Wednesday, 22 February 2012

My third fight

Finally my last fight
video

My second fight

video

My first fight


I finally worked out how to rotate the video's of my fights on Sunday but unfortunately this seems to have reduced the picture quality. Anyway here is fight number 1


video

Monday, 20 February 2012

Surrey Senior Open Blue Belt and Below

Despite being virtually bedridden for 3 days with Migraine and only having 1 full day to recover I still managed to take part in my first proper Judo tournament on Sunday the 19th February, which was held quite local to me in Redhill, Surrey.



Although my stomach was doing cartwheels in the morning I knew I had to eat a hearty breakfast as my weigh in was not until 12.30pm, which meant I wouldn’t be fighting until sometime after. So I forced down a big bowl of porridge with sliced Banana and dried apricots and followed that up with a couple of slices of toast and jam.

A friend of mine, Nev and his girlfriend Lisa very kindly came to support me and Nev also agreed to film my fights on the video camera my wife had bought me for Christmas.


We arrived in good time and stood watching the children’s tournament which preceded the seniors. As Dorking JC had some juniors entered two of my coaches were present so I quickly made myself known to them. Also present was Pete Swettenham from Witley Yamabishi as he had both Juniors and seniors competing.
As is normal at contests I looked around the hall for potential opponents. Luckily enough all the big scary looking guys were coaches so that at least eased my nerves.


As mentioned in previous posts I am lifting weights at the moment in an attempt to bulk up a little so I had no intention of trying to make the under 90kg category. The last time I weighed myself, at the gym where I work, was Tuesday where I was almost 93kg but when I stepped on the scales here I weighed in at 90.25KG, which meant I had lost over 2.5kg since then. Soon after I weighed in, Graeme told me that there were not many seniors present and that they were going to merge the under 100kg and under 90kg weight categories but that still left only four people in my division. A little disappointing but it still meant 3 fights each and an almost guarantee of a medal.



My first fight was against a rather stocky looking guy whose coach was wearing a Royal Navy Judo club hoodie. We entered the matted area and bowed off and the referee coach hajime. He charged into me, with his head down and immediately took his grip. I struggled a bit to grip him back as he was wearing a rather thick double weave gi. Eventually I managed to take a high collar grip and then began a series of him pushing me and me pushing him with not a lot of Judo taking place. The referee stopped us a couple of time due to inactivity and we both attempted various foot sweeps on each other but none of us were prepared to over commit with anything. I was looking for an O-uchi-gari but he was bent over a lot at the waist which made it difficult to get close enough. At one point I thought I had him with an Uchi-mata but he managed to hop to safety and then proceeded to attempt an illegal leg grab. The ref restarted us again and as he was constantly pushing me I tried a Sumi-gaeshi. I had him lifted in the air but didn’t manage to flip him over and instead he ended up in my guard where he stayed until the ref called matte. Then with only seconds left in our 5 minute match he threw me with an Osoto-gari and got an Ippon. I was disappointed to lose my first match especially as this meant it was now very unlikely that I would win gold.



My second fight was against a guy who was a 2nd kyu Blue belt as a junior and had only recently returned to Judo as a senior. He was wearing a white belt but I knew from experience that he was likely to be better than his belt suggested he was. This was to be a rather quick fight as I was able to take my grips (high collar again) and control him for an Uchi-mata Ippon only 1 minute in to the fight.



My last fight was against someone who I later found out was only 15 years old. He certainly didn’t look it as he was pretty stocky and quite strong. I nearly had him a couple of times as I countered some of his attempts at throwing me and eventually I managed an Osoto-gari, which didn’t score so I followed him to the ground with Kesa-gatame and held him for the full 25 seconds getting my second Ippon win and earning myself a silver medal in the process.


Looking back at the video footage, which will follow when I have worked out how to rotate the image 90 degrees, the Judo on display is a far cry from the YouTube clips you see of Olympic level Judoka. But that’s ok; I’m not expecting to look like Neil Adams just yet, I was just glad to get my first proper contest out of the way. I notice that High Wycombe’s Newaza contest is in May this year, so hopefully I can try to go one better than the two bronze medal’s I’ve got on my recent visits.


Back to normal training this week and hopefully the completion of my green belt grading.

Monday, 13 February 2012

2 Years

Seeing as it’s been 2 years since I started Judo I thought I’d repost my first blog entry.


I thought I’d start my blog with the title “Back to Judo” as Judo was the first Martial Art I ever did when I was about 6 or 7 years old.
Unfortunately the hall where I practiced Judo was burnt down In an act of vandalism and was moved further from my house than my parents were willing to travel to so my first foray in to Judo only lasted a couple of months.

