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  • Summer at Union U. (Judo randori and Goshin Jutsu) - Sept 5-7, 2014
  • Fall Aiki Buddies Gathering - Starkville. (November 15 weekend )
  • Winter Clinic @ Windsong (Matl, Lowry, Rea, Bieler, Parker) - Dec 27-30

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The hammer and the nail

Sometimes (not as often as you think) you are the hammer, and sometimes (much more often) you are the nail.
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I tell all my students that ukemi is the most important self-defense aspect of the arts that we do for several  reasons...

  • Unless you are paid to be the hammer (i.e. police, military...) then you will trip, slip, stumble, and/or fall many more times in your life than you will get into violent interpersonal situations.
  • Without constant ukemi, aikido tends to devolve into an ephemeral, cerebral game and judo tends to devolve into bad aikido.
  • Ukemi is the most physical, most exercising part of judo.  It is good for your body (within sane limits) to hit the ground and have to rise back to standing over and over again.
  • Ukemi is the aspect of the art with the most psychological leverage for personal change.  When you practice for a while you accumulate a huge number of instances in your memory when you made a mistake and then immediately hit the ground.  Feedback is dramatic and immediate.  Pretty soon you start to develop as an important core of your personality, "If I screw around I'm going to hit the ground and have to drag myself back up again."
  • When there is no contact and no ukemi, we tend to descend into our own fantasies, but when actual energy passes between partners - that is, enough actual energy to overwhelm someone and knock them to the ground - the art remains based in reality.

Anyway, I've said most of that before here and there in this blog and in my classes.  What I might not have said as often is ...
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It is foolish to underestimate or dismiss another person who you KNOW has taken 50-100 falls a day, 100 days per year for some years and who is still doing it!  Sure you may not prefer to practice the way they do - maybe you're a judo guy and don't like the aikido stuff, or maybe you're a karate guy and think that you've honed yourself to the point that you could beat any judoka to the punch (as it were).  Maybe you have imbibed too much of your sensei's kool-aid about having the ultimate martial art.
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But for goodness' sake, when you look at another guy, who you know has interacted violently with the planet for some time now, do not let yourself fall back into that old, ignorant reflex of talking smack about how wimpy he is...
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That guy has been hit with a Class-M planet thousands of times and has gotten back up thousands of times, so he must have some potential.



Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group

____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Trial by fire

Back in the day (as I understand it) it used to be common for competition to be an integral part of ranking in judo.  I'm not talking about the points system, where you accumulate points toward your next rank by competing, etc...  I'm talking about getting a bunch of folks together who want to advance to the next level and having a shiai amongst them and then promoting those who place in the competition.  Sort of a trial-by-fire thing.
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For example, the following is from the British Judo Association's website...
To attain a Dan grade, a judoka can enter an examination against other judoka of the same grade and, by demonstrating superiority over a cross-section of judoka at the same level, can win promotion to the next rank. Wins against judoka of the same grade or above in certain competitions may also count towards promotion. In this way, promotion through the Dan grades becomes increasingly difficult, since for each new grade the players will be of a higher standard. Judoka must also complete a competitive skills assessment that becomes progressively more demanding as they move through the Dan grades...
This is not necessarily the only way to rank, but it seems to be considered a standard.
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I don't think this is a bad idea.  In fact, this is a pretty good way to do quality control on your dan structure.  There are some potential glitches though.
  • Making rank by combat the standard and making it harder to advance technically (without combat) might make it more difficult to build a cadre of excellent teachers.
  • When you have a small number of candidates for a high-rank shiai, you have to pull from a larger area.  In a smaller country or organization, where are you going to get enough 5th dan candidates (for instance) to have a good pool of competitors for a 4th-to-5th dan promotion tournament?  ...especially if you are going to divide the competitor pool into weight categories...  Drawing aspirants from all across a nation can make for onerous travel and burdensome expense.
Don't get me wrong.  I think it's a good idea to make aspirants to higher rank demonstrate under pressure, skill commensurate with that rank, but there needs to be some flexibility built into the system for excellent non-competitive judoka.  What about the kata experts?  What about the goshin jutsu experts?  What about the amazing teachers?  
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You want room in your art for folks with different ideas of what the art really is.



Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group

____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Other blogs (not as good as mine, but they try awfully hard!) :-)