Monday, January 31, 2005

One-Armed Bandit

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about one-handed Seoinage. Ever since then I have playing with both one-handed throws and entries. I have had mixed success. Last week I threw someone with a one-handed Eri-Seoinage, and yesterday, I almost threw someone with a one-handed Morote Seoinage.

Essentially, this love for the one-handed teachniques is borne out of the inability to get a second-hand grip against Ukes who love to grip-fight. The scenario basically plays out as follows - at Hajime, I walk to Uke and look to get a right hand grip. Uke does his best at preventing me to get that grip, so I go lefty - grabbing his right lapel. At this point, he's confused - partially, I am sure because he doesn't play lefty enough to understand what I might be trying to do. So they stiff-arm, trying to keep me at bay, and making it very difficult for me to grab at their left sleeve. I used to have a hard time figuring out what to do, but then I tried the one-handed grip.

Essentially, when I get my left-hand grip on his right lapel, I try to circle him around so I am almost parallel with him, as he tries to square-up with me, I give a little tug towards me on his lapel. If the timing is right, he will need to take a step slightly forward to adjust his balance, and that is when I strike. I quickly take advantage of the Kuzushi by darting in across his front and pouncing with left-handed Tai-Otoshi/Seoi-Otoshi/Yama-Arashi. Seoinage is almost there, but I am not getting in far enough to load Uke onto my back. I guess I will need to practice it more.

I am also thinking about what to do when circling the other way - Sode Tsurikomi Goshi needs work, and I could probably use a Ko-Uchi Gari/Ko-Uchi Makikomi too.

I'll keep you posted. I just hope my potential victims, err.. ukes don't read this blog :)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Randori with Sensei and Ashi-Barai

I had a good session today. After about 15 minutes of Randori with 2 different partners, Sensei asked to Randori with me. I am always apprehensive in Randoriing with him for two main reasons: a) I feel that I need to show him that I am progressing and b) I know that his knowledge and skill (he has been doing Judo for at least 20 years more than I've been alive, and he is a 6th Dan Black Belt) far exceed any physical advantages I might have over him.

We Randoried for about 10 minutes and he managed to throw me at least once each minute. Each time he threw me it was with Ashi-Barai foot-sweeps. At one point I decided to get him with an attacking Tani-Otoshi. I baited him for Ashi Barai, and when he tried to sweep, I dropped to the side, and slid my leg behind him to drop him down - except he was still standing. Somehow he read my attack, and managed to pull his leg out of my sacrifice. The end result was me lying on the ground and him standing on his two feet, as if I had thrown myself.

I asked for advice afterward, and he told me to stop crossing my feet and keep my feet in line as much as possible.

I guess I have some work to do.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Conditioning...

I need to start doing workouts on non-judo days for two reasons: a) I need to keep myself in good Cardio-vascular shape and b)I still have 5-10 lbs to lose to reach my goal, and I need an extra push to get there.

It's interesting, but as I thought about what workout I could do, I started to ponder the differences between strength training and conditioning. In a nutshell, the goal of strength training is building muscle mass -both for good looks and to build strength/power. The goal of conditioning is building endurance. That being said, the approaches taken to each is different as well.


For example, when strength training the goal is ading reps and resistance. So after a few weeks of 20 pushups, start doing 30. Or after benchpressing 3x8 reps of 100lbs, go to 110. While with conditioning, it is more of a time game - as in run for 20 minutes or do as many crunches as possible in 3 minutes.

With conditioning training, the goal obviously is to watch that number steadily climb as time progresses. The idea is to get you performing at your peak over a specific period of time - and I think that is what I am going to do.

My time situation easily lends to this, as I will only have a few minutes for calesthenics each day, but hopefully they will get me into better shape and provide me with good results.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Objects of Judo Desire

We don't have much in the way of gear for Judo. Basically the only gear you need is your Gi, and even that only comes in one style and two colors (Royal Blue and White). Sounds limiting, except that there are 25-40 manufacturers of Judo Gi and they range in price from $40 up to $300. Of coursethere are lots of variations in Quality, thickness, and durability that go into these models.

My current Gi wardrobe consists of 2 gis, one is what would be called a middle-of-the-line Gi. It retails for around $100 (although I got mine for less from the manufacturer). The other is my first Judo gi, a 'Student Special' that I have for ten years, with about 4 years of use on it, and it is just starting to fray.

Ultimately, I want to get a higher-end gi, but right now there is no cost-justification for it, as I only practice 2x a week, and I don't really compete. The gi that I want (Toraki Gold, first blue and then white) cost about $150. (closer to $200 when you factor in taxes and shipping) - a pretty penny. There are only two situations that I see myself getting one - a)Price comes down to below $100 (clearance maybe?) or b)My wife is nice to me and lets me buy it as a present (not gonna happen until I hit 35 or black belt).

I guess I can still desire though?