Wado Ryu Karate was my next venture when I was 10 years old and I practiced this for about 3 years where I reached the grade of Purple belt or 4th Kyu. At the age of thirteen both football and Table Tennis were much more important to me than Karate and also the A-Team was on TV on a Friday evening (the same time as my Karate class). In 1985 there was no Sky+ and relying on your mum to hit the record button on the video was a very hit and miss affair, so I gave up on Karate (Crazy fool)


Then at the age of 19 I got the bug again so I looked around for something different and found Wing Chun Kung Fu.
Wing Chun was very different to Karate, less physical but more technical. It also seemed to flow better. Then I discovered that Wing Chun was the system that Bruce Lee had first learnt before he developed JKD which made me think that Wing Chun was the best Martial Art to study.


Whilst learning Wing Chun I met some very interesting people, one of those people was one of the Junior Instructors called Marc who I later found out was teaching his own style of Martial Arts from his Garage with a select few students. This new style incorporated high kicks, locks and throws that he had picked up from learning various other Martial Arts and even some grappling. I’ve highlighted grappling because at around this time I had read an article in a Martial arts magazine about a tournament in America which pitted Martial Artists from different styles against each other in a cage with no rules and this was called the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
I managed to locate a video of this in HMV and watched with fascination as Royce Gracie, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Black Belt defeated everyone by tripping them up and submitting them on the ground.
BJJ to me looked very similar to the Judo I did as a child so the fact that someone in my Wing Chun Club was teaching his own style which incorporated grappling, very much appealed to me.


So at the age of 24 I left Wing Chun and trained with Marc twice a week in a hall near Croydon. The style was just called Freestyle but it was very similar in concept to Jeet Kune Do (JKD).
It was whilst training with Marc that a friend approached me and asked me to teach him Martial Arts. So along with training twice a week I was now teaching twice a week privately for free (as he was a guinea pig for my teaching).
Marc decided to branch out and open another school nearby and wanted his students to turn up for support, so I decided to take my own Student (also called Mark but spelt differently, pay attention) Mark along to see what Marc thought of him. It was whilst at this new club that I befriended Richie who would become my training partner for both freestyle and some seriously heavy Gym sessions. Richie is now training MMA.
Marc was very impressed with the work I had done with my student and I think this eventually led to Marc taking me under his wing and giving my PVT lessons with a vision of me teaching in one of his clubs as part of my ongoing progression.


I did eventually start teaching for Marc in one of his clubs in Streatham but I seemed to suffer from one injury to another, and eventually I lost the buzz that training gave me so I decided to quit.

I wasn’t that long after I quit freestyle that I started to miss the buzz so I dabbled with BJJ but as the gym was a long drive from my house it was a short lived affair.


Then when I was 31 I decided to give Judo a try again and went to Westcroft Judo club and loved it, especially the ground work as I felt like I was Royce Gracie and would quite often try things I had seen in the UFC. Unfortunately after only a couple of months training I tore my Pec Major and damaged my rotator cuff trying to avoid a throw, i.e. not being thrown on my back. Looking back at this now it seems ridiculous that I would worry that much about being thrown for ippon in a randori session but that was how I used to train, full of testosterone and not wanting to get beaten by anyone. Now my ego is left outside the dojo and I’ll happily practice my breakfalls when I am thrown in randori

Anyway the injury kept me out of anything physical at all for almost a year so I gave Judo a wide berth but now at 37 years and 6 months I have decided to go back to Judo, this time at my local Dorking Judo Club.
I have so far had 2 lessons and will shortly start logging all the techniques I have learnt so far.
The instructors at the club all seem friendly and there certainly doesn’t seem to be any ego’s in the dojo.

Anyway that’s my Martial Arts history so far, hopefully this blog will continue until I reach Black Belt and beyond.

Well I’m not quite at Black Belt level yet but I still have the same enthusiasm for Judo. The style of my blog hasn’t changed that much over the last two years but if anyone has any ideas of how to change it or what they would like to see then I’m open to suggestions.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Almost there

Just a quick post regarding last nights training.
I started my green belt grading and basically did 90% of everything I need to pass. My club is closed next week due to the school holidays but hopefully I can finish off my grading the week after.

Rather annoyingly Uchi-mata, the throw I have been focusing most of my time on recently and having some success in randori, was one of the techniques that I had to perform a few times as I wasn’t quite reaping correctly with my leg.

Expect my next post to be a write up of the Blue belt and under competition I have entered. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling at least a little bit apprehensive about this but I’m sure if nothing else, it will be good experience for me.

Witley Yamabushi Judo Club

As suggested in my previous post, I decided to visit Yamabushi Judo Club in Witley on Tuesday, to get some extra training in to help prepare me for the competition I have entered on the 19th February. Graeme very kindly volunteered to give me a lift as both himself and his son David train there on a regular basis.
Unfortunately a fire on or close the A3 meant that we arrived a little late but we both quickly warmed up and joined in with the rest of the class.


