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) -

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

double header

Last night I tried to optimize my time by doing a hour of Brazilian JiuJitsu followed by two hours of Judo.  I was breaking off rust from my ground game but clearly have a lot of work to do.  When you are relaxed you can "flow" more and you burn less energy but when you are tight and scrambling you burn more.  For this reason BJJ really took its tole on me where as Judo (where I'm looser and more relaxed) was less punishing.  I did fewer reps and more uchicomies but still got a great work out overall.  As my stamina increases I should be able to improve my rep numbers.

From memory here are my reps.

Kouchi gaka to drop seonagi : 3 -  Even though this is one of my favorite combos, I figured out this is want is putting pressure on my right knee so I'm backing off this one for a while until I can correct my technique.
Hiza Garuma to Hari O Goshi:  5
Kouchi to O Uchi to Tai Otochi:  5 ?

Ashi Garuma : 6
O Goshi : 10
Sode Tsurikomi Goshi: 15

Monday, May 14, 2012

Last class

Jim Irvine taught today.
I'm being conservative on the reps but these are the throws we worked on.
Ashi Garuma: 10
Sode Tsurikomi Goshi:  10
Ouchi Gari: 5

We worked on the following combos:
Osoto Gari to Ashi Garuma : 10
Osoto Gari to Ashi Garuma to Ouchi Gari : 10

The brain is a funny thing. One minute everything seems to be working and the next things fall apart.
We also did some bean bag drills, some turn over drills, and a little free sparing groundwork.  I feel very rusty on the ground right now but not completely a fish out of water.
We had a new fellow in class today which is great and he has had some previous judo training.
I know these entries have been boring, but I really want to keep writing this stuff down so that I can track my progress.  My energy was a bit lower today and my right knee is far from good.  Hopefully I will be rejuvinated by next class.  I'll put together something more esoteric for the blog soon.

Hours of training 2.0

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Class Update

Hands Hands Hands.  I must work on my hands through throws.  It's funny how I seem to be able to focus on one or two elements of a throw and then when I try to add one it it totally falls apart.  Of course you need all the elements to make it look eloquent.

We had a good class last night.  Terry Spencer taught and Jim Irvine also worked out, so the class was overflowing with experience.   We had a new young person show up and it was great to see some new blood energized by judo.   We did some hold down drills and I also did some juji gatame  reps.  It had been to long since I drilled that so it was good to start to get the flow again.

I worked a lot on combos last night:
Hiza Garuma to Hari O Goshi : 20 reps
Kouchi Gaka to Ippon Seonagi : 10 reps.. (although some of those I ended up throwing the Kouchi)
Kouchi to O Uchi to Tai Otochi : 3 reps..
Kouchi to Tsuri Goshi : 3 reps

Ashi Garuma : 10 reps
Tsuri Goshi : 10 reps
O Uchi Gari : 3 reps
O Soto Gari: 5 reps

We also did quite a few fit ins or Uchikomi (fit in drills) as well.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why do we compete?

Lately I've been thinking about the importance and role of competition within Judo.  I've heard a lot lately about  going to compete and "hanging it all out there".  Judo competitions are setup to crudely emulate combat but do so in such a way as to test the skill set that is studied in Judo.  Anytime you create a framework or rule structure to simulate combat, as athletes, we adjust our strategies and do non combative and non martial things that exploit the weakness within the rules.  These types of things are what put the "Sport" in Judo.  When we collapse into a turtle position and hold on and wait for the ref to stand us up, this is an action that is effective in sport and not effective in combat.  When we role through a throw such that our opponents backs hit the ground but we role over them such that we neither are left standing, nor ground control, this is a sport strategy and  not martially effective.  If we dive to the ground face first rather than doing a break fall and rolling out of a throw, we are playing the sport of Judo to avoid loss rather than to safely walk away from being thrown.  These are just a couple of examples of how the sport of Judo effects its practice.   Now there is nothing wrong with doing the sport of Judo any more than there is anything wrong with playing football or tennis or hockey.

