Posts Tagged ‘judo’

It’s The Little Things – Pt 1

Friday, February 1st, 2013

When learning anything new, there can be times when you’ve got sensory overload — too much to remember: do this, do that, don’t do that, watch how I do it or he does it. When you’ve finally learned how to do a technique, a throw or arm bar or other technique, there are still things to learn: my opponent just did this and I couldn’t do my technique, or how do I make it work from this angle, etc.

When teaching judo, after the basic technique is learned, we work on the fine points, the details, the little things, which make the technique stronger, more efficient. I don’t propose that I’m an expert on anything, but if I can do a technique by applying small manoeuvres, then so can anyone.

Years ago we used to do a demonstration to our class to show how little space was required to turn yourself over from a ground hold.  Someone would grab a plain kitchen chair and another person would lie face down on the mats, with arms by the side, and the chair placed on top of, straddling, the judoka. The judoka would turn over while still under the chair.  It’s not fast and can be awkward trying to move your arms and shoulders while trapped, but a little at a time and, voila, you’re facing the ceiling. We proved that you don’t need much space to turn over (basically the width of your own body),  just patience and working a little at a time.  With some practice, this becomes smooth and easy — it makes a huge difference in being able to escape ground holds.

When learning throws, there are of course those gorillas out there who are so strong they manhandle their opponents; it’s less finesse and more brute strength. For everyone else (although a little finesse for the big guys makes for much better technique), we work on the little things: jutting the hips out past uke’s on hip throws, stepping in deeply between his legs for forward throws, gripping a certain way, pinky in the air for ippon seoi nage, looking over there during your throw.  All the little touches bring other factors into play during throws.

For hip throws, “jutting your hips past uke’s” gives far better leverage; you should be able to lift him just using your hips and bending your knees. Once the arms and grips come into play, he’s a goner.  “Stepping in deeply between uke’s legs” for forward throws actually places uke off-balance forward; he’s going to fall with far less effort on your part. “Changing grips” on the gi (or the arm, for non-gi throws) may give you better purchase, and may also allow your forearm or whole arm to be used. The “pinky in the air for ippon seoi nage” forces you to hold your throwing arm high, allowing for a stronger and wider turn of the arm. “Looking over there” during your throw forces your head to move, thereby moving your torso. The throw becomes far stronger when you use your core.

I’ve been studying judo for fifteen years and there’s lots more to learn.  It really is amazing how much of a difference the fine details, the little things, make in helping our techniques work.

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 1 Addendum

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 2

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 2 Addendum

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 3

ayjay

December 11, 2008

It’s The Little Things – Pt 2

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Ground holds look relatively simple: one guy is on the bottom, another on the top, and the guy on top holds an arm or squashes a chest or some other body part.  In reality, they are complex placements of tori’s body on uke’s. If one or more of the placements is wrong, the ground hold doesn’t hold. An example: if tori is holding uke with kesa gatame (scarf hold), with or without a gi, and doesn’t have the arm just so – tightly above the elbow — uke can bend his arm and get it free, the first step to an escape.

The little things are vital during application of chokes. While applying okuri eri jime, for instance, if you don’t have your thumb deeply inside the collar — to the back of uke’s neck, even — the choke may not come on, or will take longer and more effort on your part to apply. 

Arm bars are very difficult to learn for the novice. In juji gatame, the thumb has to be up, your hips have to be almost on his shoulder; you try to bring your knees together, and so on. If some of the individual elements are missing, the arm bar may not work or take too long to work, and in a match, time is limited.

And so, we work on the little aspects of the technique in order to perfect it and make it part of the student’s arsenal.

We may study a technique dozens of times over a year. Partly that has to do with new people, but as senior members of our club, we still practice the techniques we’ve been using for years. Every once in a while, there’s something new that someone has figured out, some little element which makes the technique better. This applies to everything in traditional judo or MMA judo, right down to the breakfalls.

We are not sport judo people and only one member of our club attends (and wins at) tournaments. We like the learning and the practicing. There’s lots to learn.

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 1

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 1 Addendum

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 2 Addendum

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 3

ayjay

December 12, 2008

How to Escape from Kesa Gatame (Scarf Hold) – Escape #1

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

There are quite a few effective methods of escaping kesa gatame (scarf hold). All of them require some effort on your part and lots of practice. When we teach these escapes, we have the partners trade places, putting the ground hold on and then escaping from it. In order for these escapes to become innate, I suggest doing many practice sessions and going back to basics on occasion, just to refresh your memory.

Escape #1:

1. As you realize the ground hold is being put on, take the arm that your opponent is grabbing and force the elbow to the floor. The elbow acts like a stopper: your opponent can only move so far, because you have planted your elbow there.

