Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Do or Do Not - There is no try

With the end of the year upon us, a lot of you have probably given some thought to New Year's resolutions. I have too - this year, I've decided to stop trying -at least in Judo.

Yes, I really did say that, but there is some greater context here, as foreshadowed by the quote above from the character Yoda in the Star Wars movies. Think about how we use the word try in a sentence? While try is perfectly neutral in the future or present tense (i.e. I will try to eat that food, or I am trying on clothes) it almost always connotes failure or disappointment in when used in the past tense (i.e. I tried it on, but didn't fit, or I tried it, but I didn't like it) while there are notable exceptions (i.e. I'm glad I tried it), the moral of the story is it is rare to hear someone say "I tried and succeeded."

Think of all of the times we say were going to try to do something and as the words leave our lips it's apparent to the person we're saying them to that our intent is not to get the job done. How many times have we 'tried to lose weight' or 'tried to get to practice often and early' and failed? How many times have we 'tried' to compete? I am tired of trying. Trying is great for school, but in life there are seldom any 'A's awarded for effort.

So this year, I am going to stop trying, and start doing. I will go to practice, I will improve my Judo, I will compete 2-5 times and I will win. As for the last line, you might be wondering, how does someone like me even insinuate that I will win - seeing that winning is hard for me. The answer - if I came into a competition saying that I was going to try to win, I wouldn't - simply because I've already psyched myself out. No goes out trying to win - they set out to win. In their mind there is a picture of the podium and their on top in the middle.

This is the year that I will not try, but do. Hopefully it will carry over outside of judo as well.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Combinations and Weight Loss Update

I went to practice on Wednesday night - it was our last practice of the year and it was followed by our holiday party. Some of the people brought their kids, but I didn't - it was a little too late for me to be able to send Mitch. Unfortunately I wound up being a bit late, but I still got a lot of Uchikomi practice in, and I also got in 3 rounds of Randori. I have been doing a lot of thinking about ways to improve and I decided that I would take extra efforts to do two things in Randori:

  1. More consistently look to be challenged - i.e. Stand up first for Randori, play the biggest guys in the room, and don't sit any rounds out.
  2. Try new things


The first is something that I think we all need to work on. While I don't mind playing the smaller and less-experienced people in the dojo, I am trying to more actively pursue the bigger guys - because they present the biggest challenge. I managed to play 3 different people - one a Sankyu who is slightly bigger and beat me in our club competition, the second is a Shodan who is very experienced and sneaky - albeit a little smaller. The third guy was a Green belt who is a former football lineman, and has a good 60-70 lbs on me at least. I had one of my toughest Randori challenges in a while, and Only managed to get one or two throws (as well as gave up 1 or 2 as well). I tried some new moves, and while they didn't work yet, I could tell that I was still a bit hesitant, I need to get over that quickly.


As for my weight, I was about 201 this morning. A Big drop-off from my mid-summer 218. I feel thinner and better, but I need to get down at least another 10 lbs - hopefully within the next 6-8 weeks. My goal is to get down to 190 or so. If I could hit 185 (a long shot) I could then cut weight and fight in the -81s but that would be difficult too.

Nonetheless, my wife even noticed the change - so its making me feel good already. I have a couple of rashguards that I wear for swimming, and each week I wear them just to see how bad my gut looks. Their finally starting to look half-decent to the point where it doesn't seem like I am trying to smuggle a 15-lb turkey under my shirt - but no washboard yet.

I hope to get to Oishi's once or twice to get some practice in over the next few weeks until the next semester starts.


In addition to all of this, I have been thinking about Combinations. I generally view combinations in three different vanes - one is the idea that every attack has a follow-up. So if I attack with Ko-Uchi-Gari and it fails, I can quickly shift and switch to Seoinage, and vice-versa. In Putin's Book, he has combination wheels for all of the throws he illustrates that show what attacks can be used to set-up or follow-up a specific technique. There is also the idea that I can feint or bait uke into a specific reaction so that I can execute my throw. Finally, one of the many things I've picked up from Sensei Watanabe is the notion that if I learn to perform combined entries, I can enter in a way that uke isn't sure what attack I'll be using, and I have a lot of options. This final method is very powerful, and I have only recently begun to scratch the surface with it. More on this idea as I start putting it to good use.

In any case - Happy Holidays (whichever ones you celebrate or have celebrated) to you and yours and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

More Masterclass Books

My friend Andy pointed out that there was a sale at the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya in Rockefeller Center. Apparently they've just moved their store (to the Bryant Park) area, and instead of migrating their inventory, they've decided to basically liquidate most of their old store at 50% off. While their Judo/Martial Arts section isn't huge, I was able to get my hands on two masterclass books - Seoinage and Ashiwaza for $11 each (normally they go for $22, and the best price I've found online is about $20). If you are in New York, it's not a bad idea to stop buy. They're on 49th bet. 5th and 6th, and the sale is going on until the end of the year. Please note that the sale is only at this location - their new store is at full price.

Note: Earlier there was a post here with some Gibberish. Don't be alarmed - I had tried posting this with a speech-to-text service, but I had a bad connection and it didn't come out right - so I edited it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Judo Web is Finally Blossoming

I took a look at my archives the other day and realized that I have been writing this blog for over 3 years now. When I first started, the state of Judo web sites was pretty poor. Many clubs and organizations didn't have sites, and even the ones that did had pretty poor excuses of sites. The sites were almost completely lacking any type of design or navigation, and their information was almost always out of date, or not relevant. Obviously, there were some notable exceptions, such as the Judo Information site and the Judo forum. In addition, at the time I started there weren't that many other Judo Bloggers in the blogosphere, but that has changed too.

Somehow, over the past few years, the Judo world has decided that the time has come for Judo to increase its presence on the web. Within the past few months alone, the USJF and USJI have changed their web sites, and both have also begun sending member notices by e-mail. Companies like Hatashita Enterprises and Hatashita Sports have upgraded their e-commerce sites and even added an affiliate program and e-mail marketing, respectively. Then of course there are a whole new slew of sites for the Judo Community. Like the Judo Podcast (and its European Version) - which broadcast audio interviews with well-known Judoka, or JudoVision - a site that provides video of dozens of world-class Judo tournaments.

Finally, blogging has taken off. There are dozens of Judoka that are blogging these days. From average joes like myself, Andy, or Jason - to world-class competitors (current and former) like Ronda Rousey, Taraje Williams-Murray, Rhadi Ferguson, and AnnMaria DeMars.

It's nice to see that Judo is embracing the web. While it probably doesn't directly translate into more Judokas coming into our dojos, it definitely makes it easier for Judoka of all ages and skill levels, to know that there is a greater Judo community out there, and that people will answer their questions or give them encouragement to progress on to their next Judo goal. 

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Club Competition

Last night we had our club competition. Our club is essentially composed of three distinct groups - the kids from the kids class, the people from the non-credit classes that Sensei runs, and the students of the for-credit class and martial arts club of the Community College where our classes our held. (This last group, while they are adults, are separate because they practice during the day). In addition, there are sub factions in each group because some people practice only on Monday/W or W/S or Sun/Mon so they don't get to really see one another during the course of the week. Between the competitors or spectators there were easily 40-50 people in gis and another 20-25 on the sidelines, not a bad crowd at all.

