Thursday, 27 December 2012

Surrey Police Judo Club, Guildford

With DJC closing early this year a number of us needed to find somewhere else to get our Judo fix. Normally I would have headed down to Yoshin Ryu but a combination of Christmas parties & babysitting duties meant I was only able to train on a Wednesday. I knew that Jadon often trained at the Surrey Police Judo Club in Guildford on Wednesday so Meho and I decided to pay them a visit.

A slight mix up with the keys meant that we were 30 minutes late getting in to the dojo, so we only had a 1 hour session. The Sensei, Rob, very kindly waived our mat fees due to the mix up.

After a good warm up we were told to pair up and stuff a flip flop down the back of our belts. We then had to try and retrieve the flip flop from our partner without losing our own. I haven’t done this sort of thing before but it was a good exercise in gripping and movement. If you can get to the side of your opponent it opens up a variety of techniques that can be used against them, like Tani-otoshi, for example.

Moving on we were then encouraged to work on our over the shoulder grips and to practice our throws from this position. Being tall, this is a position I do often find myself in so being given a good 10-15 minutes to practice throws using the over the shoulder grip was welcomed.

The class finished up with 5 rounds of randori and I got to partner up with a white belt, two red belts, a brown belt and then one of the black belt instructors. To be honest, due to the fact that I have been largely unwell from the end of November to the end of December and haven’t done any cardio throughout this time, my gas tank was already low before we started so I mostly worked on countering my opponent and not getting thrown myself. I managed a couple of throws against the lower belts but was thrown with a lovely sumi-gaeshi by the brown belt.

It was nice to train somewhere different and have the option of yet another local club should I need to train again on a Wednesday. Both Meho and I were told we would be welcome to come back and train with them in the future.
DJC reopens on the 8th of January so I’m unlikely to train anywhere else until then. Looking forward to 2013 I hope to finish my bluebelt grading sometime in January/February. I also hope to compete a couple of times, although if I am a bluebelt I could be fighting brown belts as blue and brown belts are often banded together at local competitions. Yikes!

Happy new year to you all and I hope you had a lovely Christmas.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Differences Between Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The following is by no means a “versus” article, it simply reflects my opinions gained through my relatively short experience in training in Judo and even shorter experience in training BJJ. As I have stated on numerous occasions, I consider myself a Judoka first but had I the time, money and a younger body (able to withstand multiple training sessions), I would train both arts but alas I do not.

1. Lineage: Judo was developed in Japan by Jigoro Kano in the late 1800’s, as a variation of Jujitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) was developed and modified in Brazil by the Gracie family after having being taught Judo.

Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo

Helio Gracie, the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

2. Uniform: Judoka wear heavy weave Gis tied by a belt with no undergarments (save underwear – hopefully); BJJ practitioners tend to wear a single weave and much lighter Gi that is tied by a belt. They also tend to wear funky tight fitting and shiny undergarments called rash guards that can be worn under the Gi.  Furthermore, BJJ practitioners adorn and accessorize their Gis with color-coordinated patches and logos, usually representing clubs, affiliations and/or both.  Lastly, BJJ can be practiced with a Gi or no-Gi; a big plus for those interested in MMA and Self-Defense.

A Typical Judo gi

A Typical BJJ gi

3. Fighting Styles: Traditional Judo clubs focus on throws and takedowns which are scored accordingly in shiai (tournaments). For example, a perfect throw, one that demonstrates control, power and impetus can score a perfect point, the equivalent of a knockout punch. A perfect throw (Ippon) is the ultimate goal of most Judoka.  One can also win on the ground via a submission (choke, arm lock) and/or hold down.  Most Judo Clubs will focus 60-70 percent (or more) of their training on throws with the balance on ground work.  Conversely, BJJ practitioners spend about 80-90 percent (or more) on the ground. Throws and takedowns are secondary and are scored as such.  The ultimate goal in BJJ competition is a submission.

The essence of Judo, a throw for Ippon

Tapout. A submission win is the goal in BJJ
 4. Tempo: For advanced BJJ competitors – blue to black belt – matches can run from 6 to 10 minutes with the majority of the contest taking placing on the ground/grappling. The average Judo match – for advanced and beginners – runs 5 minutes, with the majority of the contest taking place standing up. Unlike BJJ, if a Judo contest does go to the ground, fighters are given very little time to work a hold down or submission and if there is no immediate progression, fighters are quickly brought back to the standing position. A lull in action from either fighter results in penalties. As a result of shorter matches and penalties for inactivity, Judo fights tend to be faster paced and more frenetic. BJJ fights tend to have a slower tempo as fighters work on the ground to gain position, control and eventually, submissions. Extended durations may also result in a slower and more deliberate pace during BJJ matches, in large part to conserve energy and to set an opponent up for a submission.

5. Terminology: Steeped in Japanese tradition, Judo throws and techniques have Japanese origins and names. For example, the fireman’s carry (a common wrestling takedown) is known as ‘kata-guruma’ in Judo. Another common wrestling takedown – the double leg takedown – is known as ‘morote-gari’ in Judo. The rear naked choke is known as ‘hadaka jime.’ BJJ, on the other hand, has exotic and descriptive names that roll off the tongue and pique the imagination. For example, ‘peruvian neck tie,’ ‘omoplata,’ ‘nonoplata,’ ‘gogoplata’ and more. Other techniques have been anglicized and named so that the average person can easily visualize them, even those with no martial arts background. For example, the ‘guillotine choke,’ ‘clock choke,’ ‘collar choke,’ ‘spin around armbar,’ ‘guard to arm lock no gi.’ These terms, sound cool and are also used regularly by the likes of Joe Rogan when commentating on UFC fights.

6. Belt Gradings: Judoka begin at white belt and from there, progress to red, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown and eventually black belt. At each level, students are required to know a certain number of throws, hold downs, chokes, and arm locks to advance. For black belt, in addition to performing a certain number of throws, hold downs, chokes and arm locks, a Judoka must also compete and accumulate 100 points by entering tournaments and winning fights. They are awarded 10 points for each win via ippon, so that’s 10 wins via ippon. I’ve been told that an enthusiastic Judoka that practices 3-4 times per week and that competes should be able to attain their first degree black belt within 4-5 years. Like Judo, BJJ uses a belt grading system, but that is where the similarity ends. BJJ practitioners start as white belts and progress to blue, purple, brown and black belt. After attaining each belt, stripes may also be awarded to signify progress and levels of competence. Belt gradings are informal and conservative in nature: belts are awarded at the instructor’s discretion and seem to be heavily influenced by attendance, progress and time spent on the mat. That said, a BJJ practitioner may remain at the same belt level for years at a time. An enthusiastic and avid BJJ practitioner should be able to attain their black belt within 8-9 years, an exceptional student, perhaps sooner.

7. Honorifics: Seniority and respect play a large role in Judo. In Judo, the term ‘Sensei’ is usually reserved for 3rd degree black belts and up, but may be used by colored belts when addressing any black belt. However some black belt instructors prefer to be called by their first name instead. In BJJ, the equivalent of Sensei is Professor and is only used when addressing black belts. The term ‘professor’ has a scholarly overtone and again, is one that the average person can easily identify with. Again, in my limited experience the instructors are normally called by their first names. However, to avoid offense, when visiting any new Judo or BJJ club I would ask the instructor how they prefer to be addressed.

8. Profit vs Non-Profit: As a rule, Judo Clubs are run as non-profit and can often be found in community centre’s, schools and/or rented out spaces. It’s rare to find a Judo Club as a standalone storefront/entity. Unlike Judo, BJJ is for profit and charges accordingly; charging what Judo clubs could and maybe should be charging.

