Friday, 25 October 2013

Crushed again - Yoshin Ryu

I was a little disappointed that on my return to Yoshin Ryu Judo club there wasn’t more people on the mat (only 8) compared to the 20-30 that are normally there on a Thursday night. However the quality of those 8 persons present (not including myself of course) was what really mattered and this insured I had a high level lesson.

The warm up tonight was more intense than usual with lots of breakfalls, shrimping, shuttle runs with press ups and exercises that involved pulling your partner across the mat, with the duo finishing last getting press-ups for their efforts.

After we were suitably warmed up or knackered in my case, we worked on the set up for O-uchi-gari, practising pulling uke in to position to be able to execute the throw properly. Sensei Neil also stressed that we shouldn’t be hooking the leg but taking it out wide to the side, the same way Duncan showed me at DJC which I wrote about here . We then did a drill where, following the O-uchi-gari, we pulled uke up and then did a two footed Tomae-nage on them but instead of throwing them we did a number of reps of leg presses with Uke being the weight. This started off fairly easy but as the reps piled up and the lactic acid built up it got progressively more difficult.

Then, with our existing partner (I was already paired with a dan grade), Sensei called out techniques which we had to perform. Most of these techniques were dan grade theory level and as such I hadn’t heard of or seen them before. The Kyu grades, of which there were three present, were told to try and copy what our black belt partners did to us. I was particularly impressed with how easy I was able to replicate these throws, especially as I had never tried them before. I was also able to complete the throw with a decent amount of control and my uke mostly got a clean soft landing, as did I when I was thrown.

I was feeling pretty good about my Judo after this but a few rounds of Newaza randori soon put an end to that as I was ritually crushed by everyone I rolled with. To be fair I didn’t roll with anyone under 1st dan so I guess it was to be expected. My first spar was probably my most successful as I was only pinned once and was mostly able to keep my opponent from passing my guard. The next two people I sparred with were both 3rd dans and as such they were able to do pretty much whatever they wanted. My guard against them was passed in seconds and if I was able to get top position I was quickly swept and pinned, choked or arm barred.

Following a very quick water break we progressed on to Tachiwaza randori and I didn’t fare much better here either. I tried in vain to move my opponent in to a position where I could execute any of my throws but again they were all black belts so I shouldn’t be too harsh on myself.

Another hard but enjoyable class at Yoshin Ryu.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The News

A combination of work, holidays and a trip to A&E with my daughter has stopped me from posting for a few weeks, so thanks to Jadon for keeping the blog going. Coming up in the next few weeks I will post part 2 of my review of the Real Kimonos Gi that I started here

I’ve also been sent some products to review from a new company called Martial Herbs who, according to their website, are the premier British sport supplement company providing unique formulas designed especially with the martial artist in mind. I’ve been sent approximately 1 months’ supply of their strength and recovery supplements, so expect not only a review but hopefully tales of superhuman feats performed by yours truly.

Other than that, I’m slowly working my way through the brown belt syllabus which I would love to get before the New Year and, as Jadon has already mentioned, Kata is actually quite interesting and helpful in explaining key elements of Judo, like Kuzushi.

Before I go, an idea just popped in to my head which I thought I would share before I realise it’s a bad idea and change my mind. The idea is to train at 4 different clubs on consecutive nights. Now that might not sound too challenging to young Judoka or those black belts who have been practising for years but for normal folk like me it would provide an interesting challenge both to the body, through repeatedly being thrown, and the mind, especially knowing that the hardest session of the week will likely be the last session of the week. Probably the hardest part of this mini challenge will be to convince my wife that it’s a good idea that she puts the kids to bed on her own for 4 nights on the trot. No doubt she’ll be seeking payback by way of some R & R of her own but all’s fair in love and war.

The schedule I have in mind would be the following:

Monday – Witley
Tuesday Dorking
Wednesday – Guildford Police
Thursday – Yoshin Ryu

This might have to wait for the New Year but we’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Guildford Police Judo Club

Since restarting my judo training as an adult, the majority of my instruction has come from the Judo police club. The two main instructors are Andy grand (4th Dan) and Richard Stothard (2nd Dan). The classes take place in a hall normally reserved for the police, so it’s interesting to see their combat diagram posters, body armour and dummies scattered around the facility.

Classes are normally around 8 to 16 adults (men and women) with the whole spectrum of belts in attendance, typically 5 of which are non-instructing Dan grades. Warm ups are functional but not overly intensive. When injuries have occurred the casualty has been in very good hands, with Richard being a 1st aid trainer and plenty of resources (including an oxygen tank I’ve seen used).