For myself and many other judoka, the sport aspect is secondary to the martial one.  When you practice judo I think you have to decide at some point if you are training in order to compete and win, or if competition is a tool you use to test your training.   It would be akin to playing hockey to test your ability to skate. I have seen Judo players break arms and collarbones trying to twist out of a throw to avoid a loss rather than break fall safely and accept it.    With the martial aspect in mind we can still compete whole heartily,  but the way we train and execute the techniques we know may handicap us somewhat when participating under the rules of the sport.

I guess a distinction could also be made about the difference between the martial and the art within the martial art.  Kano seems to stress the importance of position,  timing and off balancing, to create an effortless throw.  It is true that putting yourself in a position to break an opponents knee or wrist and execute a throw is a very martial thing, however I think that training exclusively in that heavy marital way may cause us to miss the subtleties of the art portion.  I think that adding heavy martial aspects to your techniques is probably much easier to do after you have mastered the art involved in effective throwing and ground work.

Whether you enjoy training in judo for the sport, or focus on the martial art, I think it is also important to realize that the training is where all the work and learning is done.  Just as most of golf is really learned on the driving range and on the putting greens not in the game,  judo is learned in the dojo through repetition and hard work.  Competing without training just increases your chances of injury and creates a very slow path of progression which can be frustrating and counter productive.  So YES, compete! compete often!  Test yourself.  But above all else TRAIN.  Because if you aren't training, what progress are are you supposedly testing?

Statistics from last class:
Personal Repetitions:
Ashi Garuma 6
Tsuri Goshi 6
O-Uchi gari 10
Ko Uchi Gaka 5
Uchi-Mata 10


Hiza Garuma - Hari O Goshi 10

Hours of training : 1.5 total 5.5

Notes:  We did some Randori tonight and I went back into my habits of heavy grips, blocking, countering, and not moving around enough and not committing to my attacks.  My Uchi-Mata practice was horrible, but I was reasonably happy with how my Tsuri Goshi is coming.  We spent some time figuring out some techniques from Saturdays clinic.  I found the arm grab escapes particularly easy to pick up on.  They were simple essentially identical to ones I practiced when I briefly studied Japanese Jiu-Jitsu in Canada.  The body drops demonstrated a different kind of kasush but would take me many many many repetitions before they become intuitive, so I think I will just focus on the 67 judo throws for now.

Thursday, April 26, 2012



Date: April 28, 2012
100 Payne Spring Road
Dickson, TN
Host: Dan Smith
(615) 446-3800
Cost: $50 for full day/ $25 for half day

Clinician: Grandmaster Larry Beard

Soke, Grandmaster, Budoki Junari Jiu Jitsu Hanshi, Honorable Grandmaster, Kenwayoshin Jiu Jitsu 9th Dan, Kenwayoshin Jiu Jitsu 8th Dan, Professor, Budoki Junari Yudo 8th Dan, Professor, Midori Yama Budokai Yudo 8th Dan, Professor, Shin Shin Jujitsu 6th Dan, USJA Judo 6th Dan, Traditional Kodokan Judo 4th Dan, Budoki Junari Yusool 4th Dan, Budoki Junari Hapkido 4th Dan Shin Nagare Karate


9 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. advanced jujitsu must be brown belt or above
lunch from 12:00 pm until 1:30 p.m.
from 1:30p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Yusool open to everyone


Yu: (Gently / Giving / Yielding)
Sool: (Technique / Skills)

The martial art of Yusool represents a controversial case in modern Korea. Records show that centuries ago, there existed only two fighting styles in Korea: The kick-punch art of Taekyon, & the grappling art of Yusool. Taekyon lives on today, but Yusool in its original form, died out more than 300 years ago.

