Here’s a judo match from the 2011 Pan American games. Travis has exactly the game (even the same gripping strategies) as I’m trying to develop. There’s a beautiful sumi gaeshi, an omoplata, and finally an armbar turtle turnover:
I look forward to seeing how he does in the 2012 Olympics. I believe that he is one of the real hopes for judo gold from us next year.
Uchikomi, drilling, with a partner, yourself, or with a dummy all suffer the risk of being unrealistic. But I think as long as you have an understanding of the technique, you can use all those methods to supplement your training.
Here’s a video of a dummy in a gi being thrown beautifully. This is a very exciting video for me, a person who hates it when I can’t find a throwing partner:
To the left is a picture of a fellow grappler I recently met. He doesn’t read poetry. He doesn’t have a blog where he airs out his emotions. He doesn’t take s*** from anyone. He is a man of few words. And if I want to practice 100 guillotines on him, he is game. He has the heart of a champion, and if only he had arms and legs, he would be unstoppable.
In all seriousness though, getting a lot of reps of the Marcelo Garcia style guillotine (shown below) on this dummy has really helped me figure it out. I’m not a fan of guillotines, foot locks, wrist locks and other staples of the no gi game, but I’m trying to learn them (mostly with the help of books, instructionals, and competition footage) in order to have descent answers when others attack me with these techniques.
My general approach to jiu jitsu is to be gentle and not use much strength for 99% of cases. That makes learning certain techniques tougher. The guillotine in particular (along with its uncle the read naked choke) is one such technique. Once I get good at it, I’m sure I can make it crisp and mostly painless, but the initial learning process requires some ugly playing around. That’s where the dummy comes in, since he doesn’t seem to mind much.
Here’s the guillotine I’m working (shown in the second part of the video):
This Saturday, I competed at the Hudson Judo Promotional Tournament. It’s a line tournament, also known as Kohaku shiai or “winner stays up”. Competitors are lined up by weight. In theory, you fight until you loose, but in practice if you win 3 in a row by ippon (for brown belts) and 5 in a row (for black belts), you’re done. At this tournament we were given two chances to achieve that streak.
The best tournament experience for me is always one that has both tough wins and tough losses. I won 4 and lost 1. The one loss gave me a lot to think about, and given that it took me 7 hours to get back to Philly, I had a lot of time to think about it I did get a lot of work done, but the lesson for next time, at least for me personally, is to go with BoltBus instead of MegaBus. Also, I would like to thank the owner of the Subway on 34th and 9th who at first told me that they don’t have a restroom, but after I bought a sandwich, came up to me like in a scene from a mob movie and told me that I could use his “personal” restroom in the back. It was a truly an honor to be welcomed into the “family”.
The following is a video “diary” that includes a bunch of rambling clips of me talking, as well as highlights of my matches and matches of my new good friend Christopher Maksymowicz who defeated 5 opponents in a row to receive a Batsugan promotion to 2nd degree black belt:
Also, here’s a video highlighting my matches from the previous promotional tournament:
Thanks to my judo sensei Ray Huxen for his motivation and coaching.
I “believe” in technical wrestling. Similar to the spirit of jiu jitsu, I believe that technique can beat power and aggression. That’s a tough thing to believe because it involves being crushed a lot as part of the learning process.
That’s why I’m a fan of Mike Denny-run wrestling practice. He’s a Gable guy, with that Iowa wrestling mindset, and at the same time he emphasizes crisp slow drilling of technique. To take a quote a bit out of context, Tuesday he said “Russians are the best wrestlers” for the reason that they drill and drill and drill with clean technique.
I’m not sure how real it is, but there certainly seems to be a divide between the American way and the Russian way of wrestling. The former is a style of hard aggressive wrestling that wears down the opponent while the latter puts much more emphasis on timing and technique.
