I noticed how heavy he felt on me and how much it felt like he was crushing my ribs. Even Ynez, who is half my size, felt like a dead weight when holding me in Kesa-gatame. Ynez said it’s not about using strength or size to hold a person down its more about just making your body feel heavy, and of course using the correct technique.

Following the Newaza and with everyone nicely warmed up and due to the fact that both Graeme and Big Stuart were away with work, Peter decided that he was going to give Jamie the opportunity to start his first grading for Red belt.

As Stuart was to be Jamie’s Uke and Peter would do the examining, Ynez said that she would work with me and Peter suggested that we go over the Green belt syllabus.

As we had already been doing some Newaza we started with the various versions of Juji-gatame that are needed for green belt:

Juji-gatame sit back entry
Juji-gatame roll over entry
Juji-gatame entry from beneath
Juji-gatame over the shoulder entry

It was great to cover so many different variations of the same technique and also to do a number of repetitions of each variation.

The other Newaza techniques in the syllabus that we practised were Ude-gatame, Waki-gatame & finally Hiza-gatame. At some point over the last 18 months I have probably practised all of these but again it was really nice to really go over each one for repetitions.

There are a number of throws needed for green belt and Ynez decided that we should start with Okuri-Ashi-Barai, of which I have previously devoted an entire thread to. I mentioned to Ynez that Graeme called this throw the oomph throw, as that’s the noise that Uke generally makes when he hits the matt as all of his air is knocked out of him. Ynez actually liked being thrown with this technique, providing it’s done right. Her comments were that there was something nice about being thrown by a perfectly executed throw. I’m not sure if I agree with her sentiments entirely but I agree that landing flat on your back is preferable to being dumped on your head.

Having got the timing down for Okuri-ashi-barai we moved on to Harai-goshi. Despite needing quite a bit of hip, and for me to pull this off against Ynez, who is considerably shorter than me, took a lot of knee bending, I still very much enjoyed this throw. Ynez showed me a couple of nice entries and we practised these after the normal static version. The first was literally just a hop in but the second one involved pulling Uke to my right, but instead of following them you stay still and then proceed to hop in with the throw. It seemed so simple but very effective.
With time running out with progressed on to Uchi-mata, a throw we practised before the summer break and one I got the hang of. For some reason this time I kept on muddling this up with Harai-goshi as I was reaping with my leg on the outside rather than in between Uke’s legs.
If you look at the example from the BJA website, Fallon’s left leg just clips the inside of his Uke’s left leg. You can also perform Uchi-mata by clipping the inside of their right leg but this usually required you to hop around until their fall off balance. Ynez said its better to attack the inside of the left leg, Like Fallon’s example, because if they try and manoeuvre out of it you always have the right leg with the hoping technique to fall back on, whereas if you go straight for the right leg and they move out of the way, you have missed your opportunity for this throw.

Looking up at the clock we realised it was and Peter called matte. I had covered a hell of a lot of the green belt syllabus in the last hour and having what was effectively a private 1 hour lesson with Ynez was fantastic and probably rates as the most productive Judo lesson to date. It also made me realise that I’m not that far off of being ready for green belt grading and hopefully I can hit my target of achieving it before the end of this year.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Yoko Tomoe Nage

I found this linked to on the Judo forum, which although its a variation of Tomoe-nage I felt it was useful to keep and share.


There has been a bit of a delay in updating my blog since the last lesson due mainly to the fact that the morning after the lesson I was driving 300 miles to Cornwall for a week’s holiday with my Wife and Baby Daughter. Holidaying in the UK, even in the summer, can be unpredictable where the weather is concerned, but going in late September you are simply asking for wind and rain. Luckily for me the UK was experiencing some of the warmest days ever recorded for September (26-28c) so I needn’t have packed so many jumpers and coats.

Back to last week’s lesson and it was great to see Black Belt Stuart back at the club after a long absence due to a nasty toe injury/infection. Hopefully this is the start of more of the old regulars returning.

As for the finer details of the lesson, I’m afraid after a week’s holiday, where I consumed my own body weight in Cornish pasties, cream teas and Ice Cream, I can remember very little other than the main throw we worked on which was Tomoe-nage. Graeme commented that this was the throw most used in films during the 60’s and 70’s, I can just imagine Roger Moore pulling this one off in a James Bond Film followed by a “Judo Chop”.

We all took turns throwing everyone else in the class and to be honest I wasn’t too shabby at it. When it was my turn to be Uke I noticed that the fall can be a little hard, something to remember should the instructor ask for a volunteer Uke to demonstrate this throw next time.

As I said the rest of the details of the lesson are a little hazy but I should hopefully have a better reports on tomorrow’s lesson on Friday.

Friday, 16 September 2011

New Term

After a summer of disappointment, where my Judo training is concerned, I was finally back at Dorking Judo club for my first lesson of the new term. As mentioned previously, I had intended to train at both Yoshin Ryu and Westcroft Judo club’s in the summer months but unfortunately a broken toe on the last weekend of July put paid to that, coupled with a mysterious stomach bug which has kept me laid low over the last week, although I did manage one outing to Yoshin Ryu a couple of weeks with Oli.

Anyway I was back tonight and although my stomach was still playing up a little bit, I was very much looking forward to getting back in to training.

