Saturday, February 28, 2009

Aikido 2/28/09

Our Aikido class this morning focused solely on suwariwaza. We went over (I think) the first 4 techniques from Ichikata. This was pretty much an introduction of suwariwaza to me, so forgive me for not being very descriptive of the techniques. However, Pat recently wrote an excellent article on his blog about just what we did today. Please take a moment to read it here. I think we did everything except the last one he describes ("juntai timing").

More meaningful to me than the individual techniques today, was the conceptual discussion we had about the value of suwariwaza practice. Let me see if I can convey what we talked about, as I understand it. I'll extrapolate on what was discussed, based on my further consideration of it throughout the day (feel free to chime in, Pat):

We train to have a "hierarchy of responses" to aggression. We have tactics and strategies that are more preferable to employ and those that are less preferable. For instance, the most preferable way to deal with an attack would be to not be present when the attack occurs. We attempt this by trying to avoid environments or situations where attack would be likely, when possible. Now, there are times when we may not be able to avoid those environments, or when violence happens outside of its "likely" territory. So we move to the next most preferable tactic (in our system) - stay out of maai. If a bad guy breaks maai, the next response on our list is to evade (get off the line of attack). If you can't evade/escape, you may need to resort to technique "X". If "X" doesn't save your bacon, you have technique "Y", and so on ("nothing ever works").

This is what we try to internalize, not something we try to decipher if and when a situation turns sour. So the wordy process above just happens automatically, and is not an OODA loop nightmare.

Anyway, suwariwaza (kneeling techniques), remove a few of the options, so we can focus on others. For one thing, you begin well inside maai, so you're not dealing with that aspect of an encounter. Kneeling also inhibits your evasion, so right there you have a couple options gone. As Nick Lowry wrote in his great book on Aikido, "By learning to work from the worst possible position, and excel, we find it easier to function in all the more superior positions." (Aikido; Principles of Kata and Randori, p. 61) Suwariwaza puts us in a less-than-ideal position. We discussed how suwariwaza teaches us to synch up with uke's up and down motions and to "occupy the center" and how these things relate to the generation of power.

Judo 2/28/09

We started today with the "footsweep to control" exercise as usual. We practiced it with both deashi and kouchi sweeps.

We worked a lot today on kouchigari (small inner reap). Pat explained that the problem with this sweep, if it is a problem, is that it generally puts you in uke's guard. A few things for me to remember about this one: 1) sweep by stepping out to the side in the direction of the sweep, not just across the front of my body as in deashi. 2) Don't forget to "cut" in and give a little push just before the swept foot steps down. 3) Use the left hand as a feeler to tell me when uke is stepping down with that foot.

The brand new throw for today was seoinage (shoulder throw), with two variations: ippon-seoinage (one armed shoulder throw) and morote-seoinage (two armed shoulder throw). This is my first hand throw in the curriculum. One thing I noticed: My seoinage seems to throw uke around my body rather than over my shoulder like I see in most videos on the internet. If that's a problem, I guess it will get worked out eventually. Things for me to remember about this one: 1) The throw is more to the side (along uke's line of weakness) than right in front of him. 2) I need to let go of uke's lapel with my right hand before throwing. If things don't go just right, I could hurt my arm. 3) Pull IN with the right hand, don't try to "cartwheel" him. He should end up in a position that looks like he's ready to do a forward roll. 4) Once it's set up, just do a crunch (bend slightly) and turn slightly, looking away from uke.

For groundwork, we went over 6 "short takedowns" (3 pairs that work together), and did some ground randori. I still get crushed on the bottom when rolling with Pat, and today showed me I need to review and drill my basic escapes some more. For some reason, I was only trying downhills and knee-to-elbows today, and not having too much luck with either one. Pat admitted one of his weaker escapes was from the North-South position. I shamelessly took advantage - ERRR, I mean...helped him practice it a couple of times. I found I was reasonably successful keeping that position by sort of "running" on the balls of my feet while keeping weight on his chest.

