Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Helio Gracie Passes Away

I just learned that Helio Gracie passed away today. He was 95 years old. What an icon, huh? Even though I'm just getting into Judo/BJJ, he was certainly an inspiration to me. He maintained a high level of health and a passion for his martial art all the way to the end. I hope I can roll like he did at 95 years old. My sympathy and respect to the Gracie family.

Check out an article here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Judo, 1/24/09

Today we had a good, solid 2 hours of Judo. After warmup exercises, we did a bunch of osotogari reps. Pat tweaked my pulling motion, and it kind of felt brand new again, like I was just learning it. I don't mind that, as I think it means I am learning it!

Then we worked on osotogari from tori's forward step, rather than his back step like we have been doing it. It uses the new off-balance I inadequately tried to describe in my last training log. Today I learned that this "stopping, twisting" motion (for lack of a more precise explanation) is (or comes from) an "otoshi" movement or a "garuma" movement. Otoshi happens just before uke's foot is completely down, and tends to be on the forward step. Garuma comes just after the step, as uke is rising back up, and it tends to turn uke's body and kick the other foot into the air. We talked about how they happen SO close to each other, it makes it hard to tell what's happening. As I said to Pat, "A mouse could starve on the difference between otoshi and garuma". Pat demonstrated how both of these can contain and work with tsurikomi ("the pull that lifts" as Pat defines it). As I said before, these were really subtle off-balances. For a while we did randori with no thought of throwing, just trying to get those subtle, almost imperceptible off-balances. I observed a few very encouraging things during this:

1) I don't necessarily have to try for a defined, textbook off-balance - there are a ton of opportunities for off-balances all the time. The trick is figuring out what to do with them.
2) I don't necessarily need to have a huge, exaggerated kuzushi to make these throws work. A subtle off-balance is plenty, IF I can figure out what to do with it in time.
3) In relation to that point: while doing this "subtle kuzushi randori" today, I think for the first time I was able to begin understanding the feedback being transmitted from uke, through my hands. I've always heard about having "feelers" on the guy, so you can tell what he's doing or what's going on with him, and I understand the concept, but I never experienced it like I did today. I could feel the point where he was off-balance enough to move ahead with the technique. This was pretty cool for me, and I look forward to developing greater sensitivity.

Another thing we talked about was how different combinations of a few things, make up every throw in Judo. I had pretty much gotten used to this idea in Aikido - that the big secret is, the techniques don't matter. The techniques are just there to demonstrate the principles. For some reason, it didn't click that the same may be true in Judo. But today, that became a little clearer. Here's how it is in my mind right now: In Aikido, I don't set out to do Shomen Ate on the bad guy, I set out to evade, and Shomen Ate, or some other technique may present itself depending on a multitude of factors (line of attack, how early or late I evaded, room to move, etc). In Judo, the goal may be as simple as "off-balance him", and from that off-balance (or failed attempt), a throw may present itself, also depending on a bunch of different things (which of his leg's are bearing weight, which of mine are bearing weight, where are they in relation to each other, is he moving forward or backward, etc). Now to practice enough so that my mind can process all that information in the blink of an eye, and respond with the appropriate sweep, reap, or prop. As I say, that's how I'm making sense of it right now. Whether it's correct, I can't say.

For the last part of the throwing portion of class, Pat previewed a throw from the Green belt requirements: Kouchigari. Seemed like a mean and sneaky throw! Can't wait to get more familiar with it.

We worked on the ground mobility cycle with the idea of top guy going through the cycle with as much crushing weight on bottom guy as possible the entire time, even during transitions. The game for bottom guy was to evaluate how bearable all that weight was, and when it was too much, move so that you're just back inside that threshold. I need to remember that as top guy, I don't become heavy by using muscle, but by relaxing. We also started playing with top guy using his knees to move an uncooperative bottom guy's arms out of the way. Neat!

