Judo 9 April and BJJ 11 April

My schedule has changed (the year really begins in April, in Japan). Some things good, some things bad. Good: Finishing earlier on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, meaning I can get to jiu jitsu in plenty of time those days. Bad: Finishing later on Wednesdays. I thought I’d have to quit judo as it would mean I’d arrive with only about half an hour left of the session. I told Ide-san as much but he persuaded me to keep coming and said that we could stay later, which was good. I’m glad he said that. So I went to judo, arriving at 8:30pm. They kind of allowed the session to go on until 9:30 so it was totally worth it.

I worked on some uchi-komi (drills). Worked a few basic techniques. Ouchi-gari (inside sweep), osoto gari (outside sweep), kouchi gari (another inside sweep), and tsuri goshi (a kind of hip throw). This kind of drill training in judo is done quite quickly, but the throw is not completed. You step with the legs, do the appropriate arm movements, then go back to the start and do it again. I prefer practicing all the way through, i.e. throwing the partner to the ground. This kind of training gives you a chance to feel the physics, the mechanics of the throw. Still, I suppose the uchi-komi are good for practicing the setup. Perhaps David of Titan Judo, a regular commenter and judo guy, will help me out with that! We didn’t do enough reps for my liking, but once I get used to things I’ll start tailoring the training to my liking. For now, I’ll just do what they tell me.

I then did some randori (standing sparring) with Ide-san and Aoyama-san, both blackbelts. I can stay up for a while against them but they always catch me in the end. Three minutes of randori kills me worse than six minutes of bjj-style rolling. The fact that I am so exhausted after it means that I need to do it and it’s doing me good. Aoyama-san did a wicked, Ryu-from-streetfighter-2 style throw where I was charging him down trying to inside sweep him. He fell and I thought I’d got it but then I felt his foot in my gut and I literally somersaulted over him. I closed my eyes as I went upside down out of pure fear, but my ukemi training did kick in and I landed pretty smoothly with a nice and accurate hand slap on the mat. I was told that we could transition to BJJ during sparring, and ended up triangling Aoyama-san twice. He is a very good judo player and feels like he’s carved from stone, so I was pretty pleased about that. He asked me to show him how I did it so I gave him some of the secrets of the triangle ;-).

We finished the night with a three minute run up and down the dojo which was harder than it sounds and brought back horrible memories of something we used to call “the bleep test” at school, where a machine would bleep and you’d have to touch the wall, and by the next bleep you’d have to be on the other side of the room touching the opposite wall. Still, good for the stamina.

Then last night I went to BJJ taking advantage of my new schedule. It was another small class.

Tomari-san, coach, sensei, friend, all round nice guy.

I started to think about quality over quantity while I was training. I think this is very important and something we need to remind ourselves about constantly, especially if we can’t be training every day like we wish we could. I see people barely even break a sweat during the warmup, and others who are moaning like madmen, dripping with perspiration. At first glance you’d imagine the dry ones are the healthy ones and the sweaters are out of shape. But you’d probably be wrong. The people sweating are the ones pushing themselvs, making each pushup and situp count, using all their muscles. The others are coasting. Yesterday on even the most basic of movements, I was trying to push myself. Even during the lowly ebi practice (shrimping up and down the mats) I was thinking about my technique and how to improve it.

We jumped straight into sparring and I did fairly well against Ide-san. I managed to make him work very hard for everything, but naturally I couldn’t hold him off forever as he is a purple belt. He won the All-Japan Masters and Seniors blue belt at his weight last year, so he’s no slouch on the mat. It gave me some confidence though as I was able to stave off most submission attempts and I think catch a sweep or two. Next up my coach completely obliterated me as usual. He is planning on competing in the mundials this year which is great. He stays down here in Kyushu with us all year which is great for us but not so good for him. All the best Japanese BJJ players are around Tokyo, training with each other and raising each other’s game. Tomari-san meanwhile is stuck trying to improve us bumbling noobs, which I am eternally grateful for, but it isn’t that good for him…

I managed to land a sweep on him and transition to knee on belly for about a second. Naturally he ramped it up a gear after that and simultaneously armbarred, spineocked and choked me at the same time. Seriously.

He told me I could have one rest period out of seven spars (6 minutes each). It was pretty tough. I sparred against a big Romanian guy next. He’s a black belt in judo and about 78 or so kilos (I’m 67.) It’s always difficult to roll with him as he is very strong and aggressive. I managed to take his back though and he turtled up so I dug out his neck and rear naked choked him, which was very satisfying.

Against a white-nearly-blue belt I was able to practice my takedown plan for the competition. Plan A is just to arm-drag (or via a lapel grip) yank my opponent towards me and across, step out and down and pick a leg, then work the single leg. Or, drop down into De La Riva guard and work the sweep. My judo is starting to pay off though as I was able to deny people grips, and also use my hips reasonably well to put people off their takedowns.

I basically gurned my way through another few sessions, yet more of the kind where your muscles are jelly and you’re gasping for breath. Tomari-san keeps telling me, train hard, fight easy, so at this rate, the fight should be a breeze. I’m training BJJ three times a week and judo once a week, with some random strength stuff chucked in there.

For me, twice a week is the minimum I need to maintain my level. If I go three times a week, I will notice an improvement. Three times a week plus judo is definitely a good pace for me.

Wow, quite the epic post. Tl;dr!

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4 Responses

  1. Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

    Aye, Uchikomi is all about the mechanics. The kuzushi, the hands, the feet position. Because your not completing the throw you can practice it with really high reps so you can really ingrain the technique so everything becomes second nature.
    Some Judo players don’t like it, but I think it’s valuable. I should probably be doing more of it.

    3 to 4 sessions feels optimal to me too. PIty I’m only doing 2 currently. I’m thinking of trying to get along to BJJ soon and maybe doing a session of that a week along with the Judo, as it turns out theres a Brazilian black belt teaching near me. Would be a shame to miss out on that.

  2. Thanks for commenting, David!

    The arts complement each other perfectly. You could be a great judo player with a wicked triangle or armbar or an arsenal of sweeps to add to your game. If you have a blackbelt near you then you’re lucky indeed… go check it out!

    I will keep up the uchi-komi but I need to do a lot more reps to get anything out of it, I think.

  3. Yep, definitely. Make sure your technique is correct when doing them though. Don’t want to be building any bad habits!
    You can try doing some solo uchikomi with a belt looped round something sturdy, or one of those power band elastic band things. Not that I’ve ever done this either, but it’s something that I keep intending to do when I’m doing my conditioning workouts.

    Marcos Nardini is the dude’s name – http://www.bjjscotland.co.uk/
    I really need to try and get along there.

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