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.