9. Conduct: Judo tends to be formal in its on-the-mat interactions. For example, it is proper etiquette to bow before entering and after leaving the dojo mat area. It is also proper etiquette to bow to your partner before and after a randori (freestyle practice or sparring) and/or ne-waza (ground work/grappling) practice session. BJJ clubs are less formal and as a rule, emphasize camaraderie more so than formality. For example, prior to and following a practice session (rolling), participants will shake or slap hands. Should one partner submit the other during a rolling session, they will break and shake or slap hands. At the end of the BJJ class, everyone is acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts with handshakes, hand slaps and partial hugs.

Note: this is the behavior demonstrated at the BJJ clubs that yours truly has attended and as a result, cannot be verified as common practice among all BJJ clubs.

A typical end of class Rei in Judo.

BJJ's more relaxed way of finishing a class.
 10. Perception: Although an Olympic sport practiced world-wide and over 100 years old, Judo has an image problem. In general, the Judo community has no idea how to market itself. Rather than embracing a resurgence in Martial Arts vis-a-vis MMA and the UFC, Judo seems to have turned a blind eye to the opportunity, preferring to suffer in silence. On the other hand, BJJ is flourishing. It is marketed as a form of self-defense and a staple to any serious mixed-martial artists’ game. No doubt helped in large part by the UFC, Royce Gracie’s MMA legacy and the continued success of BJJ practitioners in mixed martial arts. However the likes of former Judo Olympic Bronze Medalist and current UFC World Champion Ronda Rousey, has started to change people’s perceptions of Judo. I watched an interesting video on YouTube the other night of Ronda training and swapping ideas with Nick Diaz. It also showed Manny Gamburyan (3rd dan Judo black belt) showing Nate Diaz how to throw using Tani-otoshi.

In essence, both Judo and BJJ are great sports/martial arts and forms of self-defense that have a lot to offer both purists and mixed martial artists alike

BJJ's rise in popularity all started after Royce Gracie won UFC 1,2 & 4

It's taken female Judoka, Ronda Rousey, to finally bring Judo to the attention of the MMA world.

Thursday, 6 December 2012


I missed last week’s training due to a nasty ear infection which left me deaf in one ear, apart from my own voice reverberating in my head, and also gave me bouts of vertigo. I still wasn’t 100% and still haven’t got my full hearing back yet but at least the vertigo has subsided, which makes doing Judo a little easier.

Jaden was back tonight for the first time since he became a dad and he was sporting his new orange belt which he attained from Guildford Police Judo Club.

After a quick warm up Stewart had us partner up and practice the reaping movement for O-soto-gari. I paired up with Andrew and after several minutes we progressed to the actual throw. We were told that we would only spend a few minutes on this throw as the O-soto-gari was only to be used as a set up in to Harai-goshi, which worked pretty well. When I was doing the throwing I felt I was able to control Andrew sufficiently enough so that his landing was fairly soft, much the same way as Oli has always been a good Tori to me.
We moved on to some Newaza techniques and Stewart showed us a couple of turnovers followed by what BJJ’ers would refer to as the “stack pass”.

Stewart mentioned that I liked to be on my back and have people in my guard where I could attack them and this was therefore shown as a way of getting past my guard. If people get good of this I will have to go away and look at the defence’s against this guard pass.

At this point I was supposed to start my blue belt grading however as they were just about to start some Newaza randori I asked Graeme if I could just have one quick roll with Jaden, something I’ve been wanting to do for some time now.
I spent most of the quick roll we had trying to stop Jaden from passing my guard by pushing back on his hips with my right hand. He eventually caught me in some sort of cross collar choke, oddly enough just as I thought I had thwarted his guard passing efforts and had turned the tables on him. He finished the choke with me in side control. I was trying to work out if I could roll out of it but the pain was too much, so I tapped.
At this point Graeme took both Ivan and I to one side to start some of our grading. I felt particularly un-prepared, due to my recent illness, but the techniques I was asked to perform were the ones I was fairly comfortable with anyway so I needn’t have worried. Ivan and I joined the rest of the class with a few ticks to our grading sheet but I know I will really need to swat up over Christmas so that I can pass the more difficult techniques, counters, combinations etc that the blue belt syllabus requires.

Following on from the O-soto-gari in to Harai-goshi that we did earlier Stewart showed us O-soto-gari in to Yoko-wakare. This is a throw I have seen Peter perform before and Stewart did mention that it’s a particular favourite of Peter.
Ivan seemed to have got the hang of this throw fairly quickly but by the end I was also pulling this one off fairly well.

We finished the class with some light randori and I stayed paired with Ivan. Unfortunately Ivan tried what I believe was a sacrifice throw like Sumi-gaeshi or tomoe-nage, but only succeeded in pulling me on top of him with my forehead hitting him square on his nose, which duly broke. So whilst Ivan was hurried off the mat to get some medical attention I paired up with Jaden for a really interesting and enjoyable little tussle where we both tried lots of different throws, with me catching him with a perfect Hiza-guruma and Jaden getting me with a double lapel grip version of the Yoko-wakare that we did earlier.

This was the last senior class of the year and the club is now closed until January so expect me to be training elsewhere next week. We were also told that Stewart would be retiring from coaching due to a change in his work commitments, which is a real shame as I enjoy his no nonsense way of teaching. Hopefully he will be able to pop in to the club from time to time, if only to take part in the class as a student.

I also wanted to add that I hope Ivan’s broken nose heals quickly and that it doesn’t keep him off the mats for too long

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Gokyo by Neil Adams

Neil Adams performing all the throws from the Gokyo followed by competition examples.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Kashiwazaki Turnover

I’ve been suffering with Man Flu for the last couple of days so it was touch and go whether I would actually make training last night. However with the prospect of grading for blue belt soon I knew I couldn’t afford to miss any lessons, so I dragged my tired, snot ridden body to Judo.

Graeme was present tonight, specifically to grade both Andrew and Chris for their red belts (6th kyu).
Whilst Graeme took Andrew and Chris to one side to start their grading, Stewart took the rest of the class for a Kashiwazaki masterclass in turnovers.

Kashiwazaki was well known for his obi tori gaeshi (belt-grab reversal) and used it to great effect on his way to becoming world champion in 1981. When I was practising this I always seemed to end up in Mune-gatame, rather than in Tate-shiho and I think it’s because I grabbed the belt palm up, which twisted my arm and forced me to let go of the belt before Uke was flat on their back.

The following are some videos of Kashiwazaki using his famous turnover.

A quick round of Newaza randori followed and this is when I realised I was still suffering the effects of Manflu as I gassed out after only a few minutes. I still managed to hold my own against Meho but was glad when matte was called.

The first throw we worked on tonight was Soto-ashi-dori-ouchi-gari, which was the final throw from the blue belt syllabus that I had yet to be shown. As it is a leg attack we were shown this as a counter against a failed Hiza-guruma. As it can be quite a heavy throw for Uke we were told to keep hold of their collar so as to support their fall.
We were then shown two sacrifice throws, both of which are very similar to the untrained eye. Yoko-tomoe-nage was the first and the crash mat was brought out to soften our fall. We all took turns being tori and throwing the rest of the club on to the crash mat and everyone seemed to have got the hang of this throw pretty quickly.

We went on to practise Sumi-gaeshi, as a counter to a Tai-otoshi and this proved a little harder for everyone to grasp. However I managed to get the hang of this throw quite well. Sumi-gaeshi is a throw that I try quite a lot in randori and rarely ever pull off but I think it’s due to the fact that I’m not planting my right foot first before going to ground.

We finished off with some standing randori and I had a really good back and forth tussle with Meho. Although we have done newaza randori previously, this was the first time that we had faced off in standing randori. Being similar in height, weight and grade we are a pretty good match for each other, similar to my friendly rivalry with Steve at Yoshin Ryu. Hopefully we can use this to our advantage and push us both to progress.

