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Showing posts from March, 2005

Neural Networks, Reflexes, and the Importance of Practice and Combinations

Our dojo is pretty small, and generally speaking we can only get 3-4 Randori sessions going at one time. When there are 6-10 people at a particular class this is great, but when we get more than 10, you have to wait your turn to play. Needless to say, it isn't that bad waiting around as you can cull ideas from your colleagues and also assess how to play them when your number is up.

I was watching one particular match where one of my dojomates was executing a beautiful combination from Uchimata into Tani Otoshi. I have seen Jimmy Pedro actually demonstrate this in a video made to teach the American audience about Judo for the Olympics, and this guy was great at it, he must've hit it several times yesterday. Watching him got me thinking, not just about the combination itself, but the concept of Combinations in General as well as the concept of reflexes.

Any one will tell you that the key to performing effortless Judo is all in the timing. If you do not agree with me, or don't…

Circle to the Right ....

When I injured my wrist a few weeks ago, I had to almost completely switch over the the left-side, because I wanted to go easy on the right hand, and using it as my Tsurite (Lifting hand) was quite painful. I think that it has healed enough for me to be able to go back and try the right again, I will let you know how it goes.

Mystery Solved

I know that once you get to Shodan and above, you need to successfully perform Judo Kata to reach the next Dan. However, I wondered when and where those Kata are taught and practiced.

As I was leaving class today, I noticed that my Sensei had a 'Kata' class listed on the schedule. Although I am not yet ready to study Kata, I know that it is there for me when the time comes.

Visible Progress...

For many reasons, I decided to go back to playing right-handed today (for the most part, anyways). In addition to testing out how well my wrist has healed (it's like 80%, still can't use it to bridge and do certain throws), I also wanted to test out some of the techniques I have been doing on the left side on the right side as well. I was amazed at how much progress I am making with my Tsurikomi-Goshi, and even my Hane Goshi has improved a bit.

But in Randori, I really surprised everyone, including myself, as I almost pulled off an Uchimata. I was going for Ashi Guruma, and my Uke stepped out, so I immediately switched back to Uchimata, but he managed to avoid my sweep. Later on, I also almost managed a Ken-Ken uchimata, but in the end, I got reversed and thrown.

Nonetheless, my uchimata was so bad just a couple of months ago, that people asked me not to practice it.

Maybe by the 1-year anniversary of my return to Judo I will have it down pat.


My Bag

On Mondays and Wednesdays - my two Judo days, I carry my Judo gear bag with me to work. Of course on the way in and out I look like a pack mule - With an overnight bag slung over one sholder and my Backpack - with my laptop, work stuff, and lunch - on the other. Although it isn't a problem to find a seat and ample space for my gear on the commuter train I take from my suburban home to NY's Grand Central Station, it becomes a huge hassle on the two subway trains I take between GCT and my office.

For those who haven't lived in New York City, you need to understand that carrying these two oversized bags through some of the most crowded subway stations (Grand Central, Times Square) is a hassle in of itself, even there wasn't the stigma associated with large bag carriers. You see, given the crowds at rush hour, the bigger the bag, the more hated you are - and I have two, so I am one Notch above the Devil, Osama Bin Laden, and whoever is currently living in the Mayor's Ma…

Outhinking Myself

While there are many people in my club of various shapes and sizes, there really aren't too many that are within my weight class. There is one guy that I like playing who is about, if I had to guess - 30-40 lbs heavier and a couple of inches taller than me. I really enjoy playing with him, simply because his size advantage is a big challenge.

I played against him a lot today, and couldn't even get the slightest concession, he kept beating me with more moves, and kept overpowering me - so I foolishly tried to counter with harder moves and more force. Which only led to both of us being tired out. In Randori week after week he continually throws me with Tai Otoshi, and I keep trying to counter it, but then he gets mad when I don't take the slap when he throws.

I think I need a new tack. Part of the tenets of Judo is 'Maximum Efficiency' or 'Best use of energy'. I need to get a little more cunning and mix it up against him, at least so that he doesn't get in…

Another point about Constant Attack

In January, I talked about the importance of constant attack, and how the timing of your attack in concert with one by your opponent can tip things in your favor.

However, I recently realized another element of why it is important to constantly attack - because it puts your opponent on the defensive. I love to counter - sometimes I will sit and wait for my opponent to try something before I counterattack. I am seeing more and more why this is a bad idea. The minute my opponent throws me on the defensive he is at an advantage.

Why? Because even if I am waiting to counter, I am still thinking defensively, and If am in 'defense' mode, it is hard to spot the opportunities for attack.

I think I will need to be more aggressive. The worse that can happen is that I get thrown :)

One wash can make a huge difference

So I shrink-washed my two new Gis yesterday, and although I thought that my gis would change with the wash, I didn't imagine that one shrink washing would make such as huge difference.

