Fight Sciences Research Institute » Blog http://www.tkri.net Fight smarter Sun, 31 Aug 2014 17:47:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Few Quick Postural and Stability Tools http://www.tkri.net/a-few-quick-postural-and-stability-tools/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-few-quick-postural-and-stability-tools http://www.tkri.net/a-few-quick-postural-and-stability-tools/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:24:22 +0000 http://www.tkri.net/?p=10141 A couple of simple ideas for checking posture and lateral stability:

1- Face a mirror. For a warm up, grab your jump rope, stand feet together, and begin swinging it in figure 8′s (on either side). Do 20, then stand on the right foot, repeat 20, then switch to the left, repeat 20. Is your torso swaying from side to side or rotating? Do your knees move from side to side or rotate on the vertical axis? Are your feet pronating with each swing, or toes pivoting off the center line? A quick frontline fix: brace your anterior core, and isometrically push outward (abduct) with your hips (your feet should not move). Once you can stay stable, with no lateral or rotational movement at the ankles, knees, hips, or spine, continue the figure 8 pattern, begin alternating feet, and then move into jumping rope when it feels right. Stop and “reset” as needed.        *This assumes adequate shoulder mobility.

2- Stand with a relaxed but tall posture. Don’t think about it and overcook it, just assume what you feel to be your normal good posture. Without moving, take your rope, fold it in half, and place the midpoint right at the tip of your chin. Don’t cheat, stay in your initial posture. Better yet, close your eyes and have a partner do this. If it dangles out several inches from your stomach, you likely have some degree of the Upper Crossed pattern of muscular imbalance (the upper and lower are rampant among martial artists- with some styles encouraging them more than others). If it rests totally flat on your belly and groin, you are likely demonstrating a Lower Crossed pattern. If it hangs right down the mid line, just touching your abdomen, you likely have a good, neutral posture.

If you can integrate and maintain the “neutral” patterns in both of these quick assessments, you will find that your jump rope ability becomes markedly more efficient, and lose the “T-Rex stomping in mud puddles” pattern that I see so often. Soft tissue work and targeted corrective exercise can also help, but sometimes these measures are not as effective until the individual has an opportunity to see the compensations in action.

 

3- People frequently include swings or unnecessary articulations out of the lumbar spine when performing standing weight exercises, especially overhead presses, curls, and upright rows. Often times it’s a mixture of poor lumbo-pelvic-hip complex proprioception and stability, with limited hip mobility, and a tendency to use too much weight too soon. They often swear that they’re not doing it, even as they do it, or just don’t care. A very simple but effective way of helping people notice these compensations is to have them perform the exercise in a tall kneeling position. Ensure that there is enough clearance for the weight to move (in the case of the curl or row), and then perform as normal. Be prepared to spot behind the person, as a loss of balance to the rear may occur. To help the person notice lateral stability issues, perform the exercises in a split-kneeling position (a lunge, back knee resting on the floor), and watch for swaying from side to side. Ideally, have the person perform these in front of a mirror, so they can both see and feel the compensations occurring.  If they occur in these situations, they are also likely occurring during execution of martial art techniques, such as strikes.

 

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Bound for the Floor, 8b http://www.tkri.net/bound-for-the-floor-8b/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bound-for-the-floor-8b http://www.tkri.net/bound-for-the-floor-8b/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:53:02 +0000 http://www.tkri.net/?p=10135 Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble/Ancient footprints are everywhere- Bob Dylan

After 30 minutes or so, the official called my name for round two. A few of the matches during the interval had been impressive, notably the running battle between my first opponent and the one that I would face next. They went the full 5 minutes, each being unable to secure a clean throw or osaekomi, both putting in an impressive effort. At the midpoint of the match, my first opponent wore a look on his face that bespoke a mixture of exhaustion, pain and uncertainty. Somehow, his opponent opened up a large cut along his jawline, likely as a result of a scramble for a high grip. After being taped up, he returned to the mat to prevail over his opponent. I had not stopped moving since the end of my first match, and I was practically vibrating with readiness.