Professor John E. Chambers, founder of Martial Arts USA, was keeping the art of Yusool alive and active by passing his system, BudoKi-Junari-Jujitsu, on to Grandmaster Beard and Shihan Patricia Hill. Techniques range from least to more difficult, as the student progresses through the ranks. Professor Chambers revised many of the antiquated Yusool techniques, combined those with modern yudo/judo, hapkido and his own system of jujitsu, to establish a practical, effective & exciting array of 120 self-defense techniques. Some of these techniques will be covered in this session.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stat Update

Last class was another great Judo class.  Terry Spencer was recovering from participating in the USA Judo Nationals last weekend (Good Job Terry!) so Mike Smith lead the charge.  We roughly followed the same out line as last Thursday but worked on a the details of a few of the throws on the list rather than covering them all.
We had a BJJ student join us for this class. He has been out a few times and is really getting the feel for it.  Usually when we have lower belts in class we work on a throws like O Soto Gari and the guys with more experience take a lot of falls.  This works really well in my opinion because the lower belts get to throw more without getting punished the next day for taking so many falls.  We also do more Uchi Komi (fit in without throwing) so they get the mechanics rather than full throws.  As such I think I did more falling than throwing, but I still feel that I got a lot in and got a good workout.

The picture is from a few years back during one of my instructor's (Joe Dan Pickering) black belt test.  I still have not figured out how to work taking a few pics into the scheme of things, but I will.

Throw Last Class Total
O Soto Gari 15 20
O Goshi 5 10
Tai Otoshi 5 15
Ashi Garuma 0 15
Hari Tsuri Komi Goshi 0 5
Ko Uchi Gari 15 25
O Uchi Gari 5 10
Ippon Seoi Nage 5 5

CombosLast Class Total
Ko Uchi Gaka to Ippon Seionagi 010
Hiza Garuma to Hari O Goshi: 510
Ko Uchi Gari to Tai Otoshi33
Ko Uchi Gari to O Uchi Gari
to O Soto Gari

Total Hours of training: 4

Friday, April 20, 2012

Post class analysis

Great class last night. Mike Smith took the lead as instructor as Jim was out of town to see his instructor,  Shigeyuki "Ace" Sukigara, receive a Life Time Achievement award.

Mike followed the curriculum pretty closely.  I was having trouble with my foot work due to brain death, but I loosened up as time went on.  Mike is a real student of the art and I really like hearing his analysis.

I don't have exact counts on my throws. I can see that the challenge will be how to gather good metrics without interrupting the flow of class.  I also want to take some video so that I can visually analyse my throws, but again, I don't want to stop class to do it.  I think 10 min after class may be the best time for that.

Conservatively here are my rep counts on full throws (not including Uchi Komi) :
O Soto Gari: 5
O Goshi: 5
Tai Otoshi: 10
Ashi Garuma: 10
Hari Tsuri Komi Goshi: 5
Ko Uchi Gari: 10
O Uchi Gari: 5

Ko Uchi Gaka to Ippon Seionagi: 10
Hiza Garuma to Hari O Goshi: 5
Hours of training: 2

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tonight's Judo Class

Sensei Jim Irvine sent out the schedule for tonight's judo class along with some videos so that we can see the technique we will be working on.

Foundational Skills Class – 7:30 – 8:30
·         General warm-up – falls, rolls, & light throw-for-throw (15 min)
·         Uchi Komi (10 min)
·         we will then have a short conditioning section (15 min)
·         next will be a quick review/practice of O Soto Gari, O Goshi, Tai Otoshi, Ashi Garuma, & Hari Tsuri Komi Goshi (15 min)

Advanced Skills Class – 8:30 – 9:30
·         Groundwork Randori (back-to-back drill – 1 min rounds) (10 min)
·         Throw-for-throw your favorite technique (15 min)
·         finally, we will spend the remainder of our time working on Ko Uchi Gari – basics and several tournament attacks/variations – the video’s below will provide you a good overview of this technique (35 min)
1.        Old Masters (:30) –

