Friday, 22 October 2010


My Marathon training has started slowly due mainly to a niggling knee injury but I was able to get a couple of four and a half mile runs in this week during my lunch hour at work. The problem is that, because I am literally training every day bar Saturday and on some days (Tuesday and Thursday) I am training twice a day, something has to give. This is the reason I have not been to BJJ for the last couple of weeks as doing those hard workouts after a run is taking its toll on my body. This doesn’t mean I have stopped BJJ altogether but while my body adjusts to the extra workload it makes sense to give it a rest for a while.
The workouts in Judo however are a lot easier on the old body and so despite running in my lunch hour I am to complete a Judo class with no problem.

Graeme was back tonight but had injured his ankle doing Judo in the week at another club he attends so Peter took the class and Graeme assisted from the sidelines.

We worked mainly on one throw tonight, Sumi-gaeshi , which incidentally is a 1st kyu throw, so quite advanced. It does look quite complicated when you first see it but in fact I got the hang of this fairly quickly. Big Stuart was my Uke for this throw, so I knew I had to get the technique right to throw him properly. We were shown two versions of this throw, the first is like the one on the link I’ve provided which clearly shows separation between the person throwing and Uke. This is important if you want the throw to count in competition and score an Ippon. The other way of doing this throw is, instead of letting go of Uke you roll with them and end up in the mount position. In a Judo competition this would be a good idea if you wanted to get your opponent to the ground but you would be unlikely to score as a throw this way as it would be judged as a takedown rather than a throw. I do wonder whether this throw would work in BJJ as this would be an excellent and unusual way of getting mount from a standing position.

Juji-gatame or the classic armbar was then shown to the class. In Judo this is a Green Belt technique and in fact looking at the Green belt syllabus there is five different versions of this submission that you have to know for that grading. I would therefore imagine any newly promoted Green belts would be particularly proficient with this technique, something to take note of should I face a Green belt in competition anytime soon.

Although I have been shown this technique in BJJ it was nice to finally be shown this in Judo. Again this does show the different goals within Judo Newaza and BJJ as in BJJ this is one of the first submissions you learn and I was shown this within my first month of lessons. In Judo, if I waited until I was grading for my Green, it could have taken over a year before I was shown it. I’m not sure what Ryan made of this, as being a Blue Belt in BJJ this will be a bread & butter move to him.
However I was shown a slightly different version to the one I have been shown before because you only put your leg across Uke’s neck and your second leg is bent and lodged under their body rather than both legs over Uke.

Just before the end of the class I was asked to perform Tai-otoshi, as part of my Yellow belt grading. I hadn’t practiced this throw since before we had the summer break so I was more than a little rusty. I was expecting that I would have to perform O-uchi-gari as this was the throw that we had practiced a lot in previous weeks. Oli was Uke for my throw and I thought I performed it pretty well as I threw him with no effort. Unfortunately my technique wasn’t quite right so I was asked to perform it again and again I was doing something wrong. After my third and final attempt I was shown my Graeme what I was doing wrong which basically me using my leg too much for the throw. Tai-otoshi is classed as a “hand throw”, which means that ideally the throw should work even if my leg wasn’t there blocking Uke’s leg. I think was slightly reaping Oli’s leg, which is why I failed. All this means is that I will have to perform the throw again in the next lesson so I’m not too upset about it. I’d rather know how to do the throw properly than get a pass as getting my yellow belt is not my goal, getting better at Judo is.
After my failed attempt at Tai-otoshi I was then asked to perform three holds. Yoko-shiho-gatame , Tate-shiho-gatame and kami-shiho-gatame . Having practiced all of these in recent weeks I was fairly confident I could perform these correctly and I did.

The club is closed next week for the half term holidays so my grading will have to wait a couple of weeks. I still have three turnovers, three escapes, one throw and three throws into the holds which I performed today, left until I pass so it could take me another 2-3 weeks.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Harai-goshi and my first combination

Looking back at my first post I noticed that I was the only senior student who attended my first lesson. Recently there have been as many as 11 seniors, which is about as many as we could comfortably have on the mat when you consider the size of the matted area. I thought I would also take this opportunity to list everyone who regularly attends at the club in Rank order so that I don’t have to keep referring to their rank in my posts.

Inez – 2nd Dan
Peter – 1st Dan
Jillian – 1st Dan
Stuart – 1st Dan
Graeme – 1st Kyu (Brown)
Big Stuart – 1st Kyu
Troy – 1st Kyu
Oli – 1st Kyu
Mark – 3rd Kyu (Green)
Stuart – 6th Kyu (Red)
Ryan – not yet graded (White) –Blue Belt in BJJ

After the warm up we went in to some light Newaza and I was paired up with Ryan. We both managed to start lightly but as we continued, the resistance level went up a bit before matte was called. Next I was paired against Jillian and I made a conscious effort to go light against her. At one point I took Jillian’s back and she showed me a way of choking her from this position which involves me reaching around with my left arm and trapping her left arm by grapping on to the wrist or gi sleeve. Then with my right hand I simply reach around her neck and grab the far side of her collar. Funnily enough Inez was to show the class a very similar move to this later on in the lesson.

