Saturday, 25 June 2011

Flower Sweep from guard

Just been looking at Youtube and found this sweep that I have used before in Judo. I;ve since found out that it's commonly referred to as "The Flower Sweep" by BJJ'ers.
Funny thing about this video is that I was actually present at this class when it was being filmed but am just out of shot on the right of the screen.

Friday, 24 June 2011


Following last week’s poor turnout in the seniors we had two extra headcount (Oli & Ynes) joining us tonight. Unfortunately there was still no sign of Ryan or Jamie. I do hope Ryan, especially, hasn’t quit. Hopefully I will find out more following the text I just sent to him.

I had been very much looking forward to tonight’s lesson as I was sure I would be finishing my Orange belt grading that I started last week. Trying to learn, parrot fashion, all the English translations for the Japanese techniques when you have a four month old crying baby in your arms isn’t easy but I had sufficiently learnt them, with the help of my Wife, to be confident that I would be able to remember them when asked.

Following a quick warm up we were told to partner up for some Newaza, starting with one of us on all fours. I paired up with Ynes and volunteered to be first in the all fours position. Ynes attempted to roll me over but somehow I managed to end up in her guard where on passing she turtled up. I took her back and tried in vain to sink in a choke before matte was called.

Now it was her turn to start on all fours and I tried a basic turnover but she wasn’t having it. Again I took her back but she managed to turn around until she was in my guard. I pushed her arm out and started applying San-gaku-jime slowly but was picked up on this by both Peter and Ynes herself. I had the right arm of Ynes in the triangle and was about to move to my right to get the right angle to choke her but she insisted I move to her left, which was odd. Peter agreed with me, that I should move to my right but his criticism was more about the length of time Ynes was in the choke without tapping. I’m not sure why I didn’t slap on the choke full pelt as I would normally. Maybe it’s because Ynes usually comments about me using too much strength against her or maybe subconsciously I was aware that she is a female, albeit a 2nd Dan international female, but still someone who is about a foot smaller than me and did not want to hurt her.

We changed after this and I was paired with big Stuart. This time we started in the guard and Stuart, after several attempts managed to pass to half guard where I basically hung on for dear life. Stuart started applying a collar choke but I managed to sweep unfortunately ending up in his guard. As he applied more pressure to the collar choke I was preparing to tap but wanted to see if I could hold out and luckily Graeme called matte just in time. We changed positions again shortly after with both of us starting, lying on our stomachs. The first time Stuart was able to pin me and the second time, after Stuart turtled up I attempted a turnover in to Juji-gatame, but Stuart hung on to his arm long enough until matte was called.

Peter then went on to show us both San-gaku-jime and San-gaku-gatame. As Stuart isn’t the most flexible of people his San-gaku-jime wasn’t having the desired effect on me. I told him that I had seen a slight variation on this move from a Youtube video that Tony, a regular reader of this blog, provided me with a little while ago whereby you under hook on your right side and are basically side on to your opponent. This means that instead of squeezing your thighs together, which requires a certain amount of flexibility, you are doing a sort of leg press movement with your right leg, which is easier to perform. Stuart then tried this on me and got me to tap quickly, which he seemed pleased about.

Going on to tachiwaza and tonight’s focus would be on Uchi-Mata. After being showed the correct entry to this throw I again paired up with Stuart. After a couple of attempts I was able to feel quite comfortable with this throw. Whist writing this post I noticed that I had previously remarked on the 20th November 2010 that I wasn’t able to perform this throw very well, but tonight couldn’t be further from the truth as I was even able to throw Stuart who due to his size is quite often difficult to throw. Does this prove a distinct improvement of my understanding of Judo? I hope so.

Once we had both practiced this throw a dozen or so times Graeme asked us to think of a combination to this throw. I suggested to Stuart that Ko-Uchi-gari would be a good combination and he concurred. We then continued to practice this combination until Graeme finally called matte. Being asked to think of combinations of techniques and putting them together reminded me a little of my Wing Chun days when we would often be told to come up with combinations from a punch blocked with a Bong-sau or a Tan-sau. Learning in this way really helps a student to understand the flow of a technique and the Ko-Uchi-gari to Uchi-mate combination is one that I will try next time we do Randori.

Realising that I would need at least 10-15 minutes to finish my grading I glanced up at the clock and was disappointed to see that it was already 10.00pm. Peter remarked that we would finish my grading before the end of the term but I couldn’t help but feel a little deflated as I expected to be leaving here tonight with a shiny new Orange belt. Oh well, as Mr Miyagi would say, patient’s Stuart-san.

