Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Settling in to Judo

I've have not posted in a while so I want to catch up a bit.

When I read around Judo and Jiu Jitsu blogs and I realize that there is an enormous difference in approach between those that are competitively minded and those that are recreational minded.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that people who train 7 days a week, 5 hours a day are going to excel far more quickly than those who train 1 day a week for 3 hours on that day.  When I read Dr Ann Maria's blog about Judo and the business of life (Great blog by the way),  I see an enormous difference in the mindset of a someone who has one world championships (like Dr Ann Maria) and someone who approaches with a recreational mindset (like myself).  That difference is the emphasis is on the importance of winning.  It is really interesting for me to read about Dr Ann Maria's take on training and how she became an international level player and trained her daughter Ronda to become one as well.

I started Judo at 36 years old and am now 42.  Newsflash here: Never going to be an international player.  Everyone loves to win.  When you refine your skills and best your opponent in a game of physical strategy and technique it is an extremely validating and rewarding experience.  Now there is a difference in the approach you take when trying to take kids and train them into future champions and when you are training a 40+ year old in a new skill set.  I know that many people may feel that the old saying "It's not about the destination, its about the journey" is a cop-out  but I guess there is an age where you have to discover something you fall in love with in Judo and/or Jiu Jitsu beyond the win and the desire to be the best.  It is that "something" that is going to keep you coming back and continuing to train throughout your life as raw athleticism fades.  That said, competition has it's place, is fun and is a reality check.

This week I'm going to go to a charity bjj tournament to benefit a family where the father was in a serious car accident.

I'm glad to be part of a club and a community that cares about it's members.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Buckley MMA

While traveling last week I had the opportunity to take a few classes at Buckley MMA. The school is owned by Patrick Buckley who has a diverse background in martial arts.

I think attending a different clubs when you travel is a great way to broaden your point of view. I took three classes during the week, namely one BJJ class and two Canadian Jiu Jitsu classes.  The BJJ class was structured similar to most that I have been to, with an athletic warm-up, some skills training, followed by some good competitive rolling (or as we say in Judo, newaza).    The Canadian Jiu Jitsu class was a little more of a classical martial arts class.  Patrick teaches from a syllabus of technique combinations involving striking, throws, falls, arm locks and wrist locks.  Unlike the BJJ class there was a healthy amount of throwing and falling.  I really liked the way striking was incorporated and I also appreciated the good self defense habits that were reinforced such as standing up with your hands up by your head to protect yourself from strikes and blocking your vitals immediately after you are thrown.  These are habits that are sometimes lost when training in arts with more of a sport focus.

On the flip side of the coin, arts that are more sport oriented usually do a very good job of teaching dynamic response to opponents who are actively trying to do something to thwart your success.  Each martial art seems to place a different emphasis on the tension between scripted movement and repetition of combinations, and unscripted dynamic competition.  In the Canadian JiuJitsu classes, Patrick taught a style of standup randori involving striking and takedowns and locks.  It was less scripted than what was being done in the skills training, but still used more scripted movements than Judo style Randori.  He also incorporated some of the more dynamic competitive elements incorporating BJJ style rolling at the end of class.

In total I found the people friendly, the instruction valuable and had an excellent experience.  With Boxing, BJJ, MMA, Muay Thai and Canadian Jiu-Jitsu all offered under one roof, you can find the training balance that works best for you.  They offer a one week trial membership where you can take as many different classes as you can squeeze in.  If you live near Oakville Ontario or are just traveling in the area I highly recommend looking them up.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The lost art of standing up

After participating in both Judo and BJJ classes it has become apparent to me that as these martial arts have progressed in the direction of sport, a critical element of grappling may be loosing emphasis.  That is the art of standing up.  

In Judo the rules are geared to maximize stand-up fighting time.  If a failed throw attempt occurs and things progress to newaza (or ground work),  Judo players have a very short time to show that they are progressing before a ref will stop the match and return both players to their feet.  Effectively this means that you can turtle up in a ball or lay flat for a few seconds and the ref will stand you back up.  The result is that when grounded you don't have to work to stand back up yourself as the ref will do that for you.

In BJJ, once grounded, it may be to your disadvantage to stand back up.  A player may completely disengage his opponent and the other opponent does not have to follow him back to his feet and can sit on his bum to reengage.  Also when you stand back up if on the way up you get tripped you risk loosing 2 points on the takedown, even if you only returned to one knee up.  These rules are geared to create a safe haven (or at least a safer one) for the bjj competitor.

In MMA, however, the importance of standing back up once grounded has become very apparent.  The competitor on the bottom does not want to remain there, does not want to take heavy damage in strikes, and so they learn systems and sequences to use the cage etc to return to their feet.  Of course it isn't as though Judo and BJJ experts don't know how to return to their feet in a match, but I believe it isn't a primary skill emphasized to competitors because of the nature of the rules of competition.  If we are to train our grappling with martial principles in mind, I think that the ability to return to your feet when desired is of paramount importance.

