Posts Tagged ‘black belt’

Studying Judo for Shodan Grading – Pt 1

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

I debated writing about this mostly because I thought I wouldn’t go through with it, it wasn’t really important to me, etc., but I am studying/working toward my shodan grading in judo (first degree black belt) later on this year. I’ve had my brown belt for ten years and have always felt that I couldn’t do this for many reasons, not the least of which are that I’m not young and have only bigger men to throw.

For those of you who do not know what the grading entails, I’ll summarize: competency in all forty throws, eight of which will be asked for; competency in all groundholds, chokes and joint locks, three each will be asked for; performance of the first three sets of the kata, which involves nine throws from a stylized walk, both right and left side. In order for a person to be graded, he or she must have a partner to throw and do the techniques on. The grading is in front of a board of as many as five judges, with all the other competitors watching as they await their turn.

I have never really wanted or needed this, but Dave is determined that I should grade, especially after he did his nidan grading with Mike. Both of them came out of there stating that both Mike and I should go for our own gradings. So on Friday nights, about half way through the class, Mike and I pick an area on the mats and we walk through the kata, doing some of the throws, and in recent weeks, we have been working our way through the gokyo, the main forty throws of judo. Mike will be my uke (partner) for my grading and for Mike’s grading, Dave will be his uke.

Since we had been in The Mouse Room for two years and I had a badly sprained ankle for another two (in which I couldn’t do any throws at all), I have had at least four years out of the last six in which I haven’t been able to do anything substantial. Some of the throws are ugly: it’s very difficult to start a throw and then stop to correct your position or foot placement and far easier to just do the throw no matter what it looks like. The trouble is that I don’t want to injure myself by attempting a throw in which Mike is not sitting on my hip or back correctly (my sprained ankle resulted from an ippon seoi nage on Dave when I wasn’t warmed up and had had two months off). It takes forever to heal. There are throws which I am good at, mostly sacrifice throws, meaning that I throw myself to the ground to do the throw. There are others which are difficult for me, mostly leg techniques with my back to uke, requiring standing/pivoting on one foot and sweeping the other leg. I seem to have difficulty getting my foot deeply enough between his feet in order to sweep easily. When I do manage, the throws work quite well. I’m just not consistent yet.

We have been doing the kata walk-throughs for perhaps six sessions and the throws by themselves for three. Since I’m, as I said, not young, and shorter and lighter than Mike, Dave suggested that for kata guruma (shoulder wheel or more commonly known as fireman’s carry) I merely step into position to show that I know how to do the entry to the throw and then step out, and do the same for the other side. During last week’s practice, I wanted to try to lift Mike, but thought he would freak: it’s hard enough being thrown with that throw if the person is bigger than you – you’re being thrown head-first from the height of your partner’s shoulders, the taller tori is, the farther uke is being thrown. Yesterday, I told Mike that I’d like to try to lift him, and did – I actually held him on my shoulders for a couple of seconds. I didn’t do the throw as I wasn’t in a perfect position, but I lifted him onto my shoulders and held him there securely. Yay! So even if I don’t actually do the judo shodan grading, I now know that I can do the most difficult requirement in judo (at least from my perspective).

Click here to go to Studying Judo for Shodan Grading  – Pt 2


April 11, 2009