Showing posts from August, 2009

Foot sweep uchi komi

Okuri ashi harai
I guess we can't get enough of new drills in morning judo. This one is another variation of the basic advancing foot-sweep drill we typically do at the beginning of every class.
That drill consists of starting on one side of the dojo and one partner advancing and sweeping uke's foot with every step, left right left right, and so on. When he gets to the other side of the mat, it's the other guy's turn. It's primarily a control drill, although sometimes we might throw on the very last one, or have uke do tsubame gaeshi.
It's a good, solid drill, especially if you're just learning how to do a foot sweep, but after a while, I think it becomes necessary to add little challenges into the mix [sly grin]. Scott has been keen on getting guys to starting moving around in a more random fashion once they get the hang of something (green belt, maybe third brown), which is a good thing. We often teach a throw in a similarly basic fashion, with limited linea…


Buddy Christ Wilson has started his own judo blog,, which includes a few videos. Hopefully, he'll keep it up and I can learn a thing or two!

Affecting the center line

Once again, someone else's blog post got me thinking about something and prompting a series of thoughts too large to simply leave as a comment.
When first learning randori no kata (the 17/23), I sort of misunderstood what I was really doing. I looked at each technique as individual things, doing individual jobs, different jobs. With shomen ate, I was attacking his face; with kote gaeshi, I was twisting up his wrist in an uncomfortable way; with waki gatame, I was locking up the elbow, and so on. I also tended to focus more on what my hands were doing, rather than what my center was doing. (I suppose all this might be what's referred to as omote, what is seen from the outside, or on the surface, and the reality of the matter being the ura, the hidden or maybe not-so-obvious truth).
Then, one day (and this probably took longer than it should have) I finally realized that I'm not attacking unique, separate parts of uke's body, but rather I'm always looking to disrupt uke…

Unusual circumstances

As I've mentioned before, for some odd reason, I've been thinking about how the average aikidoka could or should react when grabbed anywhere other than the wrist. I (and those with me) experimented with doing the 8 releases (hanasu no kata) from a grip above the elbow and came up with some fun results. It's nothing earth-shattering, mind you; we didn't invent any new techniques or anything, just found what techniques tended to lend themselves to that slightly unusual condition.
There are a number of those sorts of odd conditions present in the koryu kata, of course, so it isn't as if the subject hasn't been addressed at all. I guess I've just been looking through the eyes of those students who are still mudansha, or below dan rank (the kyu grades). The entire time spent learning from day one through first degree black belt, you study tegatana no kata ("the Walk"), the 8 releases (from the wrist), randori no kata, or junana hon kata, and o-waza ju p…

50 armbars in 4 minutes

Grab some popcorn, sit back and watch a little kansetsu waza.

Arm bar drill

Good ol' jujigatame
This relates somewhat to my earlier post about taking notes. We don't spend near as much time on kata in judo as we do in aikido, so whenever I encounter a new drill, or series of techniques, I have to jot them down if I am to have any hope of remembering them down the road. This is as much as I can remember of an arm bar drill I've seen a few times, but it's been a while. (And the ending I may have made up entirely!)
Begin with uke on his back, and tori in a loose kazurekesagatame, down at the hip level (right side).
1) Uke turns toward you, pushing you, doing all the work. You roll flat against him.
2) Uke rolls back onto his back. You switch back into kazurekesagatame.
3) Uke turns toward you again, really trying to push you. You snag his arm in wakigatame.
4) Uke tries to curl his arm out of the arm bar. You use your right arm to snake under his for a quick coil armbar (this one is really hard to describe in words without a video, sorry.)
5) Uke keeps …

Aikido glossary

I found another fairly in-depth glossary.

A new look at old kata

It would seem that my sensei's new-found (or perhaps renewed) interest in examining our kata and where they came from has infected me somewhat. I haven't even begun to delve into the complex history of our kata, as Lowry sensei has, but I've at least been looking at what other Tomiki systems do with their current katas. That alone has proved rather eye-opening.
In particular, I've been working with a fellow budoka, Scott Weaver, on the last half of koryu dai yon kata. After looking at several other videos, I realized there were some techniques that we a little different than what I was used to. In particular, #22 jyuji garami nage and #24 tentai hiji garami.

I don't have a video of the way I was taught, but I there are a few on YouTube showing the typical Tomiki-ryu approach. The main difference with the other schools is that, with 22, uke grab tori's left hand and steps around behind to grab uke's right hand; the way we've always done it is without that…

Senpai or Sempai?

A quick note about something I learned regarding whether to write "senpai" or "sempai". This from Wikipedia:
...Senpai is often seen romanized as "sempai" because it is pronounced that way (the Japanese "n" (ん) is pronounced as "m" when it comes before bilabials, such as "p").

