Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday night newaza randori

It was Wednesday, so I headed over to Seattle Jujutsu and get my knee still moving. I'm still hobbling. So I needed it to take it easy.

I got a good warm up and did some newaza randori with Vince and Matt. Vince and I worked on overcoming the high 4, passing the guard and then a good clockwork positional drill. It was good randori with Vince. He showed me some fine tuning on my ude garami. Ude Garami should be at 90 or 45 degrees. He also did an ude garami from the guard position, very similar to what Mark did at the Budokan Tuesday night. It's another angle where I can get attacked on. Aaron also showed me how to do a better guard pass by having my hand between the legs back of the hand up on top of the lower leg, as it leverages the lower leg open.

I then did matwork with Matt. He has a very loose open guard. He controls my hips with his feet. Which is quite important. Matt worked on a collar choke going around in a circle. (forgot the name, although very popular in competition judo). He mainly worked on defending/attacking from the guard while I worked on attacking the guard. He then pointed out that I had a good pin, but my transition from pin to submission, I would let up and give him space, therefore letting him go. So I need to practice on my transitions from pin to submission. Still maintaining control and not giving up space.

So the main lesson of the night was to work on maintaining pressure and close contact when going from a transition from a pin to a submission.

My knee is still doing alright but I'm still hobbling. I went to breakfast with some friends, one of them a nurse. She told me it might be my MCL that got strained and to rest up for a bit. I'll take that advice.

I should call up Regence and schedule an appointment, but most likely they're going to say, Ice up, Motrin and rest. At least that's what they did last time for my shoulder. So I know it's dumb, but I'm a stubborn guy, but I'll play the wait and see game. If by next week it doesn't get better it's probably serious.

I'll just take it easy. Go warm and easy. Maybe take a yoga class or two to keep it limber but not strain it. I think soccer for next Monday is out.

Oh.. and Halloween is tomorrow. Perhaps I could get a cane, a fake beard and a cardigan and go as an old man? I already hobble, so I won't be faking that...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keeping my knee warm and mobile...

I got a soft knee brace at the drug store and headed over to judo practice. It's not unusual to have people putting all kind of braces at practice. Knee, ankle. etc... In fact the normal ritual of taping and bracing goes on at practice. In fact on one side of the dojo there's plenty of tape to go around. Toes, ankles, wrists, etc... It's all normal.

I can't run. Period. My knee still hurts. So I took it easy.

I did the warm ups best I could. I could only do forward and backward throws as rotating was hard on my knees. So I did mainly O-soto-gari for fits as it doesn't hurt the knee as much. The whole rotation thing was tough on the knee so I couldn't do my favorite throw which was seio-nage.

There weren't techniques taught tonight. Tonight was mainly a workout randori night. It was great because I can only really do newaza with one good knee. I was able to get in 5-6 rounds of groundwork. I didn't do any standing randori at all and just watched.

It was good as I was working on doing guard passes tonight, and overcoming the sprawl. I did some good guard passes as well as attacking the sprawl into a pin. I also worked on my transition from pin to pin, which was really cool. Mark showed me some keylock moves from the guard. I have to see him show me again which is really cool. I'm not used to getting attacked from the guard from the top. Meaning going over my shoulder to get a keylock on my arm and doing an ude-garami. I usually post and get a guard pass. However I'm not used to getting attacked from the "top" usually attacks come from the bottom. Meaning getting an armlock, a triangle choke or something similar from the guard, not a keylock from the top while in guard.

Tonight's matwork was fun. And it was great to get the blood flowing. I think it helps my knee to keep it warm and moving, but not push it too hard. It's a fine balance. As my knee was a bit hurt, I was trying to look for leverage and openings more tonight since I don't have the usual power when I do have a good knee.

Standing randori was good to watch, and there were some good throws executed by people all around.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My right knee HURTS!


Anyways, the inside of my right knee hurts. I'm no doctor, but it feels like my medial collateral ligament (MCL) was bashed up. At least it's not the infamous ACL (Anterior cruciate ligament).