Trying to get

When I first returned to Judo in August, I was amazed how much I had remembered after an almost 8-year absence. My dojomates commented that my Seoinage technique was really good. Although I can do Seoinage well in Uchikomi and Nagekomi (all three of the grip variations - Eri, Ippon and Morote, but I haven't yet dabbled with the drop variations). But somehow, I can't set it up right in Randori. I think I want to focus on setup throws more in Uchikomi and Nagekomi so that I will find myself in better position to execute it in Randori. I will work on Ko-Uchi Gari today and see if I can get that to work to my advantage.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

You never know who is going to show up....

So I introduced myself to a Dojomate who has been started coming to our dojo recently. Turns out that not only is he a 4th dan, but he is also a high-ranking city official and on a state judo board. His technique was awesome. That's the great thing about wearing the Gi, you really have to guess what your uke does for a living, etc, because the Gi is a great equalizer.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Thinking about the Shiai

I am debating if I am going to go to the Shiai or not on the 27th. On the one hand, it is a small tournament with only under black belt ranks which will ensure that I won't get in over my head. On the other hand, it is 3 hours of driving (1.5 each way), the tournament lasts for 5 hours, and I will fight for a maximum (say) of 30 minutes total.

On the one hand, if I lose out early, I would just leave, but on the other If I do well, I will need to stay for the medal round - so this could easily turn out to be a whole-day affair.

Stay tuned.

--Yonah

New Faces

It is nice when new faces come to our Dojo. Today we had a black belt who was a regular at our school's evening class but decided to join us during the day. He showed us a neat turnover from the turtle into an armbar/holddown.

It's great when new people show up to share their knowledge and experience with us.

On top of that, I managed about a full ten minutes of Randori with 2 different partners. A lot of good technique too - even if I was sometimes on the receiving end.

It is good to know that 25lbs lighter, I have a lot more stamina than I did in August.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The importance of constant attack

In Randori this week, I was trying to use Tani-Otoshi, which I normally use as a counter, as an attacking move. I tried bating my Uke into stepping towards me, and as he did, I moved my foot to slip it in place behind him - which he met with his own foot to throw me with Hiza Guruma - But because I was iniating my own attack, momentum was in my favor. I quickly reversed my hands and threw him forward instead of backwards - reversing his attempt.

It was profund. Many of the observers told me that it was a great move on my part, but I told them if I hadn't been attacking I would have been toast. I learned a valuable lesson from that:

Granted, when you move to attack, you make yourself vulnerable to an attack, but the effort gives you two advantages - 1)It puts your opponent on the defensive and 2)Even if you are off balance, you at least have more control - especially in your own head.

I guess it is Tora, Tora, Tora in Randori from now on.

The Ne-Waza Double Trap

I in Ne-Waza Randori, one of my partners got me into a unique Double-Trap, that was so powerful, it felt that there was no escape. With me on my back, he had his legs coiled around my head and right arm. He began to choke me with Sankaku Jime the triangular choke (you hook the ankle of one leg into the the kneepit of the other and then using the first leg's knee, apply pressure to the carotid). But as I tried to use my left hand to free it, he armbarred me with Hiza Gatame. If I would have fought the armbar, he had the choke.

I need to try that as Tori sometime :)

Learning new things everyday

I had a really good workout on Wednesday, and it seems that I learn more and more each day. During our 'tea break' (our Sensei prepares tea for us, usually right before Randori), someone talked about Koga and his one-handed Seoinage. I decided to try it - not ever even having seen Koga do it (or even his first name). Although I didn't land it, I discovered a new way to enter into Yama Arashi and Eri-Seoinage.

I also learned some cool new ne-waza tricks as well (saving one of them for a separate post).

I still am focusing only on getting to Nikkyu right now - the next level up, because G-d only knows how long I need to go to get to Shodan.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know

I had two great Judo workouts this week, and with the help of our Dojos black belts, I spotted several flaws in my technique and started working on correcting them. The more I play with Experienced Judoka, the more I realize just how much further I have to go to my shodan. When I returned to Judo last August, my goal was to reach Shodan in 2-3 years. While I haven't shied from that goal, and while I don't believe that it is completely unreachable, I now have a different approach: That I want to work hard to improve my Judo, so that when the time is right, I will be awared my Shodan.

My wife, who knows me like a book, often says that I always try to jump steps - i.e. I'm looking at Shodan instead of at Nikyu, the next level up.

Maybe I should start listening to her more often.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Gi off of his back..

I think everyone you meet in your life will have varying amounts of sincereity and kindness. There is one guy in my Judo Class that has an abundance of both.

I forgot my Gi on Monday, and knowing that he has been with our club for a long time, I asked if he knew if our sensei had any loaner Gi lying around?

He said he didn't think so, but since he has his gis washed at the laundromat down the block, he offered to bring one of his for me to work out in.

He is a great guy - another reason why I like this dojo is that we have a lot of people like this.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Missing Class, Finding Class

I missed my regular class yesterday because of a timing conflict. Again, in the grand scheme of things, this is no big deal, but at the same time, I also feel that my whole diet and excercise program is off when I miss a workout, especially because I only get in 2 classes a week.

