Sunday, April 1, 2012


Today I had the opportunity to go through a mock-grading for Orange belt in judo.  Needless to say, it was a bit rough.  During my time with the Western Judo Club, I've focused my attention on what could be considered "big guy throws," as those would be of greatest use to me in tournament settings in either judo or Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  However, those throws are, for the most part, absent from the lower Kyu curriculum of the club.  I had no idea what the majority of the Orange belt throws were.  Needless to say, I would have failed any official grading.

The feedback I received was interesting.  My upper body is doing what it needs to, but my lower body is lacking... well... in coordination and speed (not to mention a significant bend in the knees).  That seems to be why I tend to favour the more straight forward throws like O-Goshi and O-Soto Gari.  The moment things start to require a whole lot of pivoting and lower body awareness, I'm in trouble.  I need a lot more repetitions and lower body conditioning before I've got a realistic shot at the next belt.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Large Group Training

Today, the Western Judo Club hosted an open 3 hour training session.  To say this session was hard on my body would be an understatement.  It wasn't as well attended as the club would have liked, but we had a lot more mat space to work with this time around, so that alone made it worth attending.

My uchikomis need a lot of work. I'm finding that I'm pulling myself toward uke instead of pulling uke to me.  That messes with my kuzushi, which in turn makes throwing people pretty miserable for me.  I got a chance to work with a heavyweight black belt, but I'm not sure how well I'll be able to adapt his techniques to fit my game.  He's a lot stronger than I'll ever be (a natural result of a lifetime in wrestling and judo), and his game reflects that.

I will try to work a bit more on kouchi gari into a drop seio nage.  I'll also work on using my weight a bit more to move my opponent around.  On the upside, I dominated a black belt in newaza training.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

3 Senseis, 3 Variations

I was working on a couple of core throws last night at judo class, namely Uchimata and Harai Goshi.  To get a better handle on Uchimata, I've been watching Kosei Inoue's instructional DVDs.  The thing is, whenever I try to perfect the movements I've seen on the DVD, one of the 3 black belt instructors corrects my form and tweaks the technique.  Clearly they know more than I do, and if their feedback can help me execute the throw better, then I'm all for it; however, each of the instructors has a different body type, is a different style, and has his own way of executing the throw.

I don't ignore any of the feedback, but I admit it's frustrating to work a throw one way under the supervision of one sensei, only to have another one come along, change the grips entirely, and even aspects of the execution.  Case in point, our Cuban sensei tells me I should always stand tall for Harai Goshi and take a deep collar grip, similar to a wrestling collar tie up.  Then our Italian sensei tells me to take more of a lapel grip, closer to the collar bone, and to bend my knees more deeply on the entry (which is tough for me at my current weight). Finally, we have the Canadian sensei who prefers to use an underhook rather than either a collar or lapel grip.  Of the 3, the Canadian has a build and body type that most closely resembles mine (I'm probably about 20 lbs heavier than him), so his method is likely best for me.

I can't believe how fast this term has gone. We've got maybe 2 weeks left before the university club shuts down for the year and I'm left to fend for myself judo-wise until next September.  I'll have to suck it up and start making the hour and a half drive to find a quality club to work with if I ever expect to get better.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hitting the Triangle

The triangle choke is one of the signature moves of Brazilian Jiu-jitstu.  Unfortunately, as a heavyweight, I haven't had much of a chance to land this technique with anything that resembles consistency.  I know the mechanics. I know the theory. It's the live execution that's caused me problems.  Today, I landed it against a resisting opponent (and not some random beginner/white belt).

I had managed to secure a left side overhook in the closed guard and was trying to work my right hand across to threaten the lapel choke.  Ideally, he starts defending the choke and I can move into the Iron Hook sequence.  However, he kept pinning my right biceps to the mat.  I worked my right arm free and grabbed his wrist, then swung my right leg up and over his arm to bite the back.  Since his right arm was trapped in the overhook, he couldn't posture up to break the hold and I was able to secure the triangle.

