Posts Tagged ‘judo’

Why We Still Practice Judo

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Those of you who have read our biographies, real and fake, found elsewhere on this website, will know that Dave, Chris, Mike and I have been at judo for years. I am the novice at just under seventeen years; Chris and Dave joined our old judo club over twenty-one years ago. Mike joined the club a couple of years after Dave and Chris. Our personalities are quite different from one another. What we have in common is learning, and working at, judo.  

Dave learns techniques by watching them. He then practices them until they become muscle memory. I envy this ability. I have to practice, read, read some more, and practice many more times before the techniques become ingrained. Judo lends itself to both ways of learning, whether the techniques are throws, joint locks, ground holds, or chokes. The common denominator in both methods of learning is the practicing. In order to have a throw happen fluidly and spontaneously, or a ground technique easily contribute to a win, you have to do the technique many, many times.

We have some of our MMA no gi videos on YouTube. Some of the comments have stated that no one would ever do that technique or put himself in the position where this technique could be applied. The purpose of the videos and learning any technique is to have that technique, whatever it is, available to you when you are in a match, in your club or in a tournament. After practicing something, a difficult throw or choke, over and over, next when you are next fighting someone, that throw, that choke, whatever, is available to you without thought or hesitation. You’ve already done it in practice dozens (hundreds?) of times; you don’t have to think about it – it’s just there. 

A perfect example of this is kakato jime, with judogi, and without .  (Check out our own version of this choke for something a little different! kakure kakato jime) Looking at this statically, you might consider this an impossible position to get in: your opponent wouldn’t let this ever happen to him. In fact, we had a comment asking what stops uke from getting up to his knees. Granted Dave is showing the choke and his uke is letting the choke be applied. In reality, last Sunday, Dave was doing groundwork with Mike and managed to get a tap out using this very choke. He said they rolled around and around with Dave’s fighting to finish with juji gatame, and suddenly, the opportunity presented itself. Mike was fighting the arm grip and forgot about Dave’s legs. Dave had his legs in the correct position, and he was then in perfect kakato jime position.  Dave didn’t have to think about what to do with Mike’s arm, with his own legs; he knew instinctively what to do.

When learning throws, the white belts learn the basics. All other belts, though, do the same throws. They are refined and applied in conjunction with other throws, but they are the same throws. The difference between the white belts and experienced judoka is the practicing and refining, understanding what your body is doing, or needs to do, what uke’s body needs to do, in order to accomplish a beautiful throw. After having thrown your fellow judoka hundreds and thousands of times with throws and variations of those throws, the throws become available to you when you need them. Those foot sweeps are a surprise both to you and your opponent, they happen so easily; the kneeling ippon seoi nage is successful because you are under uke so quickly that he has nowhere to go but over your back. None of this would have been possible without the practice sessions.

Practicing techniques day after day, week after week, is hard work. The white belts sometimes complain that they have already learned that technique. Those of us who have been around a while know that judo is a lifetime’s learning, with always more to learn, another technique to practice and refine. Having a technique which is unusual, such as the kakato jime, or the kneeling seoi nage, or one of my favourites, yoko wakare, come to you as you are  fighting in randori or ne waza, is a great feeling, a moment of perfection, that “Wow!” moment, which makes all those practice sessions worthwhile and helps to explain why we come back to practice yet again.

How To Escape from Kata Gatame – Escape #1

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

In a previous article I talked about How To Do Kata Gatame – Shoulder Lock or Hold/Arm Triangle. This article will cover the first Escape from Kata Gatame, a seemingly easy manoeuvre which very few people attempt. 

Assume someone has you in Kata Gatame:

1) Grasp your own trapped arm, with your free hand, at or above the elbow. (Note: you may have to suffer a few seconds with the hold/choke.)

2) Still grasping your arm, push against your opponent’s body with your trapped arm. Simultaneously, bend your knees and “walk” yourself away from your opponent. You will not be moving him if his hold on you is strong, but you will be able to move yourself a bit. This will enable you to generate some space between your trapped arm, your neck, and his shoulder, giving you the opportunity to breathe a little easier and work toward the next part of the escape. In addition, your walking away from him will cause his body to flatten out making it even more difficult for him to continue the ground hold.

