Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 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 o…

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: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. Try new thingsThe 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 comp…

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.

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 ha…

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 k…

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 dissapointe…

Tidbits

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.

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…

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, beca…

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 …

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…

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 …

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 becom…

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 bud…

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 sporti…

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…

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 fo…

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 www.jott.com. Try it and I'm sure you'll like it. listen

Powered by Jott

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 o…

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 …

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.

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:

My O-Uchi Gari Technique is improving, becoming more fluid and more effective, and I used it successfully several times last nightMy 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 -…

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 h…

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.

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, especiall…

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 p…

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, i…

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.

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 opponen…

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 …

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…

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 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!

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 excellen…

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…

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:

http://www.taraje.com - 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).

http://www.joninjapan.com - 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!

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!

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!

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!

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 - http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/health/chi-0704200668apr21,1,2727111.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.

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.

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 mat…

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.

Hatkafah

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.

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.