Friday, 17 May 2013

Young at Heart

I’ve had a spike in interest in my blog recently which I traced back to a recommendation from Jadon on the Reddit website. I’m not sure how I feel about being described as a middle aged man but I guess I am 40. Still with a VO2 score of 51, resting pulse rate of 58, body fat at 14%, the ability to bench 100kg for 8 reps, I’m not in bad shape for a guy my age. I’ve also just signed up for the JP Morgan run, which is a massive event held in Battersea park each year and open to people in the Finance and Banking world. The distance is fairly short at only 5.6km but I haven’t done much running since my London marathon training came to an end two years ago so I’m trying to get out once a week just to blow the cobwebs away. The race date is the 10th July, so I have a couple of months to get in running shape however there is the small matter of baby number two being due on the 19th June, which will no doubt interrupt my training somewhat. I could of course just wing it as, like I said earlier, 5.6km isn’t far but I’d like to get a fairly decent time of around 28 minutes.

Jadon joined us for Tuesday’s class and was partnered with me for most of the evening. Following the warm up Graeme got us practicing the foot movement for Ko-uchi-gari in to Harai-tsuri-komi-ashi and once we had got used to that we partnered up and completed the throw. Kuzushi and timing is paramount in order to successfully throw your uke with all throws but particularly with Harai-tsuri-komi-ashi and this throw definitely favours the taller person due to the lifting motion.

The entry is different on the vid above as he is attacking with O-uchi-gari but the result is the same

Graeme had been given a masterclass in Juji-gatame at Witley JC, which is his other main club, by visiting Coach Chris Doherty 5th dan. He was therefore eager to share Chris’s version of Juji-gatame with us. Essentially there is only one way to do Juji-gatame and that’s the right way, the way that gets your opponent to tap. There are however many slight variations which suit different body types, whether you are fat or thin, short or tall, flexible or not flexible etc. So in learning as many different ways as possible you can hopefully find the one that suits you best, stick to it and master it.

Anyway Chris Doherty’s version, done against Uke’s right arm has you sitting in the usual position with your right leg either over their body or tucked under. Your left leg over their head but tucked in tight so that their head is almost touching their right shoulder. Then your trap their arm and hold your gi with your right arm but you do this quite low down on their arm, around their elbow. Then as you lean back their arm slowly straightens and because it’s so tight it forces them to tap long before you are lying on the ground, well it did for Jadon and myself anyway.

A good few rounds of Newaza randori followed with one of us starting in the turtle position. Carrying on from my change in newaza attitude i.e. attacking more from the top position rather than pulling guard, I went on the attack. However passing Jadon’s guard is not easy and I found myself in his half guard trying to defend a collar choke that he was slowly applying. When I tried to defend the choke he looked for the sweep and when I defended the sweep the choke was back on. Pretty soon I had that feeling that I was going to pass out so I tapped. Starting again with me in turtle was a case of surviving as long as I could. He managed to get both hooks in and was looking for the choke. I knew he had no intention of trying to roll me over for a hold so I played defensive but was still looking for ways to get him off me. I was pleased that I had managed to stop him from subbing me until matte was called. I’d be really interested to see how Jadon gets on at Yoshin Ryu where they have some very good Newaza players who can crush me with ease. I hope I get the opportunity to train there in the next couple of weeks so I can take him with me.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

San-gaku-jime in to Ashi-garami - Yoshin Ryu

I got myself back to Yoshin Ryu last Thursday for their randori night which turned out to be a pretty tough session. Unusually there were only 12 of us on the mats, 7 dan grades and 5 kyu, which is about half of what I would normally expect to see.