Unfortunately, despite a very good exhibition stall at the Capel Flower Show (yes I do live in the countryside) that the club put on and lots of interest from people watching, there were no new seniors. In fact there were only 6 seniors in total, Graeme, Peter, Ynez, Big Stuart, Oli and myself.
What was new tonight was a giant crash mat that the club purchased with Sainsbury’s vouchers (over six thousand apparently) and before the class had started both Graeme and myself were practicing flying break falls on it and generally acting like a couple of juniors.

After a quick warm up we lined up at one end of the mat and practiced some Uchi-komi, finishing off with a throw of our choice on to the lovely new crash mat. Feeling rusty as I did I went with O-goshi and then progressed on to Tai-otoshi, the throw I’m determined to make my own but am still sadly some way off of doing. After several throws each, Graeme told us all to practice Ippon-seoi-nage. At this point I was paired with Ynez, who being over a foot shorter than me was probably to worse person I could have been paired with for this throw especially as the old knee’s aren’t what they used to be.
Graeme critiqued my throw as Ynez had got a little stuck on my back and he remarked that I needed to turn my head more to the left, which in turn would help drop my right shoulder, allowing her to drop on to the mat. A good tip and one I must try to remember for next time.

Peter called a halt to our fun with the crash mat and said we would be concentrating on throwing combinations this term, which is something I definitely feel I need to work on so was pleased about this. Tonight we would be working on the O-uchi-gari/Ko-uchi-gari combination, taking it in turns to attack with each throw first. Although this is a combination we have worked before I’ve never been any good at Ko-uchi-gari but tonight, whilst partnering Ynez, I felt like I started to get the timing right for this throw and also improved my O-uchi-gari, especially in regards to my reaping leg.

Following on from this combination we then worked on Ko-uchi-gari in to O-soto-gari and then progressed in to a left handed O-soto-gari, which seemed to flow better than the right handed version preceding the Ko-uchi-gari.

The last throw we looked at this evening was Ko-soto-gari, another one of these tricky foot sweeps that require good timing and balance.

We finished off with some Newaza, the highlight of which was a nice Juji-gatame from the turtle that I managed to pull off against Oli.

It was great to be back doing Judo again and I even managed to get through the whole session without causing too much pain to my broken toe. At the end of the class Graeme mentioned that both he and Stuart will be away quite a bit this term, with work commitments abroad, so it’s likely the class will be even thinner on the ground. I do hope we can soon get some fresh blood in to the place as I’m sure the club is sustainable, certainly not from a senior’s point of view, if this continues.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Judo Tips and Tricks

Looking Good

The smoother and more controlled you are when you do Judo the better you look, because smoothness and control come only with skill and technique this isn’t easy to achieve. However there are some little tricks to make yourself look good.

The Serious

How you conduct yourself on the mat is important.

When you’re tired, worn out, feeling useless it’s important that you still conduct yourself like a man.
Don’t slump in a heap when watching a demo sit in seiza or anza (crossed legs) if your knees can’t take it.
If you’re knackered don’t just wonder off the mat and sit down.Take yourself to a corner stay on your feet and just get your breath back, tidy your kit, sort yourself out. When you’re feeling ready rejoin the class and go with a sense of purpose to pick out your randori partner or whatever the situation is.

Sort your belt out.

If you haven’t done your belt properly you look like a complete chump. No one will ever take you or your Judo seriously if you don’t tie your belt properly.

If your belt looks like this

Sort it out quickly or expect people to laugh at you.
Even more so if you have a ‘dick belt’

Just, no.

Being knackered

We’ve all been there its minute 4 of the contest and you are absolutely knackered. You need some time to get a breath, but when the fighting breaks you have to go back to your spot and start again right away, there aren’t any timeouts in Judo, or are there...

So you’re on a Judo contest mat. There’s the contest area, in green, the danger area, in red, and the two spots for the guy in the white belt and the guy in the blue belt.

Whenever there’s a break in the contest you return to your respective spots, white for white – blue for blue, and start again.
However, here lies the perfect opportunity to catch a few seconds of air.
Most people when the contest breaks they walk back from where it broke, at the X, to their spot.

The smart and experienced player knows that this is there opportunity to catch some breaths and so will take the longest and most circuitous route back to their spot they can

If you’re knackered 3 or 4 extra seconds of sucking in air makes a massive difference.

Those who are even cannier and or even more knackered can upgrade this little breath catching trick.

The fight should only restart when you are at your appropriate spot, so if you go to the wrong spot then it shouldn’t restart.
If the contest breaks at the X and blue walks back to whites spot and waits there ready to go.

This means that you not only look sincere in your attempt to continue, but also means that quite a few seconds will pass, because the ref won’t actually speak to say you’ve got it wrong. They will just gesture with their hands. You can game out the confusion for a good 5 maybe 10 seconds before ‘realising’ what you’ve done and then walking back to your correct spot.
You’ve broken your opponents concentration because of the deliberate mix up, you’ve gained maybe 15 extra seconds of air and are now in a much better state to get going again.

Now, obviously, you can’t do the second one more than once a match. However, the first you can milk for a good 3 or 4 goes depending on how blatant/subtle you are, and in a close fought match those few extra seconds you gain to get your breath can mean the difference between eking out the win and losing.