At the end of class we were informed that both Andrew and Chris had successfully passed their grading and were now Red belts, so I suggested a club photo.

Back row, from left to right - Chris, Me, Oli, Meho, Ivan, Andrew
Front Row, from left to right- Peter, Stewart, Graeme

GSP retains UFC Belt

Georges St Pierre (GSP) retained his welterweight title on Saturday night in Canada against a very game Carlos Condit. This was after GSP had been out for a year with a torn ACL and Carlos Condit had been made the “interim champion” after defeating Nick Diaz.

GSP dominated much of the fight with his grappling skills. He consistently took Condit to the ground and landed several elbows and punches.
A left elbow opened a nasty cut above Condit's right eye in the first round and GSP used an elbow in the second round to widen the same cut.

The third round was Condit's best, as he landed a hard kick to the top of GSP’s head, making the champion look vulnerable for the first time since his shock defeat to Matt Serra, but GSP roared back during the fourth and fifth rounds, again utilising his superior wrestling skills to keep Condit on his back.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Blue belt Jamboree

On arriving at the club I was informed by Stewart that all the techniques on the lesson planner tonight were from the blue belt syllabus which was very pleasing to hear, especially as there are still a number of techniques that I have never even practised before.

After a warm up, which paid particular attention to our legs, we were shown a “Roy Inman” special Soto-kibitsu-gaeshi. I found this a fairly easy throw to do when Ivan was Uke, due to him being a lot shorter than me, but less so when Meho, who is my own height, was Uke. This was due to the fact that you have to grab Ukes ankle and still control their upper body to push them over, which obviously requires long arms if Uke is very tall. Stewart commented that it was a technique that you hardly see anymore, probably due to the fact that leg attacks are illegal in Shiai, at least as direct attacks anyway. However I recognised it as a throw used in MMA and assume it’s a valid Wrestling takedown.

We then progressed on to Uki-waza, which we have practised before. Stewart told us to think of it as a forward facing Tani-otoshi, which when you look at the two throws makes perfect sense.

A quick couple of rounds of Newaza randori followed but despite getting Meho’s back I wasn’t able to submit him. Coincidentally the next technique was Koshi-jime, which if I had been shown ten minutes previously would have come in very handy. In Newaza I often myself attacking someone who has rolled over on to their stomach. I normally favour a Juji-gatame roll when attacking the turtle but sometimes I do attack the neck but struggle to get both hands in to finish it. With Koshi-jime you only need to get one hand on the collar, the rest of the choke is finished by adjusting your body position to get the leverage. When practising this with Oli we both found that the choke comes on almost immediately so it’s definitely something I’ll be adding to my Newaza repertoire.

Back to the Tachi-waza and Kata-guruma or the Fireman’s Carry, as referred to by Wrestlers, was the next throw we were shown. To ensure we kept a straight back throughout and also to get Uke used to being thrown, we first practised this from a kneeling position. After 5-10 minutes the crash mats were brought out and we each took turns throwing everyone else in the club on to the crash mats. I actually found that it was easier to keep my back straight whilst doing the full version, compared to the version we practised earlier on our knees.

The last throw we were shown this evening was Morote-gari or the double leg takedown as it is more commonly referred to in MMA. When I did this I kept on, wrongly, ending up between Uke’s legs instead of to the side of them. After studying the video of Fallon performing this throw I don’t think I was picking Uke up high enough, which makes dropping them to the side a lot easier. I was doing the initial leg grab and then just driving forward with my legs, which made it look more like a Rugby tackle.

It was an odd lesson tonight in that most of the throws, baring Uki-waza, are illegal in Shiai and randori unless they are counters or used as a continuation. To be honest, who would want to take the chance using these in competition as it would be easy for a referee to view these as direct attacks and disqualify you. However I think it’s important they are still taught as they are valid throws and, after all, Judo is not just about Shiai. Also, who’s to say they won’t be allowed back in Shiai sometime in the future.

So I’ve now covered most of the techniques from the blue belt syllabus with the exception of the following:


However Yoko-kata-guruma-otoshi is basically a kneeling version of Kata-guruma

Kata-uchi-ashi-dori is identical to Soto-kibitsu-gaeshi, except you perform the throw using the opposite hands/legs.

This just leaves Soto-ashi-dori-ouchi-gari as the one technique I need to practise before I could grade for blue belt. Of course I also need to swat up on all the names and terminologies and put together counters and combinations to a number of throws. It will be interesting to see if I can get all this done before the Christmas break but I’ll try my best.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Neck issues and the return of Ynez.

Due to the half term holidays, DJC was closed last week. Normally I would visit Yoshin Ryu but I’ve been suffering from a stiff neck for the last couple of weeks so instead of Judo I went to see a sports physio. The neck has still been locking up on me from time to time, especially when I’m in the gym but its slowly getting better. I’ve been given a series of stretches to do when I’m sitting at my desk at work as per the below.

I’m trying to do a few reps every hour and making a conscious effort to sit up straight as I do have a tendency to stoop forward towards my monitors.

Ynez took the class last night, which was a nice surprise as we haven’t seen much of her since breaking her elbow in a competition almost a year ago. It was also nice to see all the seniors present which meant we had a full mat. I was sporting my new Toraki gi and I must say it feels really nice and comfortable and fits pretty well to. I will attempt a Meerkatsu style review in a couple of week’s time, after some further washing and shrinkage.

Ynez warmed us up with some circuits of press-ups, sit ups, star jumps & squats etc which meant we were all nice and warm for the Newaza randori which followed.

Ivan’s newaza seems to have improved a lot recently as, despite me having a considerable weight advantage, he is quite difficult to hold down and submit now although I did finally submit him with a Juji-gatame from the top.

Next up was Andrew, one of the white belts, and we were told to start in the guard of the lower ranked person. My top game is definitely a weakness I need to work on with my Newaza so I was thankful for the chance to work on passing the guard of Andrew, who to be fair has also shown an improvement. Once I passed his guard I moved from hold to hold as much as I could before he eventually rolled on to his stomach, to escape a pin, and was submitted by me with a gi choke. I know rolling on to ones stomach is encouraged in Judo as a legitimate escape from a hold but I still can’t bring myself to do it.

My last roll was with Peter who I managed to submit first with a kata-gatame and then with another Juji-gatame form the top.

Ynez then showed us some nice variations of the Yoko-shiho-gatame and we also got to work on Ude-garami from this position.

We finished off with some uchi-komi before Ynez showed us a right handed Ippon-seoi-nage from a left handed grip, which due to the fact my left hand had a hold of Uke’s right sided collar, felt like a stronger throw. Oli, who was my Uke, said that swapping grips is actually quite common for this throw which I wasn’t aware of. I remember that Graeme used to show us quite a few left handed grip versions of various throws, for example Tai-otoshi, which I will start looking at again as I think as one gets higher up in rank it gets harder to throw one’s peers and a few tricks are probably necessary.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Anaconda Choke

This always happens when I don’t write notes about the lesson within twenty four hours, and that is I forget most of what went on. This is therefore just a quick synopsis with some photos to fill out the page somewhat.

The two throws we practised tonight were Sode-Tsurikomi-goshi and Morote eri-seoi-nage.

The first throw (Sode-Tsurikomi-goshi ) is one that I have practised before at Yoshin Ryu but on that occasion I struggled with it, although to be fair my Uke that day was Przemek who is a lot heavier than me. Tonight I was paired with Meho who is roughly the same height and weight as me and therefore a lot easier for me to get under his hips to make this throw work. Stewart did mention that you could always add in a reaping movement with your leg if Uke gets stuck on your back.
The version of this throw on the BJA website isn't that clear, the one below is a bit easier to follow.