I told Pat how I had caught my nephew with a few armbars, but once he started defending with a gable grip, I couldn't get past it. Pat showed me how making him raise his hands above his head really weakened that grip. That turns it from a perfect bicep situation for the defender into kind of weird rotator cuff thing.

Lastly, we talked about how having your opponent in your guard is not a time to rest or catch your breath, but to keep moving, defending, etc. I'll be glad when my endurance is equal to the task.

It was another really fun, really exhausting lesson.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thursday Thoughts

"Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit softly"
~Theodore Roosevelt

Push and Deny

I recently read a post from the 24 Fighting Chickens Blog about what it takes to become a world champion. While I have no interest in becoming a champion fighter, one thing he said jumped out at me:

Self-discipline...consists of two different components:

Push - The ability to make yourself do something you want to do
Deny - The ability to not do something that you want to

Each of these two components is completely separate from one another. Some people are gifted with push, and others with deny. After observing people doing karate for three decades, I feel very comfortable saying that some people are gifted with push, some with deny, some with neither, and some with both.

I was thinking about this in regard to my quest for fitness. I seem to be better at "deny" than "push", but frankly, I find I lack both. Thinking about it in these simple terms may help me improve at things like getting out of bed, and skipping dessert.

Submission Master Grappling Dummy

I'm trying to sell my Submission Master grappling dummy, and thought I'd let my readers have first crack at it before I put it on ebay. I've only had it for about 7 weeks, but for a few reasons, I need to sell it:

1) I don't find I have that much time to work with it at home. Not enough to justify having it.
2) It's about a size too big for me, but that's the only size they come in. It may squish down in time, with use, but see #1 above for the reason that may never happen under my roof. I haven't even really broken it in yet.
3) It's about 85 pounds, and it's getting old dragging it from the back bedroom where I store it, to the living room, where I use it.

I'm selling it ridiculously cheap compared to how much they cost new, although shipping may be a lot (as I said, it's about 85 pounds). Shipping should be about $100 bucks or less, based on the estimate I got from my local shipper.

Please see this post for pics, more information, and a demo video. Let me know if you're interested! I'd be happy to do it through a Buy-It-Now auction on eBay if you'd like to do it through a secure method.

What I'm Reading

I thought I'd try to comment on my "just finished reading" list once in a least the books related to martial arts. Not so much reviews, sort of "micro-reviews" unless I just really feel like ranting about something.

I just finished Karate-Do: My Way of Life by Gichin Funakoshi. It was a decent read.

Am I glad I read it? Yes.

Will I read it again? Probably not.

Reflections? I was surprised at how recently modern karate was popularized. Some of the stories were pretty humorous.

Recommended? Yes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Judo/BJJ Study Group - 02/23/09

Cody and I only had about an hour and 15 minutes to play tonight, so we got right to the ground work after a quick warmup by way of reviewing the 5 throws from my yellow belt level. We reviewed the scissor sweep from Roy Dean's DVD, then learned the next sweep on the disk, the "Knee Push". We found this very similar in principle to the scissor sweep, and it helped to think of it as just a different flavor of it. We also learned the "Hip Bump" sweep, which was next on the DVD.

After several reps drilling those, we switched to my Saulo Ribeiro DVDs. Saulo doesn't name the techniques he's demonstrating on these disks, but they're the first 2 sweeps on the "Guard" disk of his Jiu-Jitsu Revolution Volume 1. The first was a response to the "knee-in-the-tailbone" guard pass, and worked pretty simply. The second was an option in case top guy's knee isn't quite in the middle of your butt for the guard opener. It involved sweeping with your leg up on top guy's shoulder...I'll have to see if I can find some video of something similar to post here so you can tell what I'm talking about.

So we drilled the 4 new sweeps for a while, then moved to ground randori. We're playing with a few submissions now, instead of only going for position. We both still stink at subs though, so it's still a lot of pinning and escaping.