I was also a bit apprehensive, because my wife was coming. We've been married for 8 and a half years, and she's never once been to a judo class or competition. I was especially worried how she would react to my son's competition. My son, playing in the littlest kids group, went first. I had a couple of mock tournaments with him, where I went over the rules, and gave him advice on how to improve his technique. He went out and played. He seems to be fixated on Seoinage and O-Goshi and was continually trying to throw with them - to the point where he was getting his grip and just turning away from his uke. Yes, they're 5 and 6 year-olds, with a lot more learning to-do but he looked out of it and unfocused during the match. I kept calling for him to try O-Soto and O-Uchi - two throws which I know that he is comfortable with, and when he finally tried them, he got countered for Ippon - by both of his opponents. Nonetheless, all of the kids got applause, and he was excited to get his trophy for 3rd place (he was going to take it in for show and tell today, but school was canceled on account of the snow).

What was my wife's reaction? - she was upset that he didn't win at least one match - she wants him to succeed in whatever he does. Nonetheless, we were all  very proud of him, and despite his need to practice more he enjoyed fighting. He asked Sensei when the next competition was.

I did pretty well too - I finished second. I played two regular Randori Opponents - Mark and Rob. I managed to beat Mark with my O-Uchi/Uchimata combo, throwing him for two consecutive Wa-zaris, but Rob, who I play more often, managed to learn how to counter me - taking me down with Ko-Soto Gake for Ippon.

My wfie was at least glad that I won second place.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why Ronda Rousey is Awesome

The Kano Cup, one of the world's top Judo Competitions, took place in Japan this weekend. Ronda Rousey, competing against the world's best, including several local Japanese favorites, took home the Silver. On the one hand, this should come as no surprise as she just took home the World Championships Silver and the Pan-Am Gold in the past few months. But then there is always the back story.

As she points out on her blog - she partially tore her LCL in one of her first couple of matches. Yet she still managed to win all the way to the Gold medal match against Ueno from Japan. So here she is, playing the crowd favorite in Tokyo, with a partially torn LCL, in the Gold Medal match of the Kano Cup - and it goes to Golden Score. For those of you who don't get it - imagine the Colts are Playing the Patriots in the AFC championship in Foxboro and it goes to overtime - and the Pats win by a field goal.

Ronda lost by a Yuko - one of the smallest scores in Judo, and she was dissapointed. How many of us would have quit with even a small twinge in our knee, yet alone a partially-torn LCL. How many of us would have been flapped by the crowd, or intimidated to be playing in Tokyo.

By her own words, Ronda has shown that she is becoming the consummate professional, and a true warrior. Her own quest for satisfaction and unwavering commitment will take her to where no other American Judoka has ever been before: The Gold Medal Podium at the Olympics. If not in 08' then in 2012 - maybe even both.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Just some quick updates on what's been going on. The last few weeks have been hectic, thankfully the baby has been calming down a bit at night, so I've been able to get to class 2x a week for the past few weeks. Unfortunately, this was the last class of the semester, and the next semester is 5 weeks away. We will probably have a couple of workouts in the next few weeks, and our club competition is next Weds.  I think I will go to Oishi's during the break!

My weight loss is progressing. As of this morning I was down to 205. So I've dropped about 6 lbs in the past 3 weeks. The Starett Cup is on 1/20, and assuming I convince the Mrs. to let me go, maybe I can play in the -90KG weight group.

As the semester has closed, my Nikyu promotion has been officialized, just need to get the paperwork done. One rung closer to the end of the road.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tough Love is Good Medicine

So I walked into practice last night (about 20 minutes late, as I needed to calm the baby down before leaving), and my Sensei's first question is 'so? how did you do? Where's my trophy?'. I will admit I was actually thinking of bringing the trophy with me, I decided against bringing it. I started to talk about everyone else's wins. 'No', said Sensei, 'I want to know about you.' When I told him I finished third he was pleased, but then I told him there were only three people in my division. He jokingly said that I was dragging his name down. But I explained that I knew that I played well but still have some work to do.

I jumped into practice, acting as uke for someone's Sankyu test. This kid is actually one of the people who is from Sensei's credit class (all of the 'club' classes are non-credit, but then matriculating students at the college can take his for credit class as well), and when he passed sensei mentioned how Judo took him from being skinny and weak and made him much stronger. I also discovered that he's picked up on Sankaku Jime pretty well.


 I am supposed to take a test of my own soon, and I have only a few more days, and I am not sure I know everything that I need to. I am Okay with 99% of the standing techniques and combinations, but I am iffy on the Ne-Waza. Yes I know a lot of the standard fare, but Sensei has a lot of Entries and positions that each has to be demonstrated from, and I don't know them all. I've got a lot of practicing to do!

In Randori, I must have done 7-10 minutes each with 3 different opponents. Sensei was critiquing me very closely, and stopping me to point out flaws in my technique. I was dead tired midway through the second match, and wanted to give up, but he wouldn't let me, and even if I tried playing lighter he was pushing me. I finally bowed out 7 or 8 minutes into the 3rd round. But I felt great, and in retrospect it was one of the best Randori sessions I've had in a long time. One of the many things I like about Sensei Watanabe is that he knows just how and when to give me tough love. He knows just how much to push me to get me to improve without breaking me! This is why I love practicing with him.

Sometimes, even your best isn't good enough...

So as you can surmise from the title, I didn't get very far in today's tournament. I had two matches, both against brown belts who I felt were my equals in size and skill. I played really well in my first match. I opened the match by trying O-Uchi My first attempt didn't succeed, but it succeeded in planting a seed in my opponent's head to watch out for the O-Uchi. The next time I came in, he reacted to the O-Uchi, and I caught him with Uchimata. He pulled me a little off balance when I threw him, but I didn't hear a call from the ref, and was perplexed that I didn't get at least a Yuko. I found out after the match that I had a Wa-zari! In fact one of my teammates thought I was robbed of an Ippon, but truth be told, I am glad to hear the technique worked. But then I made my mistake. I came in for a third time and I got countered with Ko soto Gake.


Second Match, I tried my technique again. My opponent must have been paying close attention to my first match, because he was ready, He tried O-Soto, and I turned in to pick him up - I was thinking of trying Ushiro Goshi, but I turned into his trap, he launched a second effort into O-Soto Makikomi and took me to the mat. I thought I had lost it there, but he only got a wa-zari. Still, because he used a makikomi, he immediately had me in a pin, and 20 seconds later I was done.

Nonetheless I thought I played well. Mark, who I'd met several times at Oishi's Dojo, told me that sometimes you play your best and still go 0-2, and that feels better that winning without working for it. I definitely feel good about this tournament, and that I am improving. The good things I take away are that my favorite combination works well out of the Dojo, and that I can overcome my fears. The bad things of course, are that one combination doesn't make a champion, so I need to work on being less predictable and expanding my repertoire.

In addition to playing well, I learned and enjoyed a lot of other things about the tournament:


- I met up with Steve (who was reffing) and Mark from Oishi's dojo, both of whom are great guys, and who are fun to play against, and offered good pointers and advice. Mark also thought my combo was strong. Mark and his two sons competed and he and one of them took first. The other took third, but he was playing up in a division of kids 2 years older than him.