3) Now that you have created the small gap between your arm and his trapezoid and shoulder, while continuing to push against your opponent with your previously trapped arm, use your free arm to grab your opponent’s elbow (the elbow of the arm which is under your neck). Vigorously and quickly pull it over your own head to escape. 

4) After you have removed his arm from around your neck, roll into your own ground hold or arm bar (our video shows waki gatame – armpit arm lock).

Click here to see the video of How to Escape from Kata Gatame – Shoulder Lock or Hold/Arm Triangle – Escape #1.

Click here to see the video of Escape #2 from Kata Gatame

ayjay

December 11, 2009

How To Do Kata Gatame – Shoulder Lock or Hold/Arm Triangle

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Kata Gatame is commonly called shoulder lock or hold or, in recent years, arm triangle. When applied, it can be painful, can choke and smother, and can result in a tap out.

The basic ground hold is straightforward:

To do a right-sided kata gatame,

1) Place your right arm under uke’s head at the same time as you take his right arm and move it across his face.

2) Put your head down beside uke’s, as close to the floor as possible, holding his right arm in place.

3) Grasp your left hand with your right. Do not interlace your fingers. Place your left hand palm up and put your right hand into it. (You can also do the hand clasp which involves the right thumb between the first and second fingers of the left hand – a very strong grip.)

4) Bring your right knee up to his waist.

5) Post your left leg out straight (on your toes) about 90 degrees from uke’s body. The higher up toward his head you can get your leg, the less likely he is to be able to escape. Make sure that your butt is low to the ground. If you need to flatten your right leg, do so, but without moving the knee from the waist of your opponent. The objective is to hold your opponent securely and still have as much of your own body weight away from him to ensure that he cannot topple you.

6) Take your right arm and torque it such that the side of your wrist bone is jutting into his spine under his neck. This is where the pain comes in.

7) Maintaining a strong grip with your hands and arms, move your arms together toward the left just a few degrees and move your body forward into uke to tighten the hold.

Uke’s own right arm aids in blocking the carotid artery on the right side of his head. Your right bicep will block the left carotid. On occasion, you might find that uke cannot breathe because his arm is covering his mouth and nose.

If uke manages to move a bit to attempt an escape, move your body, changing leg positions if need be, but once you have control again, go back to the correct position.

Kata Gatame is one of the first ground holds we learn in judo and one of the most powerful.

Click here to go to our Traditional Kata Gatame video

Click here to go to our video showing a transition from Kesa Gatame to Kata Gatame

ayjay

December 2, 2009

Side Mount Escapes – Escapes from Yoko Shiho Gatame and Kuzure Yoko Shiho Gatame

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Last Friday, Dave had the class practice escapes from Yoko Shiho and Kuzure Yoko Shiho Gatame (kuzure means variation), the side four quarter ground lock or hold.

One major beef of mine is with fighters who get pinned on their backs – deliberately or in error – and can’t get out. They will get pounded, elbowed, and basically, clobbered. In the years since the first UFC with the introduction of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we have had so many fighters lay on their backs and try to win from there. It was far worse the first few years when everyone followed the Gracies’ techniques to the letter, especially pulling guard. Since MMA fights tend not to have gis, pulling guard with the objective of sleeve chokes isn’t too practical. Pulling guard, being on the bottom, is not something to aim for: In BJJ rules, there are limited ways to gain points from that position, so you really want to get out of there. If you are there, through happenstance or deliberately, you want to get out from under your opponent. If nothing else, he can use gravity against you – he can lift his head and torso and just drop arms, hands, shoulders, and elbows on your head. If he is a strong ground and pound guy, and you are on the bottom, you may well be toast.

I know some of you love the guard, love crossing your ankles and holding the guy. You think you’re in control. In fact, the guy on top has the superior position and that’s where you want to be. If you’re on the bottom, in a BJJ match, get some points by sweeping your opponent and get out of there. Switch positions.

Dave Here - Note that you get points for getting OUT of guard, not for getting into guard.  Just that alone should tell you that it is not the desired position.  If one of the major objectives of your guard work is to achieve a sweep and get on top, then, logically, it is much better to just start on top in the first place!

Scenario: Your opponent has passed your guard and is in side mount: Practice the escapes from yoko shiho gatame and kuzure yoko shiho gatame. Chances are that the side control will be a kuzure (or variation), but the escape is similar for each variation. In judo, of course, we see the traditional and kuzure yoko shiho gatame as well.Click here to go to two escapes from yoko shiho gatame. Click here to go to escape from kuzure yoko shiho gatame.