Now Cody is stronger than a dose of coal oil, and faster than corn through a sick goose, so he really gives me a workout, but I tend to hold my own. He got a lot of scissor sweeps on me tonight, but not as many upas as he usually does, as I was looking for them and wouldn't let him trap my leg. I was not as successful with scissor sweeps tonight, but maybe that was because I had 4 new ones on my mind! Maybe next time, we'll only try for 2 new techniques. I think I got one knee push sweep, and a hip bump sweep that was probably only so by the most generous of definitions, but hey, it worked. I was trying like heck to sink some collar chokes, having just learned them, but I still suck at them. I was, however, able to make use of the choke attempt / armbar combination several times. I think I caught him with it 3 times in rapid succession, but then he got wise and defended against them fiercely...probably because he realized my chokes were really no threat to him. I tapped to a rear naked choke to end our time.

I'm doing these study "groups" (do 2 people make a group?) for a few reasons:
  1. To practice what I'm learning in class
  2. To discover what I actually understand from class
  3. To discover what I must not be understanding from class...deficiencies in my game that I need more help with
  4. To practice some of the things from my DVDs so I can ask Pat about them later
  5. It's darn FUN!

So what did I observe from tonight?

  • I think we were both able to roll a bit longer than we have been able to before giving up due to exhaustion (endurance increasing)
  • My chokes suck
  • I'm getting slightly better at being able to survive on the bottom
  • I still suck when caught in half guard
  • I was able to gain and retain mount a little better tonight (although I gained it through trickery half the time, feinting one way, then going another)
  • On the same note, I think I was thinking a little more this time...trying to lure him into certain situations...remembering to use my knees to move his arms out of my steps, for sure, but encouraging.

Wife's Blog

I'd like to advertise a bit for my wife's new blog. It will have nothing to do with martial arts, but she is a professional artist and educator, and if you or someone you know are interested in arts and other creative endeavors, you may enjoy it. Most of the posts lately, however, have been about our 9-month-old daughter. Stay tuned for more posts about about art, photography, education, etc. Click here to visit.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jodo, 2/21/09

Today, I had a Jodo lesson with Pat in lieu of our regular Aikido class. This was my first Jodo lesson, and I gotta say I really enjoyed it. I don't know if I'll find the time to study Shindo Muso Ryu / Jodo regularly, but I wish I could. Pat says it's a great compliment to Aikido, and can refine one's Aikido. That, I'm definitely interested in. And it's just plain fun, too.

We started out with 4 basic bokken strikes (from kendo). Men, a strike to the head when your opponent drops his sword to your left. Kote, a strike to the wrist when he drops his sword to your right. Do, a strike to the side of his abdomen if he raises his bokken to strike. Finally, tsuke, a thrust to stick guy's throat, in response the the same motion.

Next we worked on honteuchi, one of the basic strikes with the jo (normal grip strike).

Finally I learned the first of the seitei kata in Jodo - tsukezue ("the reaching stick").

Some things I need to remember:
  • Keep my shoulders square, particularly when lifting the jo to strike.
  • The top hand lifts, the bottom hand strikes, and the top hand catches (stops the falling motion of the weapon).
  • The hands should work in conjunction with the foot steps while performing their specific roles. This is hard to explain, but I'll try, because I'll need to refer to this later. I'll use the bokken strike for an example. When the bokken is overhead, right hand higher on the handle than the left hand, as the left foot pushes the step forward, the left hand supplies the force for the strike (not a ton of force, just enough). As the right foot "catches" or stops the forward step, the right hand catches the weapon and stops the motion from the strike. As the right foot pushes the step backward, the right hand lifts the bokken overhead again.

Some important things for me to remember about this: 1) the "same hand, same foot" principle from Aikido applies here, and 2) When one hand is not doing something (the left hand, in the case of lifting the bokken), that's a good opportunity to make any corrections needed in the grip. In fact, I found myself almost letting go with the "inactive" hand, to start training my hands to each do their own job.

