Saturday, September 22, 2007

Kid's judo season is starting

Yesterday we had a good beginning to Kid's judo season. Let me back up a minute. Judo, like most other martial arts does not usually work on a seasonal basis, like baseball or soccer. It's a year-round thing. Well, we've had some difficulty getting people to go for kid's judo and it seems that part of the reason is because parents are so caught up in a seasonal sports mindset. Teeball and soccer are big sports around here. Well, we decided to try Judo as a seasonal thing here too.
We're going to initially try an 8-month season through the cooler parts of the year and take off during the most sweltering season. We've gotten a lot of interest in this thing and have set up a 4-8 year-old class on Fridays with red-white tourneys the second Saturday of each month. We've signed our club and all our athletes up with the AAU and yesterday we had our first practice.
And the best thing is the price. You can do an eight-month season of Judo with me for almost the same price as one month at the nearby competition club and the organization membership, insurance, and tournaments are included in that price. That's a deal you can't possibly beat anywhere!
Five kids showed up. Somewhat less than the ten or so families that expressed interest but I figure a couple of families were just being polite and a couple more families will trail in during the next couple of weeks, so we should have a nice sized class. I started by giving them the ultra-short explanation of what Judo is...

Judo is a kind of Japanese wrestling in which the goal is to throw your opponent onto his back or hold him on his back for 25 seconds. The name Judo means “the smart way of using your strength.’ It was invented about 120 years ago in Japan by a man named Jigoro Kano. When we practice Judo, we wear a uniform called a gi and a belt called an obi. The teacher, or coach, is called sensei. In judo you bow to each other as a salute – just like in the army.

... followed by talking about the terms hajime ("go") and matte ("stop and listen right now"). We enforced this by pairing up by size and having them throttle each other roughly by the shoulders every time I said hajime until I said matte and they had to stop. They though that was great fun. I figure to reinforce this response this way for a while.
We warmed up with some ROM and some running, hopping, skipping, galloping, and laterals back and forth across the mat. From there we worked on falling exercises and moved into a kneeling takedown resembling kubiguruma into kesagatame. Next week we'll repeat some of the exercises, adding others and particularly enforcing the skill of getting into kesagatame. Toward the end of class we had a rousing round of toestomp randori.
Since no parent likes having their kids worked into a froth and then given back to them, we're instituting a few minutes of quiet sitting at the end. The best intro to this that I've ever heard was to close your eyes and be quiet for 1 minute, while trying to remember every sound you can hear. Then you go in a circle and everyone names one sound they heard. This is a good intro to meditation/focus training for little kids.
The kids had a lot of fun and so did I. I'm looking forward to next week already.


  1. Awesome, wish I could have done something like that when I was a kid.

    Just thinking about these kids and their future...reminded me of something I saw recently:

    A little karate in there at the end. Truly MMA. ;-)

  2. Judo season! What a great idea. I hope it works out. I've been dealing with the start of soccer season and how that impacts the number of kids we have on the mat.

    Another option I've been considering (and you might find worthwhile): offering programs geared towards specific sports. In our case, perhaps an "Aikido for soccer" class that focuses on how aikido techniques and principles can be used to improve one's soccer game. I haven't decided if that's a little to "marketing-esque" for my liking, but it's something to think about, at least.


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