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.
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!.