Monday, February 28, 2005

Tsurikomi Goshi

Last night I was critiqued in my Tsurikomi Goshi practice with someone saying that I wasn't using my Hikite (pulling hand) at all. I have said that this particular throw is an achilles heel for me, and that I wanted to learn it better. I think the time has come to ask my Sensei for real advice. Learning to execute this throw properly is super important for three reasons:

  • It is one of the throws required for Nage-No-Kata -the kata done for Shodan
  • It is the two-footed basis for a lot of one-footed throws - Harai Goshi, Hane Goshi and Uchimata
  • It is one throw that I really don't know well and want to learn.

I think if I really work hard at developing this throw, I will become a lot better in Judo in general.

New experiences

So I went to the local dojo's training program last night and I had a realtively good experience with some unfortunate side effects. Originally it was scheduled for the JCC in a local Gym, but it didn't quite work out that way. Because of the scheduling conflict they moved it back to their dojo a few blocks away - but the Dojo was a bit on the small side (and I thought that my Dojo was small) nonetheless it was a serious workout. The Head Sensei is a former French olympian, and takes competition very seriously. (His very frayed French National Team gi hangs from the Dojo Rafters). But he doesn't take it too seriously and ensures that both the kids and the adults have fun in his dojo. His assistant is a lightweight guy - 60-66 kg - but faster than most of the Judoka I have ever played against. (He is going to compete in the NYAC against the lieks of former World Champ Arash Mirasmeili among others).

The warmups were intense and I can't remember the last time I did so many squats (150, + ~150 pushups and situps - i didn't do the full set, but came close). The adults were essentially two groups the 'masters' like 2-3 guys in their 40's and the 'seniors' me, the asistant sensei and another brown belt in his 20's. Being that I usually play guys in their 30's and 40's the young bucks gave me a run for my money. Also, Randori was harder, because I am not used to that type of game - fast and ready reflexes. Leo (the asistant sensei) was throwing me as fast as I could stand up, and even my venerable throws and counters weren't working.

For the first time, I also used a crash pad. For those who've never seen one, a crash pad is a very think foam pad (6-8" thick) used for Nage-Komi, throw practice. In my dojo we do our Nagekomi on the mats, and I have never used the crash pad before. My throws all sucked because I couldn't get my positioning right for the pad. I nearly hurt someone with a failed Kata Guruma.

In ne-waza I also went up against Leo (the asistant sensei, and he choked me out everytime (save one armbar). I also injured my hand fighting the triangle. (I hope it's playable,but I will know later).

I would definitely go there again, wife permitting, but I think I will need to get into better shape to keep up with the young bucks :).


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Going to try out a different dojo...

So I am going to try out a different dojo on Sunday night. This is a great opportunity for me to get in 3 workouts a week. I just hope the people are as nice and cordial as they are in my own dojo. I'll keep you posted.

New Gi(s)...

bluegi.jpgwhitegi.jpg

I just won an auction on eBay for two new Judogis! These gis are billed as double-weave and both cost me what I think one comparable gi would cost me in the US. (They were being sold together 1 white and 1 blue).Of course I know what you are thinking - he's bought gis before sight unseen and screwed up royally, or that this would generate yet another pantsless post on Judo Forum.
But this time around I actually did some homework. You see the person selling me the gi actually lives near the Wacoku factory in Taiwan and gets unbelievable prices on these gis. Although I don't know too many Judoka that use Wacoku gi, I know that it has a pretty decent reputation as a Karate gi manufacturer (although, given the differences between Judo and Karate Gis, this shouldn't mean much). She has also sold a lot of them on e-bay. So I went through the feedback and contacted a lot of her previous sellers. They all provided valueable feedback - some good and some bad - that helped me make my decision. It was also nice to see how friendly members of the martial arts community are. I contacted about 5-6 people and at least 4 of them responded and answered follow-up questions as well. I am looking forward to posting information about these gis, as well as some pictures (I promise I will post them with pants on).



Thursday, February 17, 2005

You maybe in a McDojo if....

While there are tons of legitimate martial arts schools out there, and thousands of serious practitioners studying those arts every day, there are at least an equal number of McDojos out there (especially in the US). For the uninitiated, a McDojo is essentially a martial arts school that puts greater emphasis on marketing and profit than on educating the public in its selected eastern art. That being said, here are some signs that you may be in such a program:

You may be in a McDojo if...