Here is a simple video I found on line on how to return to your feet when you have someone in your guard.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Jits bug

I'm starting to catch the Jiu-Jitsu bug again.  I have loved Judo since my first class, have put a decent amount of thought and effort into it and have indeed made some real improvements.  That said, for what ever reason, it doesn't come to me as naturally as to some.  From a fight strategy point of view I think Judo has some very effective approaches and I think the importance of the ability to effectively take someone down and get into a dominant position is becoming more apparent as MMA evolves.  Ground work, whether you call it Jiu-Jitsu or Judo newaza, does come more naturally to me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm no great player or anything and I get handled pretty easily by the higher belts, but I think that the fluidity and transitions come to me more easily.

Ray Casias taught the Jiu-Jitsu class last night.  He stepped through a method of breaking the closed guard by standing up.  Once the guard is broken the opponent would probably seek a De La Riva Guard.  He then  showed a couple different passes from that position.  I took away a couple simple things on breaking the guard that I was not previously doing.  First and was immobilizing the hand of your opponent on the same side you are standing up on.  If I am standing from a kneeling position starting with my left foot, I want to trap my opponents right hand so that he can not attack that leg.  The second leg up needs to hide behind the opponents butt so that it can't be easily reaped.  When it comes time to peal the opponents guard off of your torso it is important to switch hands and keeping the opponents right hand trapped.  These little details make a huge difference in whether your technique will be successful or not and Ray breaks down these details very very well.  I worked with some great guys last night and they were very helpful.

Next I took the 2 hour Judo class that Terry Spencer was teaching.  I admit it is going to take me a bit to get my focus back coming off a Jiu-Jitsu class but as I get in better shape it will get easier.   We did Uchi-chomies which really I didn't do very well.  We worked on Okuri Ashi Hari and different entrances to it.  Again there is a lot of timing involved in this.  Here is a link to a description of the throw.

I like this throw but as of all foot sweeps I just find the timing really hard.  In the throwing line I worked on Ashi Guruma agian.  I really really like this throw although I have to concentrate on my hands more.

 Lastly we did some randori, where my friend Mike Smith made me feel like a rag doll.  He is getting really really good at using his grips to set up position and opportunity for combinations.  Hopefully soon I will be able to do the same.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New challenges

I did a double header (BJJ followed by Judo) last night and cardio wise I think I faired pretty well.  I got to role with quite a few different upper belts in Jiu-Jitsu, including BJJ instructor Dave Brocklehurst.  Dave handled me effortlessly thus reinforcing how many levels there are to the game of grappling.  When someone brand new with little grappling experience comes into a Judo class I usually have little trouble with them as they open themselves to all sorts of techniques.   I'm sure Dave felt exactly the same about me.  Right now I'd say my top game is my strongest suit and I get in more trouble once I end up on the bottom.  None the less because of my Judo background people usually pull guard and give me the opportunity to work from the top, so I want to refine that aspect of my game.  I got caught in a couple wrist locks I wasn't expecting.  I definitely need to look more at defending leg locks.  I also got surprised by a rib crushing submission that I wasn't expecting.  I thought I was safe and that my opponent was going to try to turn me over and I realized late that I was about to pop a rib.  Lesson learned.

In the BJJ hour we did a lot of drills.  This is great because I really need to commit my movements and techniques to muscle memory.  We started with passing the guard where the opponent has his feet on your hips and you are in the standing position.  We then progressed to shrimping out of that pass and regaining guard.  We did hip bump sweeps / Kimura combinations and then we worked on a defense of a turtle role over.  We also did a shrimp exercise up and down the mat where as someone passes your open guard you shrimp against his legs to reclaim it.  Then as mentioned above we did some free sparing.  I'm excited about this class as it is really going to improve my feel for groundwork and give me a lot of practice.  Who knows, perhaps a competition will be in store for me in the future.  Here is a video I found demonstrating a hip bump sweep.

In Judo we did our warm up drills and then started doing uchicomies.   I worked on Tsuri Goshi, Osoto Gari, Ashi Garuma and Hiza Garuma.
 We then worked on some combinations.  Our first combo was a grip pull setup to elicit a response of settling back on your heals or getting a firm base followed by a kouchi gaka style throw.  We also played with switching to the ouchi gari when they anticipate the kouchi.  The next combo we worked on was the osoto gari to ashi garuma.  I really like that combo and with ashi garuma I’m able to throw a much bigger man than myself.
Next we did ‘you throw, I throw’ where we alternate setting up and throwing each other with some resistance.  I worked on kouchi-ouchi-taiotoshi,  hiza to hari, and some tsuri goshi combos.  I also got in a few kouchi to drop seionagi combinations.
Here is a pretty good video of someone doing a hiza guruma.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Holiday training :BJJ and Judo

I decided to give the double header another whorl on Monday.  They were just doing no-gi open mat work in BJJ as it was a holiday, but it was an excellent opportunity to get some good technique overviews from Coach Ray Casias.  I had another novice to work with so we got to drill quite a bit.

