So last week I went on a business trip to California, and I decided to find a dojo to work out in on the road. Fortunately, my hotel was a block away from San Jose State University, and their Judo team has an open-door practice policy. So I couldn't resist. All told, there were about 25-30 people in the room playing and practicing Judo. It was a great Judo experience for me.
First some words about the SJSU Judo team. They are probably one of the few colleges in the US that takes Judo as a sport seriously. Even though the team's members are students first, they are also excellent and first-rate Judoka, and many of them have competed and won at high-level events. It was amazing to see so many young, enthusiastic and athletic Judoka hard at work.
While I bowed out of the full randori session, I still managed to get one round in with a Japanese student named Kento - his ashi-waza was beautiful. It's as if wherever I stepped, his feet were there. I also admired the skill students' (and one of their coaches, Chuck Jefferson's) techniques during randori.
I realized that becoming a good Judoka requires a lot of training and hard work as well as good work ethic and the will to improve. These 'kids' practice 5 days a week, and also alternate running and weight training days, all told, they probably workout around 4 hours total per day, for five days a week! I again reminded myself that I really need to supplement my Judo with some other excercise - if only I could find the time.
I would be lying if I didn't say that I felt like the white elephant in the room (all but 3 other people were black belts, and excluding the sensei, I was the oldest in the room by at least 5 years). But they all made me feel right at home, and everyone seemed to want to practice with the new guy. The greatest part of it all was that I learned so much -
- We did some great drills for controlling and escaping from various grips. I quickly found that Sukui Nage is a good attack against an over the back grip.
- I watched Keith Nakasone teach a great variation on Tomoe Nage using the weak-side leg.
- I learned a great counter to drop-seoinage - so I can finally counter those people who always try drop seoi.
It was truly an amazing experience, and I hope to get out there again if I find myself in San Jose