- I met several interesting Judoka, each with their own story. There was the guy who fought in 3 divisions - taking second in two and first in one (he played his own weight class, then 1 up and 2 up!), and he probably would've done better had he not busted his elbow. It's great to be 18 and full of energy. There was the blind guy who came out and played regular rules - I think he went one and one - just seeing him was inspiring enough, but then I was talking to his sister, who told a few of us that his sensei - another brother of theirs - had died a few months prior, the blind judoka had promised him he would keep practicing and competing. When he won his match, and when he got his medal, he got a huge ovation from the crowd. There were several father-son teams in the tournament - which is always encouragement that I might play alongside my kids one day. Finally, there was another person at the competition with a similar sounding name. I kept getting confused whenever they called him instead of me. Nice guy, roughly my age, and a dad with 5 kids. He one his first match handily, but then dislocated his shoulder in the second match and had to concede. Still 1 and 1 was good enough for second place. I asked him in the locker room if his shoulder hurt. His reply - 'Not as much as it will hurt when my wife finds out!'

- I warmed up with Mark, and he was using a Gill Sports Gi, Another wish list item! Ironically, I thought of buying one a couple of years ago when it was still $1.20 Canadian to every US dollar.

- I got to watch a lot of Judo - both adults and kids, and got to see some really good waza. Including a textbook Tomoe-Nage and an amazing standing Seoinage where the uke was practically doing a handstand on top of tori. There were no doubts that both of those throws were ippon, and I think everyone in the room had a sense of jealousy and awe when they pulled off those throws.

Grandpa's Approval; Tidbits

Because I competed yesterday, I had my dad take my son to the kids' class yesterday. He was impressed with the skill and patience Sensei exercised with my son. He also told me that my son has very little Zitsfleisch (A Yiddish term for patience or attention span). I explained to him that as bad as my son might have seemed yesterday, his attention span has grown exponentially over the past two months since he started Judo.

My son also mentioned that he had a new 'partner' in class, as one more younger sibling of one of our current students started Judo. In addition to that, at the tournament I ran into two more dojomates - one who's family just returned from a few months overseas, and one who's son is turning six -  that they are going to enroll their kids for the next semester. This is awesome, I love that the kids class is growing, and that the number of kids the same age as my son is growing too. Sensei is looking to add a second kids class during the week, which will hopefully bolster attendance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Father and Son - Growing as Judoka

I am always trying to learn and grow in Judo and trying to help others do so, including my son. My son is only 5, he has the attention span to match. A lot of his teachers and such suggested he try martial arts, and I am glad (in more ways than one) that he and I can practice at the same dojo, and even more so that I get to be on the mat with him. He has a phenomenal memory, and hardly forgets a thing you teach him, although Judo can be confusing for him. Nonetheless, his memory for techniques and their names is pretty impressive for a five-year-old. This past Sunday, our Sensei announced that we would be having a Club Shiai in a few weeks, and since some of the kids don't compete that often, he turned Randori into a mock Shiai to educate them on the rules.

While he'd never competed before, and was only at one of my matches, he was somewhat familiar with the rules. When my son was about three, I used to play the Osaekomi game with him. I would pin him gently on his back and say 'Osaekomi' and he would have to roll over onto his belly and say Toketa. Of course, since he started Judo, I've gone into more detail with him. A few weeks ago at night, he asked me how someone gets points from pinning their opponent. I explained to him the rules, and how they relate to the number of seconds from Osaekomi to Toketa (or until Ippon). So on Sunday, he is doing Ne-Waza Randori, and he pins his opponent (a little girl, about 7-8 months older than him). All of a sudden, he starts counting really fast - everyone starts lauging. First I explain to him that he can't count so fast, so he slows down, then the sensei explains to him that he doesn't count, save it for the referees.

Later on, in the Mock Shiai, both him and his opponent (the same girl), go to the mat and she is on top of him, but he quickly rolls onto his belly and says "Sensei, you can't count, because I am on my stomach."

He served as good fodder for laughs all afternoon, and his match ended in Hiki-wake, since he and his opponent are still working on their techniques.

The next night, I had a conversation with our Sensei about it. All kidding aside, we both have seen him grow in Judo. Yes, it is still hard for him to pay attention for two hours straight, but at the same time, every week he shows tremendous progress, and it shows outside of Judo as well (just a little bit).

I on the other hand, have been continuing to learn and prepare for my next promotional test - not sure when it will be, but hopefully soon, and I will keep you all posted. My sensei has his own set of requirements for each rank - some of which are things I've been doing for years, others are things that are new to me, but nonetheless, it has been an interesting learning experience. And by doing all of these throws, and because of all of the Kata work that I have been doing, I feel that my Judo has been improving, and slowly ascending to the next level.

While I can see it in my sights, I know that I still have a very long way to go.

Attack Life

Well I started this month off with a bang by posting a couple of times a week, but it has quickly gotten hectic. I have been doing my best to both post and practice but with a new (and colicky) baby at home, it can be kind of rough. The last few weeks I've intended to go to practice on Monday and Wednesday nights, but on each Monday I get greeted with a 3-minute voicemail of a screaming baby - which precludes me from going to Wednesdays practice. I told my wife that I need the extra practice for the next few weeks for several reasons, the least of which is my upcoming Shiai this weekend (I will post results right after). I hope I do well, especially because I've been thin on practicing. The last few weeks have been really hectic. While my nights have not quite been sleepless thanks to my loving, and awesome wife (who lets me sleep because I need to go to work, and because I don't have the 'equipment' to feed our son anyways), I have definitely been running on much less sleep that usual. But nonetheless, I am still working out almost every morning and managing to go to Judo class. I have gained a lot of mental toughness over the past few months. I am not sure why or how, but I am starting to find ways to work through the weak spots. Which leads me to the picture above.

That picture is from October of 2004 - 3 years ago. I had long forgotten about this picture (even though its my avatar at the Judo Forum), but the website I had posted it to was going out of business, so I downloaded all of those pictures to my computer, and there it was. At the point that this picture was taken, I was just about at my goal weight of 195 lbs after coming down from 230! I looked good (if I don't say so myself). I was on the south beach diet at the time, and I was also going to Judo twice a week consistently.

This past summer, I promised myself, and my readers, that I would lose weight. But unfortunately, Instead of making a big splash, I've only made a small ripple. When I wrote that post back in the summer, I was 218, this morning I was 210 on the same scale. Nonetheless, I haven't been sticking to what I promised myself - to lose weight.

Between the picture, discussions with my wife, and just looking at the scale and in the mirror every morning, I've made the determination to get back down to the 190-195 range. Although a time limit would be nice, I am not going to do that.

I will just keep working at it until I get there. Working out every day, going to Judo as often as my wife and screaming son dictate. And I've been working at this for a couple of weeks now. Although I've only dropped a pound or two, I surprise and please myself when I able to pass over the snack cabinet, or forgo a sports drink for water or seltzer instead. I feel that even though my mental toughness regarding my weight had lapsed, my overall mental toughness has grown. I don't give up as easily, I have found my inner voice that guides me. Whether its telling me to keep on going in a 20 minute Randori session, or if its helping me keep my cool while calming down an inconsolable, screaming child at 1am, it is there. Yes, we all have lapses in judgment and get frustrated (I did in Judo a week or two ago, and was swearing like a sailor), I still think that I am a lot tougher now than I was three years ago, and a lot of it has to do with Judo.

Life needs to be attacked! Constantly! Being passive might help for a few minutes in an argument, but it is not a long-term strategy. In life, no one is going to give you a Shido for stalling or for being too passive - you need to be your own referee. You need to attack life. Finally, after all these years, I am starting to understand it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Learning in order to do...

