Friday, 23 March 2012


First the news. Due to some building works being carried out at the Rugby club, whose premises we use for Judo, we will be moving to a new venue after the Easter break although rather fortunately it is only about 1 mile down the road. The building work is scheduled to last until September this year which means we will be away for at least 6 months but from what I have heard this new venue will actually offer us more space. The senior’s session will also change from a Thursday evening to a Tuesday and will finish at the slightly earlier time of 9.30pm.

Big Stuart took the class again tonight and after a quick warm up we practiced some foot sweeps. First up was Ko-uchi-gari and Stuart had us work this from a number of positions including one where we set Uke up by pulling his sleeve towards us whilst pushing his shoulder, thus forcing him to take a step towards me and giving me an easy opportunity to perform the throw. Apart from O-uchi-gari I never really try any foot sweeps as such apart from when I am trying to set up an entry to another throw but I am slowly gaining more confidence in these.

We moved on to De-ashi-barai shortly afterwards and again we practiced a slightly different way of entering in to this throw. Basically by treading on Uke’s foot he normally tries to move it out of the way and it’s at this precise moment that you sweep it with the same leg you used to do the treading. It takes a few goes to get the timing right but again it gave me a renewed confidence in the throw.

Next we got the small crash mats out and practiced Tomae-nage & Yoko-tomae-nage. It was nice as we got to do this quite a few times and we were all performing these pretty well due to that. At one point some Rugby players, who were at the end of the hall stopped to watched and grimaced in pain as we all took turns being thrown through the air. I often wonder none of the Rugby players have ever asked to join in as grabbing people and taking them to the ground is something both sports have in common.

We Finished up with Sumi-gaeshi and worked this both as a defense to a high grip, where Tori reaches over the top of Uke and grabs his belt and also as a counter to a failed Tai-otoshi where we step over Uke’s right leg and throw him with a sort of pendulum effect.

As I said earlier, it was nice to really drill a few throws and get to do multiple repetitions of them. Both Tomae-nage and Sumi-gaeshi are in the blue and brown belt syllabus and I already feel like I have these two throws in the bag.

Next week is the last lesson before the Easter break but Stuart, Oli and I have already decided to train at Yoshin Ryu.

Friday, 9 March 2012

High Grips

My first lesson as a green belt last night so I was kind of looking forward to it more than usual. Of course it didn’t change anything as I am still the lowest graded senior but the darker colored belt certainly looks better tied around my waist than the brightly colored Orange and Yellow ones.

As part of our warm up we did three rounds of Newaza before Big Stuart took over the class for tonight. On the agenda were techniques against high grips. Now I have recently adopted a high grip myself as I am nearly always taller than my opponent however it’s useful to know how someone might use that grip against me.

We started with Yoko-tomoe-nage, a sacrifice throw that I was told people rarely attempt in Shiai due to the risks of your opponent falling on top of you and thus being able to secure a pin easily if the throw is not successful. However it’s probably quite a good technique to use against those opponents who are bent over at the waist and are being very defensive, like the guy who beat my recently in the competition I entered.
Next up was a knee assisted Ura-nage, a throw I have never attempted before, probably because it’s in the brown belt syllabus. Due to the heavy nature of the fall got the crash mat out and all took turns throwing everyone else. Considering this was my first attempt it seemed to go ok.

The last throw Stuart showed us was a left handed Uki-goshi. The reason we did this left handed is because Uke’s high grip has left a nice big space from which we can easily put our left arm around their waist. It worked best as a counter against a right handed Harai-goshi.

Following some cross grip throws which I cannot remember fully this late in the day we did something that I had never done before and that was to practice throws from our knees. This sounds odd but in reality I think it’s a great way of teaching senior beginners how to throw without the fear of being hurt. None of us at my club are under 30 so it’s also nice to practice repetitiously without putting undue pressure on our aging joints. The throws we practiced were Sumi-gaeshi, O-uchi-gari and Seoi-otoshi. On throwing Stewart with Seoi-otoshi I was actually able to get him airborne.

Big Stuart very rarely takes the senior class, although he does regularly teach the juniors, but I was very impressed with his teaching style and the content of this class and I look forward to more classes being taught by him.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Green Belt

Like almost everyone else I work with, I hadn’t been feeling well for the last week, I couldn’t seem to shake of a nasty cough and as a consequence I was little short on energy. Of course me being me I still managed three gym sessions this week but I just concentrated on lifting weights and skipped my normal cardio sessions. I’m fairly lucky where I work as we have a proper fully kitted out gym, complete with two full time gym instructors on hand, onsite and at a cost of only £10 a month. This means that I go to the gym in my lunch hour every working day of the week. Normally I lift weights on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. On Wednesday I do a boxing workout with one of the gym instructors, who used to Box in the Navy and on Friday I either do a 4 mile run or I use all the cardio machines in the gym and work up a bit of a sweat.

Anyway whilst we were warming up last night Graeme asked me what size belt I took and then proceeded to rummage around the store cupboard looking for a belt that would fit me. This obviously meant that we would be finishing off my green belt grading so I was now a little excited.

As part of our warm up we broke down the components of Ippon-seoi-nage. With our partner we first worked on simply squatting down whilst Uke leant over us. Then as we stood back up we lifted Uke from the ground. Then we added in the entry and finally the breaking of the balance or kuzushi. Once we had practiced this several times we got the crash mats out and took turns throwing everyone else in the club.
Graeme then mixed things up a bit in a bid to improve our spatial awareness. We would now have to first leapfrog over Uke, then do a forward roll before turning to face Uke, who had, following being leapfrogged over, followed closely behind you and then throw Uke with Ippon-seoi-nage. I was unfortunate enough to catch a stray foot in the eye whilst Big Stuart was doing his forward roll but no real damage was done.

Once we had caught our breath I was informed we would finish off my grading and to start with I would have to do Newaza against Oli, Big Stuart and Peter for one and a half minutes each without pause. This went pretty well but I was starting to blow a little. Following the Newaza I was told to randori against Oli for 4 minutes and I would be expected to show combinations, counters, various grips and throws.
Following my recent success with uchi-mata I decided quickly that this would be my go to throw and again it proved successful as I was able to throw Oli with. Graeme then shouted out to take follow the next throw to the ground so when I next managed an O-soto-gari I followed Oli to the mat where I held him in Kesa-gatame. We continued again and I think I managed another Uchi-mata and a Tano-otoshi. Graeme then told me to not use Uchi-mata or Tani-otoshi but to continue to attack using other throws. A Ko into O-uchi-gari followed and down went Oli again. Matte was called but then Big Stuart was sent on against me. At this point I was really blowing hard but Big Stuart was fresh and started moving me all over the mat which forced me to be a little defensive. Graeme shouted that I needed to attack more which I did but in the heat of the battle I was struggling to remember any other throws. Then I thought I would try Okuri-ashi-barai, even though I had never had success with this in randori. I closed the gap between Stuart and myself and was preparing to move him sideways so that I could sweep his feet and then all of sudden whoosh he was down but I had actually thrown him with Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi instead, which is even more odd as I’ve never even liked this throw in practice let alone tried it in randori before.

I did manage a couple more throws on Stuart before matte was called but I was very tired at the end. We lined up as the class had ended and Peter called me out and told me to remove my orange belt and presented me with a nice stiff green belt. I certainly felt that I had earned this belt after weeks of technical grading and today’s randori.