As with the first match, I had a weight advantage on my opponent, and the advantage of having watched him in his previous bout. At the ref’s command, I jogged across the mat and got my grips, high on the collar and elbow, and went immediately for o soto gari. He stepped quickly around and I transitioned into an uchi mata attempt, backing out when I felt him drop his base. He entered for a seoi nage, and I stepped to his side for an attempt at tani otoshi. He began to fall, so I sat down and took him to the mat, knowing that the throw wouldn’t be clean enough for ippon.

As soon as we were down, I turned into him and locked down kesa gatame, keeping my head over top of my base knee and resting the weight of my upper body on his chest as I shot my hand around the back of his neck to grip my own pants leg. His arm flailed as I pressed it into my side, and I considered going for an armbar submission with my top leg, but decided against it. In the craze for submissions, superior positions can get lost, and a superior position will win just as surely as an armbar or garame technique. I also wanted to test my hold-down technique, which I had been sharpening intensively in preparation for this tournament. I settled in and waited for the ref’s count to begin. 25 seconds can be a long time, and the deceptively simple task of keeping the opponent on the mat requires one to be both patient and prepared to adjust to another position if necessary. Somewhere around the 10 count, my opponent stopped struggling, and then did what I had been told would never happen- he tapped out, ending the match. Maybe he was still winded from his earlier match, or maybe it was the difficulty of getting in a full breath with my weight pressing into his sternum.

I helped him to his feet and we shook hands before the ref could begin giving his commands. On the way back to the edge of the mat, I realized that the tournament was almost over, and that my division was played out. It was done, but several of us were not ready for it to be over. Just moments later, the officials lined us up for awards. My teammate placed in both of the divisions that he fought in, and I placed second in mine. I’m not usually one for awards and medals, but there was a definite satisfaction in showing up as complete underdogs, relative unknowns, and winning our club places in three divisions. We did what we had set out to do, and did it pretty damn well considering the difficulties along the path. As the crew began tearing the mats down, my daughter came scrambling out with an exuberant holler. I grabbed her and dropped into a few quick tomoe nage, which she loves. I put the medal around her and changed clothes, then my coach and I headed back to his house for a few celebratory beers.

By all measures, the day was a success. My teammate and I made an excellent showing at our first tournament, and I learned as much in those two matches as I had in the months of preparation for them. We mused on the relative merits of martial arts that include a shiai (competitive match) component, and those that don’t, and the quirks of explaining the appeal to the rest of the civilized world that obsesses over chasing balls around fields instead. After a while, he got out a box full of old tsuba, Japanese sword guards. This was part of an impressive collection of antique Japanese art and artifacts collected by generations of his family. Some were very plain and pragmatic, some quite intricate, some possibly hundreds of years old. A few bore the telling marks of workmanship, while others looked as smooth as something that might have been grown rather than hewn. They had all been cared for by various people over the decades, surviving the transition from their use as part of a weapon to pieces of art. I thought of some finely polished volcanic glass beads that a Bribri Indian elder in Costa Rica showed me, likely far older than European colonization, and of a perfect arrowhead that I recently found on my property. When you touch things like this, the Bribri told me, you are shaking hands with the person who made them. A martial art can be like that. The same throw or strike may show up on the walls at Angkor Wat or on a piece of Roman pottery, and when you practice it, it lives and breathes again. But instead of finding them, you have to find other people who can help you put them into motion.

It reminded me of a similar moment from several years prior, standing in the St. Louis Botanical Gardens with our own Bob Miller. FSRI (then TKRI) used to do the karate demonstrations for the Gardens’ Japanese Festival, one of the largest such events in the nation. I had the pleasure of being involved from 2003-2010. The weekend of the festival demonstrations was always a pretty incredible tightrope walk. A couple of us would trek out from Virginia with our part of the demo material, and not long after arriving, begin learning the Missouri group’s material. Throughout back-to-back practices and the actual live demos themselves, we racked up dozens upon dozens of high-speed impacts on bare ground, and strikes that landed progressively harder as we gelled; these hard hours were followed by plenty of celebrating, and the whole thing was repeated again on the next day.