Depending on how you learn, you may pick these up quickly and be proficient immediately. Others, such as I, may take a while to learn the new techniques, to incorporate them into muscle memory.

Crucial points for these escapes: For Yoko Shiho Gatame escapes, trap your opponent’s arm between your legs; move your body, not his, to lengthen and break his grip; facilitate the roll by pushing his head under your back (prevents him from posting with his forehead and also protects his head and neck). For Kuzure Yoko Shiho Gatame escapes, move onto your side and go under your opponent (this enables more of his mass to be on your center of gravity, making it easier to turn him); again, facilitate the roll and protect his head and neck by pushing his head under your back; if he has an arm behind your neck, trap his arm by pushing onto it with your own neck.

Practice these escapes with a partner, back and forth. You will get into slightly different positions each time, going from the escape to your own ground hold.

 ayjay

November 13, 2009

Strikeforce/M1-Global Fedor vs Rogers

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

The Strikeforce/M1-Global event of November 7, 2009 was live on network television. The main event was a match between heavyweights Fedor Emilianenko and Brett Rogers. The UFC had tried to get Fedor to fight for them, but Fedor wanted to have a joint event with M1-Global. The UFC refused. That is unfortunate. Last night’s fights were in a huge venue which looked sold out. Of the four fights, three were exciting, one not so much.

The first match-up was between heavyweights Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva. Werdum is a BJJ guy with a record of 12-4-1. Six of his wins were by submission and he has had four knockouts. His speciality is the single leg take down. Silva, at 263 lbs., is about twenty pounds heavier than Werdum, with a four inch reach advantage. With a background in Muay Thai and BJJ, Silva’s record of 13 and 1 contains nine knockouts and three submissions.

Their three round bout went the distance with Silva not wanting to go to the ground. When he had the option, he stood up and waited for Werdum to get up too. Round 1 had Silva striking Werdum solidly, knocking him down and letting him get up. Werdum applied some inside leg kicks to Silva’s lead leg. At the buzzer, Werdum was down again after receiving an elbow in the clinch.

Round 2 started with Werdum being knocked down immediately. Eventually Silva went to the ground, but Werdum turned him over and was in half guard. Silva got up and was taken down by Werdum who went from half guard to side control. When Silva snuck out, Werdum tried a knee bar.

Round 3 had both men throwing leg kicks and, when in the clinch, Werdum used his knees. Werdum then took Silva down and was on Silva’s back when Silva turtled. He twice kneed Silva’s chin and Silva struck Werdum in retaliation. When on the ground Werdum did some ground and pound from half-guard.

Unanimous decision in Werdum’s favour. 

Light heavyweight Gegard Mousasi was up next against Sokoudjou (who was called Terry twice). Mousasi’s record is 26-2-1 with fifteen knockouts and nine submissions. His background is boxing with his favourite technique being the jab. Sokoudjou has a record of seven and four with six knockouts. He has a black belt in judo and the leg kick is his favourite technique.

Round 1 began with Sokoudjou connecting with leg kicks. He then tried a take down and eventually threw Mousasi, after many strikes, with a hip throw that looked a lot like harai goshi but without the leg. After some ground work, Sokoudjou again threw Mousasi, this time with o soto gari. The men went through a variety of arm bar and choke attempts including a Kimura (ude garami) and a front naked choke (hadaka jime).

Round 2 started in the clinch with Mousasi applying an elbow and many knees. He then threw multiple strikes and knees again. Then Mousasi did the world’s slowest take down with Sokoudjou ending up in half guard. Mousasi then rolled him over and began his ground and pound which Sokoudjou couldn’t answer. Referee stoppage.

The next bout was between middleweights Jake Shields and Jason Miller. Miller came out with cheerleaders, almost getting clocked by one as he danced by. Now that would have been funny. Both these men have loads of experience, with over twenty wins each. Shields, a black belt in jiu jitsu, is much shorter (6″?) than Miller and his reach is five inches less than Miller’s. He specializes in wrestling using the single leg take down. He had won ten of his twenty-three wins by submission and went into the fight with twelve straight wins. Miller practices what he calls “slap boxing” and loves the jab. Their fight was a championship match set for five rounds.

