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).


  1. The techniques give you something to do with yourself while you're working on the principles.