Lastly Pat previewed some groundwork from the Green belt requirements: the "Hold-Down Cycle". This was pretty cool in an "unpleasant-when-it's-being-done-to-you" sort of way. It began with katagatame, which is one tough hold to be on the receiving end of. I'm also excited to get more into that stuff once I reach yellow belt.

What a great class! Although I did finally get the tension headache Pat promised me around 8pm tonight (from the hold-down cycle).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Night Videos - Inaugural Edition!

I'm going to begin posting a handful of random videos here each Friday night. It's an idea I "borrowed" from the Martial Thoughts blog. My version will be a little different in that the videos I post won't necessarily have anything to do with martial arts. Sometimes they will, but anything I find funny, interesting, inspiring, or amazing is fair game. I won't put more than three per week.

I hope you enjoy it! Now, without further ado, I give you...Friday Night Videos, 1/23/09.

First up, a clip from Uncle Jay, a guy who I always turn to, to help make sense of the news.

Next, a montage from one of my favorite shows, Arrested Development. To set it up, for some reason, no one in the Bluth family can do an accurate imitation of a chicken. This is a running gag throughout the show, that admittedly may be funnier when seen in context rather than in a montage.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Judo, 1/17/09

Today we began by working on kosotogari, but a sneakier version than what I'm used to. This one makes uke step backward instead of forward-ish, and works well as a sneaky and disorienting attack. I need to remember that the sweep or prop comes pretty late in the step for this throw. If my mind insists on sweeping/propping early, I need to remember to do it to uke's other (far) foot, effectively sweeping both feet. This variation is nidan kosotogari.

We played with a new (to me) set-up for this throw. It's hard for me to explain in writing, but as uke steps back, you kind of stop his motion by pulling with one hand while making him twist by pushing with the other hand, then the push-sweep-pull sequence to sweep him. This works well as a set-up for kosoto or deashi, but man, it's subtle. I need to remember that the pull in the set up is more of a "stop his motion" than a pull, and the push is more of a "leading him to twist" than a real push. Pat then previewed another throw for me that can use this type of set-up, tsurikomigoshi, which he also just blogged about. This motion is really awkward for me, but I think it'll improve, like a lot of the stuff that was very awkward 5 months ago when I started!

Next we took a look at the "Pummelling" exercise (a wrestler's exercise) Roy Dean discussed on his Blue Belt Requirements DVD. Pat used this exercise to demonstrate that no matter what is happening above the waist, there are still plenty of judo techniques waiting to happen during our steps, if I can synch up and find the principles that are always there. The chaotic stuff that happens upstairs (with the arms and hands) does not have to interfere with the judo taking place with our legs and feet. He followed this with a brief discussion and demonstration of how aikido techniques can lead into some pretty sweet judo techniques. Specifically, we looked at how we could get a kosotogari out of an aikido wrist release #1. I cannot overstate how freaking cool that concept was. It was one of those "wow" moments that truly amazed me, and even got me a little more excited about aikido again.

Being thoroughly warmed up by this time, we did some ground work. I had mentioned to Pat that I was having trouble with the "Scissor Sweep" from Roy Dean's BJJ DVD. It was taking way too much muscle for me to execute, and wasn't working just right even when I could do it. We worked on that a bit, and I found again that my hip escapes / shrimping are seriously lacking. Especially with Pat holding me from munegatame or kesagatame...those holds, as done by Pat, are my kryptonite. I pretty much have to tap as soon as he gets me in those holds. I can't breathe or escape. Anyway, I learned a few things about that sweep: 1) the only arm motion involved is a curling motion, pulling top guy closer to me. When I try to off balance him while holding him away, he ends up too far away from me, and I have to scramble for mount or side control, IF the sweep even works. If I keep him in close during the sweep, it's easier to end up mounted on him. 2) And this is important for me, especially - start framing with my leg as he's mounting; don't wait until he's got a good mount, then try to set up the sweep. 3) remember to use opposing motions of the top and bottom leg (like a scissor!).