One other note: I realize the kanji in the picture at the top of this post has nothing to do with Jodo or SMR. It's actually Japanese for "Mercy, Grace, or Kindness". It's the inscription burned into the jo I got from Kingfisher Woodworks. The main reason I chose this inscription was to remind me once again, that I need (and have received) much mercy, grace, and kindness, and to remind me to be merciful, gracious, and kind. The other reason is that I found it pleasantly ironic to have that meaning on a weapon.

Judo - 2/21/09

We started with our "deashi to control" footsweep exercise. This time Pat added a kouchigari to the drill from a missed deashi. After playing with that for a while, he showed me how to add an ouchigari from a missed kouchi. I'm always surprised at how amazingly fault-tolerant Judo is - if you miss a technique, there's always another one waiting for you if you can see it. Uke can't defend against everything at once.

Then we worked on hiza garuma for a while. We drilled the normal flavor, then from a garuma off-balance (looking out for osotogari opportunities if we missed the hiza). With the garuma motion, you make uke make a "hole" in front of himself, then pull his shoulder into that hole while propping the far leg. I need to remember not to pull uke in toward me as in osoto, as it helps him stay up. We played with "me hiza, you hiza" for a while (countering hiza with hiza), as well as "me hiza, me hiza" (following a failed hiza attempt with another on the other leg).

For groundwork, we went over the wakigatame/udegarame drill again. It felt more awkward to me this time than it did the first time we did it a few weeks ago, but I'll get it.

Pat also introduced the Rear Naked Choke. I need to remember to get the position set in first, then work towards the choke. Pat demonstrated the "meat grinder" turnover - used to roll a turtled opponent and take his back. A couple ways to sink the choke in might be "walking" the choking hand up into choking position, or punching uke in the neck with your bicep. We also went over the kata version of the choke, focusing on moving back so uke falls back into the empty space, and "chambering" his head against you so he has no room to move his head.

Lastly, I asked Pat to demonstrate a cross collar choke, because I haven't had much luck with it in our Judo study group at home. Maybe I'll get to try it out tomorrow night...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Night Videos - I Hope You Like Pain!

I can't believe it's just now occurring to me to post this video. From what I understand, this is footage of some guys auditioning for a part in a martial arts movie. They're not "the best around" if you get my meaning. I pray I never look like these guys.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday Thoughts

I woke up this morning, and oddly, the first thing that popped into my head was "D'oh! I should have called my 'Wednesday Quote' feature 'Thursday Thoughts' for some alliteration!" It was a very head-slapping "I-shoulda-had-a-V8" moment.

I'll remedy that right now! Effective immediately, the dry old, uninspiringly titled "Wednesday Quotes" will be replaced by the much more effective "Thursday Thoughts". Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? In order that you, dear reader, should not have to wait 8 long days for a new quote, you'll get a "two-fer" this week:

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."

~ Bruce Lee

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday Quote

I thought I'd institute yet another weekly feature on the blog (in addition to Friday Night Videos): The Wednesday Quote! These will be martial art related quotes that I found motivating, or at least thought-provoking. Hope you do too!

Today's quote comes from a book I'm about halfway finished reading now: Dave Lowry's new book "The Karate Way (Discovering the Art of Practice)".

"We can scarcely imagine (martial) arts without their belt ranks. But what if we did? What would change, about the budo and about participation in them?"
"...ask yourself from time to time: What would I be doing if there were no ranks in my dojo? Would I train as hard? Would I be as content? Consider your karate not as a series of steps that are symbolized by a rainbow of belts. Think of it instead as a way of life, one that is going to continue, like other important parts of your life, whether the product can be measured or not."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Night Videos 2-13-09 (NASCAR Special)

I agree with Matt Chandler (one of my favorite preachers): "If NASCAR is a sport, then I'm an athelete."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Judo/BJJ Study Group 2-7-09

Last Saturday night, we had another "study group". It was just me and my nephew Cody again this time. We started off with the 5 throws in my repertoire (deashi barai, hiza garuma, kosotogari, osotogari, and ukigoshi). Cody seems to have a really good deashi barai, considering he didn't have someone who knew what they were talking about show him the sweep.

