Friday, 21 May 2010


During last week’s lesson we practiced front break falls and I messed up slightly by falling on my left elbow which resulted in my left shoulder taking the full force of the fall. The morning after I could hardly lift my left arm above head height so I had obviously injured it in some way. Unfortunately as I was looking after my two nieces over the weekend who at age 6 and 2 like to use me as some sort of climbing frame I was not able to rest the shoulder and probably made it worse. The upshot of all this was that I had to miss training this week which is very frustrating.
I went to the club anyway last night to pay my term fees and had a quick chat with everyone there to let them know that I was injured. It was a good turnout last night so it frustrated me even more that I wasn’t able to train and a sleepless night followed.

Hopefully another week of rest will be enough so that I can return to normal next week otherwise I will be like a bear with a sore head.

What made not training yesterday even more frustrating was the fact that I had bought myself a new Gi. It’s a Blitz Olympian Double weave and my god is it heavy and big. I’m not quite sure that I’ve made a good choice with this yet but chatting to various Judo people on martial arts forums like Bullshido and the Judo Forum website they all say you need a good double weave for competition so maybe I will just wear it in in training and then save it for competitions. I will of course still need a new everyday single weave Gi for training so I will do some more investigations before I part with my hard earned cash.

Friday, 14 May 2010

BJJ comes to Dorking

Whilst waiting for the juniors to leave the matted area so we could start our lesson I noticed someone wearing a strange faded black gi top with white trousers. I quickly realised that the gi was a BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) gi so I approached him and asked his name. Ryan trains BJJ at Nova Forca in Epsom which funnily enough is a place I have trained at before many years ago but due to work commitments I had to give it up after only two lessons. Anyway Ryan said he had trained there for 3 years so I couldn’t wait to Newaza with him.

Ryan was introduced to the rest of the class and apparently his daughter has just enrolled in the junior’s which is why he has decided to give Judo a go as he liked the look of it.

After a quick warm up we went straight to Newaza and I was paired with Ryan. He quickly pulled guard but before I could settle he reversed and almost got full mount but I managed to hip escape in to half guard, he then passed to side control and was setting up a submission when he was interrupted by Gill who told him that as he had side control he should go for the pin or hold known as Mune-gatame. I can imagine that for a BJJ guy this would seem quite an alien thing for him to do as even for me, an avid watcher of all things MMA I still give up holds to go for subs.

Regardless I had seen enough of Ryan to know that his ground game was streets ahead of mine and I can definitely learn something from him as I’m sure even the more senior grades can. After reading some Judo forums I sense some animosity from some Judoka towards BJJ guys but that couldn’t be further from the truth as far as I was concerned. Firstly Ryan represented someone new and different to train with and secondly he has some skills from which I can learn from.

We changed partners shortly after Gill’s interruption and I paired up with Oli and then eventually big Stuart. I had a good tussle with big Stuart and nearly caught him twice, first in a San-Gaku-jime and then with Juji-gatame but he eventually escaped and after several attempts at passing my guard he got full mount and was I’m sure just about to go for a sub when Graeme called matte.

We spent some time going over Kesa-gatame and Mune-gatame and the various escapes and I was paired again with Ryan. Kesa-gatame was new to Ryan which really surprised me. I know they don’t use pins per say in BJJ but I thought they would use them to transition. He was having some difficulty with the escape from Mune-gatame so we broke down the escape without the use of a partner by lying on our backs and bridging to each shoulder, then adding the pushing movements with our arms followed by turning on and over our shoulder so that we are laying on our fronts. Done with a partner you end up lying on their chest, hopefully performing Mune-gatame on them.

We then went on to some stand up and practiced Osoto-otoshi and Osoto-gari. To the untrained eye both throws are very similar, the only difference being that with otoshi you place your sweeping leg on the floor behind uke and straighten it up whereas with gari you totally sweep uke’s leg which generally makes for a harder through for uke. This is where Ryan’s general lack of throwing experience showed but he was getting to grips with them by the end.

I hope Ryan comes back next week as he seems like a nice guy and he will offer something different to the club. Who knows, maybe some of us can pay a visit to his BJJ club some time to polish up our ground work and maybe extend an invitation to them to come train some Judo to help with their standup.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Red is in the bag

Peter and Graeme explained that this evening’s lesson would be totally geared towards me finishing off the Red belt grading that I started last week. As before the techniques that I had to know were done within the normal lesson and just ticked off as I went through them all.

