Monday, 28 April 2014

Golfers Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)

I’ve mentioned before that I have been suffering with forearm tendinitis or Golfers Elbow and that it has been inhibiting my training, well I thought I’d document what I have done so far to try and cure myself of this annoying and sometimes debilitating condition. 
I’m not 100% sure what brought this on, although most people never know for sure as its usually just overuse but in my case I think it all started when I fell awkwardly on my left elbow throwing someone with Tani-otoshi. I remember my elbow hurting for a while afterwards and then just aching for a few weeks. As I never really rested it at this point it’s very possible that I made it worse especially when you consider the amount of breakfalls one does with their left arm, considering most people are right handed. Add to that my continued presence in the gym, lifting weights, and it’s no surprise it got worse. 

1) Complete Rest
When it got to the point that I was waking up in the morning with it hurting I decided that I had to stop doing anything that made it hurt. To my annoyance, that meant no more Judo or weights. 
2) Physiotherapy
I had a physiotherapy session with someone that visits my place of work. She thought that one session might be enough. She gave me a deep tissue massage.
3) Physiotherapy – Ultrasound

Luckily for me I had been proscribed 10 sessions of physiotherapy due to the car accident I had in November 2013. The physiotherapy was for the mild whiplash injury that I had suffered but I thought I’d take the opportunity to quiz the physio  about my elbow. He was able to give me ultrasound, massage and stretching exercises (see below)

And best of all told me to resume my normal physical activities as long as it didn’t make it any worse.

4) Physiotherapy – Complete Rest
Ok, so after a number of weeks of physio with no change he told me to cease all activities again, including Judo. This lasted approximately 3 weeks. After the 3 weeks I thought it was getting slightly better so I was told again to resume physical activities. My 10 physiotherapy sessions at this point had finished so I was sent away with some additional stretches.

5) Elbow Support

I purchased one of these

 and wore it whilst lifting weights and doing Judo. I also avoided any bicep or back exercises as these appeared to be aggravating the elbow the most. Not ideal but at least it meant I was still able to train.

6) Amino Acids

I was reading up on Golfers elbow on the NHS website and in the comments section loads of people recommended taking Amino Acids and some even went as far as to claim this alone cured their problem. So I ordered a batch from Holland & Barrett and will take these along with the Glucosamine that I already take.

7) Golfers Elbow Support

Something else that other sufferers recommended was this
form of elbow support which you basically wear all day. This looks different to the elbow support that I currently only use when lifting weights or doing Judo as it places direct pressure over the inflamed tendon. I have ordered this from Amazon and will wear this in conjunction with taking the Amino Acids and see what happens.

Please feel free to comment with your experiences and thoughts of this annoying injury.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Leg Grabs, Gripping & Freestyle Judo

The following post is an observation and not a rant.

Someone recently posted this video over on the Judoforum and I found myself watching it again and again. It then got me thinking about the leg grab techniques which the IJF decided to ban from all competition in 2013. Back in 2010 they banned leg-grabs as a direct attack which was largely attributed to wanting to differentiate Judo from wrestling to safeguard its acceptance as an Olympic sport. I can’t confirm that, but it’s the widely accepted explanation. In 2013 they went one step further and not only disallowed those techniques as direct attacks, but as follow-ups and counters as well. 

So leg attacks can still be taught in Judo but cannot be used in Competition. But, as most people need to compete to get their black belts, there is little point in spending time learning something that they cannot use, thus the next generation of Judo black belts are unlikely to be able to properly perform throws like Morote gari.

Now I’m sure most of these techniques are preserved in Kata and with the BJA recently making Kata compulsory from 1st kyu gradings upwards some could say that this will in effect ensure the next generation are at least familiar with leg grabs. However there is no substitute for using a technique against a fully resisting opponent in randori or shiai. Its only then that you learn not only how to perform it correctly but also how to properly defend against it.  

A lot of the now “illegal” techniques which have been removed from Judo over the years can still be found in other grappling arts like BJJ and Sambo and it’s been said that to learn Judo, as was originally taught by Kano, one has to turn to these other grappling arts.

The issue I and many other judoka have with the constant rule changes is that they are watering down Judo’s effectiveness as a combat sport and effective form of self-defence.  I would be embarrassed if I attended a BJJ class whilst they were practicing takedowns and I was the one constantly being taken down with a double leg (Morote gari) because I didn’t know how to sprawl. Or I didn’t know how to defend when someone took a double lapel grip on my gi. You could argue that the new rules makes Judo more exciting to watch with a higher percentage of ippons but who actually watches Judo other than people that practice it? If you do Judo you invariably like watching high level Judo whatever the rules. The lay person is never going to be excited about watching Judo unless someone from their country is fighting for gold in the Olympics.