In randori its a million times easier to catch some breath and stay on the mat than it is in shiai, because there’s no ref to chide or penalise you.

If you’re 10, 5 minute randoris into your 1hr 30 randori session most likely you’re going to be sucking wind, unless you’re one of the top guys on the mat, in which case you won’t be reading this.

So you get thrown, attempt a throw and fall down, block a throw and fall down, or maybe even throw and you’re on a busy mat.
You’re the red circle, your partner right and all the other couples black.

However, you’re knackered the other guy is amped up and you need to catch a breather. Now you could just stand up and go straight back at it or you could be smart and get a few seconds of air and take yourself in a loop back to your partner, ideally behind another pair doing randori.

This is so you can gain even more time by, undoing your belt just as you past behind the other randori pair, marked by the X.

This means that when you get back to your partner you have your belt in your hand and can have a legitimate excuse to stand still for 10 seconds whilst you tie your belt. If you’re truly knackered make a hash of it first time round and take it off, re-adjust your jacket and then start the whole process of tying the belt again.


Getting a choke

Often from this position against an experienced opponent it can be difficult to get your hands in to apply a shimewaza. However, there is a simple and effective method to break even the toughest of defences.

Take your opposite side elbow and place it against uke’s ear, so right elbow against uke’s left ear.

Note it must be against the ear, no higher or lower, otherwise you will lose leverage.

Then simply drive your elbow across trying to get uke’s other ear to touch their shoulder. As the space is created slip your hand in to secure either the collar or bring the forearm across the neck for the Hadaka jime.

If your elbow and upper body is not strong enough to move their neck, then, well, you probably weren’t going to get anywhere anyway...

Being Fast
Usually fast is good.

Here is one way of creating acceleration into a throw from a static or slow moving situation during uchikomi and nagekomi.

I call it the ‘touch step’ because you bring your feet so that they almost touch to create speed for the step.

We start with the usual positioning

Then tori brings his foot to his other foot

This generates energy that can be released into the step.

Thanks to Judoka_uk for letting me publish this and apparently he does have many more tips and tricks, however, a true martial artist never reveals all of his moves and always keeps some in reserve so that the student can never become the master.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Judo Newaza Grappling International Fights

Although BJJ and Judo share a lot of common techniques I think this clip shows how differently Judo groundwork has evolved compared to the more patient style of BJJ, Personally I find this a lot easier on the eye than BJJ but still appreciate both arts.

This is why i do judo!!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Yoshin Ryu Judo Club – Coulsdon

Following the injury to my Toe 4 weeks ago I decided I had rested enough and finally made it to Yoshin Ryu for some training as Dorking JC is still closed until the 8th September. As always I was accompanied by Oli.

Yoshin Ryu is located in an old church but is a permanent Dojo with matted floors, changing areas and showers and even a nice reception area where you can watch the lesson taking place via a nice TV up on a wall.

Oli and I were greeted by the head instructor and shown in to the changing rooms which are oddly situated across the matted floor area, so shoes had to be removed. Once we were changed we were told that our warm up would consist of a game of football. Whilst the game was going on we were joined by more and more guys who nearly all were wearing Black Belts. The football match seemed to be going on quite a long time and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that at this point I wasn’t a little worried that maybe I had made a mistake coming here and that maybe we would not be doing any Judo at all.

Once the match was finally over, my team losing 10-9, the head Instructor asked if we were all suitably warmed up which to be fair we all were. We then proceeded to go through some stretches before we partnered up for some Uchi Komi. We changed partners a couple of times, whilst still doing Uchi Komi before we then were then told to pick a throw we wanted to do and then to practice various set ups and entries to this one throw. I decided to pick O-uchi-gari and drilled various set ups such as Tai-otoshi, and Ko-uchi-gari. My Partner, a black belt, picked Drop Seoi-nage as his throw but rather kindly he dropped very slowly allowing me a very soft ukemi.

On to Newaza and I was paired up with the same black belt. I pulled guard and was able to keep him from passing my guard by using my legs and my hips to great effect. I even managed to catch him in a san-gaku-jime but was unable to finish him from this position. He did finally manage to pass my guard and got an osaekomi on me but matte was called shortly afterwards.

My next opponent was another black belt and again I pulled guard and did manage a nice flower sweep in to Tate-shiho-gatame. He did manage to turn to his side to escape this but I then took his back and worked for some sort of collar choke. I thought I had him but he refused to tap and eventually he managed to get out and again matte was called.

At this point I was pretty tired; I had just had two hard rolls with Black Belts and wasn’t feeling too strong anymore. The next couple of rolls went the same way, we knee wrestled, they got me down and passed my guard and either pinned or subbed me with a cross collar choke. Of course being submitted by Black belts is nothing to be ashamed of but I know I could of put up a better fight had I had more gas in the tank.

Randori was next and luckily half the class had to sit out due to mat space so I got a quick breather. They guys I did end up sparring with took it pretty easy on me, which I was grateful for, especially as at this point I was physically unable to put up much of a fight. As I mentioned when I attended Westcroft, I was dominated by grips again. Of course I was by far the lowest grade attending so it’s to be expected but I must work on ways of defending against dominant grips and learn to recognise when I am being out in an inferior position by my opponents grip.
After 3 rounds of Randori of which I only performed one throw successfully, a sloppy Tani-otoshi, the lesson came to an end.

