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.