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Thread: New to Judo

  1. #1
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    Default New to Judo

    I recently started taking Judo classes at a local martial arts studio. We enrolled my son about 6 months ago, and since my girls have tumbling and dance classes at the same studio I found myself basically sitting waiting for them every week during the adult Judo class.

    So I figured I should sign up - why not right?

    Aside from attending a Corrections Academy a decade ago, this is my first time doing something like this so I'm way behind the curve compared to most of you. And I suspect that perhaps Judo, especially taught at a place that doesn't market itself or orient itself specifically towards "self defense" or MMA or fighting, may not be the best "fighting" discipline.

    But it has been very instructive in a lot of ways.

    Perhaps the most eye-opening has been sparring. My first night I knew what Adam and Eve experienced when their "eyes were opened" and they saw that they were naked.

    The sum is that I didn't realize how unprepared, or uneducated, I was, and how much things that I previously would have dismissed as minor details matter. All that, and I don't consider myself to have an inflated view of myself - I certainly didn't go into this thinking I knew anything at all, but it has been humbling all the same.

    A few of my thoughts follow from the last few weeks:

    1. This is awkward. The movements, figuring out how to position my body and that of the other person, falling, landing, everything. Part of what I'm learning is just how to move my body.

    2. This reminds me of learning to dance - something I'm also not very good at. Timing, foot movement, movement of multiple parts of my body, coordination with my partner's body, hip movement, awkwardness (refer to point 1).

    3. Moving in a bunch of ways at the same time, or at least in coordination, even with a willing and unresistant partner, is hard.

    4. Minute details matter. How and where you put your feet and hips and legs and arms, or where you grip / grab, how you twist, etc make a big difference in what happens in ways that I guess I didn't expect, or didn't think about.

    5. Strength / size / weight is a big deal. So is decisive action and intent and mastery of technique. There's a yellow belt 17 year old that is as floppy as a fish and I can throw him around like a doll. He obviously knows more than I do, but he just doesn't move decisively or forcefully. There's another yellow belt in his 20s that is the polar opposite and can put me in just about any position he wants in an instant.

    6. If I were in a street fight with anyone, with even a modicum of competent instruction, in just about any marital art, and / or with a decisive mindset, I'd be fucked. No number of tools I carry can change that.

    7. Sparring makes you feel kind of exposed or naked: failures are laid bare for everyone - including yourself - to see. Even the basic task of pinning someone was and is sort of foreign to me. I just didn't even know how to approach, or where to start, or where to go.

    8. I don't want to look back - now that I know what I don't know, even if I were to change to a more useful or effective martial art, I don't think I want to ever stop.

    Any advice for me as I continue to learn?

  2. #2
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    Judo is a phenomenal martial art, especially if you find a place that treats it as a martial art and not as a sport. I too have recently picked Judo back up. 20 years ago I earned my brown belt in Japan so it’s interesting getting back into it. While my timing is definitely off my memory and the movements are not as dulled as I thought they’d be.

    Not knocking BJJ (or any other grappling art) but in my opinion Judo is a better art for self-defense than BJJ. And that’s after spending years training in that art.


    "If you find yourself in a fair fight you failed to properly prepare..."

    "History is the autobiography of a madman..."

  3. #3
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    Judo is one system that I always recommend. For one thing, it's remarkably consistent from one school to another, unlike most systems (I won't recommend Karate, my own specialty, because I think the quality is so bad in so many schools). Yes, quality varies based on the instructor but I think the Judo material is consistent and its nature lends itself to regular pressure testing...either it works or it doesn't and lot of striking schools don't know how to effectively/safely pressure test.

    Judo is not sufficient, but almost no system is. But it does provide skills that a lot of striking systems do not. A competent Judoka that also knows how to hit well is a dangerous man.

    All martial systems should develop balance, posture, timing, footwork, fitness, toughness...the list goes on. Some systems do a better job than others and Judo is pretty strong in all these areas.

    Most important things Judo develops:
    *Ability to fall without killing yourself
    *Competence/comfort within arms reach
    *Understanding/ability to take the other guy's balance
    *Ability to keep your own balance under pressure

    Yeah you learn some cool and useful throws but they take a back seat to those fundamental attributes, IMO.
    Last edited by Brent Yamamoto; 10-23-2021 at 10:57 AM.
    Brent Yamamoto
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  4. #4
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    Mine in bold
    Quote Originally Posted by apamburn View Post

    I suspect that perhaps Judo, especially taught at a place that doesn't market itself or orient itself specifically towards "self defense" or MMA or fighting, may not be the best "fighting" discipline.
    Judo doesn't give you as many tools as most striking arts, but the tools that it gives you are very useful. Any system SHOULD provide those tools but the reality is most simply don't.

