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.