During this fight, the audience booed a great deal. The bout went the distance so there was lots of opportunity for boredom. Shields seemed in control for the entire fight except he wasn’t capable of completing anything. Miller rolled out of any situation which looked dangerous (Shields’s using his arsenal of submission techniques). At other times, after being taken down (many times!), Miller would be sitting up, his back to the cage, and Shields would wrap up Miller’s legs with his own and stretch them out. Then Shields would throw strikes to Miller’s side. During one of the breaks, Miller’s team yelled at him to do something at the fence.

Miller suplexed Shields at the end of round 1 and slammed Shields in a take down in round 3. At the end of this round, Miller had Shields in a very tight rear naked choke, but Shields lasted until the buzzer.

Rounds four and five had Shields taking Miller down several times and ending up in the scenario I mentioned. Round 5 had Shields on Miller’s back with a figure of four around Miller’s middle, so we thought that he could finally get his submission. As with all the other attempts to submit Miller, Miller rolled out of the hold.

Shields won by unanimous decision, but the audience found much of the bout boring. Perhaps they didn’t understand the level of technique required to attempt the submissions or to stuff them.  They seemed happier when the fighters were standing.

The main card, Fedor Emilianenko versus Brett Rogers, began just before 11 p.m. EST. We actually wondered if the show were going to end at 11 and, just as we talked about it, the television went black! The picture came on again some seconds later, luckily.

Fedor is light for a heavyweight at just under six feet tall and 232 pounds. Rogers is 6’4″ and 264 lbs. with a seven inch reach advantage. Fedor’s background is in sambo and judo, whereas Rogers’s is in boxing and muay thai. Fedor’s last loss was in 2000 and Rogers went into the fight undefeated with 10-0 consisting of nine knockouts and one submission.

Almost immediately, Rogers used a left jab to break Fedor’s nose. Even injured, Fedor took Rogers down twice in the round. While on the ground, in half guard or guard, Fedor did some ground and pound. Rogers held his own, though, on the ground and standing.

Round 2 had Fedor throwing a wide hook which connected. He and Rogers were in the clinch with Fedor throwing many strikes, all of which Rogers stopped. When they were at the center of the cage, Fedor threw a right which knocked Rogers to the floor. Fedor then jumped on Rogers to continue strikes. If Rogers had not moved his leg to block Fedor, he would have been pounded to unconsciousness. Fedor attempted a few other strikes, with Rogers just covering up. TKO Referee stoppage.

Rogers was very upset with himself for losing, but he showed that he deserved to be up there fighting the best in the world. Whereas Rogers looked fine afterward, Fedor had lumps on his forehead, a broken nose and a huge gash across the nose. Fedor said he was looking for an opening and found it in the way Rogers was standing. I expect, in future, Rogers will not stand like that. Rogers was quite keen to have a rematch. 

ayjay

November 8, 2009

p.s.The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 TUF10 guys should take lessons from the heavyweights we saw last night: the fights don’t have to be boring and the fighters had a variety of skills and excellent cardio. The rounds had only thirty seconds between them, yet the fighters did not looked completely exhausted, even those with injuries.

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

ayjay

April 11, 2009

Judo Throws for the Non-Judo Practitioner – Pt 1

Friday, March 13th, 2009

On occasion we have people attending our class from the jiu jitsu school, or whose backgrounds are in other disciplines, specifically to work on judo throws. They may or may not have had any exposure to judo throws before. We cater to their experience and skillsets, body type, and type of tournament they are entering and teach a few judo throws to add to their arsenal. 

Right now, we have a fellow training with us to help prepare for the NAGA world championships in New Jersey at the beginning of April, 2009.  His matches will begin from standing, so his main concern is taking someone to the ground with control and to land on the ground in control. We haven’t much time to work on the throws, so initially we are working on throws he is already familiar with and then will add perhaps another few to the mix which compliment his style.

Francisco has an extensive background in karate (3rd dan), although in recent years he has been doing BJJ. Since he is strong in karate, we are not concerned with outside leg techniques; he’s been doing these for almost fifteen years.

The start position for these matches is standing and, not unlike Greco-Roman wrestling matches, the competitors tend to bend from the waist, keeping their hips/legs away from each other while keeping their heads close together.  It seems that the most common strategy is for them to simply pull guard as soon as possible.