    The sum is that I didn't realize how unprepared, or uneducated, I was, and how much things that I previously would have dismissed as minor details matter. All that, and I don't consider myself to have an inflated view of myself - I certainly didn't go into this thinking I knew anything at all, but it has been humbling all the same.
    Humbling is a good thing. It's a good way to find your limitations and motivate you to overcome them.

    A few of my thoughts follow from the last few weeks:

    1. This is awkward. The movements, figuring out how to position my body and that of the other person, falling, landing, everything. Part of what I'm learning is just how to move my body.
    Movement will improve and this will help you with everything else you do, including with a gun.

    2. This reminds me of learning to dance - something I'm also not very good at. Timing, foot movement, movement of multiple parts of my body, coordination with my partner's body, hip movement, awkwardness (refer to point 1).

    3. Moving in a bunch of ways at the same time, or at least in coordination, even with a willing and unresistant partner, is hard.
    Fighting, and martial training, is multitasking and no one does it well. Over time as you carve the right grooves into the brain, those separate actions become single actions, and you no longer have to focus on what YOU are doing. With enough time, you won't have to THINK about what you're doing but you'll simply FEEL what needs to be done. Judo, and any system that is clinch/grappling range, develops this much faster than systems that focus on punching range. That frees up the brain space to focus on what the other guy is doing.

    4. Minute details matter. How and where you put your feet and hips and legs and arms, or where you grip / grab, how you twist, etc make a big difference in what happens in ways that I guess I didn't expect, or didn't think about.
    Yes. But also, once you've built some skill/experience, these small details become part of you and you don't have to think about them. But they ARE really important. This is not a propeller head thing, IMO, but the little details of HOW YOU MOVE are more important than any of the techniques. Techniques just illustrate good principles.


    5. Strength / size / weight is a big deal. So is decisive action and intent and mastery of technique.
    It always matters. And no matter how good you are, you'd be better if you were stronger. But skill and experience make a big difference. A bigger guy is always dangerous and no matter what your skill, if you make a mistake the stronger guy will capitalize on it. But skill and experience can beat strength (though it may take an investment of time in developing that skill that is unreasonable for most). There's no shortcut...always push yourself to get stronger AND build greater skill.

    Judo, after all, is one of those systems that is really designed for the smaller, weaker guy to beat the bigger guy. While modern Olympic Judo is great at building strength and fitness, in many ways it has devolved into a muscle game. I think it's accurate to say that it's a different system from the original Judo that Kano developed (which really was just a streamlined branch of Jujutsu). None of those throws were muscle dependent as many are today, and that is a shame. Yes, you can throw a much bigger, stronger guy with no muscle. You just have to be really frickin good. What can I say? It's hard.
    Actually, it's supposed to be SOFT. Which is just hard to do.


    6. If I were in a street fight with anyone, with even a modicum of competent instruction, in just about any marital art, and / or with a decisive mindset, I'd be fucked. No number of tools I carry can change that.
    That will change. It just takes discipline, effort, and time.

    7. Sparring makes you feel kind of exposed or naked: failures are laid bare for everyone - including yourself - to see. Even the basic task of pinning someone was and is sort of foreign to me. I just didn't even know how to approach, or where to start, or where to go.
    That will change too. What is foreign now will become as familiar as a lover. I think fighting is the second most fun thing you can do with another body.

    8. I don't want to look back - now that I know what I don't know, even if I were to change to a more useful or effective martial art, I don't think I want to ever stop.
    Stick with it. You enjoy it and have some passion for it...dabbling is a good thing but I strongly believe you must pick ONE thing and become really good at it.

    Any advice for me as I continue to learn?
    Besides focusing and sticking with Judo...
    *Cross train when you can, when you are ready.

    *Find an Aikido guy and get some private lessons for a month or two. They approach ukemi from a different way that may help you learn it better/faster/less painfully. And if you can learn unbendable arm stuff, that will be incredible help for Judo and really everything else. The throws/locks are not important, just ukemi and unbendable arm. Good luck finding a guy because many of them suck.

    *Take some boxing lessons once you have a few more months under your belt.