Next up was Big Stuart and by this time the lightness went out of the window. Stuart pushed me onto my back and tried to pass my guard but I was managing to control his hips well with my hand. He did eventually manage to get a mune-gatame (Chest hold) on me and then when he transitioned to Kesa-gatame (scarf hold) I tried to scramble out backwards but matte was called before I could complete it. Kesa-gatame is not often used in BJJ because if you escape out the back then you have your opponents back and will most likely choke them. In BJJ they prefer Kazure-kesa-gatame (Broken Scarf Hold) as you have control over more of your opponent’s body than basically just the arm and head like in Kesa-gatame.

Following on from all the hip throws we did last week Inez concentrated on Harai-goshi (sweeping hip throw). I worked on this throw with Oli and felt I had got it going pretty good. Inez then showed us a couple of set ups but Oli simplified this further for me and it was his set up that I think I would try and use next time we do Randori. This was an O-soto-otoshi attempt and when/if uke stepped out of it they were in a perfect position for a Harai-goshi. Although I have been shown a couple of set ups before this one really flowed especially as O-soto-otoshi is one of my more favourite throws so this is a combination I can really try and work on and maybe make my signature move.

I have UFC 120 to look forward to this weekend and I am attending the UFC Fan Expo at Earls Court on Saturday so hopefully I’ll have some photos to post on here from that next week.

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Goshi's.

No Graeme this week as he’s away on one of his many business trips so Peter took the class. There was another Black Belt tonight and another Stuart, that’s three Stuarts in one club. I’m not quite sure who Stuart was but some of the more senior people knew him but I hadn’t seen him since I had been coming to the club which is since February so maybe he stopped training or found another club.

Inez took us through our warm up and then we did plenty of Ukemi, which is always a good thing to practice. My Ukemi has improved a lot since I first started and unless I totally mess it up I never get the dizzy feeling anymore.

After the Ukemi we went straight in to Newaza. I paired up with Ryan first and immediately pulled guard. I managed to keep Ryan from passing my guard for a little while before he finally got to half guard but I was then able to regain full guard and even went in to butterfly guard and attacked him. Ryan then pulled guard on me and I could see he was trying to sweep me but I managed to posture up and keep my balance. Just before Peter called matte Ryan pulled my head down and got the sweep but it was too late for Ryan to do anything. In BJJ Ryan would have got the mount and probably a submission would have followed but under Judo rules you have to keep very active otherwise you are stood back up. Although Ryan, being a BJJ Blue belt, is clearly better than me on the ground, he plays a patient game which may not work so well should he enter a Newaza tournament so he might have to tweak his game slightly. Last week Graeme did mention that there may be an opportunity for our club to compete against another Judo club in a Newaza tournament and I’m sure we would do quite well. Ryan and I would both compete in the Green belt and below section which to be honest Ryan should have a very good chance of winning. Also with my BJJ training I fancy my chances, providing I don’t end up in Ryan’s weight category that is.

Peter did point out to both Ryan and I that we should conserve our energy as this was only to be the first of many rolls we had this evening, but I think Ryan and I could quite happily keep going all night if we had to, due mainly to the BJJ training we’ve both been doing.

After Ryan I got to roll with Mark who is quite a big guy, probably an inch shorter than me but probably a stone heavier. Mark was treating me like a complete beginner, giving me advice on what to do, which to be fair to him my Red belt would suggest I am, so I probably surprised him when I pulled guard and threw up a San-gaku-jime. Unfortunately for me this was on my weaker side and I got confused as to which foot I needed to hook under the other leg. I had this same problem a couple of weeks ago at BJJ so I need to practice this submission on my left side. When I didn’t get the tap from San-gaku-jime, I went back to guard again and thought I’d try one of the sweeps that I had learnt in BJJ recently. I managed to control his body and shrimp and it was only when I put my right arm under his leg that he realised what I was going to do so he managed to sprawl his legs back to defend. Matte was called quickly afterwards but hopefully I had done enough to convince Mark that next time he doesn’t need to be quite so nice.

Reading this back I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m being arrogant. Mark seems like a nice guy which is why he was trying to help me. I would have just preferred it if he had attacked and subbed me first and then on our next roll point out why he had managed to do so.