The classes I attend are from 12-1:30 each day and with changing and travel time, take up about 2 hours total from my workday. I accomodate for this by shifting my schedule to work later on night that I work out on and taking less time for lunch on days that I don't.

I was talking to a friend today about how martial arts classes can be so inconvenient sometimes. Obviously they realize that most adults will take classes after dinner and most kids will take them after school, so kids classes run from, say 5:00 to 6:30, and adults run from, say 6:30-7 up to 9:00 or so.

Of course, this sucks for someone like me who spends the time between 7-8 on most nights with my kids bedtime routine - bath, story, bed, etc. Something which I would definitely not give up for anything - even my beloved Judo.

I am lucky to have found a school with a noon class close to my office that fits into my schedule, I just wish I could go at least one more time per week, but sadly, there don't seem to be enough hours in the day. I wish I could find a Dojo with a late evening class - like 9-10:30 pm or maybe a combined adult/kids class from 6-7:30 or so. I would gladly go to either of these.

Even a dojo with 'open randori' for a two-hour period would be great too. Maybe when I get my shodan, I could open that kind of Dojo? :)



Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Bummer....

The Polytechnic Invitational Judo Competition I was going to enter was cancelled. So now I think I will enter a competition in New Jersey sponsored by Cranford Judo.

It'll give me two more weeks to practice.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Learning to Stand Up and Throw Tall

Yesterday in Randori, I was having a rough time getting a grip on my Uke, and he was playing very defensively. I finally got into position for Harai Goshi but it just wasn't working. So I pushed it a drop further and then turned it into Harai Makikomi (essentially these two are very similar, except that after the first one, the Tori - thrower - is standing after the throw, while in the latter, the Tori rolls towards the mat to get increased momentum and, if executed properly, winds up on top of the Uke with him being pinned down). A few moments later he was also playing stiff armed, and I went for a Sumi Gaeshi against him.

Both throws were marginally successful. I would say that at best, I would have gotten a half point for the Makikomi and less for the Gaeshi, but the technique, I was told, was pretty good. So my partner tried a Makikomi that was half decent but he partially landed on me - thankfully it wasn't that painful.

After witnessing this, our sensei urged everyone to focus on throws that leave you standing after the throw. I couldn't help but think he was addressing me specifically. Especially after him observing my mixed results with Uchimata and Hane Goshi in Uchikomi.

It's funny, but he has some of the senior brown belts (2nd and 1st KYU) practice a lot of Tsuri Komi Goshi - a throw who's hand motions and off-balancing are at lot like those of the aforementioned trio - Harai, Hane, and Uchimata. I am now starting to see why, and think that I will join them.

In a related note, I have been taking part in a heated debate about Drop Seoinage in the Judo Forum. There are a few Judo techniques that have a 'Drop' variation in which dropping to your knees or kneeling (and/or springing back up) are utilized to provide more momentum for your throw. Of course, these throws can sometimes be more dangerous.


In light of these two events, I think I will work harder on my two-legged techniques - and once I am confident in my control and technique, I will try to work on the more advanced stuff.

I guess it is safe to say that the road I walk on towards my shodan seems to get longer everytime I feel like I am getting somewhere.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Stamina, Spinning and the Single-Step Spring

I got on the scale this morning and was happy that it read 193! I am just over 25 lbs lighter than I was when I returned to Judo in August. My goal is to get the needle below the 190 mark, and I hope to get there before my next competition in Feb.

Although I can attribute my weight loss to my diet more so than I can to Judo, it is my regular Judo practice that has increased my stamina and overall well-being.

When I first started Judo, I had very little steam in Ne-Waza and lagged significantly behind in calesthenics. Say I was able to perform maybe 30% of the Calesthenics load in our warm-up and warm-down excercises. Now I am at 90% capacity (my goal is 110%, so that I don't feel winded by the workouts).

One of the places where I have seen significant improvement is in the spinning excercise. The spin excercise is a warm-down/stretching excercise, in which you start in a seated position, spin your legs around and behind your back until you are prone, and then continue around again until your are sitting up. In august, I bowed out of doing them, because I just couldn't. Then I started by completing just a handful of 30-50 spins, and poorly. Now I can do about 20-25 full spins with no problems (it's the last 5-10 that kill me) and at the tail end of each I will be sitting up about 315 degrees from where I started - only 45 degrees to go.


I also finally got to meet Mark one of my virtual friends from the Judo Forum. He returned to our Dojo after a 9-month absence, and he was my Uke for Uchikomi. Sensei urged him to do his Hane Goshi, which he remembered being really good. It was probably some of the very best technique I've ever seen for that throw. I of course, immediately tried it afterward and he and Sensei watched, and then critiqued.

I entered the throw with a two-step move, that is, from a right-handed grip, I stepped my left foot towards Uke and then planted my right foot before pivoting on the left to execute the throw.

They showed me a much more efficient way of doing this - skip the second step by turning and planting with the left foot and then pivoting into the throw. It was phenomenal. I now see Uchimata and Hane Goshi in a whole new light. I still, however, need a lot of practice, but now that the stage has been set, I will hopefully be able to put a new set of throws into my arsenal.