Friday, 26 November 2010


The weather has taken a turn for the worse at the moment and leaving my very warm house to get in to my very cold car at 8pm last night suddenly didn’t feel very appealing but I am yet to miss a lesson for any reason other than holiday and I’m certainly not going to start now.

We warmed up with shrimping and other various other movements across the mats and then were told that we were going to learn San-gaku-jime , or triangle choke to my BJJ/MMA friends. Under the BJA this is a 1st kyu (Brown Belt) technique but I have been shown this technique in BJJ and have pulled it off in Newaza as recently as last week. Strangely enough I had been told to check out a variation of the traditional way of doing this technique by someone following my blog and was told to type “Ryan Hall triangle” in to youtube. I was anxious to try out this variation myself but I had to wait until none of the instructors were looking before doing so.

I was paired with Big Stuart and we both got this technique working first time out. When Stuart applied the choke to me apparently my face very quickly turned red even though I didn’t feel overly in trouble but then I could slowly feel myself passing out but Stuart had already released the choke and I recovered very quickly. The beauty of this choke is that generally the person being choked doesn’t realise it and like I almost did, can slowly drift off to la la land. I mentioned to Stuart that I had just last night seen a variation of this technique and youtube so got to try it out. luckily enough I think I remembered it pretty well as Stuart commented that the choke was very tight, very quickly.

Graeme then showed us San-gaku-gatame , again this is a 1st kyu technique. We were shown this from a turnover situation exactly the same as the one on the BJA website, the link of which I have provided.

Moving on to some Tachi-waza we practiced Ippon-seoi-nage and Graeme broke down the throw in to different stages, i.e. breaking the balance, lifting Uke on to your back, and finally dropping you shoulder so that Uke falls to the floor. I was paired with Mark and when we got to the stage where he actually threw me I forgot that I was at Judo and forgot to breakfall, landing flat on my back. Lesson learned, Thou must remember to breakfall when thrown. Of course I didn’t admit to Mark that I had forgotten or that I had no breath left in my lungs, I just got on with being thrown again and this time slapped my arm down hard. Eventually I got my breath back and hopefully no one was any the wiser.

Before the class finished I got to do some more of my Yellow belt grading and was asked to pick a Uke. Without hesitation I picked Oli, who had been Peter and Graeme’s Uki for most of the techniques we did that night. This is probably due to two reasons, firstly Oli is fairly senior and secondly he was probably the lightest senior in attendance. I had to perform O-uchi-gari into Tate-shiho-gatame followed by Tai-otoshi into Yoko-shiho-gatame. Both done reasonably well and Peter ticked them both off. Next up was Escape from Kami-shiho-gatame and despite the fact I have only been shown this once many months ago, I did this well enough to pass.

I’m almost there now with this grading, just the turnovers and a couple more escapes to do before becoming a 5th Kyu. Ryan also made a start on his 6th kyu grading and Mark made a start on his 2nd kyu so some new colour belts could soon be worn all round.

Before we left Graeme asked if any of us were interested in a Newaza competition against another local club, probably to take part early next year. Everyone seemed keen so hopefully this will happen as I think we have a good chance of getting some medals particularly with Ryan who will no doubt be performing against other novice Judoka, but hopefully not against me.

Monday, 22 November 2010


The ache’s that the title of this post refers to are due to the running that I’m doing which again totaled 20 miles this week. I read somewhere that your body takes about 3 weeks to get used to running 4 times a week and this is my third week since I had man flu so hopefully by next week I should be feeling a bit better.

On to the Judo and Graeme took the class and as Peter had to leave early I didn’t do anymore of my grading. After the warm up we did some Newaza. First a light roll with Ryan where we just went through different holds and reversals and then a more strenuous roll with Big Stuart. Big Stuart certainly seems to be trying that bit more now when he rolls with me, whether that’s because he has to as I have improved I’m not sure yet but when he does try he is certainly a formidable opponent. Obviously his size can be an advantage to him and when he lays across your face and puts his weight down its uncomfortable to say the least. Stuart did manage to secure some sort of color choke but it was only very slowly choking me so I decided not to tap and luckily for me Graeme called matte just in time.