The good thing is it just hurts, I hobble because of the pain, but nothing too major. (I hope). It could be a tendon too. Don't know. The last time I was hurting with the shoulder injury. A couple months back here:Shoulder Injury.

That injury was caused by an upper right bicep tendon tear which just needed Motrin, time and warm stretches to heal. I'm hoping that's it.

I just could not sleep last night because of the pain. I've been bruised up before with my rib hurting for a couple of days, but that was not that bad. Sure it hurts and can't sleep, but being ambulatory is a big important of normal every day life.

Speaking of other injuries. I've got a minor cauliflower ear on my left ear, but that's not that bad, it only hurts when I sleep on my left side. Anyways, with all that aside, you play sports and you will eventually get hurt a bit. It's a normal part of life. The thing is, I did not expect it from soccer. It was after all a Recreational "D" level league, or as recreational or non-competitive as you can get.

I still love it, though and it breaks up the monotony of the normal grappling routine. Which, I do love grappling and is still my priority. However, variety is the spice of life. The last thing I want to ever do is "burn out" which I often see happen in martial arts. Someone goes hard for very long and eventually burns out, not to be seen for a very long time. I've done the same. I think I'll be good to go once again.

Which totally bums me out about my knee. Tonight's practice, I was looking forward to it after a whole week of not going grappling due to a head cold. I'm going to get a soft knee brace for my right knee and see how that pans out.

I think I'm just going to pop a few more Motrin and call it good.

Soccer has got to be one of the more brutal sports...

Soccer is fun. Don't get me wrong. But I get beat up more in soccer playing goalie than being thrown at least 20x on the mat in judo. It's just a different type of hurt, mainly the unexpected jarring movements back and forth that is very quick. I bashed up my right knee and I'm hobbling a bit, which will need time to recover. Getting thrown in judo, I'm more used to. However throwing myself and diving for the ball is another thing.

One thing that I did not do is warm up. I was just barely on time for the game, and the game starts on the dot, and being a goalie means that I have to be there as I don't get subbed. I think the reason I was so stiff was the lack of warm up, once warmed up I should be good to go. As always, when I don't warm up I get injured. Bah. I've been so careful with my ankles and knees as of late that a knee injury sucks. It's nothing bad so far, it's just that it hurts... a bit.

Anyways, it was fun. I need to work on some of the angles and keeping balls away from the middle of my legs. I have a wide shoulder width stance and a fast ball going fast is hard to block. So i have to narrow my stance a little bit closer. As usual be on the balls of my feet and keep my knees relatively close to block. The worst part is that hopeless feeling as you're trying to get a ball in between your legs, when you adopt a wide stance. THAT SUCKS. It's one thing to dive for a ball and miss, but to miss a ball in between your legs is just embarrassing.

I do like the dojo version of Judo soccer where you just dog pile one another and play, tackle the goalie and what not. And really judo soccer is not really soccer, as the ball is merely an excuse to gang up on whoever has the ball.

I was out with a head cold last week, so I did not do any judo. My head cold is gone today. It was bugging me for about a week, and the last thing I wanted to do was to give someone a head cold grappling. It's just not cool. So I've been laying low for a bit. Consequently, I've been itching to practice and practice hard. Looking forward to tomorrow's practice at the Budokan tomorrow. Hopefully my right knee should be a wee bit better.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Witnessing a Shodan Grading at Seattle Jujutsu

I was fortunate enough to get to watch a Shodan Grading at Seattle Jujutsu. For those of you not familiar, Shodan is the first black belt rank, or rather the first step into becoming a serious martial arts practitioner.

Black belts in the grappling arts usually take a lot of years, usually 8-10 years to qualify for grading. I'm sure there's faster and longer, but the typical grappler, usually puts in a good 8-10 years of constant practice before being considered.