I like to watch the American way, but I like to grapple the Russian way. In practice, I try to relax and work on the right timing of applying technique with minimal strength. It’s very frustrating at times, because as long as my technique sucks, I get punished for it. But I try to remind myself that there’s no losing or winning on the mat during practice, and sometimes I even believe it
A few of the Osagame judo and bjj guys went to the “Battle for the Bullies” jiu jitsu tournament yesterday. All proceeds went to a pit bull rescue shelter, so thanks to Chris Hughes and Marco Perazzo from NJMA for putting that together.
I won 1st in gi and 1st in no-gi. The tournament was small but the guys I went against had good technical jiu jitsu so it was a great experience. I video’d some of the trip there, matches, and trip back. Check it out:
I know that me and the guy in this video are worlds apart in our skill level, toughness, etc. But I like the story he told about the Mongolian wrestler taking the freezing cold shower without flinching.
Now, I will never fight the battles Cary Kolat fought, or anything close. But I will have plenty of ice-cold showers in my life, and not flinching is a damn good goal to live by.
In Judo, there are several requirements for promotion to black belt (and some of the brown belt ranks). There’s the usual time-in-grade and competition performance, but there’s also the little tiny requirement of kata. Specifically, a kata called “nage no kata”:
For the most part, I am someone who focuses solely on competition, and so the process of learning and practicing kata has been known to break my spirit and drain my life energy. I purposefully use spiritual terms to describe its effects, because otherwise I would have to use swears and possible have to consume large amounts of alcohol before continuing the post.
I’m joking mostly. There are a lot of important aspects that the practice of kata can teach even (and perhaps especially) someone like me. Not the least of which is patience and respect for tradition.
There’s an interesting poll on the judoinfo.com site that asks people opinion of the value of kata in judo training. I’m actually surprised how many people say “good” and “excellent”. I’m surprised because my approach to judo at this point in my life is 100% in the “None” category. However, perhaps there will come a time when I will begin to appreciate the beauty of judo and understand the art to where I would see the practice of kata as fundamental to my judo progress.
Perhaps… but today, I’m thinking only of competition, and am dreading the fact that I have to go through nage no kata both as uke and tori, left side and ride side before the color of my belt changes.
I competed at the Princeton Judo Invitational today in the 178 lbs and 198 lbs advanced divisions. I lost in the 178 and won 3 matches in the 198 before I had to leave in order to return the PhillyCarShare car (someone had reserved it after me for 7pm). That’s definitely a lesson for me to go with a regular 24 hour rental next time instead of PhillyCarShare.
It was a good experience but the tournament did run long because there were a lot of competitors and only two mats. Also there was a scheduling conflict which took away half the gym for volleyball practice, leaving us with only one mat.
The following is a video “diary” of my experience at the tournament that includes both highlights from my matches and about 10 minutes of me talking to myself while driving:
I had a good conversation with someone that had a chance to train with Art (Philadelphia Judo Club instructor) back in the day. It was great to get the sense of history and how far the judo tradition in the area goes back. His name slips my mind, but I do remember that he is originally from Ireland (moved to the states in the 70′s) and is one of those people that you know is a genuinely good human being after talking to them for only a couple of minutes.
Many of the BJJ competitors at the black belt level have an open guard that at times seems to be “impassable”. A good example of someone with an “impassable guard” is Michael Langhi. Here’s an example match of his against Gilbert Burns:
Basically, it’s a remarkable mix of flexibility, agility, grips, leverage, and instinct that allows the player to keep his legs and hips always between him and the opponent.
Michael Langhi is one of many such guys. The “impassable guard” is a relative concept. For me, a lowly blue belt, a lot of guards are “impassable”. As I slowly progress, learn, and evolve, one by one I start to figure out the details of passing those guards. So the goal is always to pass the guard today that I couldn’t pass yesterday.
I think the following video of Mendes brothers loose guard passes really demonstrates the key challenges of passing a good open guard. It’s a mix of solid technique, constant pressure, aggression, balance, base, and follow through. It seems to me that the hardest part of passing is finishing the pass. I can often execute the leg drag effectively, but capitalizing on that position to gain and hold side control is a whole another battle.