Wednesday, 30 May 2012


I wasn’t able to train last week due to personal reasons but last night’s session was my second of the week following a training session with one of my idols and a British Judo legend on Monday. I will write about that later on in the week, when hopefully I will also have some photos to go with it.

Back to last night and it was nice to see Dorking Judo Club legend, Graeme, back at the club and he was accompanied by his son David. Stewart took the class last night and after we had warmed up he got the crash mats out for us to practice O-guruma, which is a throw I haven’t done before. As this can be quite a big throw, we first practiced the breakfalling aspect of it. We each took turns holding our leg out and pulling Uke in towards the leg but instead of performing the throw, Uke was told to do a rolling break fall over Tori’s outstretched leg. This was a useful exercise particularly for us lower grades who still have a fear of falling.

We then progressed to performing the throw properly on to the crash mats and once we had all taken turns in throwing everyone we were told to pair up and practice the throw on the move. Stewart made sure that we all got to practice with each other which meant we had the opportunity to try this out with lots of different body types. The technique I used against Big Stuart differed from the one I was able to use against David as there is a substantial difference in weight and size. For this reason David made an excellent Uke.

Stewart then got the crash mats out again and this time we practiced O-soto-guruma following a failed O-guruma. We all took turns being Tori and therefore got lots of practice in. As this is another big throw I was thankful that we had the crash mats to fall on.

On to Newaza and Stewart showed us Gyaku-juji-jime which I was reminded by Graeme was part of the blue belt grading. To be honest, having only fairly recently been given my green belt, grading for blue seems a long way off but I have been putting in extra mat time by visiting Yoshin Ryu when I can so hopefully I’ll be there before the end of this year.

We started the technique from the knee on belly position sliding my left hand in as deep as possible. At this point Uke will normally try and tuck their chin down so Oli told me to slide my left hand under my right, which sort of crow bars Uke’s chin up and exposes his neck. Although the strangle can be finished from this position it actually works better if get the mount and then roll Uke over so that they are in your guard with you on the bottom. Then you simply perform a scissor like action with your arms and Uke will normally tap out fairly quickly. If they don’t submit straight away you can increase the pressure on their neck by pushing your foot against their hips and flattening them out.

There’s a real buzz around the club at the moment and everyone seems to be enjoying their Judo. I think this is largely due to the fact that both Oli and Stuart are actively pursuing their Black belts, I am doing the same with regards to getting blue and we have Ivan, a new starter, who is very enthusiastic to learn as much as possible. There are also some people from the Cadets who are 15-16 years old that are likely to join in with the seniors and apparently Ynez has started training again and was present last week, so good times ahead at Dorking Judo Club

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Judo in MMA

Following my recent post regarding Ronda Rousey and the fact that more MMA fighters are seeing the benefits of learning Judo for MMA, I thought I’d add a collection of cool Judo throws used inside the Octagon.


Friday, 11 May 2012

Gripping – Yoshin Ryu

I haven’t had time to write about the class at Dorking this week but just wanted to say that we had a new beginner start. His name is Ivan and from what I could see he was very enthusiastic. Let’s hope he becomes a regular.

I was back at Yoshin Ryu this week and was joined by Big Stuart. After warming up we were told to pair up for some Uchi-komi and I was paired with a black belt whom I had not seen here before.

The Sensei told us to first practice Hiza-guruma and we then followed that with Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi. As I have mentioned in my previous posts I’ve taken a liking to Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi and I think it showed in my Uchi-komi as I was able to unbalance my Uke and finally throw him, once the Sensei told us to do so.

Moving on we were told to use Te-guruma as a counter to a failed Harai-goshi. Te-guruma is not a throw I’ve ever practiced before and to be fair my Uke, at 16.5 stone, was rather difficult for me to pick up. Nonetheless I did finally manage one clean throw and was even able to be a good Tori by dropping my Uke gently to the floor.

Next up was Koshi-guruma, again a throw I have not practiced before but it didn’t take me too long to get some success with it. I found that the version where my arm went under Uke’s arm pit worked better than the version shown on the BJA website.

Newaza was next and another very tiring 30 odd minutes without rest ensued. I managed one submission only against the blue belt whom I had a good tussle with the other week. This week he managed 1 pin on me and I submitted him once whilst he was pinning me with Mune-gatame by pushing my elbow in to his neck and grabbing the material on my trousers with the same arm and crushing his neck for a choke. He told me afterwards that I was actually crushing his jaw and, having had that happen to me before in class I could sympathise with his pain.