Seattle Jujutsu is run by Aaron and he runs a really good club. Andre, who has been a student of Aaron for over 8 years tested for his black belt. From what I understand, Andre, is his second black belt to be personally trained by him. Vince, Andre, and Yoshi all started at the very beginning 8 years ago.

The test had a lot of meaning in the journey, and it was great to see the whole club there. All the black belts were there: Aaron, Vince, Lana, and Elena. The test consisted of the curriculum demonstration (representative, but by no means all inclusive), a question and answer section discussing philosophy, a teaching demonstration, randori, and finally shiai. The test lasted close to 3 hours. It was a combination of both mental, physical, and internal toughness.

One thing that Aaron did was to make sure it was all inclusive and solicited input from all the members of the club. And that he treated everyone from the oldest to the newest member with the same respectful equal manner.

It was quite an experience to watch, and a rare one at that. At the end, there was the symbolic passing of the only brown belt in the club to the next senior student. The club is very traditional that only the sempai, should he choose to, wear the brown belt. Almost always, the brown belts in the club still wear their white belt. As the years go on the white belt gets to a darker and darker shade. Eventually the student earns a black belt, and wears the black belt. Over time the black belt loses it's dark luster, gets lighter and lighter over time, eventually almost looking like a white belt. It's the circle of all things.

The new black belt join the dan ranks, and the journey continues. That's what I love about this sport, it's a journey, there's no destination, and that getting belts are momentos in a journey and not the purpose. The journey goes on...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Zenyu Fight Night!

Last Night, Auburn Bob, invited me to Fight Night at Zenyu. It was really cool to watch. In the Zenyu Mat area there is already a Fight Square. They then brought in 2 national judges in their suits who would referee the matches. In the corner, Zenyu had an honest to goodness electronic scoreboard that is used in some of the regional and national matches. And they even had a technical staff bracket man, fans in the peanut gallery, 2 official photographers, awards, and cupcakes in the end! The only thing missing would be T-shirt vendors and a concession stand.

Now I know how Zenyu can have great technical staff, as they run these Fight Nights once a month, every third Thursday or so, except for this Tuesday which was more convenient for all those involved.

The matches were 2 minutes long, and if no score, they would go into golden score overtime. Overall they managed to cram in 7 divisions of 3-8 people in a span of 3 hours. Quite efficient indeed. The Fight Night was run very smooth, and the action constantly flowing.

It was actually great to see the National Level Judges, referee the fight. And I learned even some of the finer points of judging. Judging is hard, and is under a lot of pressure. It was a lot of fun to watch the different calls being made, what was a wazari, koka, yuko or ippon.

Some of the finer things in judging/rules I learned. When the judge tells you tuck in your gi. You ONLY tuck in your gi. If you untie the belt, then tuck in the gi, then it's a penalty. The judge will let you know when to retie your belt, which would be apparently obvious. One of the judges gave a newaza pointer about controlling the head on the mat, you control the head an it's easier to keep your opponent down on the mat.

Overall, this was great to see. Zenyu has an awesome program especially for the up and coming judo players. Fight Nights was a way to prep club members in Judo Tournaments and also allow a friendly tournament atmosphere for those that can't make it to the tournaments.

It was a lot of fun and it was exciting. I think Zenyu has a great program going and it was quite fun to watch.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Emerald City F.C. !

Today was the first night of the Arena Soccer League. My friends asked me to play as they needed warm bodies to fill the roster. Since, I had a pulse and can magically transform Oxygen into Carbon Dioxide, I fit the bill.

During the recruiting process, I was interviewed. Some pertinent questions were asked.

Through some deep deliberation by the powers that be, I was assigned the goalie position.

Tonight's game was fun, although I should be familiar more with the rules. Mainly I have to stay in the goalie box, and I can do anything in the goalie box. That goalie box is mine! If I venture outside the goalie box, I can only kick the ball.

Umm let's just say that my goal keeping skills need a wee bit of improvement.

Overall a fun Night!

The Emerald City F.C.