I subscribe to Ryan Hall's Triangle Choke theories, so I didn't worry much about forcing the arm across my body.  Instead, I tried to adjust my angle so that my hamstring would be pressing in on his carotid artery.  My opponent was preventing my rotation, so I released the overhook and grabbed the back of his head.  Hall once said something to the effect that, while it's not always correct to grab the opponent's head, it's never wrong to do so.  Sure enough, grabbing the head was enough to get the tap.

Granted, I hit this technique on a guy who's substantially smaller than me, but I remember reading in one of Royler's books that one should perfect any new techniques on smaller opponents first, before trying it on bigger opponents.  I think this is a small, but important, step in my BJJ development.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday class

Today was mainly focused on preparation for grading.  Essentially uke walks either forward or backward the length of the mat as tori attempts different throws.  My footwork is awkward as all get out.  Kuzushi needs a lot of work, as well.

Points to remember:

  • Bend at the knees and keep the back straight.
  • Use kuzushi to pull uke up and load him into proper throwing position
  • Some throws require body contact before initiating (Osoto Gari, Ouchi Gari, Kouchi Gari)
  • Some throws require distance to be maintained so that I can complete my rotations and load uke into position (Seio Nage, Uchi Mata, O Goshi)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday class

Today was the first Sunday class I've made in a few weeks.  As per usual, the warm-ups were a bit on the unusual side, including some leap frogging activities for explosiveness (at least I think that's why we did it).  From there, the pure beginners were split off while those of us with more experience paired off to drill some throwing combinations.

I think it's pretty obvious that I need a lot more work on my kuzushi and foot work.  The first combo we worked on was a transition from a failed Ippon Seionage to a variation of O-soto gari (I think).  It requires a change in direction, rotating back into the opponent's body, hooking the outside leg and driving at a 45 degree angle away from where the support leg should be.  The second one we worked was like a foot sweep/knee push to set up for uchimata. 

Rather than working the combo, I chose to go more into the entry.  I have to remember not to step in too far.  I need to be able to rotate and pull my opponent on to my hip before finishing the throw.  It's a work in progress, but I'll keep at it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tuesday Judo class

Despite the past 3 weeks of intensive Max Interval Training via Insanity, I found myself dripping with sweat during warm-ups at the UWO Judo Club.  Truth be told, I was a bit annoyed with myself considering how I had been killing myself specifically to get myself ready for the rigours of judo training.  Since this was the first class of the winter term, they stuck to the basics.

At one point, we were divided into 2 groups: those with more than 3 weeks of (recent) judo experience, and those with more experience.  Despite my yellow belt, I opted to join the brand new beginners.  I probably would have had more fun with the more experienced players, but I needed to get some of these fundamentals drilled into me.  Sensei Antonio had us doing rep after rep of ukemi (break-falls).  I'm not sure how many times I hit the mat, nor am I sure of the exact names of each variation of ukemi, but by the end I was feeling pretty sore.  The raw beginners spent the better part of an hour and 15 minutes on ukemi.

Near the end of the class, we paired up with more experienced players to go through a turnover to attack an opponent's turtle position.  I take my leg closest to my opponent's and step over his back, clamping his torso between my knees as best I can.  I bend over and hook his leg and arm, then proceed to roll over, sending my head underneath my opponent as he starts to get turned.  Depending on the initial grip, I can either finish with a Bow and Arrow choke or with an arm bar.  Interesting stuff, but it felt like a "little guy" move to me.

We finished the class with some light ground grappling (no chokes or locks, though).  My poor partner had no clue he was facing a blue belt in BJJ, so needless to say he suffered quite a bit.  He would have suffered more had I been allowed to use chokes and joint locks, though!  I'm looking forward to Friday night! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back After A Prolonged Hiatus

A lot has happened since I last updated this blog.  It's hard to believe I've come so far.  Here's the short version:  In June of 2011, I received my blue belt from Fateh Belkalem and Bruno Fernandes.  In November of 2011, I took my first judo class in over 25 years.

One of my goals for this year is to take better notes on my training sessions, and, as an extension, to update this blog more often.