Oddly enough, following last week’s class at Dorking where we worked on O-uchi-gari, the first technique we practiced was ……..O-uchi-gari. After we had practiced a couple of combinations we moved on to some Uchi-Komi. As per last week I decided to concentrate on Uchi-mata.
The class ended with about 20 minutes of Randori. First up for me was a white belt, who had only been practicing for a few weeks. Coming from a club where I am the lowest ranked it was quite nice to randori with someone lower than me as it made me realise just how much I had learnt. Obviously being a beginner I didn’t throw him around, rather I encouraged him just to try all the throws he knew on me and told him not to worry about grip fighting as I would let him take whatever grip he wanted. Following two or three failed attempts of Osoto-otoshi on me, I stiffened up and threw him gently with the same technique, in the hope that he would realise why he was unsuccessful with his attempts.

My next opponent was a green belt and we fought a bit for grips. I took a high collar grip, which worked quite well as I was able to keep good control over him. This culminated in me being able to throw him with Uchi-mata and then before the end an O-uchi-gari.

I had three more rounds of Randori after this. Against another green belt I managed another O-uchi-gari and against a brown belt I managed another Uchi-mata. Both of these throws are fast becoming my favorites. My last round of Randori was against Graeme and despite a size and strength advantage I wasn’t able to get anything going against him. Graeme commented that I needed to relax but maybe I stiffened up because he is one of my instructors and I felt like I had to make an extra effort against him. I used to have the same problem when I did Chi-Sau against Kevin Chan back in my Wing Chun days.

We finished up with a couple of rounds of Newaza and I had a particularly good tussle with one of the brown belts.

Overall I really enjoyed the class despite it being a little short due to our late arrival.

Taken from Yamabushi Judo clubs website:
The head instructor Pete Swettenham started judo at the age of 6, gaining his 1st Dan at 17, and 2nd at 21. He was very active in student judo, winning the National title several times with London University before having to retire at the age of 22 with persistent knee injuries. Whilst taking a break from judo he became a triathlete, before moving on to road racing cycling. He spent 8 years as an elite road and track cyclist, riding professionally, and being a prolific winner, especially in the South of England. On returning to judo Pete started to compete again regularly. Last year, at the age of 35, he gained his 3rd Dan before winning the National Masters Championships in the 35 - 39 category, at U73 Kg. He is currently a member of the GB Masters Judo Squad. Pete is now the Children's Judo Coordinator at Yamabushi Judo Club, teaching at the Kingston and Guildford sites. He coaches judo and personal safety full time and has a special interest in ju jitsu (not sure if BJJ or traditional Japanese) and physical conditioning.


From my personal experience Pete is very enthusiastic and clearly loves his Judo. I think this rubs off on his students as they also showed a great deal of enthusiasm. I’m sure I will be come back and train here again when time permits.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

O & Ko-uchi-gari

I normally write my blog either the same evening or the day after my last lesson but today is three days afterwards. In addition, I am also looking after my eleven month old daughter whilst sat here at my desk, watching her pull every book off of one of the book shelves behind me, so apologies if this entry is a little short and a touch vague.

It seems that winter has finally reached the south of England with temperatures dropping below zero and snow forecast for the weekend (As I write this I can confirm that a couple of inches fell on Saturday night). Although there is heating in the Dojo it still felt a little colder than normal so after our normal warmup Graeme had us do plenty of uchi-komi, taking turns to pull our partner the length of the mat. I stuck with one technique (Uchi-mata) a throw which I am trying to perfect.


Graeme said that O-uchi-gari was on the menu tonight but before we got started he had us practice drawing the letter “O” on the mat with our feet. This was actually a good exercise, especially for me as it emphasised the full range of motion of the leg which was doing the reaping.

After several practices of this throw we moved on to Ko-uchi-gari and again even though it’s a technique I have done many time previously I was able to improve and just tweak a couple of things which had made this a rather difficult throw for me to perform previously.


We were then asked to come up with a combination which would finish with O-uchi-gari and I decided that Tai-otoshi would be a good set up. After a few minutes trying out this combination we were all asked to perform it in front of the rest of the class. Of course I could have tried Ko in to O-uchi-gari but this felt a little too obvious.



Moving on to some groundwork and we practiced various ways of escaping the guard, something I definitely need to practice especially as I tend to favour pulling guard and looking for sweeps and subs off my back. I’m ok once I’m in a Mune-gatame position and feel comfortable moving between pins and looking for subs, and I was even praised for my top control by Stewart when we did some Newaza later on, but escaping the guard or half guard frustrates me.

One of the techniques that Graeme showed us was to slip my left hand under Uke’s right leg and grab his collar. To avoid being San-gaku-jime’d you need to make sure you put pressure on Uke’s right leg as you do this. Then once you have taken a grip of Uke’s collar you simply move to your left hand side to secure a Mune-gatame. It’s a very simple technique and its one we have been shown on numerous occasions in the past but I’ve never used it in randori as I tend to favour just putting pressure on Uke’s inner thigh with my elbow and escaping that way.
We finished off with some Newaza Randori.


Next week I hope to visit another club to get some extra training in to prepare myself for my upcoming tournament. Expect a write up to follow.