There is an old Talmudic adage that goes something like this:

He who learns in order to teach will be able to learn and teach, but he who learns in order to do will be able to learn, to teach, to preserve, and to do.

(Avot 4:6, in case you're wondering)

I've always applied this to my learning of anything, and especially Judo. The idea here is that the study of Judo isn't just academic, but part of our lives in more ways than one. I once commented on the JudoForum, that Judo creeps into my life in the strangest of ways - for example, I sometimes find myself using foot-sweeps to open doors when I don't have a free hand.

As I get more senior, and as I help out in the kids class, I am seeing this more and more with my own eyes. The techniques that I had the hardest time with as a beginner, and the ones that I spent the most time learning and working on, are the techniques that I enjoy teaching the most. All of the advice that I never took until I learned the hard way has become all of the advice that I dole out.

And of course, the ones that I've been asked to demonstrate that I didn't really know, are the ones that I feel challenged by even more when I am practicing.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Losing makes me want to learn more!

I had a couple of tough workouts this week. In addition to the one on Monday that I wrote about, I went to Oishi's on Wednesday. I spent several minutes in Ne-Waza Randori with a Brown Belt who seemed to be able to twist me every which way he wanted. I think he must have tapped me out about 8-10 times in a 20 minute span, and the best I could do was pin him for maybe 5-10 seconds tops. I asked if he was a BJJer, and he said 'something like that'. Needless to say, I was greatly outmatched.

If that had been anything else but Judo, I might be having doubts about why I keep going. But nonetheless, I kept on going. Stronger and harder each time. I might have magnified my mistakes, but at least at the end of the workout, I knew that I had a lot of work to do, and that gave me more motivation for next week. Judo does that to you. It gets under your skin, and makes you want to work harder and practice more.

Regardless, It was nice to go back to Oishi's and see some of my old buddies, and since my club is beholden to the college's semesters, I think that I will be going there during the holiday break.

Of course, on the way home, I left my Judo bag on the train. I was kind of scared at first - I had my gi in the bag, as well as some Judo books and papers - that I would have to go out and replace all of it. But thankfully, this morning, I went to the Railroad's Lost and Found, and they had it waiting for me - contents intact.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Toraki Judo Shorts Review

When someone thinks of Judo gear, there isn't much to think about beyond a gi and a belt (unless, of course, you want to list the various neoprene bandages for each joint that you have in your Judo bag). Nonetheless, there are people who make a lot of Judo-inspired products that might never see the light of day inside of a dojo. One such product is Toraki's Judo Shorts.

Toraki Judo shorts are basically shorts made out of Gi Pants. Their black, and according to the folks at toraki, don't necessary match your Judo Gi size (For example, I wear a size 4.5 gi, but the shorts were a 3.5) because Judogi are a bit baggier to meet competition rules. I bought these during the summer and have been wearing them since. They're very comfortable, and are great for working out in around the house, since they offer the same freedom of movement as gi pants do. Granted their not cheap (for the $25 they charge for the shorts I could easily buy two or three pairs of sweat shorts at a sporting goods store), but I highly recommend them if the money isn't an issue for you. I would also say, they make an interesting gift for the Judoka in your life who already has enough gis and books.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Getting Served up some Humble Pie

So I show up at practice last night, to discover that there are only 3 others at class. Since I am, by some crazy coincidence, the highest ranking person there, Sensei asked me to lead the warm-ups. Afterward, we did some Uchikomi practice. I am looking to expand my Shiai repertoire and I was getting some good ashi-waza advice from Sensei.

After about 20 minutes, our Uchikomi practice turned into Randori. Since one of the three others was coming off of an injury, he bowed out of the Randori, and the rest of us went at it. I did about 35-40 minutes of Randori, including the first 20 minutes straight against the same Judoka- who is relatively my size. In the opening minutes I had a lot of good attacks, but I quickly ran out of gas, and then I got sloppy. He threw me with some light throws at first, but then he got me with a beautiful O-Soto! One or two more losing rounds for me, and took a break.

So I sat down and let the other two guys go at it. After about 10-15 minutes of their randori, I played the other Judoka. Same deal - at first I hit my moves, but then I got tired, and I got sloppy. I also lost my will to attack, and started playing passive and getting schooled.

As good as I think I am, and as much as my Judo has progressed, I still have a long way to go. It's funny, every sensei that I've ever had has told me to improve my Ashi-Waza, and for some crazy reason, I am finally listening to them. I am realizing that I need to use 'small judo' and generate better opportunities for myself.

I guess I am not as good as I thought I was afterall, but this is a good thing, it helps me focus and understand how to improve.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Jewish Judo Pride + finding your fight and not giving up.

Of the many benefits of participating in a sport that is contested at the olympic games, is the idea that you can promote nationalistic pride with it as well. Although I am an American, and I enjoy when Americans succeed in Judo, as a Jew, I also take a lot of pride in Israeli successes as well. Thankfully, for Israel, there has been a lot to cheer about over the last few Olympiads. The video above, is Ariel (Arik) Ze'evis bronze medal match against the Elco van Der Geest of the Netherlands. These two were at the top of their game, and ze'evi wins it with a beautiful O-Uchi-Gaeshi for Ippon.

The other day, I was watching Koga's Video - a New Wind, and there was some footage of Koga vs. Smadga (of course, in these clips, Koga kept beating Smadga, because, after all, it was Koga's video!) and my son, a new Judoka, had a lot of pride seeing the ISR on back of his gi. Interestingly enough, his favorite throws so far seem to be O-Uchi-Gari and Ko-Soto-Gake, so this makes for a nice video for him.

In addition to Smadga, there are other Koga matches from when he played in the Open weight class at the all Japan competitions in the early 90's. This was something that was great for my son to watch as well, primarily because it enabled him to see how tiny Koga was in comparison to the people he met up with in the open. This was a great base to teach him a lesson about not giving up against bigger opponents. We only have 2-3 kids his age on the mat, and he'll sometimes play people that are 2-3 years older than him.

In his first sumo match against a nine-year old, he didn't even play. I reminded him of koga for his subsequent matches and even though he lost, he had a lot more fight and desire in him.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm using this service...

I'm using this service called Jott, Jott makes blogging so much easier because I can actually use my phone, call in a blog post and have it transfer the post on my blog. It's a really cool service, if you like to try it yourself, you can go to Try it and I'm sure you'll like it. listen

Powered by Jott

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The uphill battle back

I only managed one practice of my own last week - as my wife even protested that one, and even though I went to practice last night, I am not sure I'll be able to swing it on Wednesday. Things have been pretty tough at home since our 3rd was born, and I consider every Judo practice that I get in as a gift. When I came home last night, I was told that I was definitely getting up in middle of the night. Personally I didn't mind it, despite the lack of sleep, it was worth the Judo excursion.

On Sunday, I was helping out the kids class. Sensei asked me to give one of the kids his yellow belt test. I was very apprehensive, and had a ton of questions. It's funny, at work, I have no problem taking charge of things and taking ownership. As well as giving people on my staff guidance, but as a Judo instructor, I have very little confidence. I don't know what was my greater fear - failing a kid who was worthy, or passing a kid who was not.

Last night, at the adults class, I went over the exam with Sensei in greater detail, and it seems that I handled it right. I told him that I wanted to make sure I didn't make a mistake, because its his name on the promotion certificate. He appreciated that I thought that way.