  • Every belt has up to 4 tabs, 2 stripes, in each of 3 colors, making for 19 possible combinations at each belt level.
  • You have so many belt colors that they've resorted to using Camouflage, Gingham and Plaid as belt colors.
  • Your monthly membership fee is $10, your grading fee is $30, and you pay amonthly average of $100;
  • Requirements for grading are: attendance, completing a 'homework/behavioral' checklist, attained specific knowledge, understand specific terms, and pay the $50 fee - all of which are flexible, except for the fee :).
  • The instructor in your adult class is a Black Belt and has the title 'Shihan' and has been practicing for 7 years... but he is only ten years old.
  • Their 'pro shop' offers black belts down to size 00.
  • The head instructor let's rank beginner's take him down - but only at their own birthday parties.
  • You are required to buy a new Uniform to color-coordinate with each belt.





Feel free to comment and add more to the list.

Another Great Opportunity - that I don't think applies to me

There is a training camp right after the NY Open with some of the Elite Athletes that are to compete in the Tourney. Unfortunately, it seems that the clinic is only open to Black Belts.

Oh well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Missing Practice

Unfortunately my oldest was sent home from school with a croup-like cough and I needed to forgo my Judo session yesterday to leave early and take him to his pediatrician. Thankfully it is just a cough, and nothing major, which given that his little brother is still taking medicine for an ear infection, is pretty darn good.

I think that the one advantage that the Gym had over Judo was that I wasn't bound to a class. If I was still going to the Gym, I could have brought my son home after his appointment yesterday and then gone to workout.

Unfortunately given yesterday's missed class and given that monday is a legal holiday and the dojo is closed (and I am not going to be anywhere near it), I will have gone 10 days between workouts - not good.

I think what I need is to be able to identify 3-4 additional workouts that I can go to, so If I miss a regular workout or two, I can go to the other ones.

Changes Brewing

I think I mentioned early on when I started this blog that I was also going to possibly use this site for other Judo-related projects (quite frankly, I am not that arrogant to believe that my personal blog should be called 'WorldJudo.info' :)).

That being said, instead of trying to teach myself a new language and develop it that way, I am planning on rolling everything over to a Language that I know, ASP.NET.

There is just one problem - my current blogging software won't work with it. So I will need to replace it. I am not sure how and where, but once I figure it out, I will let you (the few people reading this site) know about the impending changes.

--Yonah

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Dobuting one's ability... and focusing on what's important

So I was practicing yesterday with a green belt. Generally speaking my brown belt is just one notch above green in our ranking system, which basically means that it is quite plausible that there is very little difference in our abilities to some extent.

I have to say that while I think that my knowledge of technique and trickiness in Randori are better than this particular green belt's - he definitely has me beat hands down when it comes to speed and execution. But then again, he plays 4x a week, and I play 2x (if I am lucky).

Working with him, and watching him, made me doubt my worthiness to wear a brown belt. I felt inadequate for a little while. But then I remembered a quote (which I heard second-hand) from my Sensei: "A Belt is merely a means to keep up your pants and hold your jacket closed".

I thought this morning about how much I have improved since I returned to Judo 5 months ago. I now feel comfortable in Randori with black belts and brown belts; My Ne-waza went from piss-poor to half decent; and I have not only improved my technical skill in many techniques, but I also have picked up some great tricks for Randori that I can't wait to use in Shiai.

I also acknowledge that I have a long way to improve in other areas:

  • I want to work on Tsurikomi Goshi and it's derivative throws - Uchimata, Hane Goshi and Harai Goshi (it works for me now, but my technique needs improvement).
  • I want to build up my confidence to play more offensively in both standing and ne-waza Randori.
  • I need to learn how to really use foot sweeps.


I think if I keep focusing on getting better - I will, and I will also enjoy Judo more.

Friday, February 11, 2005

A New opportunity

I was trolling the net looking for new Judo sites, I discovered that a local dojo (less than 2 mi from my home) finally got a website up. When I went back to Judo, I picked my current dojo primarily because of its proximity to my office and the convenience of its classes.

The dojo nearest me has adult classes at an hour that fits my schedule - 8-9:30 pm (just after bed time) but on my busiest nights of the week.

But anyhow, I noticed on their website that they are no going to be having sunday clinics at the JCC just down the road from their dojo location. I am in like flynn. I will try going once in hfeb. and if I like it, I will go again in March. Maybe I shouldn't say that so loudly, as the post below will attest, stranger things have happened.

Man plans, G-d laughs...

