Friday, 27 January 2012

Turnovers and Ashi-Waza

It was nice to nice Oli back in the class tonight as I haven’t seen him since early December. Also Stewart was also present for the first time this year which meant we had a total of 6 seniors tonight, which isn’t great but a lot better than the last couple of weeks.

After our initial warm up, Peter had us go in to some light Newaza and after 10 minutes or so he told us to practice as many turnovers we knew in a minute. At this point I was paired with Big Stuart. I started with the usual turnover in to Kesa-gatame and then a couple of variations in to Juji-gatame but then my mind went blank. Big Stuart added a couple more but he also ran out of ideas. After a few minutes Graeme and Peter proceeded to show us a nice couple of turnovers, both of which I remember being shown before but the fact that none of us remembered them showed that we needed to drill them again. The one I remember the best was, with Uke in Turtle position you grab both collars with your front hand going over uke’s back but under his arm. Then you swing over uke with your momentum turning them over and pinning them as you have both their collars pulled under their arm pits.

Following the turnovers we went on to practice some Ashi-Waza (Foot sweeps). Last week I practiced Okuri-ashi-barai and we did it again this week but instead of practicing it in the usual manor where we both take side steps which sort of resemble something from Strictly Come Dancing, we did it this time using circular movements. So I would step back and pull uke around and as his trailing foot catches up I lift and sweep the foot. We then followed a similar exercise for De-ashi-barai.

Before we progressed in to Randori, Graeme had us warm up again with some Uchikomi, Uchi-mata being the throw that I practiced the most.

My first opponent in Randori was Oli. I attacked a lot but wasn’t able to throw Oli but I did nearly get him with an Uchi-mata and an O-uchi-gari before being thrown a couple of times myself.
Next up was Big Stuart and I tried a different strategy with him. I had seen a nice video on the Judo Forum recently over a Tai-otoshi in to Tani-otishi combination which I liked the look of so I decided to try this out on Stuart. I came to the conclusion at the end that I need to practice this one a lot more and probably need to commit more on the Tai-otoshi.

My final opponent was Peter and I finally managed a throw, a nice O-uchi-gari, although I had to really drive and hop forward to get him to fall.

Something I purposely did against everyone tonight was to take a higher grip, around their collars and my initial thoughts were that I had better control over everyone. Of course they are all much higher grades than me so it’s hard to say for sure but I guess I’ll find out when I enter this competition in February.

Friday, 20 January 2012

More Green Belt syllabus

On arriving at the Dojo I noticed that Peter wasn’t present. He usually sits watching the junior class, which is taken by Graeme, Big Stuart and recently Graeme’s son David, who is also a Brown belt. With Peter absent and still no Oli and a number of other seniors who have yet to make an appearance this year, this meant there were only three seniors. Now long term this is not good for the club or my personal development, but short term this meant that I was to get what was essentially a private lesson with two brown belts.

Graeme asked me if I wanted to go over my green belt syllabus, which of course I did and he then asked me if there was anything specifically that I wanted to look at. This was an easy decision for me as I feel I need some extra practice with all the throws.

We then proceeded to go over all the following throws from the Green belt syllabus:

· Uchi-mata: I got this one pretty much right first time of trying. I think it’s a throw that suits my build and is one that I think I will keep trying in randori
· Morote-eri-seoi-nage: Graeme showed me two ways of gripping for this throw. The first was two hands on the same lapel, which felt comfortable enough but I never felt like I had much power in it. However when I tried the second way of gripping, a hand on each lapel the throw felt a lot stronger. I must remember this when I am called upon to do this for my grading.
· Okuri-ashi-barai : I need to improve my timing with this foot sweep but Stuart pointed out that I need to get used to pushing my opponent down and then pulling them, bouncing them if you like. This makes the actual foot sweep part of this throw a lot easier to perform.
· Harai-goshi: I must remember that this is a hip throw and need to think O-goshi but with right leg blocking uke’s escape route. This is the throw that appears to have gained favour with a lot of UFC fighters at the moment.
· Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi : Graeme helped explain the arm movement for this throw which is pull up and behind you whilst turning your head in the same direction.
· Hiza-guruma: This was similar to Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi but my blocking leg needs to be kept straight and blocks uke’s knee and also my arm movements are wheel like.
· Hane-goshi : This is, I’m sure, the first time I have tried this throw. I found it very similar to Harai-goshi but I got the hang of this throw once I got used to springing in with my hips against uke’s

I actually feel pretty good now about grading for green belt as I think tonight’s lesson really helped me improve each throw. I’m pretty confident in the groundwork part of the grading, especially as it’s mostly variations of Juji-gatame so I have nothing to fear other than learning all the English translations for everything, which I will no doubt be getting my Wife to assist with over the coming weeks.

I’ve also decided to enter a competition on the 19th February in Redhill, which is quite local to me. Its open to Blue belts and below, so it’s likely I’ll be up against higher grades but I guess I’ve got to start somewhere.