I am also working on my own promotion. Since I didn't come up through the ranks with Sensei himself, he handed me his syllabus, and asked one of the senior blackbelts to review all of the requirements for every rank - from Yellow belt through Ikkyu! Sensei has his own requirements, including some items that are not on the standard lists of throws and techniques. I did the Yellow belt stuff last night, and if my wife lets me go on Weds. I will do all of the green belt requirements.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quiet Practice, and Sore Re-start

So I went back to practice last night after taking a couple of weeks off with the baby. For some odd reason, there were only four of us and the two senseis (and one of the four sat on the sidelines, as he was feeling sick after the warmups). Since some of my dojo mates will be taking the Kata test shortly, the two Senseis (both former Kata examiners) reviewed our Kata and gave a lot of helpful hints. I also managed to practice some new moves that I want to incorporate into my competition repetoire and sensei gave me a lot of good pointers.

Of course, since I hadn't practiced in a couple of weeks, I was sore as anything all over this morning. I got on the scale last week and realized that it was time to lose weight again, and so I started ramping up in my exercises - this way I am not as sore as I might be right now. Hopefully I will shed a few pounds, but I highly doubt I will drop enough to get down to 198 by the end of the month for the tourney I want to compete in, but it will be a good challenge if I need to play in the 220 division (hopefully my scale isn't off by more than a couple of pounds).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sleep Deprived

So I've been laying low for the past few weeks - why you may ask? Because my wife just gave birth to our third son! So far, he seems to only be interested in ne-waza. Of course, sleepless nights and all 3 boys have caused me to forgo judo for the last couple of weeks, but I am going back on Sunday to help with the kids class, and will hopefully get two practices of my own in this week.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Do one thing, and do it well

I was pretty tired last night, and my wife was getting on me to forgo judo for my honey-do list. But then I realized that I promised to be more committed to practicing (especially with the impending baby and all) and I decided to go.

For the first time in a long time, 90% of the people there were even matches - all brown belts, all within +/- 2 inches of me in height and within +/- 1 weight class (i.e. 15-20 lbs). While I threw and was thrown, I did manage a couple of good things:

  1. My O-Uchi Gari Technique is improving, becoming more fluid and more effective, and I used it successfully several times last night
  2. My Uchimata is improving too, and I threw someone with a really nice Ken-Ken Uchimata.
All of this, is due, in part to my continued use of my favorite combination - O-Uchi into Uchimata or Uchimata into O-Uchi. I use this a lot, because I tend to fight in Kenka Yotsu. Of course, by now, all of my dojo mates know this, and some can take advantage of it, but as my technique improves - both in the mechanics of the throws, as well as in the number of entries and the timing - I hit it with more efficiency.

Sensei suggested that I work on my timing and continue improving the way I move on the mat. I also mentioned to him that I feel like a one-combination kind of guy, and he suggested that he would work with me on incorporating Hiza Guruma into my repetoire.

Still I am glad that this combination technique is becoming more mature. In addition to adding one or two more combos, I need to continue to improve this combination too.

While Sensei Watanabe has been working with me a lot on some of my techniques, I would have to say that some of my alternative gripping and entry ideas have come from the book -' Ashiwaza II' - by Mike Swain. I will hopefully be getting a book review up in the near future.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Helping out, and going over the Radar

I went to my son's class yesterday, and at my Sensei's request, put on my Gi to help him run the class. I spent a lot of time working with my son and the 4-6 year old group in teaching them some of the basics of throws '1,2, and 3' (one of our Sensei's teaching methods, which I like, is that he numbers throws. Ultimately, each student will need to learn the names, but for the little kids, the numbers make it easier to learn. 1= O Soto Gari, 2=O-Goshi, 3=Ippon Seoi Nage). Of course, my son is the hardest to get to listen. Still it was very fun to participate, and challenging, because I needed to take moves that I have been doing for years and do without thinking, and then break them down step-by-step for little kids. (For example, I was teaching them Zenpo Kaiten - the forward roll- and I had to remember which hand to use with which foot forward.

I want to think that I was helpful. One of the parents, who is an on again off again player in our club, indicated that he hopes to get to practice more often, and thinks I could teach him a thing or two. Judging by his son's (a 7-year-old white belt) abilities, he must be a pretty good teacher himself, and I don't know if he was being polite or serious, but it was nice ego stroke nonetheless.

Another parent, who also is/was a regular at Oishi's, said he went to a birthday party recently and learned about my blog. I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing, as I am sure that what I write here can affect some people's opinions about me and my Judo abilities. The talmud says that silence is a sign of Intelligence, because even if you're an idiot, no one can tell until you open your mouth. I've had my mouth running on this blog for almost 3 years, so I must either look like a genius, a fool or a little bit of both.

Learning Discipline Already

When my son started Judo last week, one of my pre-Judo admonitions was not to use it outside of the Dojo. I did this for two reasons - one, I didn't want this to turn him agressive, and two, I know that if he did this one too many times either the principal or his mother would have prompted me to pull him out (Just like my own parents did to me when they felt that I was being too aggressive in my karate class as a kid).

Last night, he turns to me and says "Daddy, I'm sorry, but I didn't listen to you." I was stunned, and I asked what he had done, he informed me that he used O-Goshi on his friend Ben. While I admonished him, I also told him how proud I was of him that he told me this, and finished by explaining to him that part of the trick of learning Judo isn't learning what techniques to use when, but rather when not to use any techniques at all.

Monday, September 17, 2007

How do you say Nachas in Japanese?

Nachas, is a Yiddish word which loosely translated means 'parental pride'. What relevance does this have to Judo? Well, yesterday my oldest took his first Judo lesson, and I have enough Nachas to fill a size 8 Judo Gi!

In the picture at right, my Sensei is teaching my son how to grip, as a precursor to learning O-Soto-Gari. I was such a happy dad yesterday, as he put on his gi and started to learn. While he showed moments of frustration (i.e. when he didn't get the throw concept right away, or when he lost in Sumo wrestling), there were enough bright spots - a couple of sumo wins, 'throwing' sensei, and even a 'win' in Randori (thanks to a very nice orange belt).

The highlight for me was him using Ko-Soto-Gake in Randori, even though he was only taught O-Soto, O-Goshi, and Ippon Seoinage!

Originally, I was concerned that he wouldn't enjoy it, or that he wouldn't stay focused for a two-hour class. He has attention issues (yes, all 5 year-olds, especially boys, have attention issues, but his are a bit more pronounced), and I worried that he wouldn't even make it through the first class. But my fears were quickly allayed by the smile on his face, and how he quickly made friends with the other boys and girl (just one of them) in his group.

Now my biggest fear isn't so much that he'll like it so much that he'll use it against his little brother - or worse, in school. I think I need to have the 'Judo is for the Dojo' talk with him.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Playing Strong with people my own weight.

I went to Oishi's today. I haven't been going in a while, and Sensei Oishi made a comment about my not being here in a long time, but then when I informed him that I was going to Sensei Watanabe's club, he seemed pleasantly surprised. There were a good bunch of people today - entirely brown and black belts, and mostly big guys - people over 200lbs (90+ kgs) that presented good challenges in Randori and ne-waza. I went a couple of Rounds with a Sandan (3rd Degree blackbelt) who I matched up nicely with Sizewise. While I did pretty much all of the falling, I was pleased with some of the attacks of my own that as well as some of the defenses I had against his throws. I think I am finally getting comfortable with an attacking style, now I need to find a competition.