All of the rest of my rolls were against dan grades and thus I was largely subbed and pinned on multiple occasions.

On to Randori where a lot of grip fighting was involved and I didn’t manage a single throw. Again everyone I faced was a dan grade so it’s to be expected. One of the sensei’s, Tim, took me aside after the class had finished to help me with my Uchi-mata as he felt I had all the right components apart from one thing, and that was essentially the part where I set Uke up for the throw. He told me to pull him towards me using my sleeve arm, which then meant his back leg had no weight on it. This is then the perfect time to turn in with the Uchi-mata as my reaping leg wouldn’t feel any resistance. It worked a treat too as I was then able to perform one of those throws where you don’t feel like you have put any effort or strength in to it, he just flew through the air and landed hard and fast. Its bit like hitting a golf ball. Sometimes you hit the perfect drive which flies 300 yards down the fairway and don’t even feel like you have hit the ball. Other times you use all your strength and you get feedback from the club and the ball doesn’t travel half the distance. It’s also the same as kicking a football in that “sweet spot” or that perfect serve in Tennis. It’s all down to timing and technique and for one throw last night I had both.

One observation from last night’s training was that my arms felt totally gassed. Thursday is normally the day I train Biceps and Triceps at the gym but maybe I need to have a rethink on this as I had absolutely no strength left in my arms at the end of the class.

Another tough, good lesson at Yoshin Ryu which was made particularly good by the extra tuition I received at the end.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Ronda Rousey

Let me just start by saying that Ronda Rousey was not a guest at Dorking Judo club last week and neither is she likely to be anytime in the future, although I’m sure the instructors would welcome her if she happened to be in the area. Anyway, I’ll come back to Ronda later.

Stewart took the class tonight, that’s black belt Stewart not Big Stewart. After warming us up I paired with Oli and was told to practice Hiza-guruma which is quite similar to Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi, a throw I’ve had some success with lately. Stewart then had us practice Harai-goshi, which is a bit of a hit or miss throw with me. I very rarely try this in randori as I favour Uchi-mata instead but Stewart told me to get in closer and really reap my leg and this made it very effective.

We then practiced Hiza-guruma and Harai-goshi as a combination which worked pretty well although I need to practice my footwork so that I can close the space quickly to get in for the Harai.

Anyway back to Ronda Rousey. She was a Judo bronze medalist in the 2008 Olympics who turned her hand to MMA and recently won the Strikeforce Bantamweight world title. She’s caused quite a stir in the MMA world as she doesn’t look like your archetypal female cage fighter instead she is a rather statuesque blond haired, blue eyed California blond who just so happens to be able to hurl anyone through the air and on to the ground where she will submit you with a perfectly executed Juji-gatame. She recently made an appearance on The Ultimate Fighter as a guest coach and it was quite nice watching her throw these MMA fighters using O-soto-gari, which is well known in Judo circles as being a hard throw and she certainly did not hold back any when she was showing the fighters on the show how to do this without a gi.

I just wondered whether the likes of Ronda and Hector Lombard (a Cuban Judo Olympian), who was recently signed by the UFC to fight Brian Stann, might bring some well deserved interest in learning the art of Judo. Up until now most MMA fighters favour Wrestling and BJJ as their form of grappling but there are now enough top level Judoka’s having success that I’m sure at least some fighters might start to look at Judo as a viable alternative. I’ve heard rumors that the likes of Ilias Iliadis might turn to MMA after the London Olympics, which would be a real loss to Judo but you can understand why he might be tempted as the money now on offer to the top level MMA fighters, especially in the UFC, is quite substantial.

Of course your average local Judo club would probably miss out on any increased interest in Judo through MMA as a lot of MMA gyms are bringing in Judo coaches to teach classes. Also, there are a number of BJJ instructors who also hold black belts in Judo who may now start to incorporate more throws in to their BJJ class or add in a Judo only class to their schedule. So although more people might become aware of Judo or trained in Judo techniques it’s unlikely that your average 18-35 year old male that typically frequents BJJ or MMA gyms will find their way in to their local Judo club which is a shame.