Our performances in front of the festival audience always brought a combination of awed murmurs, hushed silence, and disbelief that has likely been absent since our group stopped demonstrating at the event. The other martial arts groups in attendance tended to ignore us, like a dog that is suddenly turned on by the deer that it was chasing, and some made it known that we were an oddity that did not conform to their dichotomy of Budo and Bujutsu. We were not doing the karate that people took their kids to for daycare, or the kind that people have grown accustomed to laughing off as more or less useless. It was beautifully rugged and predatorily efficient, and in retrospect, offered the potential for catastrophic injury, but we pulled it off with consummate skill. Those were great times. And they existed because we all cared enough to make them happen.

After one such bruising demonstration under the early September sun, Bob and I went in search of the food area, which featured almost magically refreshing green tea smoothies. We arrived amidst the yakitori and sushi booths, and then Bob made a hard line for the sake booth. This wasn’t what we had come for, but it felt right. Bob bought us a round, served in little clear plastic cups, and took his down in one gulp. I followed suit, then bought a second round. Bob bought another. The physical and mental stress of the demos, the heat, and the sake all contributed to the kind of rapid onset buzz that leaves one suddenly very focused on staying upright. He suggested that we visit the indoor exhibition to catch a break from the heat, and take in the bonsai display.

I had seen the bonsai in previous years, but they did not particularly grab my attention. On this trip however, we scrutinized many of the older ones very carefully, walking from exhibit to exhibit and finishing our sake. A little placard next to each tree detailed its age and a list of past caretakers, with some being well more than a hundred years old. After a while, Bob spoke up, in his characteristically understated way. “A person had to start each one, and then keep it going. Some of these have outlasted several human life spans.” I suddenly grasped the unseen histories attached to each tree in front of us: people with different lives and struggles, yet all still linked by their relationship to a particular tree. “The only reason that we’re looking at them now is because someone found time every day to care for them.” That has resounded in my mind many times since over the years.

As my coach and I drank cold Modelos, I wondered over the histories of the tsuba, I reflected on the day. Barely a year prior, I got back into Judo to fill some holes in my skill set as a martial artist, and resume an activity that was my entrance into what has become a (thus far) lifetime pursuit of training. I entered the tournament to push myself past my comfort zone and to evaluate my progress in a live setting. I was happy with the results, and had new challenges ahead of me, based on my performance (like getting down to serious work on developing a reflexive knowledge of which grips afford which throws). Across the preparations leading up the tournament, my ground work improved markedly, both in aggressiveness and in a fluidity of going with pressure rather than against it. I finally had a chance to put my MA conditioning models to use under pressure, and see them work to great advantage. The tournament experience has given me the perspective to see that despite a frustrating lack of training partners outside of Judo, I am becoming a better martial artist by facing my inadequacies, rather than insulating myself against the chance of failure, or some perceived loss of status. All paths may eventually lead up the mountain, but they can also lead right back down. The only solution is to keep climbing, and understand that being there for it is the secret that so often goes unappreciated.

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Not Just for Kids. Take Some Time Off. http://www.tkri.net/not-just-for-kids-take-some-time-off/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=not-just-for-kids-take-some-time-off http://www.tkri.net/not-just-for-kids-take-some-time-off/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:59:27 +0000 http://www.tkri.net/?p=10130 This isn’t the first, or the last time you’ll see things like this on this blog. Recovery is critical for both performance and health. Take time to heal up. Try out an alternative activity that isn’t as intense and has a different set of challenges for your body to adapt to. Address strength, stabilization and flexibility imbalances.

Parents, remember your kid isn’t going to have a career in a sport if she’s already broken up before she finishes college.

PD: The best advice you would give parents of a young athlete?

