The "speed and power" monster

There's nothing like an occasional class of randori to bring certain issues to light that would be good to work on.

We did a little light randori in judo this morning, mostly just trading throws, rotating partners with every bell (which I believe lasts about 3 minutes). When we were done, I asked everybody what their thoughts were, what went well, what didn't go so well, etc.

A handful of issues came up, which is natural, and it should prove amble fodder for future classes. One thing that I thought might be worth mentioning here was the problem of controlling escalating frustrations. We've all been there, where something isn't working, the guy's not going down, so we get stronger, faster and more desperate.

So how can you deal with that in your practice? The temptation is usually to stop, to quit, to just go sit down until you cool off. Like you're punishing yourself. "How could I loose control like that? I know better than that!" are the kinds of things that echo loudest in our head, while thoughts of "I'm a bad judo player, I suck," are often the less noticeable, though utterly damaging, undertones.

That's a downward spiral, a negative creating a negative. (This goes back to the yin and yang principle I mentioned a while ago). The balance, the yin to the yang, is to learn how to take a negative situation, negative energy and turn it into something positive.

Well, I've come across a few ways, but I welcome comments from anyone who's has other ideas.

Let yourself get thrown.
Sounds silly to suddenly turn into a doormat, almost as bad as giving up. But you haven't given up, you're still in there. Notice I didn't say jump for the other guy; keep your balance, your posture, and don't fall if he doesn't get it (I'm not saying resist, but keep moving). Take plenty of falls from good throws. For one thing, you're learning those throws from the inside out, learning what works and what doesn't, and for another thing, it will give you a chance to calm down while still being in the game.

Start shooting.
I think of those old cowboy movies where the bad guy points his gun at someone's feet, says, "Dance!" and starts shooting, making the other person jump up and down to avoid getting hit. Sometimes the "strength and speed" monster rears it's ugly head when we get fixated one one single throw. So just start shooting, try one throw after the other after another, bang bang bang. You don't care if they don't work, you're moving on to the next one.

Yes, you may very well get thrown in the process. But you may also get a throw after about 3 or 4 or 5 shots (it's hard for uke to keep up). We need to be good at flowing from one thing to another anyway, this is just an extreme form of it to shake you out of the power game.

Open up your palms.
Many times, having a grip on the other guy's gi can make using strength very tempting. Try opening your palm, fingers and thumb all tucked together like a sloth and use them like hooks: behind elbows, necks, lats, etc. Shift your hands around. This is more or less how you'd have to operate if you faced someone without a gi anyway, so it's not a bad thing to practice anyway. For me, releasing the grip goes a long way to relaxing the rest of me.

Slow way down.
Pretend you're in one of those movie scenes where the camera has slowed way down while the hero does something dramatic. Be that guy. Move ridiculously slow, but keep moving. Funny thing is, this has a way of fooling the other guy into lowering his defenses. When he doesn't feel speed and power, he doesn't suspect anything dangerous is happening and you can walk right into a throw. It will also make sure you're getting all the pieces.

Focus on just the kuzushi.
Don't even worry about throwing. Don't even worry about fitting in. Just play with different ways to cause off balance and that's it. Maybe after a while, add the tsukuri, but leave the gake or throw out of it. If they fall down, fine, but if you just get their balance, hurray!

. . . . . . .

The important thing is learning to turn your frustration into something positive and beneficial, without giving into it and without beating ourselves up about it.

What about you? What helps you control the "speed and power" monster?


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