Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Adult Beginners' Course - second session

by Jon Cronshaw

Last night we attended the second session of the Judo Adult Beginners’ Course. We began by recapping what we had been over the week before including back rolling break-falls. After a warm-up we repeated the exercise from last week where a person is called up on the mat, you then sit on their back and drop backwards into a back rolling break-fall. I felt much more confident with this move than last week, and rolled through each time comfortably.

We went over the movement for the Osoto Otoshi. This is the move I wrote about last time where you step around the side of your opponent, put your leg behind theirs, and twist them down. We had learnt this move in our previous classes before starting the ABC, so I felt confident with this, and when I worked with different partners I could help keep them right (though I did get kicked in the shin and have my toe stood on a couple of times!). Once confident with this, we were shown how to take three steps while gripping your partner and then performing the move. This was quite challenging at first, mainly because I was over-thinking the motion. If I had just felt it rather than tried to rationalise the steps, I would have probably got it sooner.

We went over some basic groundwork including the theory behind pinning an opponent and how to perform a Kese-Gatame (scarf hold). I was paired with someone quite a bit shorter and lighter than me, and I was quite surprised at how effective the hold was. To perform the move, your partner lies on their back and you sit up into their armpits. You then have to take hold of the back of the collar and pull their arm into you. You then tuck your head down, which puts all of your weight across their chest and levers their arm so that they can’t sit up. One locked in, you have to move your legs so that your right leg is pointing out straight, parallel with your partner’s collar bone, and the left leg is bent as to provide extra leverage if needed.

Once we had the Kese-Gatame technique down it was time to link all we had learnt. We had to transition from the Osoto Otoshi into the Kese-Gatame in one fluid motion. I didn’t actually have time to do this, as by the time we had gone through the move for my partner, ‘Matte’ was called and the exercise was over.

Finally, we did some free-grappling exercises with a couple of different partners. This involved starting in a back-to-back position, before facing each other whilst kneeling, with the objective being to pin the other person. Firstly, I was against Colin, and we tried to take each other down, but to no avail – a dead heat. I was then partnered with someone else who tried to pull me down, but I pulled him down using the direction of his bodyweight and pinned him using the Kese-Gatame. After squirming for a few moments, and trying to escape the hold by using his legs, he submitted.

Overall, this was a fun session. I especially enjoyed the free-grappling at the end. This gave me the opportunity to put into practice the moves that I had learnt during the session, and get a feel of how to control and counter an opponent.

I spoke to the Chairman of the club briefly about what we had talked about the previous week regarding the Paralympics, and he advised me to work on my fitness and conditioning. He suggested going running, but with my eyesight I’m not confident with running. I think I will continue swimming, do squats and sit-ups, and build up stamina by doing more miles on my exercise bike.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Judo - Why am I doing this to myself?

by Colin Cox

As this is my first post on here, I thought that I would explain why I've decided to pay good money to get ritualistically beaten up on a weekly basis.

I've been meaning to do it for a while, but being a master procrastinator, I've had a million excuses to not do it, each more feeble than the last, probably.

It came to a head recently when I failed a medical examination to become a bus driver because I have a history of depression and because I am too heavy (because in order to drive a bus you need to be a fucking Adonis).  This was a severe knock because I have a failing business and ever spiralling debts.

After talking to Jon Cronshaw, he insisted that now is the time and that I have no more excuses - how right he was.

So off we went to Pudsey Judo Club. We turned up on a Tuesday evening, four weeks ago and at first I honestly thought I'd made a mistake when I saw a large group of people who were clearly very advanced at the sport.  Thankfully, after talking to one of the coaches (Martin Baum), I was made to feel very welcome and at ease knowing that I was only there to do my best and not to go nuts.

Jon and I were then introduced to Robert Taylor (I think, it may possibly have been his twin brother, David) who showed us some basics such as how to fall backwards and forwards and some basic throws and pins which I do not remember the names of.

Week one was now in the books, the hardest step on a journey is apparently the first, and thankfully that was out of the way.

We've been back twice more and signed up to the beginners' course provided by the British Judo Association, £60 for a Judo Gi (suit), diary, grading and ten one hour beginner lessons which concentrate on technique.  This was both a bargain and exceedingly useful as going back to basics has shown me a couple of flaws that I need to correct (back break-fall especially).

