Archive for January, 2009

Muay Thai/Kickboxing Canadian Nationals – Jan. 24, 2009

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Since one of the members of the Hamilton School of Martial Arts was to fight at the Nationals of the Muay Thai/Kickboxing Championships, we opted to go see him live versus watching Emelianenko and Arlovski on PPV. Adam Hensen is a very talented, hard-working, guy. Two years ago, he earned a gold medal in the Jiu Jitsu Worlds in England. (He attended with the Canadian team, coached by Mickey Dimic of the The Hamilton School of Martial Arts; the Canadian team won the team silver.) He has won many events since. We figured we’d show support to someone Dave and Mike knew and had worked out with.

We also got there early enough that we had seats in the third row, ideal for hearing as well as seeing (my being a shrimp) what was happening. Seating is always an experience: in this case, we were in front of members of a team, so we heard specific comments about fighters and abilities as well as fighting instructions from them to the fighters. The best shouts were, “Go Mommy! Go!”, directed to Dagmar Glasser in her fight against Sarah Newman. How often do you hear that?

 All fights were three two-minute rounds and varied from straight kickboxing to muay thai, without elbow strikes. All fighters wore headgear, boxing gloves, shin guards and foot guards.

There were no knock-outs, and all went to decision. The fights were all exciting: we had two womens’ fights and seven mens’. The womens’ fights had the excitement of Gina Carano’s matches. People DO like to see if the women have the same ability to strike as men.  Since I knew no one competing other than Adam, I tended to favour the people who had travelled a long way to attend and had few supporters. In the fight between Theodora Pistiolis and Danika Ellis, I was inwardly cheering for Danika as she was from Nova Scotia and Theodora was in her hometown. Danika gave Theodora an injury on her left cheek which required medical attention, but in the end, Theodora dominated.

Ryan Burgess, from Danika’s club was against Sylwester Organka of a Mississauga club. Organka won this match, but Burgess made him work for it, not giving up and landing some solid punches.

The next fight was again between someone from Nova Scotia, Micky Marshall, and Nenad Cvejic of Mississauga. What an exciting match, with both guys evenly matched and expending so much energy for the entire time! Marshall won, not taking anything from Cvejic, and I think this was the fight of the night.

Adam Hensen handily won his muay thai match against Patrick Pytlik in a unanimous decision. Wow, Adam’s good. When he had Patrick in the clinch, he was in control, with some devastating knees.

The above-mentioned Dagmar Glasser lost her match against Sarah Newman of the local Burlington club, with Newman having a height and reach advantage over the far shorter Glasser. Marco Capobianco’s (Burlington) match against Brian Cortu (Brockville) was again thrilling. Capobianco had high kicks and superior skills, but Cortu did not give up and fought through the full six minutes.

Next came the heavyweights, Robbie Wiseman, about 95 kilos, from Newfoundland (I should cheer for him) versus Sandy Pembroke, 108 kilos, from British Columbia. Wait a minute! They’re from the opposite sides of the country. Who do I cheer for now?  These guys put on a show. What a lot of energy from huge guys. There were a couple of moments when Sandy looked pooped (he had a bad nosebleed and a cut on the head), but then he came back. Wiseman won the match, but not easily.

The lightweights came next: Ross Mylet from the local Burlington club versus Derek Charbonneau from Hanover, Ontario, about two hours’ drive away. The Energizer bunny had nothing on these guys: Mylet was fantastic with high kicks and so much energy. A unanimous decision in his favour.

The last match of the night was between Brian Dickson of the Burlington club and Headley Hinds of the Mississauga club. Hinds tended to have his hands too low and yet would move forward. He seemed to get angry when Dickson clocked him and then would press the issue, still with his hands too low. Dickson backed up a lot, but he made some nice connections both with punches and kicks. Dickson got the win.

This was a very fun night and certainly worth the price of admittance. Live fights have an energy that you certainly can’t get from watching television in your living room. We’re very happy for Adam and congratulate all the participants.


January 25, 2009

Studying for/Working on Nidan Grading – Part 3

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Yesterday was to be a day (afternoon) of technical seminar in preparation for the grading today. The seminar was not a requirement, but we thought that it would be a good experience, especially for Mike, who had never been to a grading, nor had seen this dojo.