2. Move onto your side.

3. Grip your opponent’s belt (if he is wearing a gi) or grasp the area by his hip.

4. Lift your opponent a little at a time. Each time you lift, get your hips and legs closer to him. The objective is to place your bottom leg under his legs and your hip under his hip. Eventually you will have him on the center of your mass, able to move him to one side or the other. When that happens, you will be able to escape.

5. Once you have turned your opponent over, go into your own kesa gatame.

6. Repeat the escapes and ground holds.

The crucial parts of this escape are: posting the elbow, getting onto your side and lifting the opponent until he is on the center of your mass.

Click here to go to Escape from Kesa Gatame #1

Click here to go to the Drill for Escape from Kesa Gatame #1

Click here to go to How to do Kesa Gatame (Scarf Hold)

For additional Escapes from Kesa Gatame, click here

ayjay

June 10, 2009

How to do Kesa Gatame (Scarf Hold)

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Of all the ground holds, this is my favourite. Kesa gatame (scarf hold) looks as though you are doing virtually nothing, but, if applied correctly, is very strong and difficult to escape from. It can be applied with or without a gi as well, so lends itself to MMA, jiu jitsu and grappling matches. This article will cover the basics of this ground hold. The next article will cover a few escapes from kesa gatame.

If you and your partner are wearing gis and you are tori (applier of the technique):

1. You are on the ground at tori’s right side. Place your right arm across uke’s (the receiver of the technique) body and under his neck such that your forearm is flat against the floor. 

2. Grab the inside of his collar with your right thumb.

3. With your left hand, palm up, wrap your arm around his right arm, gripping the material of his gi in his armpit.  Your left arm must be above his elbow and tight against your body. If you are holding his arm correctly, he can bend his arm and cannot get out; incorrectly, he can bend his arm and pull it free.

4. Sit out on your right hip with your legs bent and relaxed. Your bottom leg (right) should be as high up toward his head as possible. Your left leg is about ninety degrees from the right.

5. Put your own head as close to the floor beside uke’s right ear as possible. This way he can’t place a hand or arm under your chin and peel you backward.

6. Put all your weight on the little toe of your right foot, the big toe of your left, and his chest.

That is the basic ground hold.  If uke moves, you move with him, keeping attached at the hip. Retain the leg positions, moving a little at a time. If you have to cross your legs to go onto your stomach, do so for as short a period of time as possible and then go back to being on your hip.

Variation 1 – An even stronger hold than this is to bring your right leg toward the hand which is holding his collar. Let go of his collar (Point 2 above) and grab your own knee. This is a very tight grip and works extremely well in no gi situations.

Also no gi: Instead of grabbing the material in his armpit – Point 3 above, you merely grab his muscles there. The important part here is to ensure that he cannot free his arm, so your arm holds his tightly above the elbow. Other than gripping uke’s body instead of the material, there is no difference. Click here to go to a video of Kesa Gatame with no gi.

Another variation for kesa gatame when wearing a judogi is the following: When you have moved your hand to grip the material in uke’s armpit (Point 3 above), continue moving your hand (still maintaining his arm tightly against your body) and grasp his far lapel instead of the armpit. When you sit out to complete the ground hold, the hold on the lapel compresses uke’s ribcage making breathing difficult. If you then grip your knee instead of putting your thumb in his collar, he’s toast. 

Kesa Gatame, or scarf hold, is named for the scarf-like look when tori’s arm wraps around uke’s neck. Since most of tori’s body isn’t touching uke’s it may look feeble. It is, however, extremely powerful and effective. You are immobilizing the head and shoulders of your opponent. Without his shoulders, he cannot lift himself off the floor. I’ve managed to hold down guys who outweigh me by about ninety pounds, so I know this hold works well.

Click here to go to a video of kesa gatame.

Click here to go to How to Escape from Kesa Gatame (Scarf Hold)  Escape #1

ayjay

December 11, 2009

Simple Takedown from the Ground

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Our classes are unusual: we begin by grappling for about an hour. A match could be five minutes or forty-five, if the pair want to keep at it. After we are finished grappling, Dave asks if anything came up during the fights which was interesting, difficult to get out of, or just fun which we can all practice.

This approach works well for us: we had structured classes for many years and found them stifling. The senior members of the club spent virtually all their time teaching the same techniques over and over and spent far too little time working on their own skills.

We assume that you know a certain amount when you come to our class. If we know that you are a novice, someone will monitor you during your workouts, but we will not cater exclusively to beginners. You can work with any of the senior people, all of whom have their own idiosyncrasies and styles, all worth working out with.