The opponents grasp one another’s gi collar or lapel and sleeve, sometimes both sleeves at the wrist. Since they are bent forward to begin with, we are working on throws that put the opponent off-balance even further, pulling him forward or attacking at awkward or unexpected angles.

Our philosophy is to win by throwing and acquiring a dominant top position, then maintaining that position while working toward a submission via choke or lock.  Check out the book Mixed Martial Arts Unleashed for an in-depth explanation as to why we feel this is best - we don’t have room in this article!

First off is seoi nage, which Francisco already knows. We are doing a variation on ippon seoi nage, one in which his back is exposed for as short a time as possible, but still allows him to control his opponent in the forward direction. He can do this from standing or dropping to his knees. He can either drop deeply between his opponent’s legs and throw forward, or move farther outside, such that he is on his knees well to the right of the opponent and then the throw is at an angle of about 90 degrees.  He still has a tight grip on the lapel or collar and the sleeve. As soon as he drops to his knees, he angles his right shoulder to the mat: this manoeuvre makes the throw very fast and powerful and also enables the opponent to roll without drilling his head into the floor.  Since he still has control of the lapel and sleeve, he can move quickly into a hold of some kind.  We’ve also added a number of simple entries to this throw for him that involve combinations and action/reaction sequences in order to make the throw more likely to succeed.

Francisco has also used tomoe nage with good success, so we are again doing a variation of tomoe nage, but having Francisco end up on top, in the superior position. Tomoe nage is the high circle throw, in which you drop to your back while placing your foot beside your opponent’s hip or in their stomach. In the movies, you see this done with a powerful leg extension, propelling the opponent up and a long way away from the thrower.  Since we want to stay attached and wind up on top, we’ve modified this so that the leg doesn’t really kick him or even straighten out; it is used to direct him up and over. The arms are more instrumental in the direction. In Francisco’s case, we are also working on hooking the opponent’s leg either with Francisco’s hand or free leg, so that as his opponent goes over, Francisco stays attached to him, rolls with him, and lands on top.

Tawara gaeshi and sumi gaeshi can be executed the same way: as your opponent goes over your head, hook his leg with either your own leg or your arm (or hand), so that you remain attached and go over as well. You will end up on top of him and can immediately go into a groundhold.

There is also yoko tomoe nage, side high circle throw: You use your outside leg, (assuming you are holding one of your opponent’s arms, the outside leg would be the leg further away from him) planting your foot sideways onto his stomach. At the same time, you drop to your back, twisting such that you are about ninety degrees to his body. You can throw your opponent to one side of your body or the other depending on how much he is fighting the throw and/or how deeply you manage to get under him – either way allows you to end up on top.

Another throw which lends itself well to this starting technique of heads close together is a variation of o soto gari, sort of a combination o soto gari and koshi guruma - o soto gari’s leg movement and koshi guruma’s arm placement. If you’re doing a right-sided version, give your opponent a slight jolt to his right, causing him to try to straighten up, then go in at an angle while wrapping your right arm around his shoulders and your left hand tightly grasping his right sleeve. Sweep out his far leg with your right leg and go down to the ground with him.  He’s already in a groundhold when he lands.

 We have also worked on sasae tsurikomi ashi, propping drawing ankle throw: you grasp your opponent’s lapel with your right hand in order to lift his torso, while simultaneously blocking his right ankle and pulling the right sleeve horizontally to the left. As he falls, move your right arm around his shoulders and go to the ground with him. Change the grip on his sleeve as well. You will be in a groundhold (kesa gatame) right away.

Although Francisco has had experience with a few judo throws, non-judo practitioners can pick up these variations of judo throws and handily use them when needed. For videos of judo throws with gi, go to the Traditional Judo section of this website; videos of no-gi judo throws may be found in the Judo for MMA section of this site.

Click here to go to Judo Throws for the Non-Judo Practitioner - Pt 2

ayjay

March 13, 2009

I Can’t Do That Judo Technique Because…

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

When I was first learning judo, not only was I older and shorter than every other adult in the class, I had never done anything remotely like this before. I studied lots of judo books and paid close attention in class, asked lots of questions, practiced everything we were shown and still could not do many things. I became frustrated when I couldn’t accomplish a technique easily, or as easily as others in the class.

