Posts Tagged ‘learning’

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

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