Oli and I chatted briefly to the guys afterwards and it seems that we had missed a Brian Jacks visit by only 1 month which means if I hadn’t had broken my toe I might have been able to have taken part in a lesson by him, which as per my previous post is a real shame.

On reflection the standard at the club was very good and it was a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this club and I will be back there myself next week.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Injuries and thoughts

My summer training plans have been ruined somewhat by a freak accident that occurred to me the weekend after my end of term Judo lesson which resulted in me breaking my second toe on my right foot. I would like to report that this happened in Judo Randori or whilst someone attempted an ankle lock in BJJ but alas that is far from the truth. The truth is that in the early hours of Sunday morning my wife and I were woken by the loud meow’s of my blind Cat Freddie. Freddie often does this when he cannot locate my other cat, Frankie. The reason he wants to locate Frankie is so that he can beat him up.

Well Frankie was clearly hiding and not making a sound and as such Freddie’s meows got louder and louder. Fearing that these loud meows would wake my 5 month old daughter, Florence, I leapt out of bed and ran downstairs to make him quiet. Unfortunately, with the lights switched off I fell down the stairs and broke my toe.

Just to rub salt in the wounds I have been advised to lay off the weights for 10 days to allow my suspected tendinitis in my wrists to calm down which means I cannot run nor do any upper body exercises, which has left me nothing more than a keyboard Martial Artist for now.

I have therefore been trailing YouTube for some training advice and have been reading lots of Martial Arts related forums and have been thinking about the type of Martial Artists who have or continue to inspire me.

I’ll start with my old Wing Chun instructor Kevin Chan. I started Wing Chun when I was about 19 years old and at this point Kevin only had two clubs, one in Portsmouth, where he lives, and one in Croydon. I remember even back then that Kevin was already cross training in Maui Thai and would often take trips to Thailand to supplement his training and would then incorporate some of the leg techniques into the Wing Chun that he taught us. I guess it wasn’t until I quit Wing Chun that I truly understood what an impressive and inspirational Martial Artist Kevin was and I’ll explain why. Kevin’s Wing Chun Empire had grown exponentially, with clubs covering most of the south London area. But unlike a lot of other traditional Martial Artists, Kevin was not too proud to don a white belt and start training as a beginner in another martial art, namely BJJ. I’m not sure what Kevin’s reasons where for training in BJJ but I can guess that as Wing Chun is focused on stand up techniques he clearly felt he needed to know what to do should a fight go to the ground. Now not only did Kevin win numerous competitions in BJJ but he eventually received his Black Belt from Mauricao Gomes. Kevin now has a couple of Gracie Barra affiliated BJJ clubs where he teaches, in addition to the still expanding Wing Chun clubs that he runs and for these reasons he is truly a modern day Martial Artist and a true Master.

Next up is Brian Jacks, a Judoka who was the first Britain to win a medal in the world Championships, taking a bronze in Salt Lake City in 1967 and also gained a second bronze in the 1972 Olympics. Now I wasn’t born until 1972 so you might wonder why he would inspire me. Well it wasn’t until he started competing in the BBC TV show Superstars that he achieved real fame, winning it 4 times. I remember as a young kid cheering him on as he went on to win nearly every event that he entered. He was especially remembered for that famous gym test dual with another hero of mine Daley Thompson, the 2 x Olympic gold medal winner in the decathlon and probably Britain’s greatest ever Athlete. Jacks still holds the world record for the number of Dips and Squat thrusts he was able to do in a minute.

I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Jacks a couple of times. The first time was when I did Judo as a child and he was the club president and would occasionally pop in and give a lesson. Then a few years later he gave a Judo demonstration at a holiday camp that my dad had taken me to one summer and I was able to get his autograph.

So Brian Jacks was a hero of mine because he showed that Martial Artists could be the fittest and strongest of athletes and because Judo was the first Martial art that I studied.

When I am not training, one of my favourite pastimes is watching, reading or talking about MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). The premier MMA organisation is called the UFC which stands for the Ultimate Fighting Championships. The UFC was established in 1993 and the early events had few rules, no gloves and was marketed as a Style versus style tournament which was held in an octagon shaped cage. These early events were dominated by a rather slim built, unimpressive physical looking specimen called Royce Gracie who was a black belt in Gracie Jiu-jitsu which has since essentially become more commonly known as BJJ. Royce won 3 events by taking much larger opponents to the ground, where there stand up skills were neutralized, and submitting them either via a choke or a joint lock. I remember buying these early UFC videos from HMV in Wimbledon and rather luckily they had already released the first 3 so I had a feast in one night watching all three. At this point in my Martial Arts training I had dismissed the likes of Judo as an effective Martial Art and thought that Kung-Fu was the most lethal form of self defense. I was very surprised then when this little man used techniques very similar to those found in Judo to win all his fights often against Kung-Fu, Karate & Kick boxing experts.

