Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Shaking off the Tatami rust

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll realise that I haven’t been 100% for a while.
I had a neck injury which required some physio, then I had an Ear infection followed by manflu which basically laid me low for the whole of December and resulted in me losing nearly a stone in weight. So after two sessions back at Dorking I was eager to jump in to the Thursday night randori session at Yoshin Ryu. I was accompanied by Ivan and Meho.
On arrival I found out that both Steve and Sean are now 1st kyu’s and Przemek was now a 1st dan.

After a good warm up I was paired with Meho for some grip fighting and then went on to practice Ippon-seoi-nage uchi-komi, which is ironic when you consider the master class we had on this throw just two days earlier. Even more ironic was that both Meho and I had our form corrected by the sensei.
We were then shown a specific kuzushi drill whereby we took turns lifting both arms and elbows up and out, turning our head to look over our left shoulder. Whilst doing this our left foot steps behind our right foot and ends up slightly advanced of it. After practicing the kuzushi we were then told to pick our own throw. Meho chose Uchi-mata and I chose harai-goshi. On my first couple of attempts I didn’t get low enough against Meho, which considering he is roughly the same height as me shouldn’t have been a problem. Then suddenly it clicked, I remembered the little hip bump that Stewart was so good at and then Meho was airborne. Sensei Neil asked a few of us to demonstrate our throws to the rest of the class. Luckily for me I saved my best throw for this demonstration. Meho’s Uchi-mata was also his best.

Newaza next so I continued against Meho. I caught him with a San-gaku-jime but he wouldn’t let me have his right arm so I grabbed his left leg and turned him on his side so that I could squeeze really tightly. He tapped quickly thereafter.
Sensei Neil was next up for me and despite being pinned and squeezed and made to feel generally uncomfortable I did manage to catch him in a belly down Juji-gatame. He rolled on to his back and I followed, but then he turned parallel to me and eventually ended up pinning me again. Still I was encouraged even though I was tired.
Sensei Tim was next, the highlight for me was the almost successful escape from Kezure-kesa-gatame. I used the escape I showed in my last post, which almost worked save for the fact that he used his head, literally, to stop himself rolling over. The rest of the roll was again a blur or pins and submissions and at one point I was very close to throwing up. What I did notice was just how easy it was for him to sweep me when I was in top position. It wasn’t like he was using some complicated sweep it was just a basic, grab my gi pants and roll me over. It can be quite humbling to be handled in this way but that’s a good thing. It gives you something to aim for and reminds you how much there is still to learn.

I was totally knackered at this point but on the next change of partners I noticed Ivan was free so I crawled over towards him. Seeing that he was equally as tired as I was encouraged me a little. I decided to pull guard and just work on my sweeps, which I eventually got but I spent an awful long time trying to secure a collar choke from the mount position so I decided to go for a tate-shiho-gatame instead and make Ivan work to get out, saving my energy and expending some more of his. Thankfully matte was called shortly after so a quick water break beckoned.

At the water machine I joked with Steve about whether he was going to throw me with Tomae-nage we did randori and low and behold he did. His set up was more subtle than usual so I didn’t really see it coming. Before the end I did manage a Tani-otoshi counter.

Next up was Sean and for quite a lot of the time he wasn’t allowing me my second grip. I had the lapel grip with my right hand but couldn’t get anything with my left, although he couldn’t either. I was weary that he could be setting me up for a Seoi-nage so I decided to try a left handed Morote-seoi-nage on him, something that I’ve never tried in randori before. I wasn’t successful but I think it had the desired effect of giving him something to think about. I then decided to go for a double lapel grip (as shown to me by Brian Jacks) and was then successful with a couple of throws off of it. I had a really good tussle with Sean and I think our Judo was good. We didn’t spend overly long fighting for grips, we both attacked and we both scored with throws.

The last randori of the night for me was against another one of the higher dan grades. Like I’ve said in the past, against the instructors there is no point stiff arming and being defensive, they’ll still throw you anyway and you won’t learn anything. You may as well get thrown trying to attack, which is what I did and I was ritually dumped on my ass a number of times for my efforts. Still, I bounced back to my feet each time and tried again, which is all you can do sometimes.

When Sensei Neil finally called matte he had us all finish off with 20 press ups, star jumps, sit ups and squat thrusts, which finished me off.
It was really nice to be back here training hard and hopefully I can start coming regularly again.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Ippon seoi nage

Joining Peter and Graeme on the mat tonight was another black belt, a 2nd dan called Duncan. I learned later that he has spent many years living in Japan and has even taught Judo over there so he is a welcome addition to the club.

Following our warm up I partnered up with Oli for some Ippon seoi nage uchi-komi. Graeme broke down this throw in to detail tonight and by the end of the class I was probably performing this throw better than I had ever done before. Now, this throw does favour the shorter person so it’s never going to be a favourite of mine but there are now a couple of taller guys in the club whom I could try this on next time we do randori.

Duncan was able to add some additional details of this throw which I found very useful. One was that you don’t want to be too close to Uke after you have turned in as when you pull uke on to your back, you want them to be off balance and this won’t happen if you are already touching them. I found this Koga video, which I think shows this perfectly. He does of course make this throw look ridiculously easy, even with one hand.

The full throw

We got the crash mats out afterwards so that we could practise a fully committed version of the throw, one where you get really low under uke and then drive upward, doing a forward roll yourself in the process.

We finished up with about 5 rounds of light randori and to be honest I am still feeling a little rusty after the Christmas break. My attempts at Harai-goshi and O-guruma were woeful as I wasn’t breaking their balance or getting low enough. I therefore reverted to my trusty Uchi-mata and O-uchi-gari combination, which due to my long legs I always have success with. When paired against Oli he tried and almost succeeded in getting a flying San-gaku-jime on me. I sometimes forget just how good Oli is at Judo and how much knowledge he has. These occasional acts of brilliance remind me and I hope that he can remain injury free long enough this year to finally get his well deserved black belt.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Back to basics.

Last night was the first Judo session of the new year and as eager as I was to get back on the tatami I knew that despite losing 4kg in weight, I wasn’t in the best shape. I did a fairly normal gym session at lunchtime and was really blowing out my arse afterwards so, with only a few hours rest, I figured I would struggle should we do any randori. Luckily Graeme took the class and went fairly easy on us all.
We started with a few circuits but nothing too intense. I was warm afterwards but certainly not tired, although I was aching from my Monday weights session and my Tuesday lunchtime circuit training.
A quick couple of rounds of Newaza followed but we were told we couldn’t use armlocks or strangles and any pins should only be held for 10 seconds before transitioning to another pin. This is a good exercise in keeping control of your opponent and learning to transition from one position to another. I was quite impressed with Andrew as he seems to have a pretty good base despite his relative inexperience and I found it quite difficult to sweep him although I did get him in the end.

Graeme then said that this term we would be going over the basics, which is never a bad thing. Tonight, he said, we would work on the Kesa’s.
I paired up with Chris as we worked on Kesa-gatame and Kuzure-Kesa-gatame and then the escapes from both. I actually found this escape from Kuzure-kesa-gatame, whilst looking on Youtube, which I haven’t seen before.

After a change of partner (I was paired with Meho) we progressed on to:


And then


With it being the first lesson back after the Christmas break Graeme didn’t continue with any of my grading but we spoke after the lesson and he said we would continue it in the coming weeks.