Kent Racquetball

So played four 15 minute games with Katherine at Kent. It was a lot of fun, she's starting to pick up good serves, serving to the dreaded, backhand "dead zone" corner. She still needs to put some more power, but what she lacks in power, she makes it up in accuracy and finesse.

I still got good power and my racquetball game is improving. This game I basically served from the left side of the court to the right back side, trying to perfect my right side crack serve. When it hits the crack the ball simply becomes dead... That is when it hits, and it's pretty nasty. I was trying to get speed/accuracy down and it was good to practice with Katherine. I have to watch my efforts to kill the ball, where it comes up short, and instead killing the ball, you end up losing a point. It's probably better to try to hit the ball to the back wall, keeping in mind your opponents position. I have better success with passes and positional shots rather than kill shots.

Overall a great game.

Seminar with Travis Stevens, 2008 Olympian

Photo: Me, Travis, Jake

Yesterday was a seminar with Travis Stevens, 2008 Olympian, and he came home from training to hold a training camp at his home dojo, Ippon Dojo in Lakewood, Washington.

It was a great session that lasted for 2 1/2 hours. I was tired at the end.

The session covered newaza, counter-attack, gripping, and a general philosophy of fighting.

That was the biggest thing about Travis, was his philosophy and thought process of fighting. He does not run away. Each and every attack is an opportunity for a counterattack. Doing a sprawl is running away, but instead, he meets it up close and turns it to a counterattack. Same thing in newaza, he uses his opponents attack and makes it his own. Each and every move is an opening. You never run away, you counterattack.

For the ground fighting portion, we covered 3-4 different attacks from the turtle. To do a turn over. He then covered defense from a turtle and using the turtle as a counter-attack position.

For the counter-attack, he showed us to meet a throw with a tight block, then counter. Instead of running away, he stops his opponents momentum by being up close. Then he applies his counter.

The Grip-Fighting portion was showing us how to grip properly on the sleeve by making a T, where you are gripping with all your fingers.

The end of the session was just normal randori, I think 2 or 3 minute rounds. Did 6-7 rounds with different people.

The camp was the best thing to come out this weekend, and I learned quite a bit. I'm still quite a bit sore, I crashed later that evening.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Rainier Cup Recap

Well, it's entertaining. The picture above was my match with Matt. Guest Photographer is Auburn Bob, who took these pictures. Overall it was a good event, although there was a lot of hurry-up and wait.

I got eliminated early on.

Some things to work on are:

1. Slow things down (I was trying so hard to get Ippon aka knockout, that I left myself vulnerable to counterattack)

2. Timing. (self explanatory)

3. When on the ground bridge, shrimp out right away. Time is not on your side, the longer the pin, usually the tighter it becomes.

One good thing is that I didn't get a single penalty. I was playing aggressively, and well, when you play aggressively you take chances, and sometimes you lose. Oh well.

Overall it was good, my opponents were simply better than me that day. No excuses, just take back what I learned, and work on it another day. What's even better, is that I didn't come away injured. (knock on wood) So I can train, and train harder.

Posted by Picasa

Rainier Cup Fight Prep

I'm getting my stuff ready this morning, going to grab breakfast, get my gi back ready to go. I never like tournament prep time, it's the anticipation that's a killer. Butterflies in my stomach, and the fact that this will be my first tournament fighting in the Brown/Black Belt Division.

Anyways, as I get my gear ready I check for my USJF and USJA card, I read this quote on the back of the USJA card.

CREDO by Theodore Roosevelt

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by sweat and dust and blood; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in worthy causes; who at the best, knows in the end of the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pizza, Happy Hour, et al...

Um, as I'm typing this, I just ate a whole pizza. Yep one of those frozen pizzas that you put in an oven. What else? It was delicious. I assume that the whole serving size is one pizza. Ya. I was hungry.

