One unhealthy personality trait that martial arts seems to bring out in some people is obsessive compulsion – perfectionism. One of my instructors likes to say that if you aim for perfection you miss a lot that is merely good along the way. Very true.
One interesting place that obsession rears its ugly head is in the desire to overcome side preference. Virtually everyone is born with a dominant side, and no amount of practice will ever render your non-dominant side equal to your dominant side. Even if an external observer cannot tell the difference, you will always perceive the difference in yourself. That is just how our nervous systems are wired.
Some judo instructors and competitors insist on training non-dominant throws, either equally with dominant throws, or even exclusively. I’ve even seen instructors and competitors that insist on doing two non-dominant repetitions for every dominant-side repetition. Some say that this provides a competitive advantage because opponents are not accustomed to seeing left-sided throws. Some say this is to cover a perceived ‘hole’ in the system. But others say they simply want to overcome side dominance.
At Mokuren, we train judo almost exclusively on the right side, and we have not seen any adverse effects. On the contrary, it takes more than twice as long to ingrain a throw on both sides, so we produce instinctive martial artists more than twice as rapidly as those that insist on trying to overcome sidedness. Some folks will say that this produces holes in the system – potential relationships in which throws will not work right-sided. But as it works out, there are other throws in the system that cover those holes.
For instance, hip throws are relatively difficult to learn both sided. So, if you learn them all right-sided then someone might argue that you will miss opportunities to do left-sided throws. But we have found that those holes in the system disappear by about shodan level because the student has seen enough of the system that they will have other throws that will cover those missed left-sided hip throw opportunities.
There are some throws that are so trivial and so effective that they are virtually ambidextrous for everybody (like deashibarai and kosotogari) but for the most part, judo throws seem to be easier to learn and apply working only on your dominant side