2.        Basic Instruction (3:28) –

3.        Basic - no movement (:59) –

4.       Tournament footage (2:54) –

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Specialization : Judo and BJJ

According to Judo info there are 67 throwing techniques and 29 official grappling techniques in Judo.  The techniques of Judo were parred down from a broader variety of Jujitsu techniques eliminating  the dangerous ones.  According to  Origins of Judo in the US by Kazuo Shinohara
"While omitting dangerous techniques, Kodokan judo maintained the appeal of maintaining combat techniques to defeat opponents. Not just having “artificial techniques”, Kodokan judo maintained its progress as the modern sport of judo by emphasizing the importance of “ukemi” (The safe landing of your opponent after the receipt of a throw) and continuing the concept of jujitsu through the practice of “randori” (free practice of techniques), “nagewaza” (throwing techniques), “newaza” (mat work), “shimewaza” (choke techniques), and “kansetsuwaza” (arm lock- joint locks), which could actually be used effectively in combat"
I don't think that there can be much dispute in that this simplification of techniques, combined with rules of sport Judo, has allowed the application of the art of throwing to advance.  In a similar way the rules of Judo competition have somewhat discouraged the advancement of ground techniques.  Ronda Rousey (Olympic Bronze Medalist) and this to say about judo newaza in an interview.
Ronda Rousey: "Training in newaza in judo is not mandatory. You can get away with not knowing any ground and just knowing how to defend and stay standing. I just happen to come from a background where my mom, she tore her knees out when she was like 17 so all of her fights, she won on the ground and then when I was 16, I tore my knee out and I spent that entire year only doing ground work and when I moved away from home, I went to [Jimmy] Pedro's. They're known as mostly a very ground based judo school so the difference I think between a judo and jiu-jitsu ground game is in judo, you only have sometimes only three seconds, even less than that to make something work so it pushes the transition and the pace on the ground to be faster than any other grappling sport."
So, while ground work has certainly not been abandoned in Judo, Ronda believes that her experience in developing an extensive ground game is the exception and not the rule within the Judo community.

I think it is pretty much undisputed that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has its roots in Judo and Japanese Jujitsu via Mitsuyo Maeda.  The art is much more focused on mat work than Judo currently is and its rules of competition have allowed the application ground techniques to develop in a different way then the ever could under Judo rules.

Developing these different competition rule sets has been key in advancing the throwing and grappling techniques to new levels.  Because we have people who have dedicated much of their lives to the study of these arts, they move forward in ways they wouldn't have if everything were unified.  Society and martial arts students get to reap the benefits of those advancements.

Below is a video series found on YouTube called Kosen Judo.  It covers a wide variety of Judo grappling techniques and one of the demonstrators is the famous Masahiko Kimura.  It is interesting to watch the videos and look for the roots of the techniques and transitions that are practiced to day.

Kosen Judo Vol 1 Part 1
Kosen Judo Vol 1 Part 2
Kosen Judo Vol 1 Part 3

Kosen Judo Vol 2 Part 1
Kosen Judo Vol 2 Part 2
Kosen Judo Vol 2 Part 3

Kosen Judo Vol 3 Part 1
Kosen Judo Vol 3 Part 2
Kosen Judo Vol 3 Part 3

Kosen Judo Vol 4 Part 1
Kosen Judo Vol 4 Part 2
Kosen Judo Vol 4 Part 3

If you are in Middle Tennessee and interested in learning Judo and/or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu please visit for class details.  They have very qualified BJJ instructors and Judo instructors.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Video study : Combat Jujitsu

My training day this week is going to be Thursday and I have been chomping at the bit to go and do some throws.  I have been thinking a bit about some of the Japanese Jiu-Jitsu training that I did when I was back in Canada.  I liked a lot of the standing arm locks and wrist locks that we did.  We don't practice those much in Judo.  I found this syllabus  for the World Ju Jitsu Federation on YouTube.