J.A.: The first thing I would tell them is, their kid needs at least two months off each year to recover from a specific sport. Preferably, three to four months. Example: youth baseball. For at least two months, preferably three to four months, they don’t need to do any kind of overhead throwing, any kind of overhead sport, and let the body recover in order to avoid overuse situations. That’s why we’re seeing so many Tommy John procedures, which is an adult operation designed for professionals. In my practice now, 30 to 40 percent of the ones I’m doing are on high-schoolers, even down to ages 12 or 13. They’re already coming in with torn ligaments.

Give them time off to recover. Please. Give them time to recover.

I said in the book, I want parents and coaches to realize the implications of putting a 12- or 13-year-old through the type of athletic work done by a 25-year-old. Parents and coaches, though they mean well, need to understand what the long-term effects of overuse can be.

Read the rest here.

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Bound for the Floor, pt. 8a http://www.tkri.net/bound-for-the-floor-pt-8a/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bound-for-the-floor-pt-8a http://www.tkri.net/bound-for-the-floor-pt-8a/#comments Sun, 10 Aug 2014 15:59:38 +0000 http://www.tkri.net/?p=10122 Editor’s note: although the tournament took place on July 12th, we had a hard time pinning down our correspondent for the final installment. After a few weeks of vague rumors and spurious sightings, he was finally tracked down on the coast, riding dubious watercraft in heavy surf. He agreed to finish the series, on the condition that he was allowed a steady stream of margaritas with beer on the side. – ed.

 

I stood at the edge of the mat, waiting for the official to call my name for the next match. My opponent stood a dozen feet away, looking nervously in my direction. Although he was a brown belt (to my orange), I had a weight advantage, and he looked uncertain. That might have been due to the flat look that I was directing at him, or maybe from the marginally successful struggle to avoid laughing about the “Biggus Dickus” scene from Life of Brian. My coach and I had been reminiscing about it on the way through check-ins, undoubtedly ruining any shot of a serious ambiance in the converted gymnasium.

The early adult rounds had so far been of two kinds: mutual, unsuccessful attempts at tai otoshi, or ippon by throw in the early moments, with only a handful of ground battles. Schools from VA and a few of the surrounding states were present, some cross training in BJJ and wrestling, some doing straight Judo. Prior to beginning, we were treated to a lengthy exposition of new USJA rules, several of which were intended to keep competitors on the offensive, and minimize any stalling (which I took to be a direct measure against the BJJ influence from watering down the physical aggressiveness of Judo). This worked fine in the standup portion of the matches, but it cut short some of the ground action that could have profitably used a moment or two to develop.

After the rules, I took stock of my situation. I’d cut beer out for the past week, and made sure to include plenty of good complex carbohydrates each meal (not carb loading- carb loading is not that effective in these types of events, but a moderate intake of plant sources is important). I had a good night’s sleep the night before, along with a dedicated SMR session.

My right side ached with some significantly bruised ribs, incurred a couple of weeks prior, and exacerbated at nearly every training session since. My teammate, a large, effortlessly strong young man, had come into town the night before the tournament for a last minute practice. Despite our best intentions at going “light,” he got excited on some turnovers, and put the finishing touches on the ribs. But I wasn’t concerned about that as I stood next to the official’s table. I’d made weigh-ins at 157, just about on target, and after watching the early adult rounds, I knew that I was better conditioned than most. I watched one of the National team aspirants in a heavier weight class tank after the first minute of his first match, and then practically give up some damning grips to his opponent until he lost. His coach cursed him loudly enough for those of us nearby to hear. I had no worries about the standup game, and knew that I could hang with a prolonged ground battle with no trouble.

The officials asked my teammate if he was willing to fight up a weight class for the sake of a single competitor, and he agreed, meaning that he was going to be fighting in two divisions. He lost his first match to a large man with cauliflower ears, despite giving the guy a serious run for it. He would go on to come in third in 80kg, and second in 90kg. Our coach came over to give him a pat on the back and congratulate him on staying cool. “Any final words of advice?” I asked. “Yeah. Don’t forget to breathe. And have fun.” He was enjoying himself, and so were we.

