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.