Mike looks like the average southern European guy until you’re doing groundwork with him. He’s wiry, agile, smiles throughout most of his matches and has his eyes closed most of the time. He’s not intimidated by fighting a much larger person, mostly because lots of the others are bigger. He takes his time to get to the stage where he can win. He’s a great person to grapple with.

Chris is much heavier and stronger than Mike and, on the ground or standing, doesn’t like to lose. If you get a submission on the ground from him or a point when standing, you’ve really earned it.

Dave is bigger than Mike and smaller than Chris. He’s extremely difficult to choke (his favourite phrase is, “It’s only pain.”) and can weasel his way out of almost everything. I heard that the jiu jitsu people have begun calling him “The Cyborg”, which he is anything but. When he’s grappling with people, and he realizes they are trying a particular technique, he’ll let them go for it as long as necessary. They have to have the opportunity to try techniques. If they don’t quite work, he’ll stop the matches, show them the correct hand, arm, leg placements, etc., and then proceed. He’s a very good teacher.

Now for the Simple Takedown from the Ground: Dave and Chris were demonstrating this last Friday. You and your partner are on your knees facing each other. You want the upper position, controlling your partner’s body. Grip his lapel (if wearing judogi) or arm, if no gi, with one hand. With the other hand/arm grasping his arm, pull yourself into him at an angle of close to 90 degrees: you want to finish shoulder to shoulder with him. Using the second hand, pull down on uke, placing your shoulder on top of his. You now have the superior position.

Points to note: The lapel grip usually isn’t easy to get. Grab it anywhere with one hand and work your way up with both hands until you have a good grip.

You really have to pull yourself in to him, not him to you. This is done at the same time as your moving 90 degrees to him.

Once you have the superior position, your shoulder on top of his and both hands gripping him tightly,  you can take uke down at will.

ayjay

May 3, 2010

It’s The Little Things – Pt 4

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Recently a new student in our class has been learning the first group of throws in anticipation of testing for his first belt.  This fellow is not especially tall, but really muscular and strong. The throws which he favours involve big movements – o goshi, koshi guruma, etc. – and which do not involve the little movements of many of the others.

Just because yellow is the first belt level in judo does not mean that the throws are easy. Many of the yellow belt throws are complicated and some may be the last which a student manages to do well. De ashi harai, if done well, is performed when tori sweeps out uke’s leg in the fraction of a second before the foot hits the floor. The throws which require tori to step in closely to uke (o uchi gari and ko uchi gari, for instance) when performed statically involve arm movements and multiple small foot movements. Ippon seoi nage and o goshi must have tori’s body placement just so in order to execute the forward throw properly.

This new student has difficulty with the small foot movements (he compares them to ballet movements). To throw uke with o uchi gari, tori steps in between uke’s feet strongly with his right foot, while pulling himself into uke at the same time. He then brings his back foot up behind the front foot (tee-ing up) in order to become balanced forward. The front foot then reaps uke’s left leg to the right.

These minute foot movements were driving this student to distraction. His gut instinct was to move the front leg and leave the back leg where it was, resulting in a very wide-legged, off-balance stance. In order to sweep the leg, he was even more off-balance (not forward, but backward) and the throw was not strong. It mostly consisted of his pushing uke. Granted, uke hit the floor, but that wasn’t the throw we wanted.

During competitions, throws are not static. Even during class randori, once all the movements have been learned, variations of body position are taken into account and the throw may not be traditional. Even the “push” variation I mentioned above might garner a point.

But, as we are still a judo club, and teach traditional judo (along with variations), students who wish to advance to other belt levels must know the traditional movements for throws and all other techniques.

We have many repetitions to do in order to get this student to learn the correct movements, which do not come naturally to him. When he performed the throw with the correct movements, the throw was strong and powerful. He was also balanced properly after the throw. Unfortunately doing a throw once doesn’t constitute learning it.  Any body movement which is to become muscle memory must be performed many, many times, and then still worked on and perfected.

One of the reasons judo is still an effective martial art is that there is always more to learn. There are variations of techniques which people have developed and are still developing – Judo is constantly evolving. Sometimes these variations are out of necessity because of body type or ability. Sometimes they come from having worked out with someone else and finding yourself in an unusual position and managing to weasel your way out by doing something new.

One of the reasons we love judo, and love teaching, is that we get to learn new stuff, too.

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 3

ayjay

January 5, 2010

Three Judo Hip Throws

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

At class last night, we had two new men attend, one who has been with the jiu jitsu club for several months and to our class a few times, and the other who had been with the jiu jitsu club only two weeks.  The second young man had had no previous martial arts experience other than those two weeks, during which he learned o goshi (major hip).