As I walked in the door last night, minutes after posting that I was going to definitely attend a tourney, I check my mail and realized that it conflicts with my Synagouge's annual dinner, to which I have already committed myself too.

I will compete, I promised myself that I would go to 2-5 a year. There is a tournament coming up in May that is in my local area, in addition the promotionals (a tournament where you win points towards your next promotion) is coming up in may as well (I believe).

Maybe I will go to both? I think I need to send in my registration ASAP, so at least I have no excuses this time around.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Compliment

Lately, my Sensei has been pairing me up with an Uke who is just a bit larger than me (say 40 lbs heavier and about the same height +/- 1" inch). Because he is much heavier, I have had a hard time lifting him up onto my hips for a hip throw, so in Uchikomi I would stick to Leg throws - O-Soto-Gari, Ko-Uchi-Gari, etc.

Yesterday, Sensei tells me to do Seoinage. Both to get a better workout and to work on my technique. Skeptical, I started with Ippon Seoinage, both left and right. It was working so well, even I was impressed. He just popped up right in the air! At one point Sensei was watching and complimented me. and while I thought he didn't pay attention to our randori sessions he mentioned he's noticed how I confuse people by constantly switching grips and sides.

My uke, a long-time member of the dojo turns to me and says - 'Wow, a compliment. You'd better write this down, as he doesn't do it very often.'

It just felt good to hear.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I promise, I will actually attend this tournament!!!

So now there is a tournament on March 13th, in Bergen County, and I hope that this time, I will actually make good on my threats to compete. Let me back fill you on the saga so far. First I was going to compete on 2/6 (this weekend) at my Alma Mater's invitational tourney, but that was cancelled. Then I was mulling the 2/27 tourney in Central Jersey, but after carefully examining the math - 1.5 hrs. Each way, one mat=long tourney. This one is only 30-40 minutes from my house, and they have specific division start times and weigh-ins.

So long as the Mrs. has nothing else planned, I will be going. Interestingly enough, her best friend lives nearby, so maybe I will even get her to drive me there, and either have her watch or go visit her friend and pick me up afterward.

Since we'd be near Teaneck, maybe we could make a day of it, and go out to eat dinner in one of Teaneck's many Kosher Restaurants - hopefully it will be a victory dinner:).


Improving my judo - one tea break at a time.

I don't know if I've talked much about my Judo class. Essentially it runs from roughly noon to roughly 1:30. Usually speaking there are about 8-12 people in attendance, and most of the crew is fairly regular and consists of people working in the area. Ocassionally, we get a visitor from out of town, or someone who normally goes to our Dojo's nighttime classes and has part of their afternoon free.

Generally around 1pm, our sensei gives us a tea break. He prepares a pot of tea the old fashioned way (from loose tea leaves) and pours a glass for everyone. While we drink we usually b.s. about Judo, our club's results from the latest tournament, or get a verbal lesson from our sensei. On Monday he spoke about the following story, and I was really inspired:

"When I was a Junior at Meiji Univeristy, my Sensei asked me to coach the team of another university over spring break in preparation for a tournament. I was perplexed because I couldn't understand why he would send a student to coach a college team. But he told me 'Go, and you will understand'. While I was there, I realized why he had sent me. While at our school, we would leave practice tired and worn out, they would leave practice to play mah-jongg. I realized that the difference between those that are good and those that are great is the desire for constant improvement, and the idea that practice isn't repeating the same mistakes over and over, but rather the quest to improve ones technique, timing and reflexes."*


I realized, then and there that maybe that what was missing from my routine. That was what separated the fraying brown belts from the fraying black belts - the desire to improve.

I think that today, I will work on my weaker techniques to improve them. Hello Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi and Tsurikomi Goshi.

*My Sensei's english isn't that great, so this isn't a direct quote, but I am sure that he will be pleased by the eloquence I put into his mouth

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Fraying brown belts

I've noticed in my dojo that we have a few fraying brown belts. While a fraying black belt is a mark of someone who has passed the 'first' degree of judo, a fraying brown belt is tantamount to what college kids refer to as a 'super senior'. Granted, in our local belt system a brown belt is worn for three Kyu or levels, it still shouldn't hopefully take longer for someone to pass these three levels for their belts to start fraying. I am sure that there are many reasons why these people never reached shodan - maybe because of lack of desire or willingness to take the test. Maybe the didn't feel the need to get to the next level?

I am not here to question their progress, nor do I mean disrespect for my colleagues. All I know is that I have the desire and ambition to improve so that I get my black belt before the brown one begins to fray.