Friday, 17 June 2011

BJJ Brown Belt Demonstration

We had a discussion at Judo the other night about how in BJJ there is no formal grading, well Roy Dean's Academy seems to be an exception to this rule. This may be in part due to his many years of formal training in various Japanese Martial Arts as he holds a 1st Dan in Judo and Aikido as well as a 3rd Dan in Japanese Jujutsu. Of course he is also a Black in BJJ.Anyway I stumbled across this on Youtube, which is a BJJ Brown Belt grading and was really impressed with how smooth the transitions are between each technique and thought it was worth putting on here for reference.

Orange is close

If I’m walking around with a certain spring in my step today it’s because at last night’s Judo I surprisingly did a big chunk of my Orange belt (4th kyu) grading. This was made possible because oddly I was the only senior student who turned up last night, which meant I had Peter, Graeme and Big Stuart all to myself.

In my post dated 1st June 2011 I commented that there were still several techniques which I had never performed in the class and therefore I was unsure whether I would grade before the club closed for Summer but I somehow managed to perform these techniques adequately enough to pass, although both Graeme and Peter kindly allowed me a couple of goes to get the techniques right.
I literally only have a couple of techniques left to perform next week, along with Randori and a verbal test on the translation of each technique, so with any luck I’ll get my Orange belt next lesson.

With the combinations one has to learn for Orange belt I can see that this level is where one begins to understand the concepts of Judo. The techniques I learnt for Red and Yellow belt were just throws, with some emphasis on Kuzushi (breaking Uke’s balance). Now I can start to see how one throw leads to opportunities for another. Additionally I am also beginning to see counters to the throws that my opponents are trying on me.

After attending the Randori night at Westcroft Judo Club I was immediately aware that I had little idea of how to set up the throws that I knew, unless my opponent was making an obvious mistake. As the lowest grade at Westcroft (apart from myself) was a Green belt, I was dominated in the stand up and could not find any opportunities to throw my opponent and was often countered every time I went for a throw myself. Since then Oli has helped me with a couple of combinations, one of which is Tai-Otoshi – O-uchi-gari and Big Stuart has helped me with my grips.

So for the rest of this term my plan will be to always think 1 throw ahead when I do Randori, i.e. never try a single technique without thinking about another technique that may become available on the back of it. I’ll work out maybe 3-4 combinations that I will try and drill until they become second nature and then as I get more experienced I can add to them.

I really appreciated the lesson tonight and the opportunity that Peter, Graeme and Stuart gave me to grade, so a big thanks to all of them. Although tonight the lack of seniors worked out in my favour I do hope this is only temporary and that those seniors who have been absent recently soon return.

Looking forward to next week now and hopefully I’ll be changing my belt colour.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Stiff Arming and Grips

Another fairly small turnout last night, along with Peter & Inez there was only 3 seniors including myself. I’m hoping the absence of the likes of Ryan & Jamie is only temporary.

For the second week running I was sporting a new pair of Gi Bottoms which I had purchased from Black Eagle, due to my old pair shrinking a little too much. Now the reason I was wearing my second new pair in a week was because the pair I received last week shrunk about 6 inches after one 30 degrees wash, which is totally unacceptable. To their credit Black Eagle agreed to send me a replacement pair straight away, which I think is excellent customer service. I haven’t however washed the new pair yet so I will wait before I pass judgment on the quality.

As part of our warm up Peter had us pair up and practice pulling our partners up and down the mats. We then progressed to a double collar grip and we pulled our partners in to position for Morote-eri-seoi-nage. I had trouble getting used to the entry for this throw as I couldn’t get my feet in the right position or get my grips and wrist in the correct position either. Now I was expecting that we would then go on to practice this throw but instead Peter told us to go in to some Newaza and practice going from Pin to Pin, with our partner offering resistance.

As usual the groundwork is where I feel most comfortable. Just moving from Pin to Pin I felt in control and everything flowed well between the moves.

Peter then showed us Hiza-gatame, first from a kneeling position, which is how it’s taught in Kata and then from our backs with uke in our guard. I liked this technique especially how the pressure is immediately on the elbow and a tap is usually forthcoming very quickly. Another good aspect of this submission is that by hooking your leg under uke’s chin and pulling their gi across their neck you also have a nice choke.

We then stood up for some light throw for throw randori. I was paired with big Stuart and it was whilst sparring with him that he showed me a nice entry in to Osoto-otoshi, which is especially useful if your opponent is “Stiff arming” you. Basically, assuming you are attempting a right handed throw and your opponent is stiff arming using their right arm, you take a grip on their gi under their right elbow with your left hand and pull down quickly, thus bending their arm. At the same time as you do this you come in for Osoto-otoshi. Even if your opponent is not “stiff arming” you, it’s still a useful entry as quite often your opponent will block your entry in to Osoto-otoshi with their right arm.

Following this Peter then showed us an alternative technique to do if someone “stiff Arms” you and makes you fail an Osoto-otoshi and this was a Yoko-guruma. It’s an interesting throw and I’m not sure how easy it would be to pull off in competition but I was able to perform this fairly well after only a couple of attempts.