Morote eri-seoi-nage is another throw that I’ve not liked in the past but it felt a lot easier again tonight.

Big Stuart went on to show us the Anaconda choke that Phil Davis used to submit Wagner Prado in his recent UFC fight. An anaconda choke, or Kata-gatame as it would be refered to in Judo, is an arm triangle from the front headlock position. Tori threads his or her arm under Uke’s neck and through the armpit, and grasps the biceps of the opposing arm.

                                                                        With Gi

without Gi

Tori then attempts to pin Uke onto the trapped shoulder so as to better interrupt the flow of blood, all the while applying pressure with the grasped biceps. Tori may accomplish this by rolling Uke over the untrapped shoulder, (known as a gator roll) and use the momentum to turn Uke onto his or her trapped shoulder.

 I’ve personally not seen the Anaconda style of this technique used in Judo but have seen it many times when watching MMA. It may have something to do with the fact that the gi in Judo can be a lot thicker than BJJ gis generally are and therefore grabbing your bicep may not be possible. Still it was a nice technique to learn and use against those Judoka’s who like to turtle.

Here is a link to a video of this technique.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


I was very excited on Monday to have received a package at work as I knew that this package contained my new gi which I had ordered form Toraki. I’ve read lots of reviews online regarding this company and all have praised their excellent customer service, which so far I have to agree with. As the gi does need to be shrunk to fit I can’t yet comment on it. In fact Toraki were quite explicit with their washing instructions (6-8 washes at 60c, hang dry before wearing). Out of the bag the gi is a little too long in the sleeves and body but have been assured that it will fit nicely after washing. I will write a full review on the gi in the next week or so.

With Chris and Andrew absent from class it was a perfect opportunity to work on a few advanced techniques, namely some from the blue belt syllabus.
First up was Yoko-guruma which we first practised on its own and then as a counter to Tai-otoshi, which coincidentally is how it’s shown on the BJA website. It’s an interesting throw this one, which would be pretty cool to pull off in randori or Shiai but not sure I’d be quick enough to get it.

The next throw, Koshi-guruma, was completely new to me but didn’t look too difficult to do as it essentially looks like an O-goshi with a different grip and a slightly deeper placement of Tori’s hip. Now hip throws, due to my height, are not my favourite type of throws however I was paired with Meho, who is a similar height to me, so it shouldn’t have been such an issue, but it was. I could probably perform this throw well enough in a grading environment but I would be unlikely to attempt it in randori.

We did a couple of quick rounds of randori next and I was paired up with Ivan. He started very stiff armed and bent over, which made it difficult for me to get to his legs but I eventually pulled him in close and when he backed off I caught him with a nice O-uchi-gari. He then tried, and was almost successful with, a couple of big throws on me, one of which was a drop-seoi-nage. Despite Ivan’s stiff arming, in my opinion, his randori seems pretty good for his rank and I liked the fact that he wasn’t scared to attack me.

Against Big Stuart I tried a couple of combinations, both of which were from a Tai-otoshi. The first was Tai-otoshi in to Tani-otoshi and the second was Tai-otoshi in to Ko-uchi-gake-mata-maki-komi. I wasn’t successful with either as I don’t think I ever really fully committed to either throw. Before tonight’s lesson I was reading a post on the Judoforum where a fellow green belt Judoka had stated that he was making a conscious effort to really commit to each throw, and if he fell over trying them or was countered then so be it. I think I need to keep this in mind next time I do randori as it shouldn’t matter if Stuart or anyone else throws me when attempting a throw as this is, after all, just practise.

Before we went on to Newaza randori we were shown two strangles.
And also another strangle which I can’t seem to find on the BJA website. It was a mixture of the above strangles with one hand up and one hand down. Both Ivan and I agreed that Nami-juji-jime was the most effective for us.

We then had just enough time for one round of Newaza randori and I paired up with Meho, our new Blue belt from Bosnia, for our first roll.

Meho tried to pull guard but I controlled his legs and jumped in to side control where he then rolled over on to his stomach. I jumped on his back, got my hooks in and rolled him on to his side where I attempted a collar choke. He then turtled up so I attempted the Neil Adams Juji-gatame roll but he held the sleeves of his jacket to prevent me from getting his arm out. After struggling with this for quite a while I decided it would be better to let it go so I rolled on to my back and pulled him in to my guard. I immediately saw an opportunity as he tried to pass my guard and slapped on a San-gaku-jime. I got it on pretty tight but he wasn’t tapping so I hooked his leg with my right arm to create more of an angle and tried again but he still wouldn’t tap. After what must have been thirty seconds I swung my leg over his head for a Juji-gatame but I couldn’t quite get the leverage so I went back again for the san-gaku-jime. This time he postured up and stacked me in to the matt, putting a lot of pressure on my neck and forcing me to let go. We then somehow ended up back in my guard where I again attacked with a Hiza-gatame but matte was called before I could finish him. It was a good tussle with Meho and I look forward to partnering up with him again next week as we are similar in size and grade.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Ronda Rousey, everything ends in Juji

I thought i'd post this as Ronda is a favourite at the club where I train and she demonstrates some pretty good techniques in this clip where everything ends in a Juji-gatame.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Judo Fundamentals

As we currently have two beginners in the senior’s class it means that we are going over ground already covered on numerous occasions. However I look at this in a positive way as it means I get to re-visit techniques like Kesa-gatame and Uki-goshi and each time I do I find little ways of improving my technique.
For example, Stewart showed the beginners and the rest of us Tai-otoshi which to be fair is a technique I’ve never really been comfortable with. To make it more interesting for the higher grades he showed us a couple of different gripping variations. The first was to plant the elbow of the collar hand under the armpit of uki. Both Oli and I found that we were able to generate a lot more power when performing the throw in this way and in fact Oli probably threw me harder than I have even been thrown when he first did it on me.
The second variation was to put the collar hand underneath uki’s left arm, thus gaining an underhook. I would assume this is the way one would perform Tai-otoshi without a gi.

We went on to Tani-otoshi which is in the blue belt syllabus and is a technique that I do favour in randori. To make it more interesting we used it as a counter to a failed Tai-otoshi.

Stewart then told us to pair up from some randori, with an emphasis on trying the techniques that we had just been shown. I squared up against Oli and to be honest our randori was probably closer to shiai. Neither of us managed to throw the other but I was pleased that I was able to negate Oli’s attempts at obtaining a dominant grip against me. Normally when we randori Oli and Big Stuart both dominate with grips and subsequently are then able to rag doll me around the tatami but the gripping drills that we do at Yoshin Ryu appear to be paying off.

Next up was Chris, one of the beginners, who assumed wrongly that I was going to bury him in to the mat. I told him to just try all the throws he had been taught and not once did I attempt to throw him. I didn’t make it too easy for him though and only took the fall if he got most of the components right, which he did on his last Tai-otoshi attempt.
My last randori was with Peter whom I managed to throw a couple of times with O-uchi-gari

We went on to some ground work afterwards and Kami-shiho-gatame and the various escapes were on the menu. I worked with both Chris and Andrew he seemed to have got the hang of this pretty well.

We finished up with Okuri-ashi-barai or the oomph throw as Graeme likes to call it. The reason why it’s called that becomes apparent as you hit the ground and all the air leaves your lungs.
We first practised this in the usual “strictly come dancing” way which makes it easier to get the timing right, and then practised it in a more alive way where you pull uki towards you in a circular motion and then sweep his legs as he steps in. I was paired with Andrew for this and was particularly pleased that I was able to not only time it right every time but was also able to cushion his fall buy holding on to him. He did struggle getting the timing right with this but I assured him that this is a particularly difficult throw to get the hang of as timing is everything.

