Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rule changes in action at the Junior Worlds

Last Janurary, the IJF made some rather large changes to the rules of Judo. As of last New Year's day, they abolished the score of Koka and it's corresponding first Shido became a warning - which only has value in a referees decision if the score is tied. They also banned grabbing the pant leg directly from 'Hajime' - you could grab the legs, but only after attempting to take a standard grip.

The IJF - seemingly no fan of throws where the leg is grabbed - also decided to experiment with banning leg grabbing altogether - using the Junior World Championships as a testing grounds. The new rule would give you a warning for the first infraction and disqualification for the second one. When this rule change first came out, I ranted a bit about it, especially because of the ambiguity of the language. For example, while it was very clear that you couldn't initiate an attack with a leg grab, it wasn't clear if you were able to use a leg grab as part of a counter - For example, using Te Guruma to Counter a hip throw. They are also experimenting with having one referee and video assistance for close calls.

 Well, the Junior Worlds were last week, and I got an e-mail from USA Judo telling me that I could watch them live via streaming. Unfortunately, the match I wanted to watch (Katelyn Bouyssou of the USA) was not streamed, but I got to watch several others and interestingly saw a lot of the new rules in action. Here are some of the matches that I watched, and my observations:

Campese (ITA) vs. Huang (TPE) -55kg Bronze Medal Match

 - This match went the full 4 minutes, plus 2 minutes of Golden Score. The only points in this one was a 'Warning' shido recorded in the original match against Campese. Huang one, but had to go the full distance to make the Koka stand up. I know that these rules have been in place since Janurary, but this is a weird one, I wonder how many times this has happened so far this year. On the one hand, I like this rule, so that the penalties do count, it also gives both Uke and Tori a second chance. The only bad side. If I am up Wa-zari to Yuko, with 15 seconds to play, what's to stop me from taking the warning shido as a means to win the match. If I had my druthers, this 'warning' shido wouldn't apply in the last 30 seconds of the match. Here is the video:

Shishime (JPN) vs. MUSHKIYEV(AZE) -55kg Gold Medal Match:
 - Mushkiyev, about a minute in, tries to dump Shishime with a Te Guruma, he instantly gets his warning shido. At 2:55 in the match (about 1:54 in the video link below), Shishime tries to take a grip and go in for a hip throw. Mushkiyev brushes his hand aside and then attempts to counter him again with Te Guruma. The Referee calls matte, and then ends the match right there - calling the match for Shinshime because of Mushkiyev's forfeiture. 

Incidentally, about 1:20 into the video, Shishime tries an unsuccessful O-Uchi-Gari, and then attempts to follow up by grabbing Mushkiyev's leg, but didn't get penalized. This last bit speaks to the 1-ref situation - he might not have seen it. I really don't like this new rule - I am willing to agree that leg grabs from Hajime should be banned, this is a just a wacky rule. Even if counters are allowed - how can we differentiate? Espeically when there is only one ref on the mat! Here is the video:

Abdulzhalilov (RUS) vs. Urani (FRA)
- I couldn't find an offline video for this one. But the decider here is a Yuko that should have been a Koka. I guess when you remove Kokas, it takes a while to redefine which get bumped up to Yuko and which don't 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fushida Gear Bag - First Impressions

I finally capitulated and bought a new gear bag - the old one, was literally falling apart after 5 years of use. The folks at Fushida had a limited 25% off sale advertisted on Twitter that I took advantage of. (as I write this, the bag is still at an introductory 15% on their site) I was torn between the "Medium" and "Large" sizes, and I opted for the "Medium" - truthfully, they should really be called "Large" and "Extra-Large". I was able to easily put both of my two Gis (A Blue and a White Toraki Silver, size 4.5) with enough room for my sons gi - which doesn't include all of the side pockets.

All told, it seems like a solid, sturdy bag. I'll follow up with more info once I use it a bit more.

The last couple of weeks

The last couple of weeks have been interesting. I have been really consistent in attending practice. Our Wednesday night practices have been getting good crowds, and I am getting a lot of good work in. Especially in Randori and Ne-Waza Randori.

Our Monday nights have been a little weaker, only handful of students show up, but I have been doing my best to make the most of it. I've been getting a lot of Nage-No-Kata practice in, and learning a lot by teaching some of the beginners that show up.

Because all of the Jewish Holidays are on Sunday this year, my son has missed a lot of time at the kids' class. Thankfully he is back now, but because of logistics, I myself have been missing my time on the mat with him. I enjoy watching him learn and helping out him and his friends.

Of course, this is all anticlimactic, except for one of the most important and sad events in my Judo career - Sensei Jesse Wang - one of the senior black belts in our club, passed away last Wednesday. Jesse was 4 days shy of his 83rd birthday, and wonderful teacher and friend in our club. Up until he became ill earlier this year, he'd show up at practice 3x a week. Even though his body might not have been able to do as much as it used to, his mind never lost a beat. Whenever anyone would ask him a question about a technique, it was never a yes or no answer - he would observe, and then begin to point out 8 different things you could do to improve your technique - be it in Randori, Uchikomi, or Kata.

Last year, I told Sensei that I wanted to learn to referee (a bit unusual for someone not quite a black belt). So he hooked me up with Jesse. At our club tournament last December, I stepped on the mat in socks for the first time. I was very nervous, but I was relieved to know that I had Jesse in the corner if I needed him. A minute or two into the match, one of the players threw the other, I look at the result and stuck my hand straight out to the side to signal - Wa-Zari, but of course, Jesse immediately waved it off, and called it Ippon. Then, after the match, he pulled me aside to explain why it was an ippon. Yes, he called off my very first Judo Refereeing call, but true to his nature, he made it a teaching moment.

The club tournament will be upon us shortly, and I will referee that one as well. I need to step up my ref knowledge a bit, because no matter how good his replacement is, I know that Jesse is not in the corner to back me up.