Now fast forward eighteen years and all the top MMA fighters have skills on the ground and on their feet. They are, if you like, a Martial Arts equivalent of a Decathlete as they can do everything very well indeed and just like a Decathlete will probably have an event that they excel in so does most of the top MMA fighters. Let’s take George St Pierre (GSP) as an example of a modern day MMA fighter. He has a 3rd dan Black belt in Kyokushin Karate and a black belt in BJJ. He also has some seriously good wrestling skills, so much so that he has considered trying out for the Canadian Olympic Wrestling team for next year’s Olympics games. Added to those skills he also trains extensively in boxing and Maui Thai and he comes across as a bloody nice bloke and a true gentleman and champion.

Royce Gracie at the age of 39 made a comeback against the then UFC Welterweight champion Matt Hughes. Unfortunately for Royce he hadn’t evolved like other MMA fighters and Royce still relied on the one thing he did exceptionally well, his BJJ. Matt Hughes was not only able to neutralize Royce’s ground skills but he almost finished Royce with a Kimura before finally stopping him via ground and pound in the first round. I think this fight showed how far MMA had evolved and Matt Hughes was then beaten just as easily by GSP, who does not appear to have any weakness in his game.

So Royce Gracie is the reason I wanted to explore grappling again and is the reason that so many people are now training BJJ but GSP, in my opinion is one of the finest Martial Artists that ever lived so I salute you both.

Friday, 22 July 2011

End of Term

Not much to write following last night’s lesson as with it being the end of term lesson we generally don’t have a structured lesson and last night there were only 4 seniors on the mat. Quite a shame really as someone came in to watch the class, which is the first time anyone has actually come in to watch a class since I’ve been here. It was explained to him that what he was watching was not the normal class and that the club would now be closed until September. I hope he does come back.

I have decided to have a week off from Judo next week but after that I will attend Westcroft or maybe Yoshin Ryu in Coulsdon and will likely be accompanied by Oli. I’m also hoping that my old sparring partner Richie makes it down from Liverpool sometime in the summer and I have promised him a BJJ class at Nova Forca for his efforts.

I’m hoping by having next week off that the pain I have been getting in both my wrists and my left elbow may subside. I’m assuming the wrist pain is some sort of repetitive strain/tendinitis and have been dosing up on Ibuprofen. I’m also laying off the free weights for a couple of weeks which means I have been running a bit more this week and have already seen the benefits as I have been getting closer to the times I was recording when I was training for the marathon.

On another note, I hit 39 next week. Yikes, where did those years go?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

half butterfly guard sweep

Just thought i'd add this as its a very simple and effective way of sweeping someone from the half guard and something I must try next class

Friday, 15 July 2011


Before the class tonight both Oli and I were discussing ways of increasing the profile of the club especially with respect to getting more seniors through the door. Inez then walked in and has the exact same discussion with us both so I’m glad I’m not alone in realising we need more students.

Thankfully Ryan was present tonight but it appears that he is only managing to attend every other week at the moment. He was the first to congratulate me as he walked in as he noticed my shiny new, un-blood stained orange belt. I told Ryan that I had recently seen him on YouTube as I was watching a video of Tim getting his BJJ black belt on Nova Forca. Its traditional at this club for the recipient of a new belt to get whipped by the other students and seeing as Tim was getting his black belt he had to take the whipping with nothing but his boxer shorts to protect him. I was very grateful for the firm handshake I got from Peter for my orange belt and was glad we did not copy BJJ in this regard.

The throw for tonight’s lesson would be Sumi-gaeshi, a throw we have been shown before and a throw that I often try in Randori but very rarely am successful with.

When I was shown it last time it was with Tori gripping uke over his back and almost grabbing his belt. It was a good throw to do against someone who was bending over and being defensive or against someone who was maybe attempting a leg grab. Tonight we were shown how to do this throw with the normal collar and sleeve grip, first as a direct attack and then as a counter to Tai-otoshi. I was paired with Inez at this point and she proved to be an excellent Uke and really helped with my technique so that I was able to perform the throw and then follow straight in to Tate-shiho-gatame.
Unfortunately as this throw favours a taller person, when she attempted the over the back belt grip, she proceeded to pile drive my head straight in to the mat. For the sake of my head and much to my relief, she decided that maybe that version of the throw was not for her, at least not against someone over a foot taller than her anyway, and decided not to attempt it again.

We drilled this for quite some time which was refreshing as often we are shown 2-3 throws and never really feel like we practice them enough. However after 20 minutes of drilling the same throw, albeit with different grip variations, I felt like I could possibly pull this off in randori.

We moved on to some Newaza and kept with the same partners. Peter told us to flow from one technique to another and conscious that Inez always remarks that I use to much strength I tried to use little to none at all. This actually proved to be a really good roll with Inez as we both freely moved from one technique to another and by being loose and not using strength I felt I was able to react better to what she was trying to do and the whole roll probably looked very technical.

Next I was paired with Ryan and if my roll with Inez was gentle then this was completely the opposite. As mentioned before, Ryan is a BJJ blue belt and as such his ground game is pretty good. I spent most of my roll with Ryan trying to stop him passing my guard and was actually quite pleased that I managed to do so. I really enjoy the Newaza aspect of Judo and do wish they would give us longer to roll with each person before calling matte.