It’s very common to receive visitors at the club with a new face almost every 2nd week. Some are beginners who are trialling it out. But quite a few come from very strong clubs who want some extra training. There are always at least 2 or 3 people who fight at a county or national level present. Occasionally Rachel Wilding attends who was a former British Olympian and is a 5th Dan. The club has a good reputation and from what I gather it is regarded well with a tendency towards strong randori. If you compete in a competition the club will refund you your entry fee. Grading's and belts are also paid for by the club.

Over the last few weeks the club has been giving some focus on its newaza which I have been enjoying. This is often my opportunity to be the hammer instead of the nail for once. However I have been caught out by pins on occasion. There is a fun competitive training vibe at the club with everyone more than willing to give pointers and help to lesser experienced judoka, but also quite capable of dropping bodies when training hard.

I am hoping to try and build stronger links between the Guildford club and Dorking, as they train on different nights and both have complimenting attributes and a greater variety of training partners helps everyone.

This is an old Picture taken when I first started training, as can be seen by my white belt. (thats me bottom left in case you are wondering)


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Jadon and Stuart Vs Kata

I am filling in for Stuart today as he wasn’t going to be able to write this article in his usual timely manner.

The day before training at Dorking, the facebook BJA forum blew up as the new syllabus was suddenly released with almost no prior warning or discussion with coaches. So there were a lot of angry people who wanted to voice their opinions, this was also coupled with a hike in grading costs.

Stuart and I were both affected by the changes as they dealt mainly with 2nd and 1st kyu. Almost all the leg grabs techniques were removed bar one or two fundamental ones like kata garuma. The other significant change was having to do a kata set which before was optional. My initial reaction to this news was.......poor. Especially as I had recently been researching judo kata as some judo leg locks still exist there (a credit to kata). But was mortified by how half of the whole process seemed to be ritualised bowing and shuffling about.

Knowing the likely hood of doing some kata tonight was extremely high I tried to keep an open mind.

We did some light warm up with some animal movements which I enjoy as they offer variety and are very in keeping with my BJJ warm ups.

We were then introduced to doing some Nagano kata focusing on the Seoi-nage set.

The ritualised bowing was as I feared, highly detailed and specific, the purpose of which I could not ascertain, other than keeping with tradition. However I think the coaches sensed myself and Stuart’s trepidation and did not spend too much time on it, focusing on the bare bones of what we needed to know.

We then moved onto the Seoi-nage section which shows tori executing a Seio-nage as an evasion and counter to a very strange hammer fist to the head. Stuart and I partnered up and were very pleasantly surprised with the results. Stuart sometimes has trouble with Seoi due to his redwoodesque height but it all flowed perfectly today. The stepping forward momentum and the hammer fist action almost gives you all the kuzushi you need, making the throw almost effortless. And despite a 20kg difference, the throw seemed just as easy with Stuart as uke. I wouldn’t say we are converts just yet, but we both certainly developed a greater appreciation of kata’s applicability.

The session was then balanced out by having a good old tussle with some light randori and newaza. Stuart and I went throw for throw, varying our throws as much as possible. We switched a few times with the young guns and did a few rounds of newaza. There is some real potential on the ground at Dorking. A few of the youngsters have some good instincts and will definitely be terrors later. I always try keep our rolls fairly educational, giving them plenty of room to escape but not to easy so as to enforce bad habits. Letting them put me in bad positions and escaping, or if done well tapping to their submission.

I always use a lot of guard in judo training as Judo guys just seem to love jumping straight into it. It’s definitely weaker than my top ability so it has been useful to work on it. After an initial armbar (Juji gatame) spree people are now keeping their elbows a lot closer which is good to see. However this has led to people forgetting the 2 in or 2 out rule, so San gaku jime (triangle) has been rampant. At the moment not much is taught in the way of counters and defence to submission attempts (at any dojo I have been to), but I can definitely feel people naturally developing their own ways of staying safe the more we roll. Keeping in mind the strength difference, there are youngsters at Dorking who roll better than some 1st and 2nd Dans I’ve practised with. Practise doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. And these young guys possess squidgy sponge like brains which absorb information at an amazing rate. I hope to be apart of that and show them everything I can. It would be fantastic if I was given the opportunity to do some newaza coaching, but I haven’t quite worked up the nerve to ask yet. I have taught many sessions at my old club in Farnborough but I haven’t quite built up my relationship to the same extent at my judo venues just yet.

To finish off we were given the chance for some harder randori with newaza allowed if appropriate. I struggled against Stuart as I just walked straight into his grips and didn’t do enough to make life hard for him. He caught me a few times; my only victories were a Tomoe-nage where he landed on his side. And dodging his own Tomoe-nage and getting a pin. Lots of fun and some good learning points to be had.

So all in all a good lesson that did away with some of my prejudices regarding kata. At least for the moment!.