Ground randori was next, and I felt like I was getting winded even quicker than I was last week! We ended with standing randori, and it's still awkward chaos to me. Never fear though, I'll get better!

Today I began to personify my weaknesses in regard to escapes, and inabilities to do anything when held in certain ways. I'm now thinking of my weakness as an opponent to be defeated. It won't be beaten by luck, but by honest effort and gradual growth. Melodramatic? Maybe, but now I can't seem to get the theme from "Rocky" out of my head, and that's sure to do me some good, right?

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Hope the Journey is More Important Than the Destination

I've been doing much better with my workout routine. Since my last post about skipping trips to the gym, I've only missed one day of training. This morning, I woke up with a headache (I think I need a better pillow), and could hardly drag myself out of bed, much less to the gym to exercise (it's a treadmill day - UGH!).

But I got up, got dressed, and headed to the gym, regardless. About halfway there, traffic on the interstate was stopped. Not slow - stopped. I gave it 10 minutes, then decided to risk a cop seeing me, and drove in reverse on the shoulder to the previous exit. I headed home citation-free, to get ready for work.

The thing is, I'm not kicking myself today like I normally do when I miss a workout. I mean, it would have done my body better to actually have exercised, but I think it did my mind better that I actually made it out of bed early, and tried to get there. I'll consider it a win. I think it shows me that the real challenge I face in getting in shape is not physical. It reminds me of a recent post over on the "things worth believing in" blog. I'll quote some of my favorite bits below, but I recommend you read the whole article.

I’ve always believed that the real benefit of exercise is in the persons mental development rather than the physical results.
Intense exercise, the type that makes your internal dialogue start telling you “this sucks, I cant go on anymore, just slow down, just stop, just quit”…but you don’t…that type of exercise sows seeds that you will reap later when you are fighting for your life and are approaching exhaustion. When your opponent is approaching that same threshold the person who quits is going to loose and reaching that quitting point almost always originates from the mind.
The body and the mind are a unit and the mental/physical benefits of training cannot be separated and measured.
Push yourself. REALLY push yourself on occasion. I don’t mean just get sweaty or breathing hard. I mean a “I cant do one more rep, lungs burning, gonna die, mommy I wanna quit” push. You don’t have to do it every workout, but if you are coasting you are cheating yourself. Its not only your body that will benefit, it builds mental toughness that translates directly to fighting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Not Like Jazz

There's a saying: "To truly appreciate jazz, you must play it". Now, whether I agree with the statement or not, I do get the meaning. The point is if you play jazz, you have a better understanding of how difficult it is, and therefore, you can appreciate the skill of the people playing it. I would rather say "to fully appreciate jazz...", but not "to truly appreciate jazz..."

Right about now you're probably wondering "What in creation does this have to do with martial arts?" Well, not much, but it does have to do with art in general, and I'll relate it to BJJ, specifically in a second.

See, I can't paint worth a lick, but my inability to paint does not prohibit me from appreciating a masterpiece while visiting a gallery. My inability to play certain kinds of music does not interfere with the music's ability to move me, or impress me in some way.

That's all just a big, roundabout set up to say this: While I have nowhere near this level of skill in BJJ (or Judo for that matter), the demonstration below still impresses the heck out of me. I was talking to Pat Saturday about how impressed I am when people grapple in such a way that it doesn't look like a "rasslin' a brawl", but when people can make grappling look graceful, flowing...dare I say "beautiful". I saw this video on Roy Dean's blog (a rather graceful grappler himself), and while I can't do it, I certainly appreciate it, because the smoothness...the flow...look a lot like the way I'd like my own martial arts to look in years to come.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gracie Barra Visit

Last night I visited the Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu school in Hammond, LA. I just observed, I didn't participate. I briefly met the instructor, Rafael. He's a black belt under Carlos Gracie, Jr., and a very nice guy.