Another problem with the rule changes is that it makes Judo less effective in MMA. Some might ask why this is a problem, well I’ll tell you. With Ronda Rousey being the current UFC Bantamweight champion Martial Artists are seriously looking at Judo as a viable style to learn to help them in the octagon. However Ronda’s Judo was pre 2010 and therefore included leg grabs, which to be successful in MMA you have to know how to perform and defend against as this determines where the fight takes place. In my limited BJJ training the only time I ever did anything from standing was when we drilled how to sprawl against a morote gari. Therefore if someone has intentions of competing in MMA why would they choose Judo over BJJ when BJJ clearly has enough of the wrestling based techniques most widely used in MMA already incorporated in their training?

So what’s the answer? Local clubs could ignore the rule changes and still teach Kano’s Judo but then, as I’ve mentioned already, this will mean a lot of time is spent on techniques that their students cannot use in competition. That’d be a bit like teaching someone how to kick in preparation for a boxing match. Yes Kicking works in a real fight but you cannot use it in the rules of boxing.  In the US they have taken the matter in to their own hands and created FreestyleJudo  which in essence is Judo without all the recent IJF rules regarding leg grabs & Gripping. In addition to the normal way shiai is scored, Freestyle Judo also gives points for things like passing the guard and sweeps which is more akin to BJJ rules but still scores Ippon for Osaekomi-waza. Now I like the idea of this but there doesn’t appear to be a UK equivalent as yet. Freestyle Judo is not a governing body they just have their own competitions which allow Judoka from any org to enter using the Freestyle rules, so you can’t be graded in this form of Judo and neither are any of the competitions point scoring. It will be interesting to see if Freestyle Judo ever reaches these shores.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Dorking Judo Club’s 1st Randori only night.

I was very much looking forward to last night’s session, not least because the idea of having a randori only night was something that I had suggested to Graeme previously. On arriving I was informed that there were a number of visitors from Kin Ryu Judo Club in Crawley, Guildford Police Judo club and Witley. When Graeme took rei at the start of the class there were 5 dan grades and about 20 kyu grades, which is the most seniors I’ve ever seen on the mats here.

After a 15 minute warm up we went straight in to tachiwaza randori, with four pairs taking the mats for 3 minute rounds. This meant I was able to alternate between 3 minutes of sparring and 3 minutes of resting.

Unfortunately I have had a niggling pain behind my right knee since last week which has made even kneeling down quite painful. When I tried an osoto gari on Andrew the knee felt weak so I decided to try and take it easy for the rest of the Tachiwaza randori, which is a shame as I really wanted to test myself tonight. Still I did manage a couple of good tussles with Jadon, David and a brown belt from Guildford, albeit with a limited repertoire of attacks (due to my painful knee) from me. I was also able to practice my ukemi when I sparred with Peter Vincent, a 2nd dan GB squad member.

Other than those four the rest of the people I chose to spar with were mainly juniors or low grade seniors, because I was concerned about damaging my knee.

Newaza randori followed and as there was less chance of hurting my knee doing groundwork I sought out higher grades. First up was a French dan grade from Guildford who allowed me to work my moves without resisting much. I’m not sure if I would have had much joy if he had been resisting but I suspect not. Next up was 2nd Dan GB squad member Peter Vincent. He turtled up and allowed me to try and turn him over. I wasn’t able to get a good enough grip on his collar to threaten him with any sort of choke so I chose to just take his back and roll him over. I tried again for some sort of collar choke but in doing so he grabbed my right arm with his left and tried to armlock me with a sort ude garami. My only defence against this was to keep my arm bent, in a sort of bicep curl movement, but this was quickly draining my strength in my bicep. Luckily for me he gave up on the ude garami before my strength left me so I decided to switch positions and go for a juji gatame. I got in a good position with the juji but I couldn’t separate his arms, it was like they were cemented together. Realising that I was never going to get them out I gave him space to get out and tried for a san-gaku-jime but the buzzer sounded for the end before I could properly attempt it. Although I’m sure he was just working on his defence, hopefully I made him work slightly more than he expected me to.

I then had a good back and forth tussle with the Guildford Brown belt, which sort of reminded me of the tussles I used to have with Oli. With my next three of four opponents I managed a number of san gaku jime submissions as well as a few Juji gatames. Against Andrew I even managed a Ryote Jime, in exactly the way that Graeme showed me a week earlier.

My final spar was against Jadon and rather surprisingly he chose to play guard. I could tell he was working on some sort of sneaky sub and when he told me that this was going to hurt I realised he had got a Bicep slicer on me, but luckily I was able to slip out of it. The rest of the spar I tried in vain to pass his guard all the while trying to stop him from sweeping me or choking me.  At one point I almost managed a stack pass on him and even attempted a Gyaku juji jime. I had the choke on fairly tight but I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish him as I was still effectively in his guard, still it did keep him occupied enough whilst he defended it for me to grab around the back of his head and look for an ude-garami but in escaping this sub attempt he somehow managed to squirm out, grab my collar and choke me. I was gutted as I had, up until then, defended quite well.

The class ended shortly afterwards and brought to an end almost 2 hours of continuous randori. I hope some of the guys and girls who visited from other clubs enjoyed it enough to maybe visit one of our normal classes sometime in the future as they would certainly all be very welcome.