I think Cody is having the same realization I had when I started Judo: I got into it for the throws, but found out I really enjoy the's fun! Cody's thinking the same way, so we spent more time working on ground stuff than anything else.

We're using a combination of what I'm learning in my lessons with Pat and Roy Dean's blue belt requirements DVD. Last night we worked on the Scissor Sweep from the DVD. We drilled it about 10 times each, then moved into ground randori, looking for opportunities to use the scissor sweep against a resisting opponent. Pat's advice about not waiting until the guy is all the way in your guard to set up the sweep was invaluable, and we were both able to pull off the sweep in randori several times over the next hour and a half! We're doing mainly "positional randori" - we try to get into and maintain either side control or the mount. We don't worry about submissions so much at this point, as I've only just begun to learn them in Judo.

We also took a look at something I've been having trouble with: shrimping/hip-escape. It finally clicked that I've been leaving out the bump/bridge part of it, and making it way too hard on myself to move my hips. It's one of those things that's been explained to me a lot, but for whatever reason, it just didn't register until recently.

It was a lot of fun, and I THINK we're both improving a little, both in terms of skill and "fuel efficiency". One big deficiency that we have right now is space - we're using a mat space that's 8'x12', and it takes up a large portion of my living room, so sometimes we have to stop and reset before someone gets thrown into the TV or something.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Aikido 2-7-09

The dojo's theme for the month of February is POSTURE. You can read more about it on Pat's blog (specifically, here, here, here, here, and here). This is good info for more than just your martial arts practice.

We started with tegatana, focusing on our posture. I found it very helpful to think about the keel-of-a-boat analogy Pat talked about in one of the posts linked above. In fact, that analogy helped a lot with the hip switch movement in tegatana. It used to throw me off balance. I was so impressed with how stable it was this time, I screwed up the next movement! We also focused on keeping our feet under our centers. I think my arm motions in the "pushes" are better after last week's discussion about moving our arms in conjunction (and cooperation) with the rise and fall of our steps.

Next we did releases. Releases 1 - 4 were okay for me. Remembering to relax really helps. One thing I noticed about staying relaxed during releases is that I tend to be able to synch up with uke's steps from the very beginning. It's not 100%, but it's much better than it used to be for me. More on that in a minute...

Releases 5 - 8 are kind of weird for me. The thing is, I used to practice them regularly at my previous dojo. But the way they taught them there and the way Pat teaches them are as different as night and day. The way I learned them before, we were really just going through the motions of the releases. Consequently, I had been using way too much muscle...really forcing the technique. It was like that for all the releases there. They were really taught as 8 separate and unrelated techniques. Pat teaches them in such a way that they make sense, and seem much more effective. Turns out these releases are related, and come out of common principles. It's like I used to know what the releases looked like, and now I'm learning how they work, and how to do them. I stink at them right now. I'll need more practice with them, but I'm very excited about learning them from a much more aiki perspective.

Next we worked on Chain 1. Chains confound the heck out of me. Not that I don't understand the concept, it's just a completely new (to me) set of motions. I think it's a combination of getting used to a new way of moving in the releases, paying attention to uke's rhythm and trying to synch up, and remembering the parts of the chain. Remember how I said I was synching up well during releases? The chain blew that out of the water. Seemed like I couldn't synch up to save my life. Don't get me wrong, chains are super cool, and I want to learn to do them some other things, it's just going to take time and practice. Pat demonstrated how there's a few different rhythms going on: left-right, up-down, near-far, and straight arm - bent arm. He said that when you can follow and synch up with 2 or 3 of these rhythms all at once, and use them, that's when the magic starts to happen. I need to remember not to force the next technique in the chain, but to read what's happening and follow it. That and fifty other things about chains!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Judo 2-7-09

Today we got started with the ground mobility cycle, then moved into the next set of ground techniques I need to learn, the Hold-Down Cycle. One of the cool things introduced in the hold-down cycle is katagatame. It's a really unpleasant hold/choke to be on the receiving end of. I need to remember that the real pressure for katagatame comes from your hips, not your arm muscles. The katagatame we worked on most was done from kesagatame, but Pat also showed me a very cool "backwards variation" from munegatame.