So, what's been going on. I was bouncing between 203.5 and 209 lbs. this week, depending on the condition of my body, and how much water (or not it has). Considering I'm hovering at 209 lbs. right now and weigh-ins are tomorrow morning, it's a good thing. I'd get to 198 lbs. eventually, but this weekend is not it. Besides 198-220 lbs is a huge weight class, and I believe tomorrow's tournament is Light/Medium/Heavy tournament so weight classes in general is a guide. A lot of people I know bounce between 90kg-100kg weight class.

This week has been a blur... To recap.

Tuesday afternoon

Muay Thai with Jen. Apparently Jen took Muay Thai for eight years, and has lots of private lessons, at one point she was actually instructing classes for a couple of years. She has been my regular running partner. Right now, I do need to run, although we did talk about other interests, and the subject came up about boxing/muay/thai/martial arts. So she came by, we did combos. I don't have the fancy timers at the gym, so we just turned it to the music channel and "ended" rounds at the end of the song. Fair enough. We worked out for about 45 min-1 hour. It was a good workout with lots of sweat. Oh. Since it was a rainy afternoon (big surprise in Seattle) we ended doing practice in the living room, which, upon discovery is not pleasant for my room-mate who happens to sleep at odd hours of the day. (Her bedroom is underneath the living room).
Wednesday afternoon.

I got a lunch hour session with Katherine for racquetball. We played 3 good games. Her game is picking up. Nice way to relax for an hour.

Boxing with Amy and the SPD crew. We worked on combos and mitt work. Did 3-3 minute rounds per combination swapping mitts/gloves/partners. Did 3 rotations of 3-3 minute rounds so, total of 9 3 minute rounds? Hmmn. That's a long time. Anyways, I was tired.

Immediately after, I jumped into my truck and headed to Seatown Sombo. I got there just in time for stretches. It was the usual.. warm ups, rolls, and then uchikomis. The technique of the night was a knee bar from the turtle position. It was good, I need to practice it more. Then we just did light positional newaza and some more standing randori. There were about a dozen or so people that night, and just simply a bit crowded, so just have to watch where you throw people. Ground work was fun, although we didn't have the clock running, we must have done about 20-30 minutes uchikomis, 20-30 minutes of ground fighting and 10-15 minutes of standing. I don't remember much, the night went on like a blur.


A quick 2-3 mile hike on Cold Creek Trail. Nothing special.

Thursday Night Practice was this:

Standard Warm-ups (I was tasked to lead this). Uchikomis. Technique of the Night. 30 minutes of newaza randori, 30 minutes standing randori.

Technique of the night was: Sankaku on a turtled opponent. Apparently I have problems getting my foot into the crook of my knee. It was good. My left ear has been jammed again. It was hurting from Tuesday night's sankaku practice. (Sankaku is triangle choke with your legs). I don't think I've got cauliflower ear just yet, it's just tender. Oh well. It's part of training. I think most everyone in the dojo has some form of cauliflower ear. No biggy.

Gary and Leo gave me pointers on the tournament. Basically it came down to this: Commit to your technique. Throw like you mean it. Better to attack and be on the offensive. Whatever happens, win or lose, learn something from it and improve upon it. Oh and work on 1-2 techniques (your main staple) for a year and perfect it for competition. And all it takes to be a winner is hard work and practice. There is no magic bullet...


I bagged a workout with Jen. I was tired, the thought of punching mitts and doing combos was tiring, and the fact that I needed to be rested for Saturday's tournament.

I then did Happy Hour at Grey's with Mike/Robbin & Co. It was a fun happy hour, but had to excuse myself early as I had a racquetball appointment with Katherine. It was a good game of racquetball. Being a bit tired and sore, I ended up playing more strategically and not really moving as much... Being tired ummmm.. improved my game.

Anyways, it's late. I had to write down what I did this weekend before I forget. It's going to be a fun weekend. Tournament tomorrow and the Travis Stevens Clinic on Sunday.