From 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., the senior judoka gave instruction and pointers to the people who were to be graded and their uke. It was intense and busy, with no breaks whatsoever.

Since we had been basically teaching ourselves how to do everything, with research on the web, Dave was relieved that we had no errors in technique. What we didn’t need, though, was the shinmeisho no waza, which had seventeen new throws. It turns out that this isn’t required until third degree.

At the appointed end time, instead of releasing everyone, the judges asked if any groups wanted to be tested on their kata right then. Numerous groups took the judges up on their offer. So while they were tested on kata, why not also just complete the grading? So instead of going back to the dojo for his grading today, Dave tested yesterday and other than official paperwork, he is now a nidan.   

Congratulations, Dave, and many thanks to Mike for all his hard work, thousands of breakfalls, and unfailing good humour.

Click here to go to Studying for/Working on Nidan Grading – Part 1

Click here to go to Studying for/Working on Nidan Grading – Part 2


January 18, 2009

MMA Matches January 2009

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

I’m really looking forward to some exciting matches in the next few weeks:

Denis Kang has been added to the UFC and will fight in UFC 93 this weekend. His background in MMA is mostly BJJ (black belt) and boxing. He has a fantastically strong history in Japan and Korea, having gone twenty-three fights undefeated. He trained with Georges St-Pierre in Montreal for a large part of 2008, so he should be in top shape. Kang is fighting Alan Belcher, a muay thai and BJJ guy. Both guys have had three losses in their last eleven fights, but Kang has won so many fights prior to the last two years, it will be interesting to see if he can get back up there, to the exalted heights of the best MMA fighters.

Fedor Emelianenko is fighting Andrei Arlovski in the next Affliction fight on January 24. Fedor has an astounding record in his professional career: 28 wins, one loss and one no contest. He currently has twenty-five wins in a row. I hope Arlovski is in the best fighting shape of his career. Arlovski is 14-5-0 right now, with nine wins in his last eleven fights.  His two losses were to Tim Sylvia, whom Emelianenko slaughtered in the last Affliction fight night.

Fedor’s background is sambo, judo and boxing, with his winning five of his last six fights by armbar. Arlovski is another sambo specialist, with training in kickboxing, BJJ, wrestling, and especially, boxing. It should be a good match.

On January 31, B. J. Penn is fighting GSP in UFC 94. The show is already sold out. Both guys are so talented that this fight has the potential to be the match of the year. Much as I don’t like monopolies, one of the advantages of having a monopoly, is to get what you want, in this case, having the ability to get the best guys to fight for you, so UFC has two great fighters here. Penn’s fight history is 13-4-1 with three losses in his last eleven fights. GSP’s stats are 17-2-0 with one loss in his last eleven fights. GSP is such a well-rounded MMA fighter and Penn is one of the best on the ground, that it promises to be an  exciting match.

These are just a few of the matches that are on in the next 2 1/2 weeks.  Too bad I don’t have a stake in Pay-Per-View.


January 14, 2009

Studying for/Working on Nidan Grading – Part 2

Monday, January 12th, 2009

This past Sunday was the last full training session that Dave and Mike will have before the nidan grading next Sunday.  Mike’s injury is better, but not perfect. Both guys seem to be thinking too much about their techniques, kata, and so on. 

Now that we’ve gone through all the requirements multiple times, such that some techniques are becoming muscle memory, we concentrated on small changes to make throws or breakfalls better. 

After walking through the kata once and then doing the full kata, incorporating the throws, we discussed what seemed to be problem areas. We set up our improvised crash mats again to work on the those throws and resulting breakfalls - ura nage, uchi mataharai goshisumi gaeshi, and kata guruma. Ura nage is the throw in which Mike was injured, so we wanted to ensure that there were no lingering problems. Dave also felt that he should be landing differently as he threw Mike, but we practiced many times and ended up doing the throw exactly the way we’d started. With uchi mata and harai goshi, Dave could do one side well. The other side had a crooked leg in both techniques, causing the uchi mata to look like hane goshi, while the harai goshi just didn’t work well. In both cases, hip placement was at issue and with minor changes moving in, the problems were corrected. With sumi gaeshi, Dave felt that he was falling to his side when this is a back sacrifice throw, so he threw himself a few times falling straight back and then threw Mike to ensure that he would retain that position with the uke.  With kata guruma (as with tsurikomi goshi, and ippon seoi nage) we worked on Mike’s maintaining a super-straight body which would make the throw and breakfall look better.