Ray started us doing a simple no-gi double leg pass where you put both hands on your opponents knees, scoot them to the side and then stop forward and chalk your foot into your opponents side.  He then had us do another variation where did the same thing but put one hand on the opponents belly and pushed the knee down with the other hand.

From there we went on to a basic side control position.  Ray emphasis calking your knee at the opponents hip to stop him from turning, and locking down the opponents head so that he can't turn into you.  We then progressed to knee on belly.  Ray emphasized that it is really the shin on the belly.  He exploded up from side control, placed the leg at a slight angle across the opponents middle, hips are open and the stance is wide.  Your arm that starts under the opponents shoulder  and pulls the opponent up toward the knee which creates enough pressure to keep control.

Next we worked some guard submissions.   In Judo we would call the two submissions performed juji gatame: arm bar (from guard) and Sankaku Jime: Triangular strangle.  I believe no two instructors will teach these movements identically but it was nice to see that many of the key components were common in Judo and BJJ.

In Juji gatame the emphasis was on a no-gi arm gripping to drag your opponents arm across to your shoulder. On foot on the hip and the other leg calking under the opponents armpit, and swiveling to create a proper angle, then throwing the leg on hip over the opponents face, and bridging your core to create the fulcrum.

In Sankaku Jime: the emphasis was on feeding your opponents arm through your legs and launching up with your hips to drag your opponent off balance.  Take his arm across your body (underneath your armpit) , secure his position by grabbing your own shin, throw your leg over. Grab his head and tighten everything up.
When your club is opened on the holidays be sure to take that opportunity to train.  Chances are not many people will be there so you will get some good personalized instruction from your coaches.  It is great to have the elements broken down by someone who has performed them thousands of times.  It gives you a sequence you can do reps with.

After BJJ I took some Judo.  I got very few reps in as in the first 20 min I managed to induce a muscle spasm in my leg, so we will write that class off to spending time with friends.  I did get to work on some Kouchi gari, but I really need to work on it when I'm healthy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sode Tsuri Komi Goshi

Sensei Jim Irvine posted the class schedule for yesterday.  The throw we have been working on is Sode Tsuri Komi Goshi and he was kind enough to do a breakdown and look up videos.

Foundational Skills Class – 7:30 – 8:30
·         General warm-up – falls, rolls, & light throw-for-throw (10 min)
·         we will then have a short conditioning section (10 min)
·         Uchi Komi  & throw-for-throw – any 3 techniques (20 min)
·         Review Sode Tsuri Komi Goshi à see video links below (20 min)

Advanced Skills Class – 8:30 – 9:30
·         Groundwork Randori (back-to-back drill – 1 min rounds) (15 min)
·         Throw Defense – hip bump (10 min)
·         Free practice of throws after quick review/practice of O Soto Gari, O Goshi, Tai Otoshi, Ashi Garuma, Hari Tsuri Komi Goshi & Ko Uchi Gari (25 min)
·         Light Randori with no resistance (10 min)

Sode Tsuri Komi Goshi
Sode-tsuri-komi-goshi is often known as Sleeve Lift Pull Hip. However, the Sode-tsuri part of the name refers to the tsurite being the sleeve grip. In other words, the fishing grip that is usually on the collar of the uke becomes the pulling hand (or hikite) as the sleeve grip becomes the fishing grip.
The tsuri-komi-goshi part of the name shows the throws similarity to tsuri-komi-goshi itself. As the sleeve grip is turned into the uke and upwards, tori gets this arm straight as possible to ensure as close contact to uke as possible, bending their knees if need be. As this movement is made, tori can then roll uke over their hips, pulling round with the other hand.
Due to the sleeve being used as the tsurite, tori can usually use a double sleeve grip to enter this technique, or turn into a left-handed throw from a right-handed grip or the reverse.
Video Links:
o   Old Masters – Osawa 10th-dan (1:34) –

o    Basics - Japanese (0:30) –

o    Koga teaching in Japanese (1:03) –

o    Basic Skills (2:35) –

o   Teaching O-goshi, Uki-goshi, Tsuri-goshi, Tsurikomi-goshi, Sode-tsurikomi-goshi & competition footage (8:11) –
Tsurikomi-goshi at 4:35 & Sode-tsurikomi-goshi at 5:26 -  Professor Kano at  3:03 teaching Uki Goshi

o   Competition Throws (2:57) –

·         Sode Tsuri Komi Goshi   à  Tai Otoshi  (0:14) -