Harai tsurikomi ashi has never been one of my tokuiwaza (favorite/best moves) but it was a favorite of one of my instructors! Mac McNeese had a legendary osotogari-to-haraiTKashi combo that was just unbelievable!
Junokata is a curious exercise - especially to modern eyes and competitive western minds. But one of the points of value that is probably easiest to see in Junokata are the hipthrows, shoulder throws, and pickups. .
Most judoka will readily admit the impressive skill that is apparent every time tori lifts a stiff uke and balances her right on the edge of the abyss and then slowly places her back on her feet. This type of exercise is obviously a great way to build the strength, suppleness, and balance that it takes to execute world-class hip throws, shoulder throws, and pickups. .
So check out this video but don't pay too much attention (right now) to anything that looks totally alien and useless. Instead focus on the slow, controlled lifts that occur just after 1:15, 1:40, 3:40, 4:10, 5:00, and 7:00. .
Consider how we could use slow lift-and-return type exercises like this to build those qualities of control, strength, flexibility, and balance in ourselves and our partners.
Just like kosotogake last week, tsurigoshi is another point of curiosity for me. One of my instructors has told me that tsurigoshi is basically an evolutionary throwback to an earlier age of judo's development - a phylogenetic curiosity that was superseded by better techniques like ogoshi and ukigoshi. .
IDK, It seems to me that a lot of people make good use of tsurigoshi but I'm not sure that they couldn't have just as easily thrown ogoshi in those particular situations. What do you think?
If you know me then you know that I am always playing balance games, standing on one foot, walking on curbs, doing judo rolls as slowly as possible backwards and forwards. .
But you might have missed a really good balance game that Tomiki gave us as part of our aikido. We know it as tegatana, or simply, "the walk," but some other practitioners call it unsoku and tandoku undo (footwork and solo exercises). .
There are several movements in which the practitioner waves a hand in front of himself, turns around, and then puts the hand above his head. These moves look a little bit like a ballet pirouette. It turns out that these aiki-pirouettes challenge your balance in several ways.
Taking the step creates horizontal momentum, which you then have to control.
Turning 180 degrees creates rotational momentum and suddenly changes the muscles that you have to use to control your momentum and balance.
Raising your arm above your head raises your center of balance and makes you less stable.
Some groups even finish this movement on tiptoes, which raises your balance further.
So, not only is this movement pattern functional, mimicking some motions that you will see later in techniques, but it is a fantastic balance test and balance-building exercise.
Kosotogake is a curious thing for me. One of my most beloved judo instructors, Mac McNeese told me not to bother with kosotogake - that it was basically a waste of training time that I should be spending working on kosotogari. .
I never got the chance to ask him what he meant and why he'd said that because he has since passed away. .
There are certainly people who make the gake move work beautifully. Anyone have a guess what he was talking about?
Statistically, uchimata is the most frequently thrown tournament technique in most levels of competition. I'm not sure why. Is there something inherently magical about that technique, or has everyone bought into the uchimata-is-magic thinking so they perform better because they have more faith and try it more often? IDK. .
It is a majestically beautiful thing when done properly. In this compilation, there is a clear, obvious difference between #1 and all the rest - #1 is just THAT much more skilled (or lucky?) performance!
We've been talking about embu lately - how to do a good demo - a demo that does several things, including
shows that the student knows some things - "Wow! That guy is really good at this!"
shows that the student is improving - "Wow! That guy is a lot better than last time!"
creates social validity for the school - "Wow! Mokuren Dojo is really good at this!"
creates self-confidence in the student - "Wow! I'm really good at this!"
One way that you can do this is to clearly demonstrate longitudinal improvement. That is, the demo should contain at least some material that is repeated in all demos. That way, it is easy to see that you are better (or at least different) than you were 6 months ago when you demonstrated this same material. .
You don't want to repeat a LOT of material every time because that is a recipe for boring the joseki to sleep, but you should at least show some repeated material. .
What I'm thinking about for this is to have all rank embu start with koshiki kihon (a short, somewhat casual exercise where you demonstrate 21 falls in about 3 minutes) and the clock exercise (1-2 minutes where you demonstrate moving into and between various groundwork positions). .
By having everyone demonstrate these at every level, it provides a sort of baseline against which improvements will be obvious.
Here is a video of a guy doing a clock exercise in a little different way than we usually do - but you get the idea of what I'm talking about.
Our first positional control or hold in judo, ukigatame, is more than just a hold and it is more than just a near-universal transition between tachiwaza and newaza. Ukigatame is not just a tactic in which you crush uke with your knee on his belly or chest (or neck or back) - ukigatame is an example of a better way of doing all ground controls. .
What I mean is this - a common way of doing groundwork for beginners, especially physically powerful and mentally competitive beginners - is to get the other guy in a hold and use your size and power to lock and crush him into immobility. Problems with lock&crush groundwork include -
it is exhausting for tori
it is abusive toward uke
it makes standard escape actions (like bridge & roll) easier for uke to do
it makes transitions harder for tori to do
it makes submissions like chokes and armbars harder to get to
But ukigatame shows us a different way of doing all our groundwork - a way that dissolves all of these issues associated with lock&crush newaza.
Ukigatame means "floating hold," and the name suggests hovering over uke close enough to suppress his movement but remaining loose and floaty enough to shift and move over an uncontrolled uke. Sort of like smothering uke with a heavy bag of shifting sand instead of crushing him with an iron bar. .
When I teach ukigatame it is not a specific position that I tell students to get into. Rather I tell them that as uke takes a fall, move to stand beside (preferably behind) uke and put a knee and two hands somewhere on uke's body. After just a little bit of nagekomi (throwing practice), tori finds that this is a great, balanced position to finish throws in, that it smothers uke's motion a little bit and provides tori an instant to get his bearings and decide how (and whether) to proceed to groundwork. .
As uke moves under tori, often the knee will slip off of uke's belly and will be replaced by a little more weight on tori's hands, or by tori's hip or butt, or by a body-surfing munegatame. Tori only holds ukigatame until uke shows an opportunity for a better holding position or submission technique. .
You could put a knee on uke's belly, take nice grips on uke's belt and lapel, and use your weight and power to crush the ooze out of both ends of him - but that would be missing the point of ukigatame. You can control uke more effectively with a floating feeling that is more in-line with judo's ideals.
Killing field is a military science term describing an area through which an enemy is forced to move where they will be exposed to your power. Examples might include a fortified beach like Normandy or the mountain pass at Thermopylae. .
Basically a cattle chute. .
But the term applies in interpersonal conflict too, so where is the killing field in aikido, judo, and karate, for instance? .
I refer to the space in front of uke and within his reach (inside the boundary of ma-ai) as the killing field. So, if you are in front of the opponent and you are close enough for him to touch you then you are standing in the killing field. .
Occasionally I will refer to this as being "between his arms" or "toe-to-toe." Traditionally we called this, "within ma-ai" but that is sort of esoteric-sounding and does not have any of evocative connotations for western students. .
If you stand inside the killing field then it is likely that the opponent can do something to you before you can respond. But life happens, so you cannot avoid the killing field, so what is the best way to handle it?
You have to have your strategy defined and your tactics drilled before you get into a killing field because you cannot think and plan while under fire.
Do not stand still inside a killing field.
Attack the attacker in order to reduce his capacity (kuzushi upon contact)
Move as quickly and efficiently as possible (tai-sabaki) while in the killing field.
Move through the killing field to the opponent's flank (shikaku ) if possible, or retreat and regroup outside the killing field (push back past ma-ai)