Peter then stood us up for some randori and Ryan and I continued our battle on our feet. Peter remarked that this was Randori and not shiai as we were both going for it a little too much. Of course there is no malice between Ryan and I, we are just quite evenly matched both in skill and physically and therefore we often reach a stalemate when we spar.

By the time we changed and I was paired up with Oli, Peter told us to go throw 4 throw. Oli was clearly working on his left handed throws and to be honest I was left completely flummoxed by them. The technique he had the most success with was a left handed Tai-otoshi. It’ll be interesting to see how he fairs when we go back to Westcroft in a couple of weeks time.

We then went on to some situational Newaza, where we took turns starting on our back or with Tori in our guard and then Peter went on to show us some nice broken variations of Yoko-shiho-gatame and kami-shiho-gatame.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Fighting or Playing? The Martial Art vs Sport Debate

I was at work the other day and was walking back to my desk with a nice cup of tea and as I walked past this new guy’s desk I noticed he had Google open. Now there’s nothing wrong with using Google at work but what drew my attention was what he was Googling and that was Jiu-jitsu in Guildford. As I don’t work directly with this new guy I’ve never really spoken to him before but I had to just stop dead in my tracks and speak to him about this as I was very excited at the prospect of someone in my office being a fellow grappler.

So I asked him if the type of Jiu-Jitsu he was looking for was Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and he said yes but not specifically for him, more so for his girlfriend but he would accompany her anyway. So I told him of a website he could go to that has links to all the BJJ clubs in the UK and when I got back to my desk I swiftly emailed him. As there aren’t any BJJ clubs in Guildford and he wasn’t willing to travel far I suggested Judo to him and gave him links to a couple of Judo clubs in the Guildford area.

A week passed and I bumped in to him in the gym at work so I asked him if he had found somewhere. It turns out that his girlfriend really wanted self defence so has taken up Taekwondo. I could see that I would be wasting my time trying to explain what a good self defence Judo is, especially compared to Taekwondo, so I just said fair enough and I haven’t mentioned it to him since.

Now, why am I writing about this? Well I hear a lot of ill informed people discuss Martial Arts and quite often you hear people say that Boxing, Judo, BJJ, Kickboxing etc are all sport orientated and not really for self defence whereas Aikido, Wing Chun, Karate, flip flan foo (that last one was made up btw) is the real deadly stuff that will protect you on the streets and in fact it is so deadly that they cannot spar as they would kill each other. I recently came across this piece By Neil Ohlenkamp, which explains the difference between the training methods adopted by different Martial Arts and I think he says perfectly what I and a lot of other Martial Artists believe.

Many people think of Judo and Taekwondo as sports because they are included along with other major sports in Olympic competition. Boxing, wrestling, Judo, taekwondo, and kickboxing are examples of martial sports. I often hear martial artists who use the term "sport" as if referring to a game with no usefulness. The implication is that a sport is only for "play" and cannot be effective for self defense, fighting or combat. Many martial artists think that the distinction between sport and martial art is that martial artists train for real life.

Actually the distinction is more complex and rather surprising. In discussing it I will make generalizations that may not apply to the way you train in your sport or martial art. However I hope to give you a new way to look at the potential value of sports principles for martial arts training.

One of the primary differences between martial sports and arts is in the value of the training methods. Because of their alleged danger or lethality, many martial arts engage in artificial and even counter-productive training which involves "pulling" techniques, modifying the point of contact, and adding in a precautionary element of movement that, rather than training the body, can inhibit its natural action and the ultimate conclusion of a technique. Slow, careful, non-contact training is not an effective approach to prepare for actual fighting situations that require the opposite reactions. Typifying this approach is a student who falsely equates the ability to break boards with the ability to punch a person in the face. As another example, I have never seen realistic training in throat strikes or eye gouges in any martial arts class, even though these are often recommended for self defense. The teaching generally done for these techniques helps students to understand what to do, but does not provide effective results for fast, reflexive and accurate application of these techniques against an unwilling opponent in real life combat.

Sport, by removing some of the potential dangers, achieves the opposite. That is, sport more typically produces natural, fast, reflexive movement with full power application, achieving a result against a struggling opponent who is also utilizing full power while engaging in strategic and tactical resistance using all of his or her resources and training. Techniques that don't work are soon abandoned, and successful skills are honed against different attackers under a variety of conditions. Maintaining control in various combat situations, both in attack and defense, is difficult when faced with the unpredictable nature of an opponent's efforts, but facing these situations in contest prepares you for similar situations. Each opponent in competition is operating at the limit of physical and psychological skill. By pushing that limit contestants are continually realizing and expanding their potential.

Sometimes the "combat" arts substitute intellectual perception, a highly subjective and deceptive frame of reference, for genuine training of the body and mind. Some martial arts don't train effectively for self defense and combat because they can't train for combat without severe risk to training partners. Many martial arts have instead adopted highly stylized, ritualistic, and even dysfunctional training methods. Ironically, martial sports may provide the superior training in effective combat techniques because martial arts can't be practiced in a real life way without injury.