Stewart mentioned to everyone, including me that they will look at grading us all by the end of term. I told him that there are several throws on the blue belt syllabus which I have not even tried before so hopefully this will be addressed in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Following last week’s rant at buying a Judo gi I’ve been in conversation with a certain company who have so far provided excellent customer service and have taken my measurements to ensure I get the best fitting gi possible. I will hopefully post a favourable review of this gi when I receive it a couple of weeks time, so watch this space.

I got to class a little bit earlier last night and was pleased to see that both Chris and Andrew had returned for the third successive week. There was also a new guy, whose name escapes me, who was previously a blue belt when he was a teenager. Also present tonight were Graeme and David so in total we had 10 seniors on the mat, which is as many as I can remember. Anyway the future is looking good for the seniors at DJC at the moment.

Big Stuart took the class tonight and after the warm up which also consisted of many breakfalls we moved on to Tai-otoshi. We first practised this in pairs; I was with Ivan at this point. Stuart pointed out to me that I was bending over a little too much and that I should be more upright. Once I made that adjustment Ivan commented that the throw felt stronger. We continued to practise this for many repetitions before Stuart split us into groups of three’s. Each group stood in a line with the guy in the middle running up to each guy and throwing them. We did this again for multiple repetitions and all took turns being tori. This was a very useful exercise as not only do you get to practise the throw multiple times but you also get to throw two different people in quick succession.
We moved on to some groundwork afterwards and worked on Kesa-gatame and Kezure-kesa-gatame, mainly for the benefit of the white belts. We also did a turnover from turtle in to kezure-kesa-gatame and finally ude-garami. I got to work with one of the new guys and passed on some advice that was given to me by Peter when I first started and that was: When doing Newaza try to only move one thing at a time, otherwise you leave big gaps. I think he took my advice on board as when we progressed in to Newaza randori at the end of the class as he was able to hold me down with the Kesa-gatame that I let him put on me.
I managed two other rounds of newaza with David and finally Big Stuart, with whom I had a pretty good back and forth tussle before the class ended.
Another good session taken by Stuart whose teaching methods I find very agreeable.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The frustrations of buying a Judo gi

This is how frustrating I am finding buying a new gi that actually fits me. In my last post I mentioned that I had ordered a new gi from Kicksport, a Tagoya Master which was £70 in the sale. I am 6ft 3 and weigh approx 94kg or 207lb (14 stone 11lb), so I ordered a size 6.5/195. The website does mention that this gi will shrink approx 3-5% after washing so I figured after a hot wash the 195 would be a perfect fit on me. The gi arrived yesterday and I was excited about wearing it that evening in training but when I got it home and tried it on it swamped me. The arms were 3-4 inches too long, the skirt was down to my knees and the lapels could have wrapped around me twice.
Out of curiosity I tried on the trousers as well and these weren’t too long but they were so baggy, they would have fit Tom Platz.

 Honestly the trousers would have looked baggy on a clown.

Anyway I will be sending the gi back for a refund as this was the smallest size of this gi that they had in stock.

So why am I so frustrated? Well I own two Black Eagle single weaves that are size 7/200 which have shrunk to a point that they would now be illegal in competition. Although I appreciate the double weaves don’t normally shrink as much as the singles I still assumed that a 6.5/195 would be a good fit.
I also purchased a Blitz Olympian double weave a couple of years ago that was a size 190 and this was even bigger than the Tagoya. I tried on a friend’s Adidas J800 in a size 6/190 and this was too small in the arms, although it was a nice fit in the body. Oh and before I forget, I bought a BJJ gi a couple of years ago that was supposed to shrink after washing, only to find that it didn’t at all, so I had to sell that on eBay at a loss.

Why can’t gi manufacturers make gis that are all pre-shrunk, so you know exactly what you are getting, and not make gis that are not modelled on this guy.

It would also be nice to have some sort of standardised sizing, so that a size 6/190 is the same size for Adidas, Fighting Films, Tagoya, Toraki etc.
So for now, the search for a new gi goes on. If anyone can recommend a gi that would fit someone of my dimensions then please let me know. Until then I will continue to train in my over shrunk, slightly yellow single weave.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Sumi-gaeshi & Gripping - Yoshin Ryu

I’ve been looking at buying a new gi for a number of months now and finally decided on this one from Kicksport
I’ve written in the past about how frustrating buying a new gi can be due to no standardised sizing for example my 190 Blitz Olympian would have fit an adult male gorilla, whereas my 200 Black Eagle has shrunk so much in the arms it’s more like a t-shirt. Also some gi’s shrink a lot, others a little and others none at all. Of course you don’t know how much until you have washed them by which time it’s too late to send them back for a refund. I currently have two Black Eagle single weave gis which have served me well but after 2 years or regular wearing they are beginning to look a little off white added to which they have shrunk considerably and would be illegal in shiai.

I did think of buying another cheap single weave but as the Tagoya was in a sale I thought it made sense to get one. I am of course conscious about not being that guy who has the best gi in the dojo with the worse Judo, however there are enough top quality Judo gis on display at both the clubs I train at to not have to worry about that and my Judo probably isn’t the worst anymore.
Anyway I’ll write a mini review when I receive it next week.

Training at Yoshin Ryu last night was good as always. Plenty of uchi-komi and grip fighting drills warmed us up before Sensei Neil showed us a slightly different way of doing Sumi-gaeshi. The difference was in the placement of the foot, which normally hooks inside uke’s upper left thigh. Instead Sensei Neil had us stepping in closer and trying to kick uke up the arse. This meant that you were less likely to misplace your foot and improved the chances of the throw being successful.

I managed a few subs in Newaza but was also unable to finish a couple of san-gaku-jime’s against some dan grades. Sensei Neil pointed out that the crook of my leg was not in the right position on uke’s neck to finish the strangle. To be honest I have been getting a pain in my knee recently when performing this technique, which means that I can’t hold it for too long without being in agony. Another injury perhaps??

Randori was interesting in that I squared up against Sean for the first time since he crushed me as an orange belt. This was short on throws but very heavy on gripping, as we both fought to maintain our grips. He mentioned afterwards that I felt a lot stronger and much improved since the last time we did randori, which was encouraging.

Against Steve, he got the better of the grips and managed to break my posture with his collar hand. Sensei Neil pulled me to one side afterwards and told me ways to break his grip and keep a good posture so that I could remain more upright. This is something I will work on in the coming weeks. I hear Jimmy Pedro has a good book on gripping so I might have to look in to purchasing that.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


It was nice to see Oli return to training last night after missing the whole summer with a knee injury. It was also particularly nice to see two new seniors take their free “taster” session, Chris and Andrew (I think)

Big Stuart took the class and following a quick warm up we moved on to our first technique of the night which was Uki-goshi, whilst Stewart took the two new guys to one side so he could teach them breakfalling.
I’m not sure if it was a conscious effort by Stuart but he gave us plenty of time to practise Uki-goshi. Oli and I managed multiple throws to both right and left sides and at the end I was probably performing the throw better than I ever have in the past.

Next up was a throw I had never practised before and that was Soto-makikomi. Makikomi throws are notorious for being hard on Uke as tori follows Uke to the floor and basically lands on top of them. We were instructed to use caution when throwing and not to slam in to Uke.
Again we were given plenty of time to practise this throw on both sides. Stuart then showed us Ko-uchi-gake-mata-maki-komi, which is a bit of a mouthful. Thankfully it was to perform than say. I’ve seen this throw used a lot by the smaller guys at Yoshin-ryu who attempt an Ippon or drop seoi-nage and then turn in to this throw. Due to my height the seoi-nage’s are not throws I have ever used but maybe if Teddy Riner ever visits Dorking I will try one on him. However Ko-uchi-gake-mata-maki-komi seems like a throw you could use on its own and after several attempts I got it working ok.

