Showing posts from July, 2014

Ukemi: The new cardio craze!

Okay, ukemi isn't really a new cardio craze—but why not?

I remember when I first started aikido years ago, just prior to my 20th birthday. I was a good 20 or 30 pounds overweight (I'd been that way since hitting puberty), and made no other lifestyle changes other than attending aikido classes 3 times a week.

I remember the ukemi practice we did at the beginning of every class kicking my ass. Fall down, get up again, fall down, get up again, fall down, get up again. Backwards, forwards, sideways... I think I lost 10 pounds or more in the first several months just from that!

The problem is, the older I got, and the more advanced I became, the more I started "leading" classes instead of "doing" them. Ukemi practice was gradually replaced by sitting around, watching everyone else, drinking coffee and giving input when needed.

And I'm paying for it. My lifestyle in general has slipped and I'm probably in the worst shape of my life (and that's saying…

Me, You, Us

Based on my own training over the years as well as observing the training of other students, it seems like there is sort of a three-step progression that occurs.

What I Am Doing? When we first start out, our focus is mainly on our own bodies. We learn what our feet should be doing, what our hands need to do. We practice our positions, memorize certain choreography, learn terminology, get accustomed to a new culture. For the beginner, it's actually okay that they don't necessarily have kuzushi or off balance, that their timing is off. Build the plane first, then fly it.

It's also a time when we focus on what to do when we find ourselves in the midst of conflict, which is to say, defending ourselves, just staying alive.

What HE/SHE Is Doing? Once we get the hang of all that, we can begin to think about the meaning behind it. When I do a given technique with all the appropriate footwork and hand positions, what is that supposed to do to uke? Sure, up until this point, …

A little punch drunk

Sooo, some of you may have seen the recent fight between Ronda Rousey and Alexis Davis.  If you haven't, you can watch it in it's entirely below. Don't worry—it will only take 16 seconds.

In the judo world, Ms. Rousey has served as something of an evangelist of the art (not so much in word as in deed), dominating her competition with trademark judo techniques, from hip throws to her bread-and-butter submission, juji gatame.

Case in point: during this particular bought, she makes very quite use of ogoshi straight to kesa gatame to end it before she can even manage to break a sweat.

Which is great. Hurray for judo, and all that.

Here's the thing. This example actually troubles me a bit. As long as your interest in judo is solely sport-oriented, then never mind, you probably needn't concern yourself. But if you look at judo in any measure as a viable form of "self defense" you may be in for a rude awakening—or, get put to sleep as the case may be.

Because if…