Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Secret martial arts techniques passed along in a Turkish Bath House

Okay, not exactly. It was around 97 degrees on Monday. It's getting hotter. I think this week, Seattle is just getting closer and closer to the sun. Or so it seems.

So, of all things, what do I decide to do? Go into a sub-basement gym, with limited airflow, put on luxurious bathrobes and roll around with a dozen random sweaty guys. At the start of practice the temperature was already 105 inside the dojo. In the end, we pushed up the temperature to about 115 degrees with oh, 100 percent humidity. Needless to say, afterwards we mopped up all the sweat and gave the mats a good dosage of bleach.

So what secret martial arts technique did I learn in an environment akin to a Turkish bath house? Actually there isn't really, after all, with the myriad instructors that I've had, it always boiled down to this. Come to practice and work out.

I keep on reading books, watching videos, looking at forums, and swapping stories. In the end, all that is only complimentary, the biggest thing about learning is one thing: Mat time.

And so, on a day like yesterday, I could've been inside an air-conditioned mall wandering aimlessly ogling at the consumer psyche that built our resource hungry consumption society. Instead, I decided to work out, with good friends and good people.

So practice started with warm ups. Then we moved onto uchikomis. Then practiced throws. After throws, we went to the technique of the night. The technique of the night was a single wing choke or okuri-ire-jime.

Aaron then went to teaching different variations when in position, and how body mechanically one can tranisition to different moves such as a juji, ude garami, knee bar and heel hook.
I like how he teaches, because he focuses on the body mechanics and principles of leverage/isolation/anatomy that makes a technique work rather than just showing the technique.

After the technique of the night, we went to light newaza. Newaza was a killer, and it was during this time, I'm learning more about conservation of energy and the judicious use of burst energy. Essentially, Maximum Efficiency with Minimum effort. It allowed me to grapple longer and look for gaps in my opponents defense and then exploit it.
I'm currently working on the different variations of guard passes. However my personal guard position is not that strong, with my strong position being on the offense, passing the guard, or defensiviely in a turtle. I need to work more on my transitions, and not be just static but dynamic in my thinking, and looking for openings.

Consequently what I need to do is really strenghten my core, improve my endurance, and refine/hone my techniques. This will allow me a ready access to techniques should the opportunity presents themselves. Basically, be prepared.

And so like anything in life, you have to work for it and earn it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday Night Practice... another nice sunny, hot day....

It was another amazingly gorgeous day in Seattle. Sunny skies, nice 75 degree weather, no humidity. You can't beat Seattle in the summer. So headed to practice at Seattle Jujutsu.

Just normal practice, with the expanded mats, did the normal warmup routine, then uchikomi, some light randori, and then worked on two techniques.

First technique was juji-gatame, or the armlock, with this variation making it much tighter, with the arm at 45 degrees, and the knees immobilizing the shoulder joint and elbow. Here's a clip from Human Weapon on a normal juji-gatame.

Sometimes, I really feel like Bill Duff, when practicing a lot of these moves. Can't wait till next season starts. It's one of the best shows, but I digress.

So, yeah this variation of the juji you step over, across, and control the arm at a 45 degree, making it super tight. Aaron also demonstrated that if you lift the person on his side, that he has less power than if he is on his back. So, lift, hold, step over and then lock. It was good practicing the technical aspects of it all.

We then transitioned to light newaza with one person standing, and the other in a turtle, a very common position. One of the things that my training partner, Brad, showed me is how to get an omoeplata from a turtle. I've seen it before, but not necessarily popular in judo competitions. I did see it at the Junior World Team Trials in Spokane, where one of the competitors tapped out to an omoeplata. I hardly practice it, because technically, it's an immobilization of both the elbow and shoulder joint. And in theory, you're only allowed to lock the elbow joint. That, again is in theory, but I saw it in the Judo Junior World Team Trials....

Anyways, I digress, I still need to work on my turning the person over in a turtle techniques, mainly getting my hooks in, doing the roll into the different variations of the rollovers. I have to control the head, and I have to gain more flexibility, and well lose a little more padding in the middle and be more limber. A lot of newaza needs core strength, and I have to work on that. As it's mini-crunches, tucking of the legs, rolls, etc... I think having a better base, will help me in these things. I used to be much better in shape, but that's another story for another time. You can only look forward...I did have some good bridging and shrimping techniques, and that was good.

We then moved onto the leg lock techniques of the night, and we worked on the knee bar. We practiced the knee bar however from the cross body hold also known as yoko-shiho gatame. From yoko-shiho gatame, move your inner leg so that your foot is underneath your opponents hip, then lock the leg between your legs and pull back. The key being that you have to be close to your opponent and that your control his hip. Anyways, it's been awhile since I did leglocks, so take this with a grain of salt, and I'll need to practice this a couple more hundred times to get it right.

So there's a dozen of us, all drenched in sweat, the musty odor of sweat, and the heat, well, after awhile you just don't smell or feel it. I ended up drinking 2 liters of gatorade and needed more.
It was a good workout.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday Night Workout at Seattle Jujutsu

I'm back.

I've also had other things going on with my life that have taken me away from my normally scheduled workout. Thanks to my coach Aaron Fields for getting me back into the gym. I'm truly thankful for his help.

Now onto the workout. It's been awhile since I really rolled around. I broke out my blue gi that has been sitting in my gi bag for sometime. It had the signature folded creases and stiffness; well mainly that it has seen the inside of a gi bag more than the inside of a dojo.

There were about 20 people practicing tonight, more or less and the dojo was packed. The technique of the night was tomo-nage. It was good to actually practice this over and over again. Here's a video on youtube from my favorite show, Human Weapon.

It was good to practice this with different people as different people's center of gravity are different, but the principles remain the same. We did this for quite a bit, and probably did about 20-30 repetitions of throwing and getting thrown. It was a hot, as it's still summer, and 20 bodies crowding in a sub-basement, no-nonsense, dojo was a great feeling. The single medium sized industrial fan blowing cool air into the basement did it's best from over heating. Oh, and a note about the dojo. I love this dojo. I helped rebuild the new expanded mats, bolted on coathooks in the dressing room and just the random cleaning that everybody participates in.

As people practiced their technique we then moved onto another technique. This was the ankle lock. One of the things that Vince pointed out was to maintain control of the toebox into the armpit and then putting pressure on the Achilles with your wrist. I'm not the best at descriptive flowing prose with human anatomy, so here's a video to illustrate the point.

So after we finished the two techniques of the night we moved onto light newaza or ground randori. Changed partners a few times. The dojo was crowded so have to be careful when flipping somebody from a turtle on their back with an arm-lock. It was good to engage in randori. I practiced my guard passes, and transition to osea-komi. I just have to work more on my arm-locks, mainly ude-garami and juji-gatame.

Those are a few things that needs to be worked on. Other than that things are going well, and it felt great to be back working out again.