Next up was Mark and this time we had to take turns starting from the turtle position. I started in turtle first Mark attempted to roll me bit I pulled guard and as he tried to pass I threw up a San-gaku-jime (triangle). Again as per my previous roll with Mark he left his left arm in so I had to remember which leg I was to choke him with and fortunately I had learnt from my mistakes and correctly applied the pressure with my legs around his neck and pulled his left arm across my body and after about 10 seconds he tapped.

His turn now to start in turtle and I ended up in his guard but was able to pass into Mune-gatame but I didn’t really have good control from here so I decided to change to Tate-shiho-gatame (the mount). Mark tried to bridge and buck me off but I kept hold of him and was slowly working my way up his body as I intended to go for a Juji-gatame (Arm bar). Unfortunately Graeme called matte before I had the chance but I was pleased nonetheless as this was my first proper roll with Mark and I was able to submit him. I would think that next time he will know what to expect from me and I might find it that little bit harder but for now I was happy.

Tachi-waza was next and we practiced Uchi-mata, which previously I found difficult to pull off against Black Belt Stuart but tonight I was paired with Big Stuart. Surprisingly I was able to throw Stuart a number of times. I’m starting to realise the importance of not only using my legs when I throw but also my arms and my body. After I break Stuart’s balance its really important to pull his arm around my body and also to turn my head as this aids in the twisting motion.

We finished up tonight with some Randori and first I paired up with Oli and we went throw for throw which was good practice for me. After some more light Randori with Inez and Big Stuart I paired up with Ryan. Looking back at my blog I realised that Ryan had been training since May and should really have started his Red belt grading by now. I realise the club is small and its difficult for them to concentrate on more than one persons grading at a time so hopefully after I get my Yellow they can quickly grade Ryan.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Foot Sweeps

Due to being busy at work and my continued running commitments I’m late blogging this week. I will therefore keep it short, partly because I am still busy but mainly because I’ve forgotten what I did last week.

On the Marathon training front I did manage 3 x 4.5 mile runs in my lunch hour last week and topped that off with a 7 mile run on Sunday morning, which is my longest ever run. I actually felt ok after the run, not really out of breath just a little achy. My time was quite slow, 1 hour and 8 minutes, but at this stage it isn’t about how fast but rather how long I run for.
So that’s just over 20 miles run last week and I will continue to do this for the month of November before I up my long run to 10 miles in December.

On to the Judo and there was yet another new face but I can’t remember his name. He was however another Black Belt, who hadn’t practiced for about 5 years but was looking to get back in to it. He had travelled all the way from Wimbledon to our club, which is quite a long way so I questioned why he didn’t train in Wimbledon as Ray Stevens has a club there but apparently he wanted to get back in to training gently and the Randori at Ray Stevens was a little too full on. I guess when you’re a Black Belt some students see you as having a big target on your back, I certainly felt this way when I was teaching Kung Fu to some of the knuckle heads that used to walk in off the street.

I also mentioned to our newest recruit that there was another club “ Westcroft”, which being based in Carshalton, is between Wimbledon and Dorking and he seemed quite keen to find out more about that club. I then realised that I may just have talked him out of coming back to our club but let’s hope not as he seemed liked a nice guy and more students are always welcome.

Peter took the class tonight and said we would be concentrating on foot sweeps. We first went over De-ashi-barai and I was then shown Okuri-ashi-barai , which is similar, to De-ashi but the aim is to take sweep both feet instead of the one.
I was paired with Mark for this and because he is quite a lump I was finding it hard to lift him off the ground properly and time my sweep. In fact the position of my sweeping foot was too high and at one point it appeared that I was kicking him in the thigh instead of sweeping his foot.

Shortly after this Peter asked me to perform some more of my Yellow belt techniques and I was able to get another chance at Tai-otoshi, this time using Black belt Stuart as Uke. I was a little apprehensive as previously Stuart has been very difficult to throw and I cocked this throw up last time. Fortunately my apprehension was misplaced as I performed it correctly right off the bat. I then went to perform O-uchi-gari and again this went well.

Looking at the grading syllabus, I still have to perform the three throws and follow them in to the holds, and then I have to do three turnovers in to holds and three escapes from the holds. Providing I continue with my grading this week I should hopefully have a new belt within three weeks.

Friday, 5 November 2010


Not only was I recovering from a dose of Man Flu but I had also injured my neck on Tuesday lifting weights, which meant I wasn’t able to turn my head fully left or right. Not the best shape to be doing Judo in but, as the club was closed last week for the holidays, I wasn’t going to miss training for another week.

