With all the injuries I’ve had this year I’ve avoided training anywhere other than my own club as its not fair expecting every new person you train with to “mind the left elbow” and “watch my left leg”. However I have been feeling a lot better recently and although the elbow still isn’t healed it’s certainly manageable at the moment. So with this in mind I decided to make my way to Yoshin Ryu and was duly accompanied by Andrew from Dorking Judo Club.
After a thorough warm up sensei Neil got us to partner up for a Tomae-nage drill. The point of this drill wasn’t so much the throw as the breakfall out of it. We drilled this for quite a while adding in variations of the Tomae-nage, for example using two feet, all the while trying to perfect a nice fluid roll out of the throw. We followed this by drilling Sumi-gaeshi from an over the shoulder belt grip. The foot which would normally be placed on the inside of ukes thigh was instead placed between their legs as though we were trying to kick them up the arse. This seems to be Sensei Neil’s most favoured entry in to Sumi-gaeshi and it is one that he has shown me previously.
Newaza randori followed and I was paired up with Steve. I managed a quick flower sweep in to ude-garami from mount and got the tap quickly. I was then able to fend off most of his attacks and attempts at passing my guard whilst remaining active on the bottom and nearly catching him with juji-gatame a couple of times, although no more taps were forthcoming.
I then paired with a young brown belt who I managed to tap with a variety of submissions including ude-garami, Juji-gatame (twice), san-gaku-jime, and Okuri-eri-jime. A most enjoyable roll.
Next was one of the dan grades with whom I had a tough time trying to control. He managed to pin me with ushiro-kesa-gatame quite early on but the rest of the roll was a bit like a chess game as we both tried to find each other’s weaknesses. It was a nice technical roll.
Last up was another dan grade, this time a small female. I attacked her quickly and took her back and was then able to make her tap with Juji-gatame. The rest of the roll I decided to turn down the intensity a little and tried to concentrate on technique only. I managed to take her back on a number of occasions but my attempts at finishing with a choke were futile and again I really need to work on this as it is a glaring weakness in my submissions.
A quick water break followed before we moved on to Tachiwaza randori. I paired up with fellow brown belt Sean whom I did manage one successful O-uchi-gari on. Other than that it was a fairly cagey affair with neither of us really fully committing and both fighting for the superior grip.
This theme followed in to my next spar with one of the dan grades, although he was able to throw me a number of times we largely fought for grips and I came off the worse. My problem is that I’m not used to fighting guys my height at Dorking but at Yoshin Ryu there are a number of six footers. So when they take a high grip on me I struggle a little as I’m used to being the bully where gripping is concerned.
Last up was Steve and we were even cagier than Sean and I was. Again there was lots of grip fighting and sloppy attempts at throws but not a lot of Judo. I think we were the catalyst for Sensei Neil calling matte and making us all do light randori using only one finger and thumb. This was right at the end of a hard session and as such I was close to just falling over. However I could see the point of this exercise as we were all too tired to use any strength and therefore had to rely on technique alone. I realised I need to work on my technique after this.
This was another excellent hard session at Yoshin Ryu. I really enjoy the fact that we get 5 minutes of sparring with each person in Newaza randori as it means you can try out a lot of things and just figure out what works and what doesn’t. Apparently Wednesday night is Newaza only night at Yoshin Ryu so I might have to check that out soon. I also like the fact that there are a number of large brown belts for me to spar with as its vital I get used to this if I ever want to score points in dan grading competitions.