Tim got us warmed up and then went on to show us Waki-gatami from turtle, something I have been shown before at DJC. Following this he showed us a variation where we bail on the Waki-gatame and end up taking Uke’s back instead. We got to drill them a number of times before we were told to start Newaza randori with the partner we were already with. I just so happened to be with Mark, a green belt whom I have chatted to before on E-Judo. It was a tough roll with Mark managed to pin with me with a Kesa-gatame before I was then able to catch him with a San-gaku-jime. Unfortunately I was not able to finish him with this despite try to shift my angle, pull his arm across to my right, hold his arm straight, and pull down on my leg, all the usual things you’d try before giving up. As I was fresh at this point I held position for a little longer than normal before trying to secure a Juji-gatame but matte was called. My legs were now a little tired from holding the san-gaku for such a long time and the rolls got harder and harder from there on in. I had good tussles with a brown and black belt, both of whom were considerably smaller than me. I probably used a little too much strength with some of my techniques as I was determined not to be subbed or pinned, which of course tired me even more. I did catch the black belt in another San-gaku-jime and again I was not able to finish him but this time instead of spending too much time and effort trying to get it I progressed in to Ashi-garami (that’s triangle to Omoplata for my BJJ/MMA readers). I then spent a while trying to get him to tap from this position but nothing I did seemed to work and eventually he made enough of a gap that he managed to squirm out. I’m going to try and work on finishing from the Omoplata position and go back to the drawing board again with my San-gaku-jime as I should be subbing a lot more people than I do.

Ashi-garami or Omoplata

This is a pretty cool entry in to Ashi-garami but not sure if this would be legal in Judo.

My last rolls were against two of the sensei’s and by this time I was knackered and really couldn’t put up much of a fight, not that I would have fared much better had I been fresh. Sensei Tim passed my guard at will rendering my legs totally useless. I may as well have tired them both together for all the good they did me. However, as I’ve said before in the past, I don’t find it demoralising to be crushed by the sensei’s I actually find it inspiring and gives me something to aim for. Now it’s unlikely at my age that I’ll ever get any higher than 1st dan but I think Newaza is something that you can probably be good at for longer as there is little to no impact like there is with tachi-waza.

I only managed two and a half rounds of standing randori. My first opponent, a yellow belt, was so tired that he had to leave the mat halfway through the 3 minutes to be sick. Up to that point I was able to throw him a couple of times with O-uchi-gari and Uchi-mata.

I then followed this up with two tough rounds against dan grades one of whom was constantly fighting for grips with me, which really tired my arms out. This fight actually went on for about 10 minutes as the Sensei’s were busy seeing to someone who had gotten injured and forgot to call matte. We were therefore both very tired at the end.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


We had a bit of an O-soto masterclass this evening practising both Otoshi & Gari. Myself and Andrew were able to get in to a good rhythm, going throw for throw and getting plenty of reps in. We got the crash mats out for the O-soto-gari as this is a big throw. I was quite pleased that I got Andrew airborne and hitting the ground hard and flat on his back even when I did a left sided version. Graeme then showed us a slight variation on the O-soto-otoshi where, instead of planting your leg you pretend that your reaping leg has a roller skate attached to it so that when you reap, you reap all the way back along the floor and end up on top of your uke in Kesa-gatame. Again this throw has quite a heavy landing so we practised on the crash mats.

Normally when I do randori against the cadets (under 16’s) I take it very easy and allow them to throw me without resisting too much. Last night I was encouraged by Duncan and Graeme to attack more and refine my technique against them without using any strength. I managed a text book Okuri-ashi-barai , something that I don’t think I’ve ever had success with before in randori. I was fortunate in that my opponent allowed me to bounce them across the mat, moving from side to side before I swept their legs and made them horizontal. I did of course cushion their fall, as this can be quite a heavy throw, so much so that Graeme calls this the oomph throw, which is the noise Uke makes when hitting the mat and all the air leaves their lungs.

Another nice throw I was able to execute was a Sasae-tsurkomi-ashi. Normally when I throw people with this they sort of stumble to the floor but tonight my opponent went airborne and landed flat on their back. I’m really enjoying my Judo at the moment and feel like I’m making small adjustments to throws that I already know which are making them just that little bit more effective.