I kept moving, lightly jumping and doing some dynamic stretching while looking across the mat at my daughter, who waved excitedly between attempts to climb out of the bleachers. Every few minutes she made it down, scrambling madly for the mat, reaching it just as my wife or my coach grabbed her. She was my partner in several nights of training during the final weeks leading into the tournament, and it felt right to have her there.

The mic crackled to life, announcing “Simpson!” The official nodded in my direction. “You’re up.” I glanced one more time at my opponent, and then walked onto the mat with as much leisure as I could muster. We faced each other across the competitive circle, bowed, and the ref gave the command to begin. I didn’t want to lose by a throw early in the match, so I approached carefully, but with confidence. Feeling some hesitancy on his part, and recognizing that I was now facing someone a bit lighter than myself, I went straight in and snapped up my preferred grips- high-ish on the collar, and a fistful of gi above the elbow. He attempted a tai otoshi and I stepped around to counter with tani otoshi, but was just a second late, allowing him to attempt some sort of wild uchi mata, putting his torso too far forward for the kuzushi. I sat into his dead angle and we went down. It wasn’t a clean throw, but the ref let it go, and the ground battle began. I caught him on his back and swam up over his arms and legs into mount. He caught one of my legs in his, negating the hold down, and I put my full weight down into his chest and head as I worked to extricate it. Just before I completed the full pin, the ref stood us back up. We had worked our way just over the boundaries, “Don’t let him get on top again!” his coach yelled. “Stay off the ground!”

Our club is heavier on ground work than the average Judo club (we ID as a Kosen-style group[see way back in part 1 or 2, where the relationships of Kosen Judo to BJJ are mentioned]), and now I understood that it was paying off in terms of technicality and aggressiveness on the ground than my opponent. This was one of the first major points of learning for the day.

After the ref stood us up,  I bounded forward at him and seized my grips, catching him by surprise. He was breathing hard from the first encounter; I wasn’t. I set up for ko uchi gari, and he stepped out, attempting to counter with the same, opening himself up for another shot at tani otoshi. Although he was a bit far forward again, I succeeded in tangling up his back leg and realized that I needed to adjust my grips for the throw to happen. Right as I got set, the ref called us on out of bounds again.

For our third reset (each one being one-two seconds at most), I ran forward and took my grips, seeking to take advantage of my opponent’s relative fatigue and using the speed that my seniors point out  as one of my advantages. I went for ko uchi gari again, he stepped back, and I stepped out to his side for a modified hiza guruma, and he turned in, catching my momentum with a loose tai otoshi that nevertheless took me over. Ippon for him. We shook hands, and I headed back to the officials table to prepare for my next match. I’d given my opponent a pretty good run for his money, going half the 5 minute round, and felt like I could go for as long as I felt like. By those measures, I marked my entry into competitive Judo shiai a success. And I was just getting started.

Stay tuned for part b…

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Feel Free to Extrapolate http://www.tkri.net/feel-free-to-extrapolate/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feel-free-to-extrapolate http://www.tkri.net/feel-free-to-extrapolate/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:20:33 +0000 http://www.tkri.net/?p=10114

However, there are sparks of runners out there that are quite insightful. As I watch 9/10 of elites bicker…errr, “discuss” their situation about not getting enough pay and literally living off their parents (you’d be shocked at how common this is), having no religious affiliation or true faith in anything, or even the slightest desire to broaden themselves, I can see their life is at a dead end.

That was going to be my dead end. Was I lucky for getting injured? I still can’t answer that with a straight face. I still get frustrated from getting humbled. More importantly, I still see the good it brought.

Feel free to extrapolate to martial arts.
Read the rest here.

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Featured App and iBook for July 2014 http://www.tkri.net/featured-app-and-ibook-for-july-2014/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=featured-app-and-ibook-for-july-2014 http://www.tkri.net/featured-app-and-ibook-for-july-2014/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:17:44 +0000 http://www.tkri.net/?p=10105 July 2014 Featured app for iPad

Knee Pro III with Animations

Developed in collaboration with Stanford University School of Medicine. Knee Pro III gives users an in depth look at the knee allowing them to cut, zoom & rotate the knee. It provides multiple cross sections as well as the ability to cut away different layers.
It is ideal for students and educators, as well as physicians and professionals looking for help in explaining knee conditions, ailments and/or injuries.

