Although my club is now open again, with the change of our training night from a Thursday to a Tuesday it means I am able to make the Randori evening at Yoshin Ryu whenever I want to. Unfortunately my usual sidekick, Oli, is unable to make it on Thursdays at present but Big Stewart is now attending on a regular basis so I met him there.
After we were warmed up we were told to practice do some uchi-komi with Ko-soto-gari. I paired up with a blue belt and we did 20 on each side before the sensei told us to change to Tai-otoshi, which was the technique we focused on on Tuesday at Dorking. After another 40 reps Sensei showed us a Tai-otoshi faint to set up Ko-soto-gari. The point of the faint is to make Uke move backwards as they attempt to avoid being thrown forward with Tai-otoshi. When they make the move backwards you immediately switch to Ko-soto-gari. We practiced this a number of times before sensei then had us replace Ko-soto-gari with Tani-otoshi, which worked just as well. As there are so many Dan grades present at this club it’s very easy to ask one of them for further help if the technique isn’t feeling quite right.
We finished up by practicing Tai-otoshi on its own but oddly enough all the work I had put in to trying to perfect this throw on Tuesday seemed to have been forgotten as I found it hard to get my footwork right.
On to Newaza and I stayed with the blue belt I was already with who incidentally I had written about when I trained here in October last year. Back then he dominated me in Newaza with cross collar chokes and various pins and then proceeded to throw me around in randori. Tonight however I was able to submit him twice, first with a nice San-gaku-jime and then a downward facing Juji-gatame. I was particularly pleased with the San-gaku-jime as I had been having a bit of trouble finishing these lately. Black belt Stewart at Dorking told me on Tuesday that I should attempt to roll them over to my left when I secured this and it seemed to work a treat.
My next two rolls were with a couple of Dan grades and they were able to handle me pretty easily. One of them had ENG on the back of his gi and he must have subbed me or pinned me about eight times in 5 minutes. Doing Newaza against him was very similar to how I felt when I rolled with Ricardo at Nova Forca, I.e. totally helpless but I never gave up and oddly enough I enjoyed the beating.
A roll with a white belt proceeded this and so did another San-gaku-jime and another Juji-gatame but I was feeling totally gassed at this point. My last roll was against one of the sensei’s, a 3rd dan. His style of newaza against me was very methodical. He did one thing at a time and moved slowly and yet I could do nothing to stop him. When he moved he left no gaps, nothing for me to exploit. It felt like I had two bags of cement on top of me, crushing my ribs and squeezing the air out of my lungs. Even when I started on top he just tied me up and slowly rolled me over before moving in to a pin where he would stay until he let me try and escape and then would submit me with whatever technique he fancied. Again, as demoralising as some people might find this I actually find it inspiring. It gives me something to aim for. If, a few years down the line, I am able to hold my own against him then I’ll know I’ve made progress, just like I felt when rolling with the blue belt earlier who only 5 months previously had easily bested me.
Following a water break we did a couple of rounds of randori. My first was against a black belt, who I found out later was celebrating his 60th birthday. He certainly doesn’t move like a normal 60 year old though as he threw me a couple o f times before I managed to throw him with Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi.
Next up was the blue belt who I was partnered with earlier and we had a pretty good tussle. He’s a similar height to me so we both favored high grips and kind of neutralised each other out. One of my favourite throws is Uchi-mata but every time I came in for this he tried to counter with Te-guruma and nearly caught me a couple of times. This put me off trying this throw again so I tried the Tai-otoshi/O-uchi-gari combination but he was wise to this. With about 30 seconds left I managed another Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi, not quite as clean as the one I got earlier but nonetheless it worked. I’m having some success with this throw so will look at better ways of setting this up although both of my successes with this throw were as a first attack so maybe I don’t need to at the moment.
When matte was finally called on the class I was totally knackered but I felt really good about myself, especially as I could see a measured improvement since last November. My intention is to train here as often as possible from now on but that will probably be every other week for now