After some further rolls with Oli, Big Stuart and Black Belt Stuart (this is getting complicated now), Peter stood us up and said we would be practicing hip throws.

I paired up with Oli and the first throw we tried was O-goshi. It took me a while to get the hang of this but it really helped me when Oli threw me with this. Oli’s control of me was such that he could stop half way through the throw and drop me very gently to the floor. When I threw Oli he always hit the floor with a thud as I wasn’t able to control him. Gill did point out to me that I needed to get my hip further across his body when doing this which did really help and is something I need to remember next time I practice this.

Peter then showed us what throw to go to if Uke resists or stiffens up when trying O-goshi and that is Uki-goshi and also Harai-goshi. We then finished up with Tsurikomi-goshi before we went on to some Randori.

I paired up with Big Stuart and tried a couple of times to get in for an O-goshi but again Stuart must be able to see these coming a mile off. Not deterred I tried for Osoto-otoshi and Stuart stepped back before I was close enough but left himself open to a Tani-Otoshi which I just about got him down with.
Stuart then threw me a couple of times before Peter called matte just to put me in my place but I was very pleased that I managed to throw him as, as I have said before the throws are by far the hardest part of Judo.

I really enjoyed tonight’s lesson as it was not only technical but very physical too.

Friday, 1 October 2010


I got home from work on Thursday evening and picked up the post that was on the mat as usual. I quickly realised that there was a large letter from the organisers of the London Marathon and that, low and behold, I had been successful in my application to run at next year’s event. Although the amount of training I will need to do between now and then is slightly daunting it has certainly put me in a good mood as I have been trying, via the ballot, to get in for the last 5 years. So off I went to Judo with a spring in my step.

On arrival I noticed another new face, Chris, who has previously trained in Japanese Jiu-jitsu. I later found out that he was a green belt in JJJ but I’m not sure how senior that is.
Graeme took as through our warm up and then he told us that we would be working on O-uchi-gari tonight, which coincidentally is one of the throws I need to perfect for my Yellow belt grading.

Graeme had a great way of breaking this throw down in to different parts. First off he had us practicing our footwork and entry in to the throw. Then the arm movements and finally we put the whole thing together. I was paired with Ryan and before long we were both pulling off really nice O-uchi-gari’s on each other. We were then told to do the throw whilst moving and this actually made the throw easier as, providing you timed it right, you could catch their foot just before it hit the ground.

After we had properly drilled O-uchi-gari Graeme then told me to pick an Uke to throw with Ippon-seoi-nage so that he could tick this off my grading. I picked Oli and performed an average throw on him but it didn’t quite feel right as I threw him more around my right shoulder than over the top. Graeme asked me to do the throw again and this time Oli felt as light as a feather and flew right over the top of me. I knew straight away I had preformed a perfect Ippon-seoi-nage as it was effortless and Graeme agreed.

With the Tachi-waza out of the way we went on to some Newaza and in particular Kami-shiho-gatame, another Yellow belt technique. I was still paired with Oli at this point and we both drilled this hold before Graeme showed us a variation of the technique where instead of the normal grip, both arms under uke’s arms and grabbing uek’s belt, one of your arms grabs over Uke’s arm and then back towards your legs and grabs Uke’s collar. This was actually a stronger hold than the traditional way of doing Kami-shiho-gatame and one that I would certainly use in competition.

We finished up with some Randori, first standing and then groundwork. First up Big Stuart handled me with ease and threw me a couple of times then Oli did the same. Again what I noticed most about Randori with these two is that they really know what they are doing with their grips whereas I just try and get the traditional Judo grip as I don’t really have any idea what throw I want to perform or how I want them to react. For a relative beginner like me there is so much to think about with throwing that you end up telegraphing exactly what you are going to do which means you have no chance in throwing a brown belt like Stuart and Oli.
I did finally manage a rather scrappy Osoto-otoshi on Ryan but we largely cancelled each other out. I did have a quick go against the new guy Chris and he clearly has a bit of experience with throws as he was able to trip me and was difficult for me to throw.
Still, overall considering that I hadn’t done any standing Randori since early July I wasn’t that bad and at least we then went on to do some Newaza randori.

I had a good roll with Big Stuart and actually managed to submit him with a Sangaku-jime (triangle). I’m not quite sure if the two months of BJJ has started to pay off or if I got lucky or if Stuart wasn’t actually trying too hard but it made me feel good nonetheless.

Tonight’s lesson was just the tonic I needed after last week’s when I was clearly having a bad one and had a little rant about Judo in general. Graeme’s teaching tonight was first class and totally made sense once we pieced everything together. Unfortunately he will be away on business for the next two weeks so I’m not sure how much of my Yellow belt grading I will do in that time but there is no rush.