Friday, 13 January 2012


I was very much looking forward to my first class of the New Year especially as it’s been 1 calendar month since I last trained. Although I wasn’t training Judo, apart from 10 days off over Christmas, I have been back in the gym for nearly two weeks and have been hitting the weights hard as I attempt to bulk up a little.

Rather disappointingly there weren’t any new faces on my arrival at the Dojo, not even people on a New Years “I want to lose weight and learn how to defend myself” resolution. In fact there were a number of the regular seniors not present tonight which meant that only Peter, Graeme and Big Stuart were in attendance.

After warming up we got the crash mats out and practiced Osoto-gari. Before we actually performed the throw, Graeme had us all practicing the leg movements emphasizing the fact that this is a real committed type of throw. After performing the throw several times each we then worked on setting this throw up with Ko-uchi-gari as a first attack. Graeme then showed us a nice left handed (from a right handed grip) Osoto-gari as a different variation to the Ko-uchi-gari entry and this seemed to flow even better than the traditional right handed version.

We moved on to some groundwork shortly afterwards and Graeme showed us an interesting way of turning your opponent over if they are laying flat on their face and are trying to waste time, waiting for the ref to call matte. Lying across them, looking towards their feet, you lift up their nearest leg and put your furthest leg underneath theirs. You then put your furthest arm under the leg that you have lifted up and grab the bottom of their jacket. Then, whilst keeping hold of their jacket you simply work your way up their body and ever so slowly the movement forces them to turnover. At this point you should be looking to gather up their arms, pushing them across their own neck, making it rather uncomfortable for them as you secure Yoko-shiho-gatame.

We finished up with some Newaza and started from various positions, each taking turns to start in the turtle or lying on your stomach etc. Considering I hadn’t trained for a month I felt pretty good with my Newaza and especially with my fitness. Actually when I say I haven’t done any Judo for a month it’s not entirely true. I posted an entry back in May last year called “Newaza is for Babies” in which I spoke about how my then 3 month old daughter Florence appeared to have a very good ground game and the fact that changing her nappy was fast becoming a Newaza session. Well since then her Newaza has improved a lot, especially as she crawls everywhere now and doesn’t like to sit still for more than a few seconds. She especially doesn’t like to be put on her back, which makes changing her nappy very difficult indeed.
She is literally impossible to pin down. Even if I pin the top half of her body flat on the changing mat she is still able to turn the bottom half of her body completely over. If I had half of her flexibility I’d be a Newaza god by now and would be mentioned in the same breath as an Adams or Pedro.

Anyway, an enjoyable first session of the new year despite the lack of seniors present. Lots to think about though, especially as there is a competition in February that Peter and Graeme have recommended I enter. Should I try and keep under 90KG or continue to bulk up and enter the under 100kg division. We shall see.....

Friday, 6 January 2012

Joe Rogan

Ok so I’m sitting down watching UFC 141 from the comfort of my sofa and the first fight of the night is between Nam Phan, someone I’ve seen before from The Ultimate Fighter, and Jimy Hettes, who is introduced as a Judo Brown Belt and BJJ Purple Belt. As Nam Phan is pretty experienced in MMA and also a BJJ black Belt I assume he will have too much for the young Hettes but I am proved wrong as Hettes repeatedly performs lovely Judo throws which include Harai-Goshi, O-uchi-gari and I think I saw an Uchi-mata as well. To top this off Hettes has very good control over Phan on the ground as well and is definitely a hot prospect for the future.

Another fight that night was between Kim Dong-Hyun, a 4th dan black belt in Judo and Sean Pierson. Again I was delighted to see some lovely throws from Kim, especially a lovely Harai-Goshi.

Joe Rogan, who is one of the commentators for the UFC and has been for a number of years now does an excellent job commentating and really puts over a fans perspective of each of the fights. Coupled with this Rogan also holds a Black Belt in Taekwondo and a brown belt in BJJ, so he understands a lot of what is going on and is very good at seeing techniques and moves that are being set up, particularly where the ground work is concerned. He can tell you the (BJJ) name of every submission, choke, leg lock etc and also tell you how to escape the said submission, providing of course that it’s still possible. I do however have one gripe with Mr Rogan and that is that he calls every throw a “Judo Throw” or “Judo trip”. It infuriates me that after all these years he isn’t able to name the throws correctly. Now I don’t expect him to go away and learn all 67 throws of the Gokyu but he doesn’t need to as there are only about half a dozen or so throws that are performed in MMA, due mainly to the lack of gi but also because some Judo throws can leave you vulnerable to punches or can give your opponent a superior ground position following the throw, which isn’t such a hazard when competing in Judo Shiai.

So Joe Rogan, if you are reading this, please go away and learn the correct names of these lovely Judo throws, it will make me and the rest of the Judo performing MMA fans very happy.