The sleeves shrunk to the perfect fit with just one washing and between the shrinkage and airing out of the fabric the fabric expanded to a considerable heft - it now feels a lot more like my Double-weave Toraki Silver in terms of thickness. Of course, as has happened in the past, my skirts are just an inch or two too long. I will wear them for a couple of weeks and/or possibly shrink them again (although I am a little worried about the sleeves) before I take them to the tailor. Even if the tailor only charges me $10 bucks to shorten the gi, it would kill some of the value. Still $38 bucks for a double-weight Gi is an awesome price!! (Besides, if I like these gi and get mileage out of them, I might save the $10 for some emboridery :) ) Of course, the skirt is made of a lighter material than the jacke…

Murphy doesn't like me...

So I get an e-mail yesterday from one of the exmainers on our local Yudanshakai's promotion board (I will explain this in my next post). His e-mail included the application packet for the next promotional competition - to be held on May 15th. This is one week to the day before the Competition that is literally in my backyard that I wanted to compete in. While competeing in both would be great, somehow I don't think it is going to happen. I will need to talk it over with Faigy and figure out which of the two I will attend. Who knows, she may say yes to both!

One little detail can make a world of difference.

When I bought my new gi the other day, I also got along with it a DVD of Instructional Judo as well. The DVD was created by former US Olympian and World Champion Mike Swain for the purposes of teaching instructors how to teach Judo.

There were some small little details in his video that I picked up on on how my Kuzushi wasn't working properly, and in particular, effecting my ability to throw with two throws Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi and Hiza Guruma. I picked up on these details - a little twist of the wrist when pulling, and turning your head to the side slightly - and BOOM! A throw which I had great difficulty performing before suddenly became very easy. It's still far from perfect, but those two little pointers made a world of difference.

Interestingly enough, I don't think that anyone who has no clue about Judo techniques could possibly learn such a complex throw simply by watching a video. I think that the point Mr. Swain makes is simple if you could learn from a video, why …

Initial Gi Review

My Gis arrived yesterday in the mail. To make a long story short, I one an auction for two gis - one blue and one white - on Ebay for $75. Considering that these were billed as double weave - it seemed like a two for one deal. Even at that rate - most size 5 singles are at least $45 - so it is definitely a good deal.

Here are my impressions so far - bear in mind I haven't washed or worn the gis short of an initial try-on.

The blue is a little bluer than I thought it would be, but then I have seen other pictures of brand-new blue Gis and they look as if they were a lot bluer to start with and I expect it to fade a bit after the first few washings.

The fabric seems a thinner than I expected, but it hasn't been washed. I can tell from the workmanship that this is constructed from two plys of fabric, and more than that at most seams, but I know from past experience that a)Fabric is thin right out of the bag, and thickens up a bit as it is aired out and b)Shrinkage will increase the d…

Working the sleeve side.

Randori is the part of Judo training where we simulate competition and actually see how well our techniques work. Of course Randori in the same dojo with the same people has its pros and cons. For example, it is good because you know everyone's weaknesses and can take advantage of them, but it is bad because you don't see anything new unless someone else joins your club. I have been doing a lot of work using a left-handed grip against right-handed opponents. But since I have been doing this for a while, my partners have caught on, and will now nullify my advantage by playing lefty against me. As part of this style of play, I have generally worked the lapel side of the gi - meaning that my first hand grip goes on my Uke's lapel and then I wait for my opportunity before taking the sleeve-side grip. Of course this too is starting to get predictable.

So I am contemplating a new strategy, working the sleeve-side instead. While I know that I will have greater control to lead uke…

Working with Black Belts

Yesterday one of our regular Black Belts returned after a some time away from our particular class. I was paired up with him during most of our class and he offered a lot of great pointers on my technique. He showed me a couple of ways to improve my groundwork as well as my standing techniques, and he reiterated that I have a really good seoinage (although my left-handed technique needs to catch up to the right hand).

It was just a great day working with him and I felt that I had learned so much just from the one session. It really cancelled out the feelings of inadequacy that I felt on Sunday.

I would like to think that when I get my black belt, I will be like some of these guys who I respect and revere. But first, I will need to get there :)

Just a wee bit of pain...

As i mentioned yesterday, I went to a sunday night training program in a local dojo. During ne-waza with one of their senseis (who I might add, is playing at the NY Open this weekend - which is a relatively high-level competition), and I caught my wrist in his 'triangle'. It hurt a bit but I still played on, I also went to practice yesterday at my regular dojo, and played with a wrist-brace on. Of course, as I was trying to throw a senior Black belt with Seoinage, He tried to pull me down, and I fell flat on my face.

To add to all that, the excercises I did on Sunday were a lot more strenuous than I am used to, and included a lot less general stretching. As a result I am sore in place that I forgot existed. We did like 150 squats (something I never do) and my thighs are so sore that I can hardly walk up and down a flight of stairs. In addition, my neck is sore from Ne-Waza, and avoiding the chokes of that highly-competitive Sensei.


My wife laughs at me - she asks why I pay mone…