I'm just going to take it easy and have fun.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

29 Judoka

29 Judoka. That's how many people were at Budokan during Tuesday Night practice. It was very crowded.

Here's a picture of the dojo taken awhile ago. Now imagine 29 judoka in it. It was exciting and fun, lots of new faces or people stopping by to practice. We had 2 Germans come by.

I wish I had my camera, but I didn't have it with me. So you just have to imagine the dojo filled with 29 people.

It was mostly newaza randori and we only did limited amount of standing randori as it was too crowded. It was a great night to see so many people.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday Open Mat

Sunday night was Open Mat.

It was cool as it was rather unstructured. I ended up doing 30 minutes warm up. 30 minutes uchikomi.

And then an 1 hour of newaza randori. There was no clock, so kinda moved and rotated around. I worked on guard passes and reversals. We did a lot from the knees, and consequently my knees are sore.

I still need to work on my guard. I'd rather not be in guard as of now, but I need to work on the guard more. I'm decent at passing the guard and executed some good guard passes. My posture is pretty good.

It was a rather fun night. And 1 hour of mat work is a great workout.

It was fun as there were some bigger heavier guys out there and its a lot of fun to roll around.

One thing, either I wasn't trying hard enough, or my cardio is improving, or I'm just relaxed. I didn't gas out. There was still plenty of gas in the tank or am I learning efficiency? I have no idea. It seems I'm rather relaxed now and when someone gets me into a position, I try to think tactically and change up or do something. It's weird, it's starting to become more of a cerebral exercise for me as well as a physical one. Sure it's demanding on the body, but I tend to think more.

I no longer keep score in randori as you should but thinking more and getting movements done. I could stall out, but anyone can stall out, you know? Might as well work on your technique. Be that getting into a turtle and escaping, reversing a turtle, guard passes, switching newaza positions, positional control, trying armbar to oseakomi, to arm bar. I think I get more enjoyment out of trying to squeeze out as many different techniques (executed properly of course) in randori.

It was fun and I'm craving more. Hopefully Amy can get some time so I can practice with her grappling group. I finally got a set of wrestling shoes so that I can practice grappling with different people and different areas. Wrestling mats are very common and many places require wrestling shoes, so getting a pair of wrestling shoes just expands training opportunities.

I have some racquetball scheduled today at 11 AM and am planning to get some laundry and stuff done. Didn't launder last night's gi and need to do so.

I have to watch what I eat. I ate some greasy Chinese food and pot stickers yesterday. I gained like 5 lbs. from coming home and only working out 2x in 2 weeks. Anyways, the Rainier Cup is on Saturday and I really feel I haven't trained much in the last 2 weeks. I need to work on my judo game with judo rules, as I've been training lately in jujutsu and sambo rules. So my gripping needs work, throws, fits, etc...

I'll still throw myself into the Rainier Cup and just have fun. Oh and my fatty ass has to fight at -100kg, not enough time to get under -90kg without killing myself in that short amount of time.

Anyways, the dojo I worked out in last night was featured in this video:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Big Apple!


Today I was at the Big Apple! New York. There's nothing like it in the world. I passed by Madison Square Garden, home of some of the most awesome sporting events ever!


I got to work out today at the New York Sambo Club, which is ran by Steve Koepher and is located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, at 15 W 39th Street, 4th floor.

It's a great gym, next to Bryant Park, and really accessible from Penn Station.

We did standard warm up routines and we practiced two throws. Both of the throws can be followed by submission, one with a submission to the arm, the other throw, is a submission to the heel.

I don't know the exact terminology, and rather than describe it akin to IKEA furniture assembly directions, I'd rather just go vague and generic.

The first one is a forward shoulder roll to a submission. The second one is a leg takedown to a submission. The second one is pretty slick, but it's hard to describe in words.

That's one thing about the martial arts, that it is hard to describe and put into words how something is done, even a picture book doesn't really show you, nor a video. Books/Videos are merely supplementary information to jog your memory after learning it hands on in class.

Steve is a good instructor and broke it down by the numbers. The guys at the club were really cool and had great attitude and demeanor.