Since I have been attending Judo classes, I have lost nearly a stone, started eating better, exercising more and generally being more energetic.  I've also rather painfully discovered muscles that I never knew I had.

I really would love to see how far I can take myself in Judo and Pudsey Judo club has shown me the way forward.

How far can I progress?  Who knows - but it's going to be fun finding out. 

Adult Beginners' Course - first session

by Jon Cronshaw

My friend Colin and I have decided to take up Judo. I’m visually impaired and have been looking for a martial art that I can partake in that does not require peripheral vision. This was no easy task; over the years I’ve looked at Karate, Aikido, Kick Boxing and Wing Chun – all of them require peripheral vision and all of them I have eventually given up on. Looking around the martial arts landscape of Leeds, I decided that Judo might just work: it’s a martial art about movement and feeling, and doesn’t seem to be about dodging kicks or ducking punches.

We decided to start going to the Judo class run by Pudsey Judo Club on a Tuesday evening. In the class they took us through some basic throws and grappling techniques, and I’ve really enjoyed myself so far. I was impressed by the fact that some of the tutors at the club have had experience with the visually impaired, with one having worked with the Japanese Paralympic team. They have made me feel welcome and confident, and this can often be the first, and deciding factor as to whether to continue.

I’ve found over the years that there can be a lot of machismo and ego involved in martial arts classes – I’ve always ended up getting paired with a guy who thinks he’s in a fight, whose there to prove how much of a bad-ass he is rather than wanting to learn the techniques. This is why Colin is such a good training partner: we trust each other, and we are both there to learn and become technicians of the sport. And the people at Pudsey Judo are all very friendly and encouraging – there doesn’t seem to be this ego thing, but rather a commitment to improvement.

After four weeks of attending these sessions, we enrolled on the British Judo Association’s Adult Beginners’ Course (ABC) at a bargain price of £60 for ten lessons, a Judo-gi (a Judo suit), a log-book, first grading and membership to the BJA, and last night we had our first session.

After a warm-up with stretches and some cardio exercises to get the heart rate going, the session was very much back-to-basics, and gave us the opportunity to hone our technique before moving onto more advanced moves. We went over back break-falls and back rolling break-falls. I’m quite confident with break-falls, and feel happy taking bumps on the mat. There was one exercise where we had to take a back rolling break-fall from a sitting position, tipping backwards over someone else’s back. Colin did one of these and didn’t manage to curl his neck in or use his arms to spread the force of the impact: it looked quite painful, and I think that’s an area to focus on before anything else. I don’t want him tapping out too soon!

We then went over the basic collar and sleeve grip, and spent a while moving around with a partner controlling their movement and trying to make them step on a plastic cone. We swapped partners a few times, and it was pretty knackering after about 10-15 minutes of doing this. If I don’t manage to pick up the technical aspects of the sport as well as I’d like to, I think that the benefits to my fitness and conditioning will make it worthwhile.

We then did some basic exercises which were about reaction and balance. In the first we had to face a partner, and as they side-stepped left and right, we had to keep in line with them. In the second, we had to stand side-by-side with a partner with a wide stance, facing opposite directions. We then had to shake hands, and try to make the other person move their feet by only pulling at their hands– this gave us a real sense of our bodies’ centre of balance, and how we can use direction rather than strength to take someone off balance.

Finally, we learnt the technique to perform an outer-leg sweep take down, whereby you move to your opponent’s side and take them down by kneeling into the back of their knee. It’s very simple and very effective. We had learnt this move a few weeks prior, and so felt confident with the sweep action, as well the step into the move (the other beginners just did the final part).

At the end of the session, we were shown a demonstration of some of the showier moves in Judo by some of the black belts such as a Tominagi, which I recognised as one of Ken’s throws from Street Fighter II. It was good to see how fluid and fast the moves can be when not done by beginners.

After the session was over, the Chairman of the club came and spoke to me. He asked me my age, then added four years to it: “hmm – that’s not so bad”. I wondered what he was calculating and lo and behold, he brought up the 2016 Paralympics, saying that he thought it was a perfectly reasonable time frame. Madness!

Can I really become an elite athlete in four years? We shall see.