We videotaped one run-through of the kata and then watched the tape to determine if there were anything we had missed.  It looks better each time we tape. There are still minor problems, but since we don’t have our own dojo and cannot work on this every day, it’s going well.

After walking through the kata again, we went through ground techniques to give Mike a break. Basic judo throws and the shinmeisho no waza were next. There are three more partial sessions for the nidan grading training and then the weekend. JudoOntario is offering a technical seminar for grading participants on Saturday afternoon, which I think the guys will attend. The actual grading is on Sunday in a club about an hour from here. The last time Dave attended the gradings there (as uke for Chris’s shodan grading) there were four mat areas set up in order to do four gradings at once, two judges per grading. I’d love to be there to tape the grading for posterity, but there are no visitors.

Click here to go to Studying for/Working on Nidan Grading – Part 1

Click here to go to Studying for/Working on Nidan Grading – Part 3


January 13, 2009

Traditional Versus Non-Traditional Judo

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Over the last several weeks this topic has been ruminating in the back of my brain, partially because of a comment on judoforum after someone had accessed our brand new website.  This person who was a black belt in judo reacted in a somewhat negative way to our site: he stated that instead of showing judo going to MMA, it should be the other way around, i.e. MMA going to judo. This, of course, is not practical, or reasonable: mixed martial artists are by definition combining skills from multiple martial arts.  They would not go from many to one, unless that one (in this case, judo) were the martial art they started from.

Our club has always had an amalgam of other martial arts: Our previous sempai and sensei had interests ranging from wrestling to aikido. Chris Miller, whom you can see in a number of our videos, practiced kendo for several years. A few years ago, Chris’s wife, Hyekyong, was a member of our class. Her background is in hapkido. Dave practiced the jo for many years and is picking it up again.  We had a Korean fellow in our class for a few months who taught us the basics of taekwondo. We’ve all been to jiu jitsu clubs. Perhaps because of our exposure to these other disciplines, we are more apt to discard the judogi and apply our skills to mixed martial arts.

That does not mean that we have abandoned traditional judo. In fact, to advance in our club, no matter the judoka’s previous experience, he or she must follow the curriculum. If people are keen to learn judo and obtain the higher belts, then they must come to the requisite number of classes and be tested for each belt in succession.

If the class members are not interested in traditional judo on a particular day, we are fine with that as well. We teach and re-teach some traditional judo always, though. Breakfalls are crucial. Many people have come into our dojo saying they know breakfalls and that is definitely not the case. Throws and other techniques are taught the traditional way; however, non-traditional methods are also taught.

If a judo club teaches mostly sport judo, then the traditional judo is essential. The judoka who participate in tournaments must all have the same backgrounds in order to compete in the matches. Other than one person in our wee club, we do not compete. We get together to have fun, learn new techniques and practice old ones.

We rarely bow before the dojo or call Dave, “Sensei”, although we used to do both in our old club at Dalewood. I suspect this comes from two years in the Mouse Room. We have no set rules about judogi. If someone wants to come to class and has no gi or a white jiu jitsu top and black pants or any other variation, we’re OK with that. I’m sure that comment will grate on all those in judo-land who are fanatics about white gis (you know who you are). The point of our club is not to wear a certain garment, but to learn and participate. Eventually people serious about working on judo obtain judogi because they are hardy clothes and appropriate for judo techniques. We can show respect to Dave without bowing and calling him, “Sensei”. We can show respect to the dojo without bowing in and out. We do bow before randori or ne waza matches, though.

I’m not certain why North Americans and Europeans feel a need to be so Japanese and so traditional in their attitude in judo.  Judo really has not been around very long – 127 years – and yet we treat it and Jigoro Kano with a reverence that’s stifling. If judo is to continue, we must broaden our approach, let other ideas in, basically evolve the martial art. We can take the best of judo and use it in other areas, other disciplines. Traditional boxing is going the way of the dinosaur, being incorporated into mixed martial arts. I think that judo is far more complex than boxing and has far more to offer mixed martial artists; however, judo clubs must loosen the rules a bit. Even the English language adds new words continually; although some are stupid (e.g. “meh”), others embrace changing technologies and workplace situations (e.g. “upskill” – to learn new skills).