After the instructional part of the class, we got into randori (free sparring). As this was a no-gi class, I was to use more body grips and so throws like ogoshi, kata guruma, kouchi, uchi-mata, ouchi, osoto and ippon seio nage can be done no gi. It's just slightly different with the grip. Some throws/chokes such as sode and uki-eri can't be done simply without a gi.

I forgot how much faster it is without a gi, and you can simply sometimes "slip" out of a hold where in a gi you're much constricted. It's just a bit different.

I wasn't able to throw as much and simply went to take downs. One of his students exploited a big hole in my game. My legs. Legs are free game in Sambo. I've been practicing Olympic-style judo for so long that I leave my legs wide open for attack. In Olympic Judo you don't have to defend your legs. There isn't a leg lock, heel hook, calf crush, toe hold and knee bar in Olympic Judo. Now mind you, I say in Olympic Judo.

The amazing thing about Judo, is that the original Judo is really preserved by the Russians, who internalized it and added indigenous folk wrestling styles into what is now Sambo. aka Russian Judo, Combat without Weapons, Jacket Wrestling or "is it some kind of dance?" Of course Sambo has different flavors, combat, freestyle, and sport.

Anyways, history lessons aside, I'm sure you can Google it to find out more...

Ah, the sparring/randori part of the session was fun. We did about 5-6 2 minute rounds. I was getting better transitions from pin to sub and from pin to pin. My arm bars continually improved between the sparring sessions. I tried one heel hook and I still need a LOT of work on it before I can use it on an unwilling partner. (err.. resisting partner) I need to work on defending the legs, creating separation to disengage and stacking better.

Oh, and the class was held in a Cage. First time I practiced inside a Cage. Different feeling, a bit claustrophobic. And I noticed that the Cage can only be opened from the outside when it's pinned shut.

Here's a picture:

Overall a great day at the Big Apple and a big thanks to Steve for a great workout.

For those of you asking, here's a video about what Sambo is all about:

Friday, October 3, 2008

Back home in Jersey, the Scarlet Knights & Rutgers Kodenkan

I traveled back to the Shore Area and got in touch with my roots. Ah the smell of Bagels, Pizza, and my all-time favorite snack. Mallomars. If you haven't had a Mallomar it's made by Nabisco and it's basically a reverse S'more in a box. It's made in Hoboken, and I haven't seen it out on the West Coast. Thank Goodness, because my fat chubby butt is inhaling a box of Mallomars in between typing.

So, now that we got the foodie goodies out of the way.

I was fortunate enough to get in touch with Sensei Barb Gessner, who teaches at the Rutgers Kodenkan. She's a 6th Dan Jujutsu and 5th Dan Judo and she graciously allowed me to practice with her club at Rutgers. We met at the Upper Gym at the Rutgers' "Barn" and at the Wrestling room for the advanced class.

Rutgers Kodenkan teaches Danzan Ryu Jujutsu which to the layman (that's me) looks like judo with some harder aikido-esque moves. There's also more emphasis on self-defense techniques. The goshin-jutsu part of their curriculum looks similar to the goshin-jutsu kata of judo and tomiki-aikido.

The falls are quite different, and as an art, they emphasize practice falls a lot. Sure my ukemi could use some work, and I haven't got my gymnastics/acrobatics part of my judo to a high enough level. One thing that they did work on the forward fall, which I hardly practice in judo. We did it once or twice this year. And although theoretically, you should "fish" out of a throw in competition judo, I'd rather get thrown properly and give my opponent an ippon rather than do a "Matrix-esque" move to land forward. Since I don't do it often enough, I need to practice it more to do it under live conditions, rather than pull one out of my butt during competition and hurt myself. It was really good to learn the forward fall with Rutgers Kodenkan, as I surely don't practice it enough. And if I do fall forward, I tend to go towards a forward roll anyways.

It was great to learn some Danzan Ryu Jujutsu. The jujutsu I'm studying now at Seattle Jujutsu is Yabe Ryu Jujutsu, which is pretty much judo.

