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.