There was a young guy who had joined us from the juniors this evening for the first time. He’s only 15 but quite tall so he’s probably too big for most of the juniors but was still way to light for the seniors. Still we all took it easy on him and I’m sure he’ll learn a lot from us all. All of the seniors apart from myself are parents anyway so he’ll be well looked after.

We started with some groundwork and I went over again the three holds and the three escapes from these holds. One thing I’ve noticed is that you need strong abs especially for the escape from Kazure-kesa-gatame using sit up and roll as you have to basically do a sit up whilst the other person is laying on you, not easy if you don’t have abs like giant Ravioli. I’ve started adding some Abs work in to my workouts again, I know they should have always been in there but no one likes doing sit ups.

On the subject of workouts I currently train every day of the week apart from the weekend, although sometimes I go for a long walk with the Wife. I usually do a couple of days of free weights, 1 five mile run, some circuit training, 1 Yoga class and then my Judo. I’ve entered next year’s London Marathon again, I’ve entered the last 3 but haven’t got in but I’m hopeful that next year I’ll get lucky, so I may have to start doing lots more running. I figure if I can be running 13 miles by the time the ballot results are out in October then I should be fine.

After the groundwork we went over some throws, specifically the ones I needed to do Osoto-otoshi, De-ashi-barai and Uki-goshi. The Uki-goshi throw that I did on Oli was particularly good for me and it felt effortless. After the throws we had to perform them and go straight in to a hold so we did Osoto-otoshi in to Kesa-gatame, de-ashi-barai in to mune-gatame and then Uki-goshi in to Kazure-kesa-gatame.
Apart from that I had to know several Japanese names like Matte and Hajime and once they ticked those off they told me I had passed.

Tonight’s lesson was cut short due to the election as both instructors were assisting in the counting so we finished 30 minutes early.

Next belt is Yellow and ideally I would like to be Orange by Christmas this year that would leave me 1 year to get Green, Blue and then Brown. I’ll probably look back at these predictions this time next year and laugh but you have to give yourself some tough goals.

The next day after training I looked online for a new Judo suit as the one I have currently is about 20 years old. I found a nice Blue Adidas one so hopefully I can wear that to my next lesson with my nice new Red belt.

Monday, 3 May 2010


Peter mentioned to me that they would start my Red belt grading this evening and that they would probably use Clive as Uke or the receiver of the technique as he was the closest size wise to myself. Although Clive was a Brown belt he was new to me as apparently he hadn’t been to the club for about 4 years due to other commitments.

Inez was taking the class this evening for the first time and her warm up was a little different to that of Peter’s. Ten minutes in to the warm up we all heard this noise like a pencil breaking and Clive, who was right next to me, asked who had just kicked him. At first I thought he was messing about but then he suddenly grabbed the back of his right ankle and collapsed to the floor in pain. He had snapped his Achilles tendon in his right leg and this unfortunately would put a premature end to his return to Judo.

Peter helped Clive off to casualty and we continued with our warm up. Inez’s style of coaching is different to Peter’s and she said that we would have a light session with little sparring. I hope she didn’t see the face I pulled as I love sparring. However my face pulling was to be short lived as this lesson really helped with my throws. Basically she broke down each throw in to 3 sections which we would first drill with an imaginary partner. For example if we were doing Tai-toshi, part one would be to step forward with my right foot. Part two would be to step across to my right with my left foot behind my right foot and part 3 would be the arm movements with the right foot moving across to my left whilst turning my back. It’s difficult to explain without showing but if you know the throw then you’ll understand. Anyway we did this for three or four throws and then we partnered up and did them with a partner and then eventually we moved on to some light Randori where we practised the throws we had just done. All the while this was going on Graeme was walking around marking me for my Red belt grading, so when we did Deashi-barai he ticked that off the list of techniques I had to perform. None of the other styles I have done have gradings like this so it was refreshing and meant there were no nerves.

After Randori we went to some groundwork where we worked on 5 holds and moved from one to the other whilst at all times trying to keep control of Uke. I was thus able to perform all 3 of the holds that are in the Red belt syllabus plus refine Yoko-shiho-gatame and Kazure-kami-shiho-gatame and then took turns with our partner, first doing the holds whilst the other tried to break free of the hold and then we swapped over. When I was being held down I managed to pull off the Escape from Kazure-kesa-gatame, that I needed for my grading so again I had ticked off another technique.



Overall apart from poor Clive this was a really good technical lesson which I really got a lot out of.
Graeme confirmed they would finish my Red belt grading next week so hopefully my next post will have the word “red” in the title.