The class began at 6:45pm, with 15 minutes of warm-up, which included running, side-skipping, sprawling, push ups, and more crunches than I could have kept up with had I been on the mat. Next, he presented the technique of the night, which looked to my untrained eye like a combination takedown/sweep/flying armbar (unless the sweep worked, in which case it was still an armbar on the ground). He really broke it down, and had the guys drill each part of the technique as he taught it. Very systematic.

The technique instruction lasted right at 30 minutes. The remaining half hour was rolling (in 5 minute sessions). The class was very structured as far as time allotted to each segment, but very relaxed in terms of attitude. Rafael seems to be a very good teacher, and seems to genuinely like the guys training under him. There were about 20 people in the class, and there was a good mix of blue belts and white belts, with a brown belt and perhaps a purple belt or two.

Overall, I really liked the class, and wish I had time to train there in addition to (not instead of) my Judo lessons. Maybe one day.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Aikido (ohhhhh.....) 1/10/09

I stuck around for the Aikido class yesterday after a good long (and extra-fun) Judo lesson. During the Judo lesson, I got so worn out, that I felt like I was in kind of a daze for the entire Aikido class. My face/head felt numb, and I'm not sure I was doing very much correctly, haha. I usually have pretty good recall of what we go over in class, but this time, in retrospect, it's kind of a blur, compared to the Judo lesson.

I remember doing more ukemi than normal. Then we worked on release #4, turning it into a kotogaeshi-type wrist lock, then turning that into aikinage (I think). Then we did release #3, into Chain #3 for a while. Finally, we worked on what I think was Nijusan / Junana Hon Kata #6 (I have no clue what the name is, and indeed, it may not have even been #6...It just looked sort of like the way we used to do #6 in the system I used to study). Man, I was toast during that class, I think. It was still of Pat's black belts, Rob, was there, and it was nice meeting him.

For the relaxation focus, we worked on (this is hard to explain) not forcing uke's arm into the lock, but moving our bodies the right way so all we needed to do was drop our arms, and presto! -- uke's arm pretty much ended in the right position. I think I may have got the feeling of that once, but the rest of the time, I couldn't catch the thing just right. No worries, I'll get there.

Sorry for all the hazy info. I think I was drunk on all that Judo goodness!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Judo, 1/10/09

In today’s Judo lesson, we started off with the ground mobility cycle, to warm up. We did some more low-flow ground randori that was really fun. It was “positional randori”, so we weren’t trying for submissions or chokes, just trying to achieve and maintain a superior position. Fun, fun, fun, but again, extremely exhausting. There were a couple times I said “Ok, I can’t breathe anymore.” It was really wearing me out! Pat talked about how sometimes, positions can be submissions. I look forward to him blogging about that.

I found that I’m really having trouble shrimping / hip escaping with someone’s weight on me. That’s pretty fundamental, so I really need to get better at it. Pat gave me some pointers about getting my center out from under top guy’s center. We worked on a few specific things like the uphill escape, and how I need to sort of roll my weight onto the opponent’s head to make it work better. That was something I was leaving out.

I asked Pat what he thought I needed to focus on for yellow belt level proficiency. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not just concerned about rank. I’m just pretty OCD about stuff, and I try to track my actual progress compared to where I should be for the number of classes I’ve attended. By my reckoning, I will have the minimum number of classes required for yellow belt by the end of January. My goal has been to have achieved yellow belt proficiency by the time I have the required number of classes, whether I get the belt or not. I don’t care that much about the belt; it’ll just be a different color. And if it takes me longer to get to the next rank then so be it…it’s just a certain skill level I’m shooting for. Anyway, the things Pat mentioned were:

1) Working on the ground mobility cycle while controlling bottom guy’s arms, and placing my arms and hands where they need to be.
2) My escapes from kesagatame and munegatame.
3) More practice time with training partners (there’s only so much I can do at home, solo, but I do what I can)

We moved on to standing randori, which I still stink at, but I’m getting more used to it. We worked on deashi barai, and how when you escape from one, it becomes a deashi of your very own to use against your opponent. A few times in randori we had 3 or 4 consecutive escape/counter cycles, and it looked like “partnered clogging” or something from Riverdance.