Next we went over two submissions: wakigatame and udegaruma (Americana). Pat showed how to work these in a combo - if the guy pulls out of one, he's setting himself up for the other. I'm amazed at how many things there are like that in judo and aikido. It's pure genius. I need to remember to extend bottom dude's arm in wakigatame in order to apply the pain, not crank down on the elbow. I need to try to crush his shoulders together as well.

We covered a few new escapes from katagatame too: Millstone, Uphill, and Legs-Over. I need to remember that a fist between my head and top-guy's can save me from being choked out by katagatame. Also, if he sinks it before I can defend, a framed elbow to his neck can encourage him to back off some. That can also assist in some of the escapes.

For standing practice, we went over how to get a hiza garuma out of an osotogari attempt that goes sour. It's another example of how you can't defend against two directions at once. If he blocks your osoto, he's set up real nice for a hiza. Neat stuff. I could tell, when Pat did that to me, my mind would kind of lock up and say "What's about to happen here?" Like when your computer is trying to think about too many things at once and it just freezes. Yeah, that was me.

Bonus Video - The Dragon

Since I was late posting this week's Friday Night Video, here's a bonus: After I saw him for the first time on last week's UFC, Lyoto Machida is one of my favorite fighters. Check out this highlight video. He actually pulls off a gedanate at 01:19 or so.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Night Video - 2-6-09

Sorry, this is a day late; I fell asleep last night as I was putting this on!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

2009 Movies

This is not related to Judo or Aikido in any way, I'm just so jazzed about some of the movies that will be coming out this year. I'm not even a big "movie guy", but I will completely geek out in 2009 due to the following:

Watchmen - March

Monsters Vs. Aliens - March

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - May

Star Trek - May

Terminator: Salvation - May

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen - June

The A-Team - July

GI Joe - August

Of course I usually wait for movies to be released on Blu-Ray to watch them, so I'll be a little behind.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Judo Study Group

I haven't had a chance to post this training log yet, but Friday night, my nephew came over again to play with some Judo. Knowing my belt demo was Saturday morning, I wanted to get in as much extra practice as possible to make sure I was comfortable with everything.

We drilled my 5 throws, ground mobility cycle, and 6 escapes for a while, then decided to do some "positional randori". That's really fun. My nephew is far more athletic than I am, but I get more practice at the technical parts of it, so that evened the playing field a bit.

One thing that gave me trouble was when I found myself in his guard. "No problem", I thought. "I'll just do the one guard pass I know right now and..." However, he had me squeezed so tight, I couldn't create a bit of space! He laughed at me, taunted me, but try as I might, I couldn't get even get his guard open! The next day, Pat described something I should try next time that happened. It sounded a bit...."ungentlemanly", but I'll give it a shot and see if it works, haha! We had a lot of fun rolling, and may try to do it again this Friday.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Aikido, 1-31-09

On a whim, we decided to do an Aikido lesson after Judo yesterday. I had written in a previous post how I've been liking Judo a lot more, and wanting to spend more time training it, but after having spent a few weeks with no Aikido, I found I missed it. I'm going to still try to work in the occasional Aikido lesson as well.

We started with tegatana no kata, with emphasis on relaxing again. This time, Pat talked about how to coordinate our arm motions with our steps, for maximum flow. Turns out using the up and down motions of walking with the arm motions rather than against them makes a big difference. I look forward to developing this in my walking. I need to remember not to try to lift my arm up while my center is moving down.