The Jar of Rocks

Recently, I have been using a parable to describe the Judo learning process, and I wanted to share it with you. I first learned about this parable in a non-Judo context, but nonetheless it can be ascribed to Judo, or to virtually anything else in your career, life, relationships, etc.

A couple of years ago I was meeting with a work colleague in her office. I noticed an interesting Jar of rocks on her desk. I asked her what the Jar was for and she explained that the Jar was given to her as part of an exercise at a management conference. Essentially, the concept is like this:

You need to fill the jar with rocks. First you start with big rocks, and cram as many of them into the Jar as possible. When you are done with those, you can seemingly think that the jar is full, but it isn't. While you might have all of the big rocks in the Jar, there are still plenty of gaps between the rocks that need to be filled. So you start with smaller pebbles, until you don't have any more room for pebbles. But this too isn't complete, because there are still gaps left - so you start to use sand....

I think that this parable has a lot of applicability in Judo. A friend of mine, a recently minted Shodan, indicated recently that you can 'know' all of the throws in the gokyo, but still have much room for improvement - how telling is this of Judo?!?

Everyone learned O-Soto-Gari as one of their first throws, yet here I am 6.5 years after starting Judo and still am far from perfection. I still go over it again and again in Uchikomi, and while I progress more and more each class, I still have plenty more work to do. Just like the glass of rocks, I have put the big rocks in the jar already - i.e. I know the gross movements - and now I am trying to get the smaller details and nuances in place to take my Judo to the next level.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sparking some thoughts about Rank

Last night, I was practicing Nage-No-Kata with a fellow brown belt under the watchful eye of one of our Senior black belts who also does a lot of refereeing and at one point was a Kata Examiner.  It's really good to have him reviewing my kata as I learn it, because he provides me with advice from the big picture (i.e. how to transit from one throw to the next) all the way down to the smallest details (your knee needs to be at a 45 degree angle when you finish Sumi Otoshi). At the end of Kata practice, he mentioned that I was progressing nicely. I mentioned that I thought it would take me a year before I could perform Nage-no-Kata. Then he said something to me: "I think Sensei wants you to do it sooner - you are an Ikkyu, aren't you?". "Actually, " I replied, " I am just a Sankyu." I realize that I haven't had a change in Rank since returning to Judo almost 3 years ago.

Originally, I thought I would go to promotional shiai, but unfortunately, in our area, those have moved to Saturdays from Sundays, and I can't attend any of them because my religion precludes me from both traveling and competing on Saturday. Truth be told, I haven't been to a competition in 18 months, and I want to go back to one. I have been looking for some local tourneys, but unfortunately aside from the east coast tourney - another Saturday tourney, there seems to be very little on the Radar.

I do want to progress rank-wise, but somehow that has been the farthest thing from my mind - especially in the last 18 months since my last competition - that was, of course, until it was brought up the other night.

Over the last 7 months or so, I have progressed significantly in both my competition capability and technique, and my Sensei has faith in my abilties - which goes a long way. I think I need a Shiai or two under my belt before I progress, so that at least my progress and how I apply my Judo will be more evident.

The trick is finding the right shiai to go to.

One day, I will get my Shodan, but with Judo, as with many other things in life, there are many great ironies - the one I feel today is that the more I progress, the more I feel I need to go.

Monday, August 13, 2007

YouTube and Judo

Now that I am learning Nage-No-Kata, I am finding instructional Judo Video more useful than ever. I just did a search for Nage-No-Kata on YouTube and came up with a dozen or so results.

Videos from the US, Japan, Europe and more. It's amazing how the Internet can bring global resources to the edge of my desk - even for learning Judo! The video below is an excerpt of the Kodokan's official Nage no kata video.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Switching Sides

About 2 years ago, after competing (and losing all 3 of my matches) in a tournament, I asked my Sensei for some feedback. His advice was super helpful, but the one thing that stood out was that he noticed, that as dominant lefty, somewhere in middle of one of my matches I switched to playing right-handed. He told me that I should have stayed lefty and played to my strengths. I explained to him that the reason why I didn't play left-handed was because my opponent was holding down his right lapel to prevent me from getting a grip (My sensei pointed out that this is illegal according to tournament rules, and he should have received a Shido penalty, but he did it discretely so that the refs didn't notice). Nonetheless, I continued to practice the left-sided technique even harder, to the point where I almost exclusively fight left-handed at tournaments and Randori.

There is a lot of benefit to being a lefty in Judo. Opposing grips make it easier for me to get in closer to my opponents (and vice versa as well). In addition, many Judoka do not practice throws from both sides, and even when they do, they don't practice their throws against an opposing grip! In Uchikomi, for example, when I switch sides to practice the opposite side techniques, my uke usually switches sides too - unless I tell him not to.

This puts me at a psychological advantage - at least with people of equal experience and skill. I often find people are more reluctant to let me take my grip than to allow my grip and test the waters so to speak.

Needless to say, after some time, people catch on. I noticed on many an occasion in Randori that as my opponents were trying to thwart my left-handed gripping, they would open themselves up to right-handed techniques - but, being out of practice, its hard to capitalize.

That coupled with the fact that the makeup of our dojo for the summer is heavy on people smaller, lighter, and less-experienced than myself, (Please, I am not trying to be arrogant. I am a 5'10.5", 215 lb, Brown-belt, I have gone up against green and yellow belts who are much shorter and weigh at least 50 lbs less) I have started to play right-handed against them. I think that this works out well for both of us because, as beginners, they can simply go out and practice their right-hand techniques, and not be thrown off by my grip. It also takes away some of my experience advantages, because I haven't played righty in a while. I think that this is a great example of mutual benefit and welfare.


Hopefully after a few more weeks, I will feel confident to switch sides against the big folks, and the brown and black belt squad.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sensei Braziel in the Spotlight

The director of Alumni Relations at my Alma Mater
just e-mailed me this link about my first Judo Sensei - Maureen Braziel. I knew that Sensei Braziel was one of the first women to compete under a US banner, I didn't know that she was one of the catalysts for Women's Judo.

I learned a lot from Sensei Braziel, and its great to see her and reminisce whenever I meet her at an alumni event or at a Judo tournament. I remember how I wound up taking Judo in college. I really wanted to take Karate, and I signed up for it, but unfortunately, there wasn't enough interest. Sensei Braziel was the Assistant AD at the time, and asked if I would be interested in Judo instead. I was a little reluctant at first, but I decided to give it a shot. That was 1994. For the next 7 semesters, I was a full-fledged member of the Judo team and club. Then I took a break. In 2004 I returned to Judo and shortly thereafter started this blog, and the rest, they say, is history. But I am forever grateful to Sensei Braziel for getting me started.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Now you can subscribe by e-mail too...

I'm sure that many of you noticed how I've been playing around with my blog lately. I have been experimenting with new technologies to help promote my blog and get it read by more people. That's why, I've added two new tools to the blog. By clicking the link to the right, you can now subscribe to my blog via e-mail. Simply click the link and follow the directions. If you have a favorite RSS reader that you like, you can click the FeedBurner icon to the left to subscribe via RSS as well.