As I became more involved in the classes and realized my abilities, I learned to compensate for size differences such as height, weight, and body mass.  Traditional judo throws are taught a certain way; however, if you are five foot two, how can you be expected to hoist that six foot guy onto your shoulders to do kata guruma? If you have arthritis in your fingers, how can you do those chokes which involve grasping the lapels and collars? If you have short legs, how can you do a figure-of-four around your opponent’s torso for do jime (body choke)? If your opponent is barrel-chested, how do you accomplish tate shiho gatame (full mount position) without being tossed to the side?

We all must show proficiency in techniques in order to attain our belts in judo; however, in randori, whether tachi waza or ne waza (standing or ground techniques), when fighting with another person, there are no rules as to which technique you may use. That is when you employ those techniques which suit your body type, body mass, height and weight.

I tend to dwell on those judo techniques which I do well and alter the way I do those techniques which don’t come naturally or, for whatever reason, are difficult to do. For example, my throwing Dave with kata guruma (shoulder throw or fireman’s carry): we do a version in which I have one knee on the ground the whole time. I don’t stand up; I wouldn’t be able to anyway. Rob is so strong that kata guruma is child’s play to him, so it suits him completely.

If you are very tall, throwing a short person with forward throws, such as seoi nage or o goshi, may be extremely difficult; getting low enough to be under uke’s center of gravity may be uncomfortable or impossible. Backward throws may suit far better, such as, o soto gari (major outer reaping), o soto guruma (major outer wheel) and many others. Foot techniques are ideal for those among us with big flippers.

The arthritis means that I can’t choke people with the gi, but hadaka jime (naked choke) and others are fair game.

That short-legged fellow who can’t do the figure-of-four in order to do do jime dwells on his abilities: he’s very strong and agile and despite his short legs has developed little manoeuvres and holds (ankle locks, for instance) when grappling that more than compensate for the techniques which he cannot do and make him extremely dangerous.

Dealing with that barrel-chested guy when applying tate shiho gatame (vertical four quarters lock or hold, also called North-South position) involves posting an arm or leg, even though that may be considered unorthodox. When grappling a guy whose body mass is bigger than yours, you have to modify your moves.

Applying ashi gatame (leg arm lock) may be difficult for the long-legged to apply to someone who has short, stocky arms, but ude garami (entangled arm lock) works just fine. 

Since everyone is different, we must work with the individual to determine which judo techniques best suit him or her. That may involve changing the technique drastically from the traditional judo, but the purpose is to apply the technique, win with it, and to enjoy the class along the way. Perhaps that is one reason we like our classes so much: we can study and alter a technique until we can get it to work in a certain situation against a particular person or position. There are limited rules to follow and almost unlimited variations which can be applied.

ayjay

February 17, 2009

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

ayjay

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

Escape/Defense Against Rear Naked Choke While in Grapevine

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Being grapevined may seem that you’re doomed to being choked, but we were shown a great little escape and defense against this technique. This defense/escape against the rear naked choke while being grapevined works.

First, grab your opponent’s arm with both hands. Since he’s in a superior position right now, you probably won’t be able to move him, but you can move yourself: Using your legs to post a bit, pulling on his arm, move yourself higher up on him. You’ll only move a little, but that’s all you need to get your chin under his arm and protect yourself from the choke.

Now that he doesn’t have the choke, you can attempt the escape. The arm which he has around your throat is the crucial arm. Whichever side that is on, that’s the side you need to fall to. (If, by chance, you happen to fall to the wrong side, straighten up in the grapevine and fall to the other side. You can take a little time because the choke is no longer on.) Once his arm is on the floor, put as much of your weight on it as you can. Now he can’t choke you at all. The rear naked choke requires a certain amount of torque to apply. Since you are holding his arm down, he can’t torque the arm.

Next, manoeuvre your body to escape the grapevine: grab his upper foot by the toes, pulling up toward you and out of the way, to remove it. If he has his feet crossed, of course, you can loop your leg over them and do some torquing of your own. When his leg is gone, you can complete your turnover and get a ground hold of your own.

We practised this escape last night and found it relatively easy once we thought about the physics of the rear naked choke and grapevine.  

Click here to go to the video for the escape from rear naked choke while in grapevine

ayjay

May 2, 2009