 

July 2014 Featured iBook

On Killing

The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army’s conditioning techniques and, according to Grossman’s controversial thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder and violence, especially among the young. ON KILLING is an important study of the techniques the military uses to overcome the powerful reluctance to kill, of how killing affects the soldier, and of the societal implications of escalating violence.

A former army Ranger and paratrooper, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman taught psychology at West Point and is currently the Professor of Military Science at Arkansas State University.

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Friday Night Training Music http://www.tkri.net/friday-night-training-music-5/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=friday-night-training-music-5 http://www.tkri.net/friday-night-training-music-5/#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 04:46:47 +0000 http://www.tkri.net/?p=10095

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Recent Nage Waza Review for St. Louis Club http://www.tkri.net/recent-nage-waza-review-for-st-louis-club/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=recent-nage-waza-review-for-st-louis-club http://www.tkri.net/recent-nage-waza-review-for-st-louis-club/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 17:41:44 +0000 http://www.tkri.net/?p=10074 Quick review for our St. Louis people of some of the take downs we have been practicing recently.

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Bound for the Floor, pt. 7 http://www.tkri.net/bound-for-the-floor-pt-7/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bound-for-the-floor-pt-7 http://www.tkri.net/bound-for-the-floor-pt-7/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 02:15:22 +0000 http://www.tkri.net/?p=10064 I can tell you fancy, I can tell you plain/ You give something up for everything you gain/ Since every pleasure’s got an edge of pain/ Pay for your ticket, and don’t complain. –Bob Dylan

 

Two and a half weeks left until the tournament- how the hell did 8 weeks go by so fast? Current weight: 158 lbs. If you’ve been following this series, recall that 160 lbs. is the hard limit for my weight class. If I reach July 12th any heavier, I will end up as the lightest person in the next weight class up, which would likely be disastrous; if I get much lighter than 155, I’ll lose the advantage of being the heaviest person in my current weight class. Fortunately, my current weight is the “set point” that I hover around in the summer months, and my strength training program has been carefully planned to avoid creating a hypertrophy-friendly environment. It’s also tough to eat the amount of food that significant muscle growth requires; in order to do what I need to do throughout the increasingly hotter days, I tend to adopt a very light eating pattern throughout the day, and then make up the difference with a big, high quality dinner in the evening (digestion increases the thermic effect of metabolism, and I’d rather be hungry than miserable).

I may have to cut the strength component of my conditioning a little shorter than planned, or at least modify the exercises involved, thanks to a well-bruised knee. Our training space is carved out for an hour in the multi-purpose room at the local Y, and like many such places, isn’t all that ideal. Concrete floor with a thin layer of institutional carpet is the surface that we lay our mats on. We have four high quality mats, and several older, broken down mats that offer little cushioning for high amplitude throws. The heavy mats form the core of our training layout, with the older ones as runoff around the edges. With 6 people on the mat, it’s inevitable that randori will end up spilling into these, and even if I can’t see the surface that I’m being thrown on, the landing site is immediately apparent by the quality of the landing. Last week, I hit a drop seoinage on a heavier partner, my knee landing squarely in the fold of one of these old mats, and knew immediately that it was going to be a pain in the ass. And it has been. A nice bruise on the inferior aspect of the patella, with inflammation of the bursa, has been my reward. Some bruised ribs from a very sharp tai otoshi on the same mats joined it on a different night, but as Jane’s Addiction reminds us, so what. Once the tournament is behind me, it may well be time to do some serious work towards gaining 10 pounds or so of extra myofibril padding.