We moved away from tachi-waza on to some Newaza and Okuri-eri-jime was shown to us. Although I’ve been shown this a number of times in the past Peter pointed out that my hand position was slightly wrong. When I grip the collar around the neck I need to get my hand in further, just behind the ear of Uke. This meant I was able to use little to no strength when pulling on the gi jacket with my other hand as the collar hand was pressed right up against the carotid artery.
We then took turns on our back with the other person in our guard. The person on the bottom had two feet on the hips of the person on top where basically the person on top had to try and keep good posture. With my long legs I was able to keep Oli from posturing up and was able to flatten him out. It’s a position I use quite a lot in Newaza anyway but it was good to drill it in class.

We didn’t get to do any randori tonight, which was a shame but as I explained to Jaden afterwards, with only one lesson a week it’s important to get the technique right before you start sparing and seeing as we had two complete beginners tonight we might have to be patient. I am however eager to roll with Jaden, if only to show him how good I am at tapping.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Harai-goshi - Yoshin Ryu

In my last post I wrote “Something I’m guilty of, and a lot of other kyu grades, is giving up on a throw if it’s not successful straight away. I’ve noticed that when I am watching the Randori at Yoshin Ryu the dan grades will attempt a throw and even if it doesn’t work straight away they will continue twisting and turning in to it until eventually their opponent flips over. “ I figured there was no better place to try and address this than at Yoshin Ryu’s randori night.

Last week there were several white belts and other lower kyu grades present whereas tonight there was one white belt and the next lowest kyu grade was myself and another green belt female.

After a quick warm up we went in to some grip fighting and then progressed in to Uchi-komi. I was paired with the only white belt in the club who displayed better than average skills for his grade. Fresh from Tuesday’s class at DJC the throw that I practised most in uchi-komi was Harai-goshi as I really wanted to add this throw to my repertoire of favourite techniques.

After 15 minutes of Uchi-komi we went in to Newaza and I stayed paired with the white belt guy I was already with. I managed a number of submissions against him including a couple of juji-gatame’s from the bottom, a Juji-gatame from turtle and of course a San-gaku-jime from the bottom.

Next up was Steve and I didn’t fair particularly well against him this week. He managed to pin me a couple of times and also cross collar choked me, again. When he caught me with a second cross collar choke I decided I wasn’t going to tap and despite him trying, for what was probably in excess of thirty seconds, I didn’t tap. I was however pretty glad when matte was called as I had used up a lot of energy. Unfortunately there are no easy rolls for me here for which I could possibly catch my breath and Sean (another brown belt) was next up.

I think this was the first time I have done newaza with Sean so I wasn’t sure what to expect. We had quite a technical roll with lots of submission attempts and movement. From memory he managed two pins against me and I managed 3 subs, two Juji-gatame and a san-gaku-jime.

Following a quick water break the two green belts and the white belt were called out by Sensei Neil. He then asked for three people to fight us and I was paired against one of the other Sensei’s. I was pleased that I managed a successful O-uchi-gari.

When matte was called 5 minutes later Sensei Neil told the three of us (two green belts and a white belt) to stay out and three new partners came out to face us. I was now paired against Steve. I attempted a Harai-goshi and although I wasn’t successful straight away with this I continued pulling and twisting but he eventually got away. I did then manage a Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi and right at the end I attempted an Ura-nage, which is a throw I have never attempted before but, after being thrown by Jaden with this on Tuesday, I recognised that I was in a good position to attempt it myself. Unfortunately, even though I threw Steve I did end up on my own back, so it could have been called against me were we in shiai.

Sensei Neil kept me out for another fight straight afterwards against Sensei Tim and I again attempted a Harai-goshi, which I was quite close to getting.

Following this fight I was finally allowed to take a breather, but only for one round.
Sensei Tim called me out again but this time I was thrown with several highlight throws. He commented after that I needed to make sure I had a dominant grip before attempting one of my forward throws as it was too easy to block me off.

My last randori was against the white belt that I was paired with at the beginning of the class. I managed a number of throws including O-uchi-gari, Uchi-mata and right at the end an O-guruma. I actually had it in my mind to try a Harai-goshi but for some reason it turned in to an O-guruma. It’s odd because this is another throw that I have never attempted before in randori so I was very pleased to have pulled it off even if it was against a white belt.

I really enjoyed tonight’s class even though the three rounds of randori without pause were very tough indeed. I was particularly pleased that I was able to use what I had learnt at Dorking on Tuesday to good effect so in all an excellent week of Judo.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Tapping like Riverdance

Before I found Dorking Judo Club I researched all the Martial Arts clubs in the local area and although I was open to other styles I was primarily looking for Judo or BJ. As I am a fan of MMA I favoured a BJJ club as this is, along with Wrestling, the favoured style of grappling among MMA fighters. At that time there was a BJJ club in Guildford run by Andy Roberts who was then a Brown Belt (now a black belt) from the Roger Gracie academy. Unfortunately Andy Roberts’s club moved to Farnborough, which was too far for me to travel, so I then refocused my efforts on finding a Judo club. However it was while I was looking in to BJJ that I stumbled across a blog called “Tapping Like Riverdance” which was written by a guy called Jaden who had recently started training BJJ at the Andy Roberts academy. It was Jaden’s blog that inspired me to start my own when I first started training Judo. Why am I telling you all this, well when I walked in to the Dojo on Tuesday evening for the first class of the term I noticed a guy sitting down watching the juniors who was wearing a BJJ gi. On closer inspection I realised that this guy was in fact Jaden, who had decided to give Judo a try for a while since BJJ was becoming a little expensive.

Other than Jaden there were no new faces and in fact we were missing Oli and Ynez from the usual line up. I have, however, been informed that we are expecting 2-3 new people when this beginners program starts in a couple of weeks.

After a quick warm Stewart showed us an O-uchi-gari, Ko-uchi-gari into to Harai-goshi combination. I partnered up with Big Stuart and at first I wasn’t getting that “flipping” motion that one normally gets when executing a Harai. Big Stuart told me to pull his head in closer to mine, sort of like an old fashioned headlock, assuming you have a high grip, and turn my head further around so I get a bigger twisting motion. Stuart also remarked to everyone in the class that we really need to commit to this throw and used Gemma Gibbons recent win over Audrey Tcheumeo in the Olympic Semi final match as an example. Gemma won via Ippon with a Harai against the French girl but she only threw her because she persisted with the throw and was fully committed. Something I’m guilty of, and a lot of other kyu grades, is giving up on a throw if it’s not successful straight away. I’ve noticed that when I am watching the Randori at Yoshin Ryu the dan grades will attempt a throw and even if it doesn’t work straight away they will continue twisting and turning in to it until eventually their opponent flips over. This is certainly something to think about and try and address.

After some grip work where we practised changing from left handed to right handed grips we did a bit of situational Newaza. In pairs one of us lies on our side and the other kneels with their back to them. We then take turns attacking and defending from either of the two positions.

We finished off with what was supposed to be light randori but it got less light the longer it went on. I was first paired with Stewart, where the highlight for me was a tai-otoshi in to tani-otoshi combination.

Next up was Jaden and I found him a pretty tricky customer. As he is a lot smaller and lighter than me he relied on his speed and movement. I managed to throw him a couple of times one of which was a nice o-uchi-gari but each time I threw him he almost countered me. I’m pretty sure that had I been his size he would have succeeded. Towards the end Jaden moved to my side and grabbed me around the waist. I felt vulnerable but thought I could throw my way out of it so I tried for another O-uchi-gari but this time Jaden’s counter did work and it was a big Ura-nage. To be honest I actually enjoyed being thrown with this as it was a nice clean throw. Ynez has said in the past that she didn’t mind being thrown if the throw was good one. At the time I thought she was slightly mad but now I understood what she meant.