You know the old definition of tradition without change? It’s constipation. Change without tradition is not any better. It’s diarrhea. We are proposing to meld traditional judo into a non-traditional sport, that of mixed martial arts, using the best of both.


January 6, 2008

Studying for/Working on Nidan Grading – Part 1

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Dave is testing for his nidan in two weeks. By the time we checked the information on JudoOntario’s website, we had only six weeks to prepare, or wait another six months or more for the next grading. Mike is to be Dave’s uke, so Mike had to be proficient in all the curriculum as well.  Lots of work to do and not much time.

We’ve been getting together at the Hamilton School of Martial Arts every Saturday afternoon, and Sunday, when possible. Luckily both guys have had Christmas week off, so we’ve been able to go in almost every day.  I say “luckily” only in the sense that we’ve had the opportunity to practice everything, but Mike has been thrown hundreds of times for the grading, right after having been thrown thousands of times for this website.  I think he needs a break.

For those of you who do not know what’s involved in a judo grading, imagine having to know and perfect all the throws, ground holds, joint locks and chokes, as well as having to learn the kata. For first degree, the kata comprises nine throws, thrown right and left side. For second degree (the grading Dave is doing), the kata is fifteen throws, both sides. Second degree also incudes nineteen additional throws, known as shinmeisho no waza.

The person being tested must have a partner, so his partner must know everything as well. In order for the throws to look good, the partner, uke, has to do good breakfalls. When being tested on ground techniques, uke must know what position to be in, in order for the technique to be applied. In a number of cases, uke initiates the technique. During the kata, uke attacks tori or pushes tori, depending on the throw. In most of the shimmeisho no waza, uke attacks tori and tori retaliates.

As you can see, uke’s role is crucial to the grading. We thought six weeks was perhaps too short a time, but Dave wanted to go for it, and Mike was willing. Since Mike had been involved in almost all the videos for this website, we all felt that we had already spent three months toward studying for the grading.

The grading is now two weeks away, literally. Both guys are exhausted, so today is a day off. They will only be able to get together another half dozen times before the grading, but the major obstacle is surmounted and now we’re on fine points and little errors.

Our most serious problem was, and is, an injury that Mike sustained about a week and a half ago. While being thrown with ura nage, Mike’s arm got trapped under Dave’s back and his body kept sliding. He ended up with a pinched nerve in his shoulder and an understandable fear of this throw. For several sessions, we walked through the throw, or did the kata, and did not throw the ura nage.  We had brainstorms: what are we doing wrong with the throw in order for Mike’s arm to be trapped? How do we practice the throw if Mike can’t be thrown? What if Mike’s not better by the day of the grading?

Eventually, two days ago, we came up with making a crash mat (there isn’t one in the club) using very old velcroed mats, piling them up and tying them together with belts (all those sailor knots came in handy). In addition, after some research, we decided that the way we’d been doing the throw over the years was slightly off, more to the back than the side, causing Dave to trap Mike’s arm. So Dave practiced his revised throwing technique and Mike practiced the breakfalls on the new crash mat. By half-way through the second day, we had no need of the crash mat and the guys were doing the throw full force on the normal floor. Mike’s arm is no longer trapped, now that we’re doing the throw from the side, and his injury is not impacted. We’re all relieved.

For the last few sessions, I’ve been videotaping the kata. We’ve all been critiquing it, and for the next couple of practice sessions, Dave and Mike will work on their individual and combined areas of concern. Next weekend we will have two long sessions comprising all the techniques which could be called upon for the nidan grading. There’s still lots to do, but our major problem has been solved.

Click here to go to Studying for/Working on Nidan Grading – Part 2

Click here to go to Studying for/Working on Nidan Grading – Part 3


January 4, 2009

Afterword: We found out when Dave was tested (see Part Three [or Drei for the Germans out there] of this series), that the shinmeisho no waza was NOT required for nidan. We’ll certainly be ready for it next time around! ayjay, Feb., 2009