Inez took the class tonight and after the initial warm up we did some Newaza techniques where you have to reverse/sweep Uke from inside your guard with you on your back. We partnered up and Inez told us to perform any techniques that we already knew so she could first gauge what we did or didn’t know. I was partnered with Oli and the only reversal I have ever been taught was one that I was shown in BJJ which was as follows: You start on your back with Uke in your guard grabbing your gi near your sternum. To break Uke’s grip you use both hands and grab his gi around his wrist and pull hard upwards and then to your right side. Then your left arm grabs around Uke’s back and grabs their gi by their right shoulder and at the same time you move your head towards Uke’s left knee. You then slide your right arm under Uke’s left leg and lift them up with your right arm and pull them with your left arm thus ending up in full mount.
Whilst performing this technique Inez actually commented that it was a nice move but what was even nicer was that I was able to remember this from BJJ.

Inez then went on to show us a couple more sweeps. The first one involves bringing your right knee across Uke’s body. Then you push with your right leg whilst at the same time your left leg pushes against Uke’s right knee, this flips Uke over to your left hand side where you can easily follow them into a hold or full mount.
The variation on this technique was using a butterfly guard with your right leg only and flipping them over in pretty much the same way. Oli then showed me how to do this with a double butterfly guard which I have had done to me on a number of occasions in BJJ.

Following this we did some Newazai Randori and after my initial roll with Oli I paired up with Ryan. Although Inez told us to try and keep it light it’s not always an easy thing to do especially when you are trying to defend yourself against Ryan. We started with Ryan in my guard and he attempted to pass but my hip escapes are definitely improving as I was able to keep full guard until he eventually got to half guard. After a few failed attempts by Ryan to get side control he attacked my left arm and was looking for an Ude-garami. I let him have the arm as I was trying to regain full guard and I didn’t think he would have the leverage to submit me in half guard but I was wrong as he cranked it on and forced me to tap.

We started again, this time with me in Ryan’s guard. I tried to pass a few times and Ryan was trying hard to sweep me but I managed to keep a good posture. I grabbed both of his legs in an attempt get side control but in doing so he trapped an arm and I could see that he was close to getting a Sangaku-jime (triangle) choke on me. I was lucky in that I was able to force my other arm through his legs and I was back to where I started, in his guard. Inez called Matte shortly after this.

It was refreshing to have had so long to do Newaza as usually Matte is called after sixty seconds. Although I understand that in Judo competition you don’t get long on the ground to advance your position before the referee’s stand you back up, when doing Newaza in your club I think you should be given a lot longer so tonight was a step in the right direction.

Following my roll with Ryan I paired up with black belt Stuart. He let me dictate our roll and work my holds and positions. He commented afterwards that I felt strong and in control.

We then went on to some Tachi-waza and Inez said we would be working on Uchi-mata. We stayed with our partners which meant I was with Stuart. I practiced my entry in to this throw a few times before I actually attempted the throw but I couldn’t quite get the technique right. Stuart then performed the throw on me and I was impressed with how easily I was thrown and the fact that there was nothing I could do to stop it. Stuart was reluctant to actually let me throw him, preferring instead to resist, and although he gave me good feedback and commented that I was doing it right I didn’t feel like I really got the hang of this throw.

We finished up with some Randori and I got a chance to spar with Mark who is a green belt. After failing with Tai-otoshi the week before last in my Yellow belt grading I made a conscious effort to try this as much as possible on Mark but I wasn’t able to get him with it and every time I tried, he stepped out and threw me instead. I did manage a sloppy Tani-otoshi towards then end but I ended up feeling a little despondent.
I know the learning curve for Tachi-waza is a lot higher than for Newaza but I do feel that my throws are particularly poor. Maybe I’m just being hard on myself as the only person in the club who is a lower grade than me is Ryan and everyone else, bar Mark, is a Brown belt or above. In fact when we do Newaza it’s even worse because although Ryan may be a White belt Judoka he is a Blue belt in BJJ so I get beaten by everyone.

Maybe I need a competition to gauge properly what my true level is or maybe I just need to train at another Judo club every once in a while. I know Westcroft have a Randori night on Tuesdays so maybe I could persuade Oli to join me in a trip there sometime.

We didn’t get the chance to go over anymore of my yellow grading this week but I would expect, with the return of Graeme next week that this should continue.