Monday, 24 February 2014

South Coast Senior Kyu & Dan Split Grade Event, Worthing.

Worthing is a place I know quite well as my Mum lives there so, seeing as the weigh in times were quite early (8.45-9.45am) I travelled down on the Saturday night and stayed with my Mum.

I was a little concerned about making the U90kg weight division, something I’ve not been able to do before, as I was bang on 90kg when I weighed myself Saturday night. However when I woke up on Sunday morning I had miraculously lost 2kg in my sleep and that was even after eating breakfast.

I got to the venue just after 9am and weighed in at 88kg. I then took my seat on the bench seats with everyone else. At around 10.00am they let everyone on to the mats to warm up. As I was alone I wasn’t able to do any uchi-komi so I just jogged around the mats and generally just loosened myself up which was nice and helped with the butterflies I had had in my stomach all morning.

Warming up

I guess it must have been around 10.30am when the fights actually started, which was great if you were the first to fight as you were nice and warm, However I had to sit on those uncomfortable bench seats with no idea when my fights were likely to start until ……………2.30pm. By this time I was starving hungry as I hadn’t eaten anything, save a couple of bananas, and very stiff. I wrote about this before when I fought at High Wycombe that there needs to be a warm up area that we can access all through the day. The warm up I did at 10am was useless four and a half hours later. It’s like me going to Judo on Tuesday and Graeme saying “ok no warm up today lets go straight in to hard randori instead.” It’s crazy and is just asking for injuries to happen. Also there needs to be better communication between the event organisers and Judoka about when they are likely to start their fights. I appreciate it isn’t an exact science as a fight can last seconds or go in to overtime and last 5 minutes. However they should be able to give the competitors a rough idea when they are likely to fight by providing a timetable telling them in what order each division is fighting in. That way, when the division before yours is called you know it’s time to start some sort of warm up.

On to my actual fights.

My first fight, I found it hard to get a grip. The guy was wearing a Fighting Films BlackLabel which was incredibly stiff. He was able to grip first and attack whereas I was just trying to survive and live off of counters to his attempts. I actually scored a wazari with a Tani-otoshi so was winning the fight. We hit the mat a couple of times and I was able to get a nice Juji turnover but he defended well against me finishing and just when I was going to turn it in to a hold down the ref called matte and stood us back up. Then with seconds left he tried an osoto and I countered again with a tani otoshi. Unfortunately I fell on my back and he fell straight in to kesa gatame where he held me down for the win.

My second fight lasted 10 seconds. He tried an osoti-gari but he was so far away I didn’t feel threatened so was sure I could turn in for my own osoto but he was able to jump through and get the Ippon, which was quite a big throw.

My third and last fight I was thrown with o-uchi-gari and he scored a wazari but when he fell on top of me he had his forearm across my throat and drove it hard across my throat and jaw with all his weight in to it. I wasn’t choking that much but my jaw hurt as it was being crushed so I taped.

It was a good experience and I didn’t feel a million miles away from their level but these guys weren’t taking any prisoners as they were all fighting for points towards their black belts. What was slightly annoying for me was that I wasn’t able to mount any attacks of my own against any of them. In my first fight I couldn’t get a grip and the last two fights I never had time as the fights ended quickly.

I ended up getting a bronze medal because there were only 4 in my weight category. I felt like a bit of a fraud getting it and I certainly won’t be telling anyone I finished 3rd and neither will I be listing it in my medal table on the right of my blog.

What I’ll take from this is that I need to practise more shiai type randori against brown belts my own size. My fitness wasn’t too bad considering I haven’t been able to train much, what with all my injuries. If I can get 100% fit and train hard for a few months I will be fine in that respect.

Friday, 7 February 2014

What is Randori?

According to Wiki Randori (乱取り?) is a term used in Japanese martial arts to describe free-style practice. The term literally means "chaos taking" or "grasping freedom," implying a freedom from the structured practice of kata. Randori may be contrasted with kata, as two potentially complementary types of training

In Judo Randori is described by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, in a speech at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games: "Randori, meaning "free exercise", is practiced under conditions of actual contest. It includes throwing, choking, holding the opponent down, and bending or twisting his arms or legs. The two combatants may use whatever methods they like provided they do not hurt each other and obey the rules of Judo concerning etiquette, which are essential to its proper working."

So the way I understand it Randori is a place to try things out or to perfect your favourite technique without the fear of losing a contest by being thrown, submitted or pinned. No one wins or loses in randori, you just learn.

Having missed training on Tuesday I decided to pay a visit to Yoshin Ryu. I’ve deliberately been putting this off as I have been suffering from multiple injuries for a while and Thursday night at Yoshin Ryu is not for the faint hearted.

After we were warmed up Sensei Adam had us practise a variety of chokes and turnovers, all the while interspersing this with newaza randori so that the technique was fresh in our minds. This worked well as we were all constantly warm but just had a few minutes break between newaza randori to catch our breath and learn a new technique. In total I sparred with about 5 or 6 guys but what was really unusual was that in all of my rolls there was not one submission or pin. I was particularly pleased with my guard play as mostly I was able to keep my opponent in my guard and on the odd occasion they managed to pass I was able to quickly regain guard. However, as I said earlier I wasn’t able to pull off any submissions which was slightly frustrating although I myself was not subbed either.

When we got to tachiwaza randori I paired up with Steve a.k.a the tomoe nage kid. I felt constantly threatened by Steve as he dominated me with grips. He was easily able to turn in again and again with multiple uchi-mata attempts, which if it wasn’t for my long legs I’m sure would have been successful. I on the other hand never really felt in a position to attack him with much other than a failed Yoko-tomoe-nage, something I’ve been having some success with recently at Dorking. When Sensei Adam called out 30 seconds to go I was finally able to get a dominant grip myself and then went on the attack. A Failed sumi-gaeshi and O-uchi-gari was all I could muster though before matte was called.

Next up for me was Tim, a blue belt from Guildford Police JC. As Tim is considerably smaller than me I was able to take a dominant grip but despite being able to counter some of his attacks with successful throws I never really committed to anything myself for fear of being countered myself. This got me thinking about what I actually want to get out of Randori. Should I be bothered if Tim or anyone else throws me in Randori? Surely it would have been better to try and work on a specific throw and really commit to it and if I get countered it shouldn’t matter. Maybe my ego isn’t completely left at the door of the dojo when I practise Judo. I think, especially now I’m a brown belt, that I shouldn’t be getting “beat” or “thrown” by lower grades, which is a bit egotistical really and could hamper my development. So next time I do randori I’m gonna try things out and not care if I get countered as long as I’m learning that’s all that should matter.