Starting around 6 minutes in you can see that the demonstrators are doing a lot of throws from arm and wrist locks.  Pretty cool stuff from a self defense standpoint.  I also found a video series from a ALL JAPAN JU-JITSU INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION competition in PERU that combine striking and grappling with the gi on.  This is a little different than MMA because in MMA you can't grab the cloths.

There are many parts to the competition video series

One thing that makes Judo practitioners effective martial artists is that they can practice their techniques against people who are resisting them safely and effectively.  The theory is that a person who can drill a throw or technique full force hundreds of times in a dynamic environment will be more effective at delivering their techniques than people who must drill these techniques in a static or staged manner but can not practice them fully or dynamically because bones would be broken if they did.  This is also why Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has been proven to be very effective as it primarily employs 'safe' ground finishing techniques that can be drilled and repeated in dynamic environments. Sports like Tia-boxing and western boxing are probably effective for similar reasons.  They are practiced in dynamic environments with competition and resistance.

In Judo, one of the most important elements of a throw is the off balancing or Kuzushi.   These videos demonstrate to me how you can take effective and drilled Judo technique and augment it with striking, wrist locks and arm locks to effectively create Kuzushi.   Striking someone can make them stumble so they are easier to throw, as can locking someones wrist or arm to put them up on their toes.

In terms of progressing in the martial art of Judo I think that a decent approach would be to:
A) learn the mechanics of a technique (or throw) through a lot of repetition.
B) learn the timing and applications and combinations of the technique through light randori and heavy shiai.
C) learn the most effective martial setups for a technique by combining it with Judo atemi-waza and joint locks.

Of course I am just pondering these ideas, but in terms of my progression in the art, this may be a good strategy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Developing a Plan

Judo is a lot of fun.  My club has a good group of guys and we have developed a great sense of comradery.  Currently my schedule and life circumstances have placed some pretty significant limits on the time I can spend training in the art.  I recently came across Malcom Gladwell’s theory (as presented in the book Outliers) that it takes 10000 hours of deliberate practice to master a particular field.  I believe he suggests that corresponds to about 20 hours a week for 10 years.  My schedule allows for about one tenth of that so it is clear to me that I will never Master Judo by this definition.
It is also clear to me that in order to get the most out of my training time I have to develop individual goals and a plan of attack to achieve them.   I’ve been somewhat inspired by Dan McLaughlin who, having minimal experience as a golfer, quit his day job and set out through deliberate practice to become a PGA tour golfer.   I believe that Judoka’s who excel in competition usually have a few throws that they have truly mastered and know a wide variety of setups to exploit those throws. I think it is safe to assume that although I enjoy competitions, I will not be making it to the Olympics in this lifetime and so at this juncture I think I must make a decision as to whether to focus on sport or on the art.
There are 67 throwing techniques described in Kodokan Judo.  My current goal is to eventually become competent in all of them and fluid in a few.   Of the few I become fluid in I want to explore a few different combinations to set them up and focus on the timing.  While this won’t make me a master of the art by any means I believe I will be able to say that I am competent in the art.
Today I want to start by simply identifying which of the 67 different throws I have had some exposure to.

Ippon Seoinage
O Goshi
Osoto Gari
Seoi Nage
Uchi Mata
Kouchi Gari
Ouchi Gari
Deashi Harai
Uki Goshi
Kata Guruma
Tsurikomi Goshi
Ashi Guruma
O Guruma
Tai Otoshi
Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi
Harai Goshi
Hiza Guruma
Hane Goshi
Harai Tsurikomi Ashi
Tani Otoshi
Sumi Gaeshi
Tomoe Nage
Soto Makikomi

Next I want to rank my proficiency at the throws so that I can decide which are my weakest and thus need the most work. My theory is that repetition is the strongest component of building competence. I want to start logging the number of reps I do of each throws to see how I improve.  I also have new 44 throws to work on.  If I can work on 2 new throws per month I can cover the remainder in a two year period.  We will see how long I can stick with this, but it won’t happen at all without a plan.