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!


Bonnie said...

Sounds like a lot of good stuff. I hope to be an assistant instructor someday, but I'll need to be a black belt for that.

I liked the reference to "matrix-esque" moves. We have some of those. Sometime people do multiple front kicks up the bags and it looks like they're walking up them.

Bob C. said...

Thanks for your comment Jamie, You really get around ! You will make one fine Sensei soon I will make sure I'm at that party. Hope to see you at the Rainier cup in a few weeks.