Posts Tagged ‘kata guruma’

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

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 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

ayjay

January 13, 2009