Pat talked about 3 types of foot techniques:

1) sweeps, which affect unloaded (non-weight-bearing) feet or legs
2) Reaps, which affect loaded feet or legs
3) Props which stop a moving foot or leg, or prevent a foot or leg from moving in the first place

Then Pat showed me how deashi barai and kosotogari, which are sweeps, could be done as props instead. Really cool stuff. For instance, If I sweep uke’s foot too far in deashi, I can let it come back down and stop it (prop it) just before he steps down with it. It’s so sneaky! This requires changing your foot from a “doer” to a “feeler”…from an “effector” to a “detector”. It will take a lot of practice before I can do it on the fly, but what a great concept. Blew my mind with how well it was working (when Pat did it, anyway).

Another really fun (and tiring) Judo lesson!

Friday, January 9, 2009

More Bauer To Ya

I'm a fan of the television show "24". All you haters out there: Yes, I realize it's implausible that one guy can accomplish so much, especially in 24 hours. I still love the show. The writers do a good job of upping the ante with each season. I'm only on season 6 (I've been catching up with DVDs).

Anyway, I was thinking...many of us practice martial arts with at least a partial eye toward self defense, even though it's (for most of us) unlikely we'll ever be in a situation in which we'll need to use the skills we've learned to defend ourselves. In my line of work (banking/IT), for instance, I'll need self defense skills far less than say, a police officer, body guard, or bouncer.

Which brings me back to Jack Bauer. I've seen him in plenty of armed and unarmed altercations (He's got CQB skills out the wazoo), but I've never seen him employ a martial arts technique, per se. Sure, he's probably well trained in combatives of some sort, but I would think, given his line of work, the frequency of his need to fight, and the safety of the free world riding on whether he wins or loses, you'd think he would use the other 364 days of the year he's not dealing with a crisis to learn judo, or jiu-jitsu...maybe muay thai... or at the very least, some krav maga / KAPAP! I'd love to see him throw a terrorist with uchimata or something once in a while instead of just throwing haymaker after haymaker.


Well, we're now 9 days into the new year, and therefore, 9 days into my new, healthy lifestyle. I thought I'd post about how it's going so far.

I have craved more Little Debbie snack cakes these 9 days than the rest of my life combined. Out of 6 days I planned to go to the gym, I actually made it to 3. Don't get me wrong - that's 3 more days than I went last year. But I missed my goal by 50%! This morning, I overslept by only fifteen minutes, but it was still too late to make the workout and get home in time to get ready for work (part of the challenge is, I need to get up around 4:45am every day in order to get the full workout first thing in the morning). I'm looking forward to this coming week. It's another chance to succeed.

I jokingly whined to my wife this morning, "I went to the gym 3 times! When is this extra weight going to go away?!?" I know, I know. The work comes first, the reward comes later. Reminds me of one of my favorite Earl Nightingale quotes: "You can't stand in front of a fireplace and say 'Give me heat, THEN I'll give you some wood.'" Water the seed now - it will bloom later. There. 3 motivational quotes, and I'm ready to tackle my fitness goals all over again!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What a Dummy!

Yesterday, the UPS truck arrived with my new "Submission Master" grappling dummy! I was pretty excited to get it. Before, I only had the UFC-brand contoured heavy bag type grappling dummy, which helped me to get a little more comfortable with the Ground Mobility Cycle we work on in class. But the UFC model has no head, and no limbs, so it'll be useless for drilling submissions, chokes, guard passes, etc (although the mobility cycle on the UFC dummy can get my heart rate up nice and quick).