The split between really good nights of Judo and really tough nights of Judo has been about even lately. On the really good nights, I’ve discovered a propensity for kami shiho gatame/the north south hold. Once I get it, I usually keep it. It just feels solid, and so far, there is far less potential for my partners to escape it than there is with the others. If my opponent turtles up, okuri eri jime has been a goal for avoiding prolonged grappling, and the last couple of nights I seem to have rounded a corner with setting it up cleanly. There are, of course exceptions, like one partner’s horribly efficient tani otoshi counters, and another’s far higher efficiency in ground work. Sometimes progress leaps onto the scene, and sometimes it drags itself in by the fingertips, but that’s part of the game. If it were easy every night, everyone would be doing it.

This reminds me of a perennial annoyance about discussing martial arts with non-practitioners, especially when it comes to Judo- people are likely to knowingly say things like “oh, using the opponent’s aggression against them, yeah.” Actually, no. Too often, a cloyingly new-age tinged approach to martial arts, that is not good for much but generating revenue and reinforcing self-important delusions, substitutes for the reality. There is a need to be able to sense an opponent’s physical advance and take advantage of it. You have to learn to relax under decidedly non-relaxing conditions, but this is balanced by a need to be able to catch opponents off guard with your own targeted applications of force. So let me do my best to disabuse the casual reader of this notion right now: “gentle way” is a sorry-ass translation for Judo. Jigoro Kano probably giggled over that one on his death bed. This is not to say that you can’t do it in softer ways; some lighter training has to be included in order to learn, experiment and recover. But- the reality of it is that you also have to spend considerable time getting banged around, and striving to do the same to your partner before he or she does it to you. If self defense skills are your main training motivation, and you are conditioned to reacting instead of acting, then that goal is being undermined. The latter part of that equation has always been a weak point in my own training. I need to develop better technical grappling skills, and be able to couple skill with decisiveness in grappling situations. Getting back into Judo has been as much about improving my grappling skills as it has been about remedying this situation. The tournament is not about proving anything, but about getting past a sticking point. Just doing it (and lasting at least a minute) is enough reward for me.

I had to remind myself of this a few weeks ago, when a recent addition to the group (J) lost his temper after I pinned him in a timed randori match. On the night in question, he got a partial throw on me, I countered it, and we hit the mat. I swam up over his aggressive but loose attempts at control, and locked into kesa gatame. He struggled without any success, and after 30 seconds a senior called the match. J jumped up and slammed his hand against the wall, cursed, then stormed out. For just a moment, I thought that he might take a swing at someone, which would have been interesting, and highly unfortunate. Our coach talked to him afterward and made it clear that this wouldn’t be tolerated. We’re a very relaxed club, and his behavior was completely against our wa. It happened again last week. Another new guy put on a choke (hadaka jime), but J wouldn’t tap, and caused himself a lot of unnecessary discomfort. He lingered on the mat for a few moments after his partner let it go, then jumped up and repeated his outburst. Further intervention probably won’t be necessary, as it looks like he simply won’t come back. That’s probably for the best.

In this year of training, I’ve been submitted, pinned, choked, and slammed into the mat more times than I can count. My coach and seniors are great, patient teachers and partners, but they have decades of grappling experience on me. Unless you are training with people who don’t mind getting hit, karate can be dangerously conceptual; some people will quit after the first moderately hard bump. But if you want to get good at a throwing and grappling art, there is simply no getting around the fact that you will be on the receiving end- a lot- before you start seeing improvements. Maybe this is different for larger, more competitively inclined individuals. But in my experience thus far, every inch of progress has required a mile of drilling, trying, failing, occasionally limping, reading, reflecting, and being countered. Especially with that @#$%^&* tani otoshi.

Two and a half weeks left, and my mantra is set: grab and smash. I’m not worried about losing. That can happen. So what. I’ll be at training the next week either way. I’m worried about staying out of my own way, and meeting the challenge with everything that I have to hit it with. I bought the ticket, and soon it will be time to take the ride- hopefully straight down into kami shiho gatame.

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Friday Night Training Music http://www.tkri.net/friday-night-training-music-4/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=friday-night-training-music-4 http://www.tkri.net/friday-night-training-music-4/#comments Sat, 21 Jun 2014 04:15:12 +0000 http://www.tkri.net/?p=10061 In honour of Lauryn Hill’s visit to St Louis this week:

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