Welcome to The Road to Shodan - Yonah Wolf's Judo Blog, a journal of his progress towards obtaining his first-degree black belt (Shodan) in Kodokan Judo.
Yonah shares his insights, tips, tricks, and thoughts as he progresses in the art of Judo and fights his way towards his Black Belt (Shodan).
I have noticed marked improvements in my Randori. Interestingly enough I don't get in as many throws as I used to, but at the same time, I also don't make the same mistakes, nor do I get thrown as easily. I am really loosening up my play and I see my skills going to the next level every day.
I guess when using Randori as a measure of one's skill it is not so much that you throw, but rather how you throw.
Somewhere in the last couple of weeks, I feel that I have made a transition in my Judo. I have started playing a little looser and more fluid. I don't telegraph my attacks as much, and even though I am not hitting my major throws as easily in some cases, I am getting close enough to realize that they will be super effective with a bit more practice. I have also greatly improved my timing and footwork (although, admittedly, it needs a LOT more work) as well.
In talking to my sensei about my progress yesterday, he mentioned that he too has noticed a changed, and predicted that once I get my hands and feet to work together I will notice that my judo will reach a whole new level.
I think in the past few weeks I have learned (both from within and outside of judo) that reducing tension and loosening up can go a long way. I guess if you think about the stiff-armed, body-power Judo played by lower Kyus (at least the kind that I played) and compare it to forcefully removing the lid of a pic…
Out of the blue this morning I was greeted with an e-mail from someone who I don't know who said he saw me lose to a white belt at my last shiai and told me that I don't deserve to wear a brown belt and that I should give up judo, or start again from scratch. I politely told this person (who sent this message anonymously) that I would be more than glad to come to his dojo for some instruction from him (her?), as I am open to learning from everyone. I eagerly await his reply.
Even though I know in my mind that this person admittedly only saw me play in one match (forget about multiple matches in a shiai), and has know idea of how I really play Judo, he still put the monster of doubt in my head.
I wondered aloud if he was right. I decided to ignore him and let my technique tell me the truth. Today in Randori I landed to amazing throws - one Ippon-worthy Uchimata and one wazari-ish Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi. Okay, maybe it is no big deal that I did this - after all, I have landed hund…
In grade school, one of my teachers made us listen to a cowboy song called 'Prime the Pump'. The gist of the song was that a desert traveler, dying of thirst, comes across a water pump with a small bottle and a note. The note indicates that the small amount of water is neccesary to 'prime the pump' so that you will be able to get more water out of it. The chorus' final line -'You need to give of yourself before you're worthy to receive.' He asked us to ponder that thought and think about the concept of reward for personal sacrifice.
This concept popped into my head yesterday about Randori and Judo. Our sensei was away yesterday and class was taught by one of the senior blackbelts in the night class - someone who rarely comes to the afternoon classes. I commented to him at one point that the thing I love most about Judo is that to be able to execute a technique, you must make yourself vulnerable first.
Every time I enter for a hip throw I need to give my…