In martial sports, one purpose of competition is to take the place of the older shinken shobu (life-and-death fights) in developing technique, knowledge, and character. You never see yourself so clearly as when you face your own death. Competition can provide a safe, controlled glimpse at this kind of defeat. Fighting spirit can be developed only through fighting. Surely it is not the same as the battlefield, but it serves a similar purpose, and it is closer to a combat situation than any other form of training.

Of course this can go wrong. Winning and losing can become too important and start to pervert the training process. The ultimate goal should not be the winning of medals. Using sport competition as a metaphor for real fighting can be quite different from playing it as a game. Matches, along with free practice and sparring, are simply different methods for training the mind and body to deal with the adversity of fighting situations.

Just as non-competitive martial arts training may not provide the benefits of competition, training for sport competition may not provide the full scope of self defense training. Martial sports often include non-competitive components. For example, competition is only a part of the Judo curriculum, and Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, was very concerned about preserving those self defense techniques that could not be used with full force in competition. However, Judo remains a remarkably effective self defense training, even after the development of other modern "combat" methods, and even when Judo is practiced today largely as a sport. Jigoro Kano applied modern sport training methodology to the traditional koryu jujutsu and found that it produced a better combat art, which has proven itself again and again over the last 120 years.

Although martial arts and sports both have loftier goals, it is still a fact that many people train in martial arts primarily for self-defense. For those who have never used sport training methods, or those who have never explored traditional bujutsu training, it is easy to discount the effectiveness of the other. As martial artists we should continually seek opportunities to challenge ourselves by examining the weaknesses in our training and keeping our minds open to other methods. I encourage you to discover for yourself how "playing" with a partner in sparring or free practice, or competing against an opponent in contest, can be an effective method of training for self defense.

4th Kyu

I got to class a few minutes early tonight and watched the juniors finish up their training. Judo is definitely a great Martial Art for kids to start with especially as there are no kicks or punches to contend with. It’s definitely something I would like Florence to try when she gets a little older.

Yet another poor turnout for the seniors with only Oli and myself making it along with Peter and Graeme, although Graeme’s son David joined us again.

After we were warmed up we paired up for some Newaza and we all sparred with each other. One of the techniques that I managed to pull off against both Oli and David was Turnover in to Tate-shiho-gatame, which was particularly satisfying as it was one of the techniques that I still needed to perform for my grading. Following the Newaza Peter and Graeme decided I should finish up what was left of my orange belt grading. As I did the bulk of my grading a couple of weeks ago there wasn’t much left to do this evening and within 15 minutes Peter had presented me with a nice new orange belt.

Only a couple more lessons left until the club closes for the summer months and Oli and I have already decided that we will be training at Westcroft Judo club over this period. Hopefully this means that when the club opens again in September I can hit the ground running and concentrate on my getting my green belt, the first of the darker coloured belts and considered by most as the start of the senior belts.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

In to the valley

I was glad to see that Ryan was back tonight after a longish absence but again it was a poor turnout for the seniors. Graeme and Peter took the class and Graeme’s 15 year old son David, a brown belt, was also in attendance.

We warmed up with our partner by carrying them across the mat. First in a sort of fireman’s carry and then we took an O-goshi position, with uke on our back and walked across the mat.
On to the throws and Graeme said he would be showing us both Tani-otoshi (Valley Drop) and Yoko-otoshi (side drop)

As mentioned before I have had some success already with Tani-otoshi as it seems to suit the taller Judoka but I have not been shown this throw properly since I was first taught it at Westcroft Judo club many years ago. One of the things that I was doing wrong with this throw was that instead of planting my foot on the ground behind my Uke I was instead using it to try and sweep his leg, usually at the back of his knee. Although you can still be successful with the throw doing it this way it ends up being very similar to kani basami or Scissor throw, which is illegal in Judo competition and can therefore get you disqualified.

After Ryan and I had practiced this throw many times, Graeme then went on to show us Yoko-otoshi, which is very similar to Tano-otoshi but instead of getting round the back of Uke you merely go to the side.

Graeme and his son David left shortly after this which meant Peter took over the class. Peter said he was going to show us some elbow locks and proceeded to show us Ude-garami, Ude-gatame and finally waki-gatame.

Then with time quickly running out we finished with some Randori. As there were only 3 of us we would each take turns having two fights together for two minutes each. It doesn’t sound much but after a couple of rounds we were all breathing a little heavy.

I was first up against Ryan and continuing my philosophy of attacking Judo I went straight in for a Tai-otoshi but Ryan, having learned today’s lesson well countered with Tani-otoshi and proceeded to drop me accordingly. Peter also allowed the fight to continue on the ground, unless the throw was an Ippon or unless there was a stalemate on the ground. Following Ryan’s successful Tani-otoshi I managed to regain guard and was actively looking for a san-gaku-jime when Peter called time and made us stand again. This time I was a bit more hesitant to attack Ryan as he was clearly going to counter my Tai-otoshi all day long with Tani-otoshi. Ryan then attacked me and low and behold I threw him with Tani-otoshi. Ryan got guard and Peter called time whilst I was trying to pass his guard.

I got a rest now as Ryan and Oli battled it out but I was soon back in there, this time against Oli.
Now this is where the rest of the evening was a bit hazy but I do know that I was able to throw Oli for Ippon with O-uchi-gari. I was particularly pleased with this throw as I really drove forward, after I hooked his leg, until he eventually fell backwards.