I'm not really to the point yet of learning armbars, chokes, etc, but I'm having fun with this new "training partner" just the same. I rolled with him last night, and it was a draw :)

Here are some shots of it after I got it dressed:

And here's a video if it in action (Mine is new, and therefore pretty stiff...once he loosens up, he'll be in a position more like the one in this video):

Great BJJ/Grappling Post

Pat hipped me to a blog called the RDA-PMA Experiment. It's basically a blog chronicling the guys at Prairie Martial Arts (PMA), a Taekwondo dojang, as they attempt to learn BJJ from Roy Dean's (of Roy Dean Academy - RDA) DVD "Brazilian Jiujitsu Blue Belt Requirements". It's kind of a study group using the DVD as a curriculum. I own the DVD, and its structure will lend itself to this very well, I think.

Anyway, being new to grappling myself, I found the most recent post hilarious! I can definitely relate. Check it out here!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Pat wrote a post a few days ago asking what people thought of as expertise in a martial arts context. Having no grounds to speak of martial arts expertise, in my comment I drew from other areas I'm more adept at (music, etc).

I read a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes yesterday that I think fit great with my idea of expertise:

"The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

An Ounce of Prevention

I've been enjoying the "things worth believing in" blog and came across this great quote in a recent post:

Awareness and a bit of forethought will keep you alive a lot longer than fighting skills.

This is a concept I've been preching to my wife for years...unfortunately, I fear it's taken more as paranoia than practical wisdom so far.

Relaxed Aikido, 1/3/09

I was able to stick around for the aikido class today. Pat introduced the “theme” or “focus” for the month of January (as far as I know, this is a new thing he’s doing – having a theme for each month…new to me anyway). The theme for January:


Pat talked about the concept of “Sensory Motor Amnesia” in relation to relaxation, and how it fits in to our Aikido. I won’t even begin to try to explain it here, although I think I have the vaguest notion of at least the gist of what he was talking about. I really hope he’ll write about it on his blog, and how it relates to aiki, because it’s pretty darn interesting. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

We began with Tegatana, then repeated the first 3 steps while focusing on keeping our arms very relaxed…limp, even. This was a good gauge of how well we were controlling our momentum. Then we tried it with a super-relaxed neck, but with the imaginary string pulling us upright from the top of our heads.

We moved on to releases 1 through 4, and then camped out on releases 1 and 2. We worked on the relaxation principle in the releases, and explored how complete relaxation aided the techniques, helped us get into proper positions, etc. I’m constantly amazed at all the cool principles that can be found in these “simple” exercises.

Next we worked on shomen ate. We started by practicing the first motion “template”, then on to the brush-off, and finally shomen ate, from a failed brush-off (failure could be caused by environment, i.e. a wall, or an extra athletic or aggressive attacker). We looked at how the technique works best (and easiest) when tori is truly trying to brush off and create space from uke, not trying to set him up for the technique. The times I was able to really try to separate, and uke came at me anyway, I didn’t have to look for shomen ate, or try to “set it up”…it just….appeared! It’s so cool. Even seeing that in action, there were times I still evaded into an aggressive position, ready to bust uke whether he continued his attack or not. Pat called it a “magnifying glass on our ego”. How true! We also looked at the best time to “catch” uke with shomen ate if he insists on coming after you. There’s a “sweet spot” during the technique for when to catch uke. It’s after he makes the turn to pursue you (after the evasion), but before he’s fully moving in his new direction. We practiced finding that for a little while. Pat and I have played with this before, and last time, we looked at how the throw actually comes from uke’s resistance to what’s happening, it’s not tori shoving him down. I don’t have to “impose my will” on uke to knock him down – I just have to find that sweet spot and fit…synch up…uke will throw himself eventually.

To end the class we played with shihonage coming out of motion template #1, and aikinage out of a less-than-ideal shihonage. This was a super-fun class! The relaxation in the releases was an epiphany, as was the almost-automatic shomen ate when I behaved right, haha!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Double Dose of Judo 1/3/09

Pat was kind enough to let me start doing two private Judo lessons on Saturday mornings (instead of our usual one). This will really help me get some extra training time in, since I live 75 miles from the dojo!