Since Jackie had worked on o goshi, Dave demonstrated three judo hip techniques: o goshi, tsurikomi goshi and koshi guruma. In all three cases, the hips jut out past uke’s hips, but the arms are in different positions.

O goshi seems straightforward until you have to get your hip well past uke’s. This is not a natural position, but if done well, a much smaller tori can easily lift uke and hold uke on his or her back without throwing. (I managed to do this with a man who outweighed me by about 100 lbs. to prove to my son’s girlfriend that you didn’t have to be big in order to throw a much bigger person.)  Mike and I were working with Jackie. Stepping in to o goshi and then not doing the throw is difficult, since your arm is around uke’s back and your body gets twisted, but once the movement continues and the throw happens, providing your hip is past uke’s sufficiently, it’s a very powerful throw. We spent most of the time trying to get the hips out far enough. The rest of the time we worked on the finer points of kuzushi, holding uke during the throw, turning one’s own head, and thereby the torso, to the left, and controlling uke during the breakfall.

In order to make tsurikomi goshi easier to do, instead of the straight arm, we did a version in which we hold the lapel with the right hand and move the right forearm under uke’s left armpit. The kuzushi (breaking the balance) and foot placement, etc., are all the same as in o goshi. When grasping the lapel and then moving the forearm under the armpit, we emphasized keeping a strong wrist, such that the wrist is not bent in any way. The wrist and forearm are all on one plane, acting as a lever, and become much stronger than if the wrist were bent. You are also less inclined to get the types of injuries we see in judo, such as hyper-extending joints. (We found this technique is crucial in tai otoshi – tori uses the entire forearm in the throw versus merely the hand.)

For koshi guruma, we did a kneeling version, with the hip out even farther than the other two throws. It looks like a wrestler’s hip throw, with tori’s hips ending up almost 90 degrees to the side of uke’s. Tori wraps his right arm around uke’s shoulders, and when stepping in, steps with his right foot normally, and with the left, very deeply between uke’s feet. Tori then twists his hips well past uke’s, drops down on the right knee, while turning his head to the left. Uke goes flying over the hips and back of tori.

When I did this, I naturally ended in a kesa gatame (scarf hold) position afterward. Others stayed on their right knees and brought the other knees down, while maintaining control with the hands. Since this throw is low to the ground and you have uke wrapped up so tightly from the beginning, this throw lends itself very well to MMA. There are so many positions you can be in afterward. Once you have your arm wrapped around your opponent’s shoulders and are controlling his left arm, even if he stuffs the hip throw, you are in control of his upper body. You can change to a number of other throws in which you can get him to the ground.

We worked on three similar, yet different, judo hip throws. The arms were in different positions, as were our bodies: during o goshi we had our arms around our opponents’ waists; tsurikomi goshi involved  having our right elbows under uke’s left armpit; koshi guruma had us on our right knees with our right arms tightly wrapped around uke’s shoulders. All of the hip throws were very powerful and effective.

ayjay

February 7, 2009

Stuffing an Ippon Seoi Nage Attempt

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Ippon Seoi Nage is the one arm shoulder throw, which when performed well, looks spectacular, and will give tori the ippon, meaning the full point to win a match.

There are ways in which to prevent the throw, though, and we practiced several exercises to stop the throw.

The first manoeuvre involves blocking tori’s (the giver of the throw) body as he turns in to do the throw. Extend your hand to block his torso. To ensure that your own arm doesn’t get jammed, move to the side as you block.

Second manoeuver: As tori presents his back to do the throw, literally jump out of the throw, moving over his back toward the side he has grasped your arm. He needs to be directly in front of you to accomplish the throw with his back to you, so you are moving out of the way, even though he has your arm.

The third manoeuvre:  As tori presents his back, move out of the way of the throw in the opposite direction, to the side he is not holding your arm. He will still have your other arm, but cannot throw you with ippon seoi nage as, again, he needs to be directly in front of you, with his back to you.

The fourth manoeuvre: As tori begins turning in to you, step strongly forward with your left leg, drop your weight a few inches and simultaneously thrust your left hip out to impact tori’s hip and stop his rotation.  This effectively blocks him from completing his rotation and will put him off balance to his rear, creating an excellent opportunity for follow-up counter throws.

These simple exercises may not always work to stuff the throw, but may give you an out to try something of your own.

ayjay,

May 3, 2010

Counters to Juji Gatame

Friday, May 18th, 2012

We had an additional classes during the holidays, taking advantage of the fact that the club was closed. Among the techniques we covered was Ude Hishigi Juji Gatame , the counters to juji, and counters to the counters. Of course, there are many variations of the joint lock and of the counters. This article covers only a few and only for the prone position.