We went through releases 1 through 4, and I got hung up again by being tense and not relaxing. After pounding "Relax" into my head, and making my body listen, my releases were feeling and working much, much better. I found that when I was able to truly relax with the release, it was much easier to synch up with uke. We camped out a while on Release 1 just to warm up (or is it "chill out"?) to this feeling of relaxed releases. We focused on what I'll call "tactile invisibility" (fitting with uke so well that he barely knows you're there). It was amazing to see how this idea really helps you deal with whatever the bad guy tries to do to you, even when he changes the script. Bruce Lee quotes about water come to mind, haha. Speaking of water, I reflected on how it takes the shape of its container, but what we were doing with the releases felt more like I (as tori) was a container that was taking the shape of (for lack of a less "new-age" term) that uke was putting into the system. I hope my meaning comes across. It's difficult to explain. A few more reps of releases 1 - 4 rounded out that portion of class.

Next we moved on to brush-off practice, and moved from there into shomen-ate. We did lots of repetitions of that, followed by lots of repetitions of aigamae-ate. This took us up to the end of class. Pat said "Well, that was your yellow belt demo. Did you have any questions?" It took me completely by surprise! As in my Judo demo, I asked what deficiencies he saw in my Aikido demo. He surprised me again by saying "None". Obviously that doesn't mean I don't have things to work on. Pat pointed out that my Aikido is far more polished than my Judo, and he'll get no argument from me there. I think that's due to the fact that I came from a dojo in an organization that's an off-shoot of Fugakukai. My wife and I both trained there for months, and that was before we had our daughter, so we went to class 2 to 3 times per week. We also trained together constantly at home, so I got lots of practice back then. Now that our daughter's here, I find it's much more rare to find a training partner outside the dojo (but one of my nephews if getting more and more interested, and we get together for some Judo stuff occasionally).

So I'm now a yellow belt in both Judo and Aikido. It's been a good weekend. One small step, a beginning. Thanks, Pat, for the good times, great instruction, and friendship. I look forward to what's next.


Judo 1-31-09

In today's lesson, we worked on osotogari. More specifically, we worked on how to get an osotogari when your opponent stiff-arms you and protects the leg you want to sweep. Pat calls it "running away to get closer". Basically, a combination of moving your body away from him, and some nasty off-balances that are 90 degrees to each other makes the guy step forward with that leg he's guarding so carefully. This was my first time with this, so I'm not great at it yet. Still counting those steps. Pat demonstrated how hiza garuma could also be an option against Mr. Stiff-Arm Defense.

We talked about how there's a "gear" relationship between tori and uke in the hip throws. Different gear ratios result in different hip techniques. Pretty neat stuff, although, so far hip techniques aren't my favorite (maybe I just don't like being on the receiving end of them!).

Pat also talked about the "Divine Nine" throws, which are made up of all the required throws from the yellow and green belt syllabus (5 from yellow, 4 from green). These throws form the core of all the rest of the throws, so they're introduced early in order to give students many, many repetitions over the years.

I did my yellow belt demo today, and it went pretty much as I expected it to. We each did 5 reps of each of the 5 throws for my level: deashi barai, kosotogari, osotogari, hiza garuma, and uki goshi. Then I demonstrated the ground mobility cycle, and four escapes from kesagatame (leg-entanglement, sit up, uphill, and bridge & roll), and two escapes from munegatame (shrimp to guard, and bridge & roll).

When I say it went as I expected it to, what I mean is I did have trouble with a couple of things. Uki goshi is still awkward for me. There was a slight hitch in my cross-face turnover during the ground mobililty cycle. I asked Pat what deficiencies he saw, and he pointed out my uki goshi needs more work (no surprise there), and my uphill escape from kesa does too (I need to bump hard to effect the escape). Overall, I think he was satisfied with the demo and promoted me to yellow belt. I know it's just a first step. I do feel like I've learned a lot in the past months, and realized how very much more there is to learn (and practice) in the years to come.