The Danzan Ryu Jujutsu throws were the same exact Judo throws with the same names. There were some names a bit different, like they called Morote Seio Nage a bit differently. Then they had self defense combinations which used a counter followed by a judo or aikido technique.

One thing was that the class was more instructional, which is really cool, as some moves are quite nasty when applied in a live situation. A lot of the moves that I was learning last night is specifically banned in judo/bjj/sambo competiton. Mainly small joint manipulation, i.e. finger and wristlocks. Since I mostly study Kodokan Judo, with an emphasis on competition, I mostly do randori and haven't had the full breadth of the Judo curriculum which does include atemi-waza and self-defense techniques (goshin-jutsu kata). Besides, the Judo Curriculum emphasizes randori techniques at the kyu levels. Nage-no Kata and Katame-no Kata, which you need for 1st and 2nd dan respectively. The other historical katas are required for the higher dans, and so hardly really get taught.

I helped teach the kid's class with Steve (a black belt in jujutsu). I was asked to help teach the techniques that I do know. Mainly parts of the gokyu. I helped teach seio-nage, o-goshi, kesa-gatame and yoko-shiho gatame.

The senior class, I got to witness a promotion test, which was really cool.

I was then taught how to fall. Mainly to refine my ukemi, which does need work. I was grateful to be shown some more ukemi, which you more or less learn by getting thrown around. My ukemi is actually rather decent when I do get thrown with force speed and control. However my static ukemi/acrobatics is not that good. And I can't roll on my right as well or do cartwheels on my right.

It was different being a brown belt in class where there's only two black belts. I'm not used to that. At Budokan Dojo, I'm one of two or three brown belts amongst a dozen or more black belts.

It was also my very FIRST time as a bona fide Assistant Instructor. For that I'm very grateful for the opportunity. Sensei Barb let me teach a few things. Oh and we played a game at the end of class, which I learned from Neil Adams at the Neil Adams camp. It was tag, with the "caller" calling out different body parts to tag. It was a lot of fun! and perfect for kids. So I would call out "left shoulder" and you'd try to tag the left shoulder. I'd call out "right shoulder" and we'd try to tag the left.

At the end of the evening we practiced some randori. I randori with Steve and Cahill, the newly promoted guy. It was fun. We did some standing randori and then some newaza. It was fun doing some randori, and it was great to get the blood flowing! I haven't randori since Monday, and so was itching to get some good mat time.

I focused on techniques in Randori, which was cool. Randori was a great back and forth of throws/counterthrows and good to work on their techniques and mine as well. There were a few leg sweeps/grabs that was new to me, which was neat to work on. I also tried a few takedowns that I hardly get to practice like te-guruma and some leg/ankle picks. They haven't seen drop seio and drop kata-guruma, which they picked up rather fast.

A lot of the stuff they were doing were classical kata judo, which is cool, and I was amazed that there wasn't much time spent on grip fighting, and they focused more on the classic sleeve lapel grip. I tend to also do a sleeve lapel grip, although I tend to just maintain contact with my left on the lapel and have my right hand free to grip/throw. I like this more because:

a. It frees you to attack from different angles. With a left hand lapel grip, you can do:
1. Same side attack (i.e. ippon seio, kata-guruma, kouchi/ouchi, o-soto, etc...
2. Opposite side attack (i.e. morote seio, o-soto, uchi-mata, tai-otoshi, etc...)

b. Once I have two hand contact, I throw, as a general rule. In most competitions, it's hard to get two hand contact, so once you do get it, throw!

Grip fighting aside, it was cool not to spend oodles of time on grip fighting, as it is generally considered "negative judo" and grip fighting should be coupled with an attack, attack, attack...

That's the thing, even though the most awarded wins awarded in Olympic Judo is shido, it's more aesthetically pleasing to win by an ippon or submission.

Overall a great time at the Rutgers Kodenkan!