Always a student

The lone ship at sea
After the birth of my son three years ago, evening budo classes became a thing of the past. Which is fine, mind you, I actually enjoy my family, so I'm not complaining. After that, my main option was to go to aikido classes at noon during the week, during my lunch break. But I didn't have a judo option, and since I could rarely make it into a Saturday morning class anymore, I didn't have a jodo option either (is it jyodo, or jodo? I can never settle on one).
So I started a noon class for both: Monday and Wednesday judo and Friday jodo. Which went well for awhile, until my work moved further away from the dojo which stretched my lunch hour to the breaking point and I had to start coming in for early morning classes (thankfully, judo and jodo classes were already in place!).
Again, I never minded the noon or morning classes; they're a great bunch of guys. What I missed was the presence of anyone higher ranking than me! I hold dan grade ranks in all thre…

Taking notes

So much to learn, so much to learn. Fortunately, a lot of it is codified in the form of kata, and along with the frequent repetition of those techniques in day to day class, there are often quite a few resources available in the form of books or videos or web site to help us along or remind us of anything we may have forgotten.
But there's always something extra, some added bits of information that don't seem to be covered anywhere; I pick them up from higher ranks periodically, or sometimes from other schools or even other systems. I would like to incorporate them in classes when appropriate, but the problem is remembering all of them. Kata serves a lot of purposes, and one of them is it serves to aid memorability when passing down information from person to person (before all the books and videos became so easily accessible). But what about all the tid-bits?
Mostly, I've tried to take notes over the years. For whatever reason, the renzokuwaza, or "chained" techni…

Ukemi drill

Yesterday in aikido, Scott Weaver had us play with an interesting ukemi exercise that helps introduce a bit of a random element to our practice.
When we're first learning ukemi, we typically do it with conscious effort: we do it along side someone else, with a class, and to a count, etc. as part of our warm-up. Then, once we get enough repetitions, we can start playing with a few variations (rolling opposite hand and foot, etc.).
The last stage of ukemi development comes when it begins to sink into our subconscious mind. We fall when we don't expect to, and the proper ukemi just comes out. It's happened to me, and several people I know, out in the "real world" in situations having nothing to do with self defense. You slip, you step off of a curb you didn't see, slip off a soapy truck bed (not me, but a good story) and you hit the ground before you even realize what's happening. Other people get hurt or break things; trained budoka, however, more often get u…

Grab a little higher

In the last month or so, our dojo has decided to go back to a format more reminiscent of the "old days" when we paired up and did the 8 releases (hanasu no kata) and follow that up with practice on the randori no kata (or the 17, junana hon kata, or the 23 which would be what? ni ju san hon kata?). This morning, though, since we had all yudansha except one, I thought we play a little with the releases.
(I was worried when I first got to class because I was so tired and didn't feel like doing much of anything, but fortunately Scott was feeling saucy and got us all revved up, for which I am very grateful!)
We started by doing the releases in the basic, normal way. Afterwards, I explained that I had noticed many folks, during any sort of random attack exercise, completely freeze when someone grabbed them anywhere on the arm higher than the wrist. They looked like a deer caught in the headlights: Oh, no, what do I do?! We've never done anything where uke grabs there!...

Secret ninja techniques

I believe it was Pat Parker who brought up the idea of reserving the last few minutes of class, after covering the normal curriculum, for what he called the "secret ninja technique of the day". I like the idea (and the name!) so just for fun, I've been doing something along those lines during the morning aikido class.
Once or twice, I'll take something from the higher, koryu kata, which the average green or brown belt hadn't seen yet, but would be simple enough to pull off. Then, sometimes I see something new that, from the outside, looks as if it follows principles well enough (ours at least) and try and see how it feels in practice. This is one we played with today for the last five minutes.
We've done a tenkan (turning) form of tenchinage in our renzoku waza (release chains), but I'd never played with an irimi sort of entry. I'd say it works pretty well, and can come as quite a surprise to uke, even if he's not attacking that hard! Of course, if …

Variations in Ukemi training

During the course of a regular class, we go through a prescribed regimen to learn and practice ukemi. But there are other variations we'll add to the routine from time to time just for fun, to round out our ukemi skills after we've grown fairly comfortable with the basics.
I saw this video on the Kaze Uta Budo Kai forum, and found a few interesting things to play with.

1) Around the 0:30 mark, on of the gentlemen does a few back-falls while taking a step backward or forward with one foot. Normally, we practice back-falls from a static position (feet together). Once in a while, I think it's a good thing to introduce a little motion to the action once a student has the basic motion down.
2) Now, that much, I'd seen before. The part that I had not seen was practicing the back-fall with a partner, as they do at the 0:54 mark. We tried it in aikido this morning, but from a slightly different set-up. We started with both arms up, our palms meeting, with slight pressure. Tori be…

What doesn't help

I will say I'm pretty certain will not help my grappling. Avoiding it. For one thing, taking several "leaves of absence" from budo over the years has not helped my progress (there are many that started at the same time as me or even after have long since passed me by).
But for another, it's become easy to just keep working of nage waza during class, especially if we happen to get involved in an interesting aspect of the subject. For a time, I was running a noon class twice a week, and since I was in charge, that was particularly easy to do. Basically, I've avoided it because I didn't like it.
The answer is the same, of course. Keep doing it, keep doing it.

I wish I liked grappling

Really, I wish I loved grappling, but right now, I'd settle for "like". I don't know why, but it's never been my favorite thing about budo. I love nagewaza (throwing) and I love pretty much everything about aikido and jodo. But katamewaza...
I know plenty of other guys who can't get enough of it, who would probably rather grapple than throw. Sick puppies, how I envy them. So what is it about it I don't like? Well, one thing mainly. And bare in mind, my reasons for struggling with katamewaza are not ideological or philosophical or even practical. This is just me...
Basically, it scares the willies out of me. You see, I'm not a competitive person, not at all. I don't even like playing board games (my wife does, and it's always a chore for her to drag me into a game with friends, although I usually enjoy myself once I get into it). I've played soccer, and I like watching it, but I have a very hard time watching a team I actually care about (wat…