We then progressed in to some more competitive randori where I tried and succeeded with a Tai-otoshi /O-uchi-gari combination and also a successful Tani-otoshi, after Peter told me to not attack the legs but rather the floor behind their legs. This made a difference and hopefully I will have further success with this throw going forward.

After we had all spared with each other Peter had one of us stand in the middle of the floor and the rest of us would take turns attacking for about 1 minute at a time. Once the person in the middle had fought everyone it was someone else’s turn. Following on from my observations last week where I noticed that I was being dominated by grips, this happened again against Oli and Big Stuart. Inez commented that I was using too much strength in fighting for my grips and I admit I could feel my arms getting heavier as the randori went on. Still both Oli and Big Stuart have years more Judo experience than me and it’s only fair that I should expect to be dominated by both these guys. What will be interesting is how I fair against the likes of Ryan and Jamie, assuming they come back that is.

An excellent lesson from Peter and I left in good spirits.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Westcroft Judo Club - Randori only night

With my club, Dorking, being closed for half term I decided I wanted to get some practice in elsewhere. In the past I have attended BJJ at Nova Forca in Epsom when my Judo club is closed and although I really enjoy BJJ I think I need to concentrate on pure Judo for a while and maybe go back to BJJ once I’m a higher grade in Judo.

Before I moved to the Surrey countryside I used to live in South London and trained Judo at Westcroft Judo club so despite the rather long drive I decided to pay them a visit especially as I knew they had a Randori only night on Tuesday evenings.

As usual my partner in crime was Oli. After a 30 minute drive, which on reflection wasn’t as long as I thought it would be, we got to the Dojo with 15 minutes to spare.
When I used to train at Westcroft, about 7 years ago, they were based in the local leisure centre and mats had to put out and put away before and after each class. Now Westcroft have a purpose built Dojo in a Sports hall, with permanent matting on spring loaded floors and matted walls. They also have use of changing rooms and showers for both male and females.

We got changed and paid our subs (£5) and waited for the junior Randori session to finish. The Instructor Andy Ede not only recognised me from years ago but also recognised Oli from a coaching course they had both been on recently. Andy introduced both of us to the rest of the seniors present and we then proceeded to do a quick warm up and stretch before moving on to a workout.

The workout consisted of Breakfalls, Shrimping, Firemans carry with squats and various other exercises. Although it couldn’t have lasted longer than 10 minutes everyone was breathing heaving afterwards and totally warmed up and ready to spar.

We started with some Newaza from the usual kneeling position and I was paired with a green belt. I decided to pull guard and see if I could work something off my back but he was strong and wise to my attempts at subs and sweeps. Eventually though I was given an opportunity to reverse positions and I got a mune-gatame on just as Andy called matte.

Next up was a black belt and somehow I almost caught him in a Juji-gatame but he managed to escape. I’m not sure how much effort he was putting in to his roll with me but I was pleased nonetheless.

The rest of the rolls I had ended in my opponent getting some sort of pin on me but all of them were Brown belts so I wasn’t too disheartened.

Andy then changed things slightly to some situational Newaza where we started first from the guard and then from a turtle position. Following this we stood up and, still with our partners, Andy would call out a throw for one of us to perform on the other and following the throw we would continue in to Newaza. I was very impressed with this way of training Newaza as we seemed to really cover all the possible outcomes of shiai. Additionally I was suitably impressed with the skill level of their ground skills and Oli confirmed this afterwards.

By the time we finished with the Newaza I was very tired but Andy only allowed us a quick drink break before we got on to the standing Randori.

Andy wanted two pairs up at a time so luckily I was able to sit out the first round of fights whilst I caught my breath but was called on to the mat for round two. I paired up with the same green belt that I had paired up with earlier for Newaza (I’m no good at remembering names). What I found when sparring with him and indeed everyone in the club was that they were able to dominate me with their grips, thus allowing them to throw me more easily. I remembered that when I last trained here several years ago I got injured trying to avoid being thrown so this time I went with it and practiced my Ukemi. To be fair none of the guys went too hard on me but they did enough to make me realise that Tachiwaza is my weak point. After several rounds of Randori and many opportunities for me to practice my Ukemi I finally managed to throw someone, a Brown belt as well, with an O-uchi-gari.

We did a quick warm down and stretch and then Andy lined us all up and thanked both Oli and I for visiting the club. If I lived nearer and didn’t have so many responsibilities, had more money and time I would definitely train here more regularly but alas, for now my visits to Westcroft will have to be restricted to times when my own club is closed or maybe if a competition is coming up and I need the extra training.

On reflection both Oli and I were made to feel very welcome, not only by Andy but by all of the seniors that we trained with. The standard of Judo here is high and the level of their fitness is equally so. Anyone reading this that lives in the area could do a lot worse than to pay this club a visit.

Thanks Andy for a great training session.