Ude Hishigi Juji Gatame, commonly called Juji Gatame, or even juji, to the irritation of traditional Japanese judoka and the Kodokan, is Cross Arm Lock, a very strong arm lock which can be applied from the ground lying prone (facing up or down), kneeling, or even standing.

A previous article coveredBreaking the Hold in Juji Gatame.  To break the hold, tori must move uke’s arms in order to change the hand grip. There are multiple ways to break the grip so that you can extend uke’s arm and get the joint lock and the tap out.

A counter to the joint lock: Assume you know your opponent is about to try the juji on you. You are prone, on your back. He is in the process of putting his legs on you, but has not yet grabbed your arm securely or placed his leg over your head.

With the arm that he would lock out, grab your other arm above the elbow (on your bicep), and bend that arm, lifting it up above and close to the side of your head. As your partner moves his leg to place it over your face, your arm causes his leg to slide off. Immediately grab that leg and pull it under your head and put your weight on it. His leg is now trapped. Even if he manages to get your arm to attempt the joint lock, he no longer controls your head and the joint lock becomes ineffective as you can now move your head and torso, turning towards him and onto your stomach, escaping the lock.

Another counter is so simple it’s unbelievable. Mike showed this one to me as we practiced the various techniques. You are lying prone again. Your partner is about to try the juji on you. Take the hand which he would grab to do the joint lock and place it flat on your chest UNDER the leg which is on your torso. As he grabs your arm to lock out the joint, your hand is stuck like glue to his leg so that he is lifting not just your hand and arm, but his own leg as well. He might not even realize what is happening as this is such a subtle technique. It may not last for long, just long enough for you to manoeuver into another position and out of danger.

Click here to go to the video of Breaking the Grip in Juji Gatame

ayjay

January 4, 2009

Breaking the Hold in Juji Gatame

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Our classes normally begin with lots of grappling to warm up (not your standard warm-up, for sure). I was watching two guys, one a lightweight, the other significantly bigger, maybe middleweight, as they went from one move to the next.  Lightweights move so quickly, but patience can pay off.  The lightweight had the beginnings of a juji gatame on the other fellow, but couldn’t break the hand hold and gave up immediately, moving on to something else.

When Dave asked if there were anything we wanted to cover after all the grappling, I suggested breaking the grip of your opponent in order to effect the juji. (Chris had had kakure garami applied to him during his match with Dave, so he wanted to cover that: click to see Kakure Garami, our version of kesa garami).

Dave showed two methods to break the opponent’s hand grip: one I can describe; the other, although perfectly effective and easy to execute, is too complicated to explain. It is, however, on the video clip link at the bottom of this article.

The simplest method of breaking your opponent’s hand grip to get a juji gatame:

You are on your back (perpendicular to your opponent) with one or both legs on your opponent, applying as much weight and pressure as you can. Your hips are as close to his shoulder as is possible. You have both arms grasping his near arm and are trying to pull his arm straight. You can’t have a better position for this arm bar; however, your opponent is no fool and has clasped his hands together and is holding on for dear life. What happens is that as you pull his arms, his clasped hands and arms are effectively in a straight line, ninety degrees from yours, and his hands remain together. Try it.

What you need to do is break the straight line. This can be accomplished in a few ways, the easiest being to let go of his arm with one of yours (making sure your other arm keeps his solidly hooked); then use your free arm to reach for his far arm and pull his arm strongly towards you.  Next, place both of your legs, slightly crossed, at about the far tricep to ensure he doesn’t move his far arm back into the old position. Now his arms are no longer in a straight line, his hands are not grasped anywhere near as securely as before and his arm cannot move back to the previous position.

In addition to pulling your own arms toward your chest to attempt to break his grip, you can fall to your side (generally towards his head). This also breaks the straight line aspect of the hand hold. Once his hands are loose, you can pull his arm away and straighten it for the juji, moving from your side to the standard juji position. When pulling the arm straight, ensure that you have his thumb pointed to the sky.  If he has his thumb pointed to the side, you are fighting his bicep, one of the strongest muscles in his arm. Turning the thumb to the sky, causes the forearm muscles to work, smaller and weaker muscles. Click to see the basic Ude Hishigi Juji Gatame technique.

In order to break the hold in juji gatame, you need not be stronger than your opponent, but to apply simple strategies to enable his hands to separate.

Click here to go to the Breaking the Grip in Juji Gatame video

ayjay

February 16, 2009