I squared up against Big Stuart afterwards but on reflection I was too defensive. When I was a yellow or red belt I knew I had no chance of throwing Stuart so I threw caution to the wind and just attacked. Now, as a green belt, I feel I should be giving him some problems and as such I think I’m too worried about being thrown myself. This is something I need to work on.

It was nice meeting Jaden and I hope he returns to the club. Although he no longer updates his blog I would still recommend reading it. His blog can be found here.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Good to be back - Yoshin Ryu

Having not trained for a month, attending the Thursday randori session at Yoshin Ryu was probably not the best way of easing myself back but sometimes you just have jump straight in with both feet.

Watching numerous online videos of Judo techniques before I left home I realised just how easy Judo is. I wrote down half a dozen throwing combinations so that I could use them that evening in class. Of course the reality of using these techniques against someone fully resisting and trying to throw you in the process meant that I was not successful with any of them and in fact I don’t think I even got the chance to try. One week you throw everyone and the next it’s you being thrown. This is what makes Judo both a frustrating and rewarding passtime and oddly keeps me coming back for more.

I got a lift from Ivan tonight and he was my Uke for the first part of the class which was focused mainly on strangle’s. The first one we were shown was Katsugi-jime where Tori puts his right hand palm up inside uke’s collar and left hand down, inside opposite collar. Then tori bringshis right forearm across uke’s throat whilst either dropping to his back and rolling Uke over him, eventually ending up in side control or simply moving to Uke’s right side.


Another strangle we were shown, which Peter from DJC has shown me before ,started with two hands on uke’’s right lapel with right hand above left and whilst keeping a grip of the lapel you swing you right arm over uke’s head . I can’t find an example of this online at the moment but will seek out a picture to make it easier.

The last strangle was called Tsuki-komi-jime and the action was similar to doing up a large imaginary zip on uke's gi.I found this a little hit and miss both as tori and uke.


After we had practised these a number of times we went in to Newaza and first up for me was a blue belt from a club near Redhill. I pulled guard and managed a face down Juji-gatame. Then he pulled guard on me, which was good as it meant I was forced to practice my top game. He was very good at controlling me with his legs, encircling my legs with his which meant I had trouble getting any base to be able to even think about passing his guard. I focused my efforts on his left leg and managed to jump in to side control and then secure a pin. The next couple of rolls with him I pulled guard and was able to submit him with another Juji-gatame then a Hiza-gatame and near the end I also managed to submit him with my trusty san-gaku-jime.
I was feeling pretty good at this point although I had expended a lot of energy.

Next up was Steve and although there were no submissions he was able to secure two pins against me. The Juji-gatame’s that I had successfully used against the previous guy were unsuccessful against Steve who has a pretty strong posture. I always have a good tussle with Steve and again we were both knackered afterwards.

Then a new guy called Rob, a white belt, approached me for a roll. As as soon as we started rolling I realised he had done BJJ. He pulled guard and tried to control me but I backed out of it and we started again. I pulled guard and he used a move which I believe BJJ’ers call a “stack pass”, where he put both of his arms outside of my legs and linked his hands together all the while lifting my hips up and basically taking my legs out of the equation. He then shuffled in tight to me and simply pushed my legs to one side so he could pass in to side control. Once there he gave up the chance of a Mune-gatame and went to full mount (tate-shiho-gatame) where he again gave that up to go for the juji-gatame. I recognised what he was doing and was able to defend it but he took my back in the process. If we were doing BJJ he would have certainly got a body lock on me but because that move is illegal in Judo he didn’t and I was able to turn in to him and now I was in his guard. He somehow managed to catch me in a san-gaku-jime, which really annoyed me considering this is my favourite move but again I was able to defend against it by pushing my arm through his legs. Matte was called soon after and although he didn’t submit me I was made to really work. One thing he needs to learn though is that a pin is just as good as a submission in Judo and he gave up two or three pins to go for the armlock. He did confirm to me afterwards that he used to train BJJ somewhere in Sunderland but I don’t know what belt he was. Anyway I hope he keeps coming as he seemed like a nice guy and he has some skills.

Last up was one of the twins. Now the twins are seventeen year old black belts who are national competitors. They are small and light but, certainly when I have done randori with them in the past, very very good. This was the first time I had managed to do newaza with any of them and it appears that their groundwork is also pretty solid. Each roll ended the same way with him passing my guard and pinning me with a version of yoko-shiho-gatame. I did almost catch him in a san-gaku-jime, but he never really looked to be in any trouble and managed to slowly escape.

On to standing randori and Steve was first up. By this point I was really feeling the one month absence from training and was severely gassed. About one minute in I could hardly hold on to Steve’s gi. All I could manage to do was defend and in fact I was able to counter one of Steve’s attempts at a tai-otoshi by throwing him with a tani-otoshi. For the remaining few minutes I was just hanging on and was glad when Sensei called matte. To be honest, even though I managed to throw Steve I was not a good opponent for him as I was largely defensive, due to my exhaustion, and as such I was not happy with my performance.

I managed a few minutes rest and get my breath back before Przemek beckoned me on to the mat. Remembering what Sensei had told me the last time I did randori with Przemek, I tried to move around a lot and create angles. Unfortunately fighting this way expends a lot of energy, something I was severely lacking so after about a minute I found myself in a gripping contest with him, which I was never going to win. I was thrown a couple of times with foot sweeps before a big O-uchi-gari right near the end. Przemek remarked afterwards that I needed to close the distance more on him when attempting my throws and I agree with this. The problem was I was never really able to get a proper grip on him which would have given me the confidence to close the space. One thing that did give me a bit of confidence was that he thought I had improved. It can be hard to gauge ones progress in any sport when the majority of your opponents are considerably better than you. Its only when I get to do randori against the lower grades that you realise how far you have come, especially when you see them huffing and puffing away and straining every muscle in their body as they try in vain to throw you, all the while you are in complete control and hardly breaking a sweat. Maybe I should seek out the odd lower grade now and then just so I can feel good about my Judo.

Back to Dorking next Tuesday and apparently there has been some interest in the beginner’s course which I posted about here. If we can get maybe two new senior members out of it then it would be great.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Back from Holiday

I got back from a very hot and sunny France at the weekend and I must say I feel very relaxed and rested. The day before we were due to go I woke up with a very stiff neck and although it slowly got better throughout the first week I didn’t think it was worth risking doing any Judo. Anyway it was stupidly hot (40c+ on some days) that I can’t imagine doing Judo would have been much fun. Also I think a two week rest without any exercise can do the body good and I feel really energised now and looking forward to Judo on Thursday. I got a weights session in on Monday and Tuesday and have that lovely ache that reminds me that I have worked my muscles properly. Tomorrow I have an hour of pad work (boxing) with the Gym instructor, which I always look forward to. Oh and I weighed myself yesterday and I haven’t put on a pound even though I have gorged myself on bread, cheese, beer, wine & Ice Cream for the last two weeks, much to the annoyance of my wife.