So for this morning’s first Judo lesson, we worked on deashi barai. We worked on the early and late timings of the sweep, and a little bit of “stealing” the other guy’s turn (basically executing the sweep while you’re stepping on “his side” for purposes of drilling). I noticed that I’m beginning to be able to do deashi a little quicker now…by that I mean that I used to have to wait a handful of steps and get it straight in my head before I could do it. Now I can do it on the first or second step most of the time. Maybe soon I’ll begin to “see” it sooner in randori. Deashi may be the throw I’m most comfortable with so far (but that’s not saying much). Having said that, I was having trouble getting the “bump”/off-balance correct today. I was struggling with both the timing and the amount of push needed. It helped when Pat explained that it’s kind of a “bump, sweep, pull” sequence rather than a “bump, pull, sweep” like I’ve gotten into the habit of doing. I was also reminded not to try to sweep uke’s foot so far out. Just sweeping it until it’s in line with all the other feet is enough.

Next we did some ground work. I’ve been having trouble with the sit-up escape from kesagatame when trying it on a resisting partner. Pat explained that I should be using my outside leg to help me push. Can’t wait to try it out on my guinea pig (AKA darling wife). Poor thing – I always make her hold me down or something so I can show her what I learned in class. My wife is very….determined (competitive). Last time I tried a sit-up escape on her, it failed. “No problem” I thought, “I’ll try a leg entanglement.” The leg entanglement worked…at first. Then she rolled her 110 pound frame out of it, took my back and almost choked me unconscious. True story, I swear. I gotta stop getting her to watch UFC with me. Back to the training log…

Then we worked on some “Flowy rolling” ideas Pat picked up from Roy Dean. Basically it was really easy, light, ground randori. I feel like this was a GREAT exercise that really allowed me the opportunity to stop and evaluate the position I found myself in, and ask myself “What now? What options are available to me?” Some escapes came more quickly to me than others, but I still think this sort of thing us great for me and will develop quicker and quicker reaction times. Reflecting on it later, it made me think of a video game. Take a generic game and think about what early levels are like compared to later levels. At the beginning of the game, enemies come at you slower, and in fewer numbers. As you progress in the game, enemies are faster, more numerous, and tougher to take down. But what may have provided a challenge in early levels becomes ridiculously easy once you’re used to it and you can breeze through those levels easily if you have to repeat them. I assume Judo will be a little like that.

After exhausting me with that exercise, we moved into the second Judo lesson; we started by clearing up some fuzzy ideas I had about a few techniques, including shrimping to dojime, transitions from ukigatame into munegatame or kesagatame, and ukigoshi. My ukigoshi needed serious help. We had only practiced it once before today, so we spent most of the second class drilling it, both from stepping forward and stepping backward. I need to remember that my hip only needs to brush him…as if it’s just insurance (get the side of my hips, not the middle, into his thigh as I throw). It helped me to think of our feet ending up in an “L” shape instead of a “T” relationship, which was causing me to stand funny while trying the throw.

Great, great classes today. Had a lot of fun, and I feel like I learned a lot.

Tipping Scales

It’s funny – I used to be all about Aikido, and nothing but Aikido. I got interested in Judo because Pat’s dojo offers both arts. I originally planned on focusing on Aikido, and “minoring” in Judo. As time went on, my interest became split 50/50 between the two. Now I find that Judo has unseated Aikido as the art I want to mainly focus on. It’s hard to articulate exactly why I began liking Judo more. I just…did. During the week, I found myself reading, studying, watching, and daydreaming more about Judo than Aikido.

Maybe it has something to do with how fascinated I am with groundwork lately, or my budding interest in BJJ, and its similarities to Judo. In addition, I used to never be the least bit interested in competition, but I must admit, I do feel the allure of competing in order to test myself…see how I’m really doing (no time soon, mind you, but I could see trying to compete as I improve some).

Whatever the reason, I’m completely excited about Judo these days!