    *Work with people that understand old-school, soft style Judo if you can find them. It is more useful for the real world, IMO.

    *Make sure you eventually learn how to do the throws without a gi - a soft palming grip rather than grabbing the gi. They may look cross eyed at you if you ask about it - most Judo people are competition focused rather than practical self-defense focused, but a good instructor will know what you mean.

    *Learn your throws and randori without looking at your feet. The judo/jujutsu who look at my feet are the grateful beneficiaries of much love.
    You will be much more dangerous and much harder to hit if you learn how to do stuff while keeping your head and eyes up.

    *RELAX. Even when you think you are relaxed, you can relax more. I don't mean like a limp bowl of spaghetti on the mat. Relax in this case means you are engaged but not tense. You'll move better, be harder to throw, and of course won't tire as fast. Most important, you can feel what the other guy is doing if you're relaxed. Tight, tensed muscles, especially in the arms, kill your feeling of what the other guy is doing. It's like being blind. Feeling is faster than seeing.

    *On that note, practice with your eyes closed to develop feeling. You'll do better than you realize.

    *Stand back up on your own after being thrown. People are just being polite but sooner or later someone will yank your arm wrong and that's a pain in the ass. Better to get up under your own power anyway. Tell people to stop helping.

    *Practice your ukemi way more than you think you need to. Learn to fall soft; you don't have to do that hard slap on the ground (it works but there are other methods...that hard slap does not feel good on hard ground). See earlier point about training with an aikido guy.

    *Very important - understand context. Good Judo movement and throws are mechanically sound. That does NOT mean the techniques are always tactically sound. Turning your back in the contest of a judo match is fine. That is often not the case out on the sidewalk. Setting up a throw in a match is not the same as throwing a determined attacker (actually the latter is often much easier). A guy that grabs you from behind is often set up perfectly for many throws, so those throws don't have to start from a clinch facing each other.

    *A couple months ago, I was training with an older Jujutsu gentleman. He is very skilled, fit, and knows a thing or two. Also, he was a little guy and it was obvious he could handle much bigger oppoents. Even normal big guys are giants to him, and I'm always interested to hear from giant slayers. I asked him what he found most successful against bigger guys. His answer: Ippon Seionage. For what its worth.


    *Speaking of ippon seionage. Do it inside the body, as is standard in Judo, and it's a body throw. Do it outside, and it's an arm break. That may be obvious but some of these things become invisible when you only look at it from the lens of a Judo guy doing Judo. The same tool can be applied in different ways, if you can just see it.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

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  5. #5
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    As always your advice is taken to heart Brent. I'm just content to go and learn whatever they can teach me. Trying to "be a sponge" at the moment.

    I think I understand what you're talking about regarding being able to perform complex motions or execute details without thinking about them: sort of like I've developed with the pistol, yes? Meaning, when I draw, I don't have to think about the details of exactly where to place the finger, how to get a proper grip, clear the cover garment / shirt, clear the holster, present, press out, align dot with eye / etc....

    Once upon a time I did have to think about those things as granular tasks, but I can do them seamlessly now as one fluid motion.

    Same with things like magazine changes, or perhaps other more mundane tasks. Driving maybe?

    Regardless, I look forward to developing that kind of competency.

  6. #6
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    Exactly so.

    that’s why it’s important to get those details right as early as possible. That takes time and don’t worry about getting it wrong for now because you will. But keep trying to learn the right way to do even seemingly simple stuff. It pays off.
    Brent Yamamoto
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  7. #7
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    I did some Judo early on in my Karate career from an actual Kodokan guy. It has a great deal of value the greatest which is how NOT to get thrown...and if you do...how to mitigate that fall. As a 61 year old dude...I won't be doing much Judo any more...but I am glad I did some early on.
    Gabriel Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  8. #8
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    I’ve done a fair amount of judo over time. Not really active now but I am on the mat a lot with jujutsu and judo guys. Always wish it could be more but I think a little goes a long way.

    Agreed that a great value is learning to not be thrown.

    Just as the great value of ground jujutsu is learning not to get tapped/choked out. Ground movement is really useful, especially to draw your gun and shoot the jujutsu guy.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

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    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  9. #9
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    Brent, you really need to write a book.
    __________

    "To spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary." Pournelle

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Spade View Post
    Brent, you really need to write a book.
    Working on one. Some of the above comes into play.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

    Upcoming classes:

    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

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