Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mac put the 'ju' into judo for me!

Tonight we calibrated and rolled then practiced the 1-2-3touch footsweep drill emphasizing vertical posture and walking on the balls of the feet. This drill teaches an awful lot about being able to know where uke's feet are at all times. It is common for uke to want to leave a foot hanging out so that tori can feel like he is successful but it is very important for uke to be honest in this drill. Uke should retreat with steady rhythm without trying to give the foot to tori or snatch it fom him. When tori reaches out, if he misses the foot control then he learns to turn that motion into a step and get back in synch with uke. So honest ukemi is a no-lose proposition for tori.
After getting our juices flowing we practiced the fundamental form of deashi and worked on fixing two common ways itcan get screwed up. his led to the "bumping the stuck deashi" variant and the deashi to kosotogari combination. They loved this pair of techniques - especially the deashi kosoto! There was constant giggling as uke dropped like he was shot.
For newaza we got into the groove with the first groundwork cycle then learned leg entanglement and bridge&roll escape actions for deashi. Bridge and roll is often a monster to teach properly because observers ignore whatever sensei says and all they see is tori dragging uke horizontaly over himself - which is NOT what is going on. I have found that by over-preaching "plant his face in the ground" as a performance goal and by setting it up with an uphill bridging action students get the proper motion as well as a workable randori technique much faster and easier.
This led to a discussion of how Judo is supposed to be "ju." That is, it is a gentle art of flexible tactics. If something is difficult to perform then tori is either not trying to do it right or is trying to do it wrong. This is a common problem because it is not natural to imagine that it should be easy to loft an opposing person. We think that we should fight during a fight!
God bless the late, great Mac McNease for finally telling me a few years back, "If it's not easy then you're thinking wrongly about what you are trying to do." That meme buried itself in my mind and transformed my judo miraculously over the course of a few months! For that great lesson, I honor Mac as my first Judo instructor.

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