Judo Wishlist

As I've often opined, there isn't that much in the way of Judo Gear beyond a Gi. And as it stands right now, I have three gis that I am loving, and will probably not have a need for replacement anytime soon. However, there are definitely two items that I would like to buy, pending spousal approval:

Mizuno's Gear Bag / Backpack - My current Judo bag is starting to slowly fall apart, and it won't be long before I might need to replace it. The bag I have now is actually a Callaway golf bag that my wife got from a vendor of her company. It's a great bag, nice and sturdy, but the wear and tear of shlepping wet double-weave gis in it for three years has taken its toll. A few of my friends have the Mizuno bag, and love it. It can hold a lot - up to two gis, and it seems to be pretty sturdy, but most of all, it will be a lot easier to spot on a baggage carousel at the airport.

Swain Sports Roll-up Judo Mat - The folks over at Swain Sports have developed a roll-up Tatami that always lies flat when you roll it out. My basement (an ongoing project) is almost done, and this would be a welcome addition. They sell a 5' x10'x1.25" version of the mat which, although not big enough for Randori, might be good enough for me to use when practicing Kata moves, (one throw at a time) and perfecting my rollouts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Teaching by Doing

One of the many things that I have been reluctant to do in Judo is teach. Maybe its due to my lack of confidence in my technique (or at least in my ability to teach technique), but I think, somehow, that I am getting better at it.


On Monday night, we had two teenagers in class. I was working with one of them, and I noticed that her O-Uchi-Gari needed a little help. So I offered up some advice to her about how to make body contact and 'drive' to effect Kuzushi, and make her throw much more powerful and effective. I then told her to throw me ten times with her throw. Of course heads were turning to see me getting thrown by this young girl who was half my age, 8 inches shorter and at least 85 or 90 lbs. lighter. But her throws were much better, and I was proud.


Later that night, in a round of ne-waza Randori, I was going with one of our black belts and I kept winding up turtled or prone. Even though he managed to tap me out a couple of times, I managed to take him on his back from the turtle. Sensei reminded me that although I shouldn't get down on my back in the first place, that my agility and use of momentum was very good for getting me out of sticky situations. This led to a short discussion about how to feel out your opponents weight and balance to reverse being in the turtle.


I love practices like these, because they make me feel as if I am, in fact, progressing, and that at least some of what I've learned is accurate enough that I can teach it to others.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Empire State Games - Go Chuck!

As I opened up my newspaper this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find my one of my dojomates on the front cover of the sports section. Accompanying his picture was an article about the upcoming Empire State Games. Chuck and I would practice Kata together last semester (my Judo club is in a community college, so we're on their schedule), and we were also occasionally partners for Randori. Chuck is a great competitor who has energy to burn and never gives up, and he's fared well at the last couple of competitions he's played in, and I know he'll do well!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Nice Write-Up on Silicon Valley Judo

USA Judo, has declared Silicon Valley Judo as their spotlight club for the month of June. Back in October of 2004, I was in Santa Clara on Business, and I had the honor of being their first guest. It's nice to see that the club has grown, and is flourishing. I really enjoyed working out with Dan and Lorne, and wish them the best of luck.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Blog problems

I have been having some blog problems of late. As a result, my blog might be down for a little bit over the next couple of days. Thanks for your patience!

Trying to get back into shape

It's hard to believe that I have been back in Judo for almost 3 years now. The original motivation for my return to Judo was my weight and general health. I was just shy of my 30th birthday, and at 5'11", I was way too heavy at 225-230 lbs. For the better part of 2004, I tried to work on my weight. I went to the gym 4-5 days a week for an hour, but saw very little, if any results. I also tried changing my eating habits as well, but that too wasn't helping.

I needed inspiration, I needed an idea. I sat down and thought to myself - I need to think back to when I was most physically fit. It all came back to my college days at Polytechnic University. When I was at Poly, I was on the Judo team, and I practiced Judo for 6-8 hours a week. That was the best workout of my life, and furthermore, those 2-2.5 hour practices were productive, because they were guided. Unlike the gym, where I really had little direction, Judo worked great because for those two hours I had an excellent workout that was both aerobic and anaerobic at the same time.

I found Oishi's dojo, and convinced my wife that this would work, at the same time, I started the south beach diet. Thinks went off on the right foot. For the first 16 months or so (8/04 to 12/05) everything was on track, I went to Judo 2x a week, and kept on the diet. I went from 230 to 190. I was in the best shape of my life. I was getting compliments from all of my friends and family about my new look, and I had more energy at home and at work. But then, it all crashed down.

In December of 05, I went to Florida for a week on vacation, and I didn't watch what I ate. By the time I came back, I had jumped over the 200 marker for the first time in over a year. I thought, no sweat, I'll get back to under 200 without a problem. But the winter of 06' brought me additional responsibilities at work, and that translated into less Judo for me. No Judo=No exercise, and I ballooned.

By this past January (2007), I was back at 215. I needed to stop the weight gain. I went back to Judo at a new Dojo near my home. I have been taking a night class regularly now, but my weight hasn't dropped dramatically. (I weighed in at 218 this morning).  I've been a bit depressed over the past few weeks about this. The primary reason being that my wife is expecting our 3rd child soon, and I promised that I would lose a pound for everyone one she gained. 

Why am I telling all of you this? Why am I sharing this with the world? (or at least the few that read my blog)? Because I want your encouragement, I want your support, I want you to pledge your weight loss too!

That being said, here are my goals:

1. To get down to 195 lbs (23 lbs of weight loss) in the next 3 months - 9/18. This gives me plenty of time before the baby is born.

2. I bought a suit a little over a year ago, and I can't fit into it. I haven't even had it tailored at all (i.e. the pants are unhemmed). I want to be able to fit into this suit for the Jewish Holidays.

3. Maintain a schedule of at least 7 Judo classes a month - 2x a week, with a little leeway for missing one or two.


What am I doing to achieve these goals:

- I started Rhadi's Backyard Workout

- I am going to Judo once at week at Watanabe's and hopefully at Oishi's once a week

- I have started to watch what I eat, and doing my best to refrain from snacking (not so easy when every visit from my parents or in-laws comes with cookies for the kids!)

Look for updates on my progress every Monday! 

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oishi's new digs and Sensei Dave

As I posted earlier, my old dojo, Oishi's just moved to a new space a couple of weeks ago. I refer to Oishi's as my old dojo, because I haven't been there in a while. I used to go to their afternoon classes, during my lunch break, but ultimately, after getting a lot more responsibility at work, taking two hours off in the middle of the day twice a week became less of an option. While Oishi's dojo was close to my office, it was not close enough from home for me to attend his evening classes.

Thankfully I have found that Sensei Watanabe's classes fit my schedule and are 5 minutes from home. But I still miss my lunchtime Oishi Crowd. So I went down to the new dojo today to say hi and check it out. As it turns out, the new dojo is even closer to my office and I also discovered that I have a handful of classes left on my account (you can pay per class or pay per year at Oishi's). So I think that I will have to go work out there once a week!

Lurking on the Judoforum, I found that another person from Oishi's has a blog - Andy Lee (who I've never met, because he's a night guy, and I am a day guy). I starting reading the posts and he had one about Sensei Dave Williams.

In addition to being a great guy and a great sensei himself, Oishi has been blessed with a Yudansha of down-to-earth individuals who are also great teachers. One of those people is Sensei Williams. Dave is not only a great teacher, but a great motivator too. He pushes you to your limits, and helps you find elements of strength and courage that you didn't know you had.

I remember one practice last September where I went to Sensei Dave's class. I was the lowest ranked person there, and everyone was gearing up for a tournament. It became a giant randori session. I was fighting people with more experience. At first, I was getting thrown like a bean bag and wanted to give up. Dave wouldn't let me. By the time I hit round three, I was hitting throws with better accuracy that I ever had.