My main club is open again from next Tuesday and my goal for this term is to hopefully get my blue belt (2nd kyu). I have noticed, since I got my green belt, that the brown belts now see me as fair game whereas, when I was an  orange belt they normally held back in randori and let me throw them. I can therefore imagine that life as a blue belt will be that little bit harder but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Getting old (turning 40)

Since I turned forty last month I’ve been plagued with niggling little injuries which have kept me off of the tatami. Two weeks ago my old shoulder injury reared its ugly head again probably due to over doing it in the gym. I had devised a nasty looking workout whereby I would run between each gym apparatus, for example bench press to lat pulldowns to bicep curls, you get the idea. Anyway I would perform each exercise for 10 reps and then run to the next one without pause. This went on for about 10 minutes before I took a break of about a minute and then repeated 3 more times.
The result was a lot of sweat, a lot of heavy breathing and the reappearance of my old shoulder injury. Luckily enough one trip to a sports massage place seems to have helped a lot so I’m hopeful that I should be ok pretty soon.

Whilst I was waiting for my shoulder to feel better I decided to go hell for leather on my legs by doing running, cycling and all manner of leg weights. I then, last Thursday, developed an odd pain in my right leg about two inches below my knee on the right hand side. It was very sore to touch and the pain would travel down the side of my lower leg. It got so bad on Sunday that I was limping badly and had trouble pressing the accelerator on my car. Ice and Ibuprofen seem to have eased the pain a bit but it’s still very sore.

In the normal course of events these injuries would be annoying but having sat and watched Judo in the Olympics every night last week, not being able to go and practise is driving me insane. While I’m on the subject of Olympic Judo well done to Gemma Gibbons and Katrina Bryant for picking up Silver and Bronze respectively. Both medals were unexpected but well deserved. I must say it felt odd watching Gemma fighting for gold on the TV in my office at work. Everyone was crowded around cheering her on but no one really understood what was going on. I couldn’t help myself shouting out things like “O-uchi” & “Go for the Tani”. I think most people clocked on that I did Judo afterwards and perhaps now I won’t get so many odd stares when I come in to work with bruises over my arms and neck after training.

USA Judo also appears to be on the up as they picked up their first ever Gold and also a bronze. Additionally American Judoka Travis Stevens fought in one of the most entertaining matches that I watched when he fought against German Ole Bischof. Stevens received numerous cuts on his face and by the end of the fight (which he narrowly lost) he looked like something out of the Mummy. Despite the fact that Stevens knocked out Euan Burton in the first round I couldn’t help but cheer for him as he showed Great Spirit and determination. I’ll certainly be looking out for Stevens in future tournaments.

I’m off on my holidays next week so its touch and go whether I will actually be able to get another session in before I go. However, seeing as I am going to the South of France I’m going to sneak my Gi into my suitcase in case the local village where we are staying has a Judo club. If they do I’ll no doubt post about it when I return.

Friday, 3 August 2012

British Judo’s FREE Adult Beginner Course Taster @ Dorking Judo Club

In this huge year for sport in Great Britain we are offering you the perfect chance get fit and try out an Olympic sport for the first time in a fun, friendly and enjoyable way. Throw yourself into judo with other new beginners!
Take part in this free taster session on 11th & 18th September; 8pm - 9.30pm at Dorking Judo Club.

If you like what you see in the taster session you can then sign up to the full course, or if you already know judo is the sport for you, you can sign up straight away!...

The cost of the full course is £60 which includes a British Judo membership, training diary, record book, insurance, the 10 weeks of coaching fees, first grading and judogi (judo suit). After this free taster session the course fully begins on 25th September at 8pm - 9.30pm.

Dorking Judo Club's contact details can be found here

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Olympic Judo – Ban theTurtle

I’ve been watching bits and pieces of the Judo when I can but yesterday I decided to record the whole day’s action and must have watched about 4 hours of nonstop Judo last night when I got in from work. I was surprised that I didn’t get bored watching for that long as even when I watch a UFC event I normally have to split it over two days.
Having never really watched high level Judo before, except for a few highlight videos on YouTube, I was a little surprised about a few aspects of what I have seen thus far.
Now this is based purely on what I watched yesterday which was the under 81kg Men’s and under 60kg Women’s but I found the lack of groundwork very surprising.

I know that the referee restricts the amount of time you have on Newaza and this is done largely to make the fights more interesting to the non Judo watching public and to an extent I can see the logic behind this. What I can’t understand though is why the fighters are not penalised for turtling up every time they hit the ground. Quite often the other fighter doesn’t even bother to attack the turtle as he knows he is just wasting time and effort on something which has a low percentage of success.

I know a lot of people on the Judoforum advocate cross training in BJJ to help improve your groundwork but on last night’s showing that would be a total waste of time. All you really need to practice is how to turtle, which can probably be taught fairly quickly. I’m not suggesting that the rules of Judo should be changed to allow unlimited Newaza as this would, imo, change Judo for the worse as Judo is first and foremost a throwing art/sport. However if you were penalised for using the turtle position every time the fight went to the mat, say with a shido, then it would make the limited amount of time that one spends in Newaza that more exciting.

Do you agree?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Stat Man

People who know me well know that I like my stats. In fact some friends call me the“stat man”. For example, if we are talking football, I like to know how many games Frank Lampard has played for Chelsea and how many goals he has scored. I also like to know how many of these goals were scored in open play and how many were scored from a penalty or free kick etc. I’ll then cross check his stats with those of Didier Drogba etc. In my current job as a Treasury Analyst I get paid to create spread sheets full of stats with lots of different graphs etc. So why am I telling you this? Well recently has added a “stats” section for the blog owners to be able to see how many hits they get on their blog on a daily/weekly/monthly or “all time” basis and it also tells me which post gets the most hits. What’s interesting on this, a Judo blog, is that the post that has gotten more hits than any other is in fact my first post on Nova Forca BJJ in Epsom. I first went there to try out BJJ two years ago and trained there for a whole summer whilst DJC was closed. This post has gotten twice as many hits as my next most popular post which was called “Judo tips and tricks”. Of the top ten most read posts on my blog 3 of them have BJJ in the title and 2 more are related to MMA.

So what does all this information tell me? The way I read it is that there are probably a lot of people who are looking for BJJ or MMA in my area and when they do a Google search for BJJ in Dorking or MMA in Dorking, my blog pops up. It would be nice if these people then thought that Judo was a viable alternative to BJJ but I’ve talked about the reasons that this doesn’t tend to happen before but maybe the Olympics will change some people’s perceptions of Judo.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Competition Ne-waza Techniques by Steve Gawthorpe

Just thought i'd add this Youtube clip as at 22 seconds you can clearly see both Stuart and Stewart from DJC kneeling either-side of the guy that's standing up. Stuart is the one wearing the black rashguard.

The Newaza instruction is pretty useful as well.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Everything ends in Juji

As tonight was the last lesson before DJC closes for the summer months we had a rather relaxed class. Once we were warmed up Ivan, Stewart and Peter went off to grade Ivan for his red belt. The rest of us were shown some self defence techniques by Big Stuart.

Stuart then went on to show us some nogi throws like Osoto-gari and Harai-goshi, although we kept our gi’s on we just didn’t take grips. The throws themselves worked fine, although when I was Tori I felt inclined to follow uke to the ground. What did feel weird though was when I was Uke, as being thrown without a gi to hang on to certainly makes for a harder landing.

We played around with the nogi throws and self defence moves until Ivan had passed his grading. Stuart then said that we should all pair up and practise various throws but whatever technique we used we had to follow up with a Juji-gatame. This came about largely due to Ronda Rousey (who is quickly obtaining cult status at our club) finishing all of her MMA fights with a Juji-gatame.

I was paired with Stuart and just to make things interesting, I suggested that we should tell each other which throw to use. That way we would be forced to perform throws that we wouldn’t normally pick. It also posed some interesting problems going from an O-uchi-gari in to a Juji-gatame but it was a fun exercise nonetheless.

As the club is now closed until September I will be training more at Yoshin Ryu. I think I’ve also persuaded Ivan to join me next week.