I then managed to throw Ryan with O-uchi-gari and another throw in combination with something else but I have no idea what this was, only that Oli commented on it afterwards saying that he was impressed with my set up. Peter called matte shortly after this and we warmed down with the usual putting away of the mats.

Ryan and I were buzzing after our session tonight as we both really enjoy randori, both tachiwaza and newaza, especially in the format we trained in tonight. Hopefully with both of us moving up the gradings there will be more of these type of sessions in the future.

Overall I was pleased with my Randori tonight and was also impressed with Ryan’s standup especially considering he hadn’t been for a few weeks. I guess the real test will be when I go back to Westcroft in the summer for one of their Randori only nights.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Flower Sweep from guard

Just been looking at Youtube and found this sweep that I have used before in Judo. I;ve since found out that it's commonly referred to as "The Flower Sweep" by BJJ'ers.
Funny thing about this video is that I was actually present at this class when it was being filmed but am just out of shot on the right of the screen.

Friday, 24 June 2011


Following last week’s poor turnout in the seniors we had two extra headcount (Oli & Ynes) joining us tonight. Unfortunately there was still no sign of Ryan or Jamie. I do hope Ryan, especially, hasn’t quit. Hopefully I will find out more following the text I just sent to him.

I had been very much looking forward to tonight’s lesson as I was sure I would be finishing my Orange belt grading that I started last week. Trying to learn, parrot fashion, all the English translations for the Japanese techniques when you have a four month old crying baby in your arms isn’t easy but I had sufficiently learnt them, with the help of my Wife, to be confident that I would be able to remember them when asked.

Following a quick warm up we were told to partner up for some Newaza, starting with one of us on all fours. I paired up with Ynes and volunteered to be first in the all fours position. Ynes attempted to roll me over but somehow I managed to end up in her guard where on passing she turtled up. I took her back and tried in vain to sink in a choke before matte was called.

Now it was her turn to start on all fours and I tried a basic turnover but she wasn’t having it. Again I took her back but she managed to turn around until she was in my guard. I pushed her arm out and started applying San-gaku-jime slowly but was picked up on this by both Peter and Ynes herself. I had the right arm of Ynes in the triangle and was about to move to my right to get the right angle to choke her but she insisted I move to her left, which was odd. Peter agreed with me, that I should move to my right but his criticism was more about the length of time Ynes was in the choke without tapping. I’m not sure why I didn’t slap on the choke full pelt as I would normally. Maybe it’s because Ynes usually comments about me using too much strength against her or maybe subconsciously I was aware that she is a female, albeit a 2nd Dan international female, but still someone who is about a foot smaller than me and did not want to hurt her.

We changed after this and I was paired with big Stuart. This time we started in the guard and Stuart, after several attempts managed to pass to half guard where I basically hung on for dear life. Stuart started applying a collar choke but I managed to sweep unfortunately ending up in his guard. As he applied more pressure to the collar choke I was preparing to tap but wanted to see if I could hold out and luckily Graeme called matte just in time. We changed positions again shortly after with both of us starting, lying on our stomachs. The first time Stuart was able to pin me and the second time, after Stuart turtled up I attempted a turnover in to Juji-gatame, but Stuart hung on to his arm long enough until matte was called.

Peter then went on to show us both San-gaku-jime and San-gaku-gatame. As Stuart isn’t the most flexible of people his San-gaku-jime wasn’t having the desired effect on me. I told him that I had seen a slight variation on this move from a Youtube video that Tony, a regular reader of this blog, provided me with a little while ago whereby you under hook on your right side and are basically side on to your opponent. This means that instead of squeezing your thighs together, which requires a certain amount of flexibility, you are doing a sort of leg press movement with your right leg, which is easier to perform. Stuart then tried this on me and got me to tap quickly, which he seemed pleased about.

Going on to tachiwaza and tonight’s focus would be on Uchi-Mata. After being showed the correct entry to this throw I again paired up with Stuart. After a couple of attempts I was able to feel quite comfortable with this throw. Whist writing this post I noticed that I had previously remarked on the 20th November 2010 that I wasn’t able to perform this throw very well, but tonight couldn’t be further from the truth as I was even able to throw Stuart who due to his size is quite often difficult to throw. Does this prove a distinct improvement of my understanding of Judo? I hope so.

Once we had both practiced this throw a dozen or so times Graeme asked us to think of a combination to this throw. I suggested to Stuart that Ko-Uchi-gari would be a good combination and he concurred. We then continued to practice this combination until Graeme finally called matte. Being asked to think of combinations of techniques and putting them together reminded me a little of my Wing Chun days when we would often be told to come up with combinations from a punch blocked with a Bong-sau or a Tan-sau. Learning in this way really helps a student to understand the flow of a technique and the Ko-Uchi-gari to Uchi-mate combination is one that I will try next time we do Randori.

Realising that I would need at least 10-15 minutes to finish my grading I glanced up at the clock and was disappointed to see that it was already 10.00pm. Peter remarked that we would finish my grading before the end of the term but I couldn’t help but feel a little deflated as I expected to be leaving here tonight with a shiny new Orange belt. Oh well, as Mr Miyagi would say, patient’s Stuart-san.