I guess this is why I generally only hear good things about Oishi's - because he's surrounded himself with some excellent people.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Some Judo Blogs that I have been reading

Although I am definitely not the first Judo Blogger, it seems that the trend has waxed and waned over the years. I figured now that I am posting again, I thought I would share a handful of the blogs I've come across recently: - Taraje Williams-Murray's Blog. Taraje is a member of the US National Team, and also an NYC Judoka (clearly, he is a lot more serious about it than I am). - Jon Roberts Blog - Jon is a Canadian Judoka who is spending the year studying Judo in Japan.

Sometimes its harder being an Uke

Last night I was asked to be the uke for a friend prepping his Nage-No-Kata test. In all forms of practice short of Kata, being an uke is quite easy. You just show up and play dumb, with the ocassional jump or movement to make your Tori look good. But in Kata, being the Uke is a lot of work.

Unlike the katas in most Karate styles, which are performed solo, Judo's katas are all performed with a partner. (More than that, depending on the level of Black Belt you are shooting for, you need to show kata proficiency as either tori, uke, or both!). While I might get flamed for saying so, Kata in a sense is like a dance - each partner has a role, and each partner needs to learn it.

For Shodan (1st degree BB. AFAIK, in the US) you need to perform Nage-No-Kata as Tori. Interestingly enough, performing it as Uke is required for Nidan (2nd degree), and now that I am familiar with it, I understand why that was done!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Oishi's New Dojo

My old Dojo, Oishi's, just moved to a new location. I really miss my lunchtime classes at Oishi's. We had a really good bunch of Judoka, and it was a great break in middle of the workday, especially when the politics was getting to me. I have to go down and bring Oishi Sensei a dojo-warming gift.

Am I wrong, or was this a good thing to do?

A friend of mine is going for his Kata Exam for Shodan. He spent all of last night's session practicing Nage-No-Kata. About 5 minutes before the end of the session, the Sensei had him and his uke (a newly minted Shodan himself) to demonstrate Nage-No-Kata. I have only been practicing Kata for a few short months, so clearly I am no expert, but I couldn't help but notice something - whenever he was slightly off - whether I could tell it or not, his face showed it.


Obviously, as someone who has never stood for a Kata Exam, I have no experience to talk from here. But I politely pointed out to him that I noticed this. He was thankful, but I walked away feeling like I was a jerk for saying something?


Was I out of line, or was I in the right place?


You tell me? Comment!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thanks Mongo!

Apparently, one of my astute Judo Forum buddies and Readers - Mongo - pointed out that my blog had been down. Thankfully, it was just a configuration glitch. Now all I need to do is actually write!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pink Gi?

Apparently, in BJJ Pink Gis are acceptible - Check out this Atama Kimonos Special Edition Gi. I know that BJJ has a lot more flash and dash than Judo, and I know that BJJ is one of the fastest growing sports in the wake of the MMA explosion, but even if I were cross-training in BJJ, I couldn't deal with the patches and some of the more garish colors. I get white, I tolerate blue, and I understand black.

I would really be down on the Pink too, but then I learned it was specially designed for Kyra Gracie. Since she could very well tap me out any day of the week, and since she does it justice, I won't judge her. But please don't show up to my Judo class in a Pink Gi!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Good Samaritan Saves Judoka

Just found this story over at the Judo Forum. A very nice story about how a complete stranger donated her Kidney to Former Olympian and Olympic Coach Irwin Cohen -,1,2727111.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

My Blog as my Personal Trainer

I just played with the layout a bit and I noticed something very interesting. In the months that I was playing hard and making real progress, I tended to post a lot more entries. I guess I need to start playing a little bit harder and a lot more frequently.

More Promotions on Saturdays - but can I complain?

I found out last night that my Local Yudanshakai is again holding its promotional tournament on Saturday. I sent a letter to one of the muckety-mucks asking for some sort of other means of getting promoted.

I have to admit, it is probably a lot of chutzpah for me to do so. Granted, I don't practice as often as I should, and I don't go to other tournaments, so why should I be accomodated?

I am not sure. Still, it would be nice if I did get Nikyu eventually.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ronda Rousey

I started going back to the Judo Forum recently, and was surprised to find some posts from Ronda Rousey (her mom, Anna Maria DeMars, is a regular poster as well). I have never met Ronda, but I have heard lots of great things about her. Also from her posts, she seems very down to earth and personable.

I hope that she continues to succeed, and that her continued success (Gold in Beijing?), will help promote Judo.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

There is no room for a lazy Judoka

So I've finally regained momentum in Judo, and I have been managing to go consistently again. I am also getting into the groove with the new Dojo and my dojomates. I have also found what I had lost - Sen attack initiative.

In college, my favorite professor's favorite quote was ' A lazy engineer is a good engineer'. Unfortunately in Judo, that doesn't work. I like many of you, would play very defensively. I would try to make things happen, I would wait for my opponent to initiate an attack and then take advantage of his mistakes. But in Judo, there is no room for laziness. Make no mistakes, Judo is hard, and takes a lifetime to master. Somehow, its taken me this long to do something about it.

I am finally getting out of my bad Randori habits. I no longer spend my entire match sitting back and waiting for my Uke, I go to him. This has helped me spot flaws in my techniques and my attacks. I used to do one or two Randori and then sit out, now I will stand for 5 or 6 matches straight. I don't think I am in any better shape, I just think that I am more eager to play. (Matches 4,5, and 6 prove much harder than 1,2, and 3).

I can definitely say the change is paying off in so many ways. I feel that I am getting more out of practice, and definitely getting more exercise.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Different and yet the same

Things have been going well at the new dojo. I have been learning a lot - Kata, first and foremost, but also techniques. In this dojo the sensei has lists of techniques that people at various belt levels should know. I would say 80-90% of the techniques he lists I've already learned and even use.

I have also changed my attitude - I don't know if it is the venue, or the time change (I now work out at night instead of at noon), but I am seeing improvement. I have been attacking more and working on my technique. And of course, I am getting used to the mats. Before this dojo, I had primarily worked out on real tatami, but now I am working out on Canvas over wrestling mats and it takes a little getting used to. (My feet also tend to slip on the mat).

Initially I was a bit apprenhensive when switching dojos, but I definitely like this new one.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


So I've been under the radar for a while. I started at a new Dojo back in January and I've kept off of the blogging site. This is very different dojo than my last one. For starters, the mats are very different. We're playing on Canvas over wrestling mats instead of over Tatami, which is a little less forgiving and harder to get used to. Also for the first time in my Judo career, I am learning Kata. It's an eye-opening experience. Finally, the sensei is do his best to push me to do my best, and its working.

I am really enjoying the experience, if only I could do it at least 2 more times per week.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Where in the world have I been?

Some of you may have been wondering where I've been. Unfortunately for me, things at work have gotten quite busy - thereby eating into both my blogging and Judo time. I haven't put on my Gi for about 10 weeks or so. As a result, I have also put back on some weight as well. This has enabled me to convince the Mrs. to allow me to go to Judo at night - starting one night per week. So I have found a dojo near my home, and I start on Monday night. I also hope to get more regular updates, and I have 2-3 unfinished feature articles as well. Thanks for all of your well wishes, and I hope to post more frequently in the near future.