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Kid's judo

Kid's judo with Whit, Mason, and Knox
  • warmup, ukemi, hopping interspersed with ukemi using the exercise ball as a form.
  • attacking the turtle with a cross-face turnover and with the roll into rear seated guard from the beginning of the meatgrinder.
  • push back to base repeated over and over is a cool ground mobility skill. Sort of like backwards low-crawl.
  • crawling man randori.with emphasis on keeping rolling, shucking the opponent off, and pushing back to base.

The Nitty Gritty truth

I just stumbled across a quote that floored me. I don't know how many of you like bluegrass music, or the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but this is the truth about art in general and it applies to martial arts as fine art forms as well. This is the spokesman of the band, I guess the 'lead singer', in the introduction to the song, Precious Jewel from the album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Pay attention...
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Now I'll tell y'all a little secret of my policy in the studio, and I find it is true. I believe it is true most times. Whenever you once decide that you are going to record a number, put everything you've got into it because... Don't say, "Oh, we'll take it over and do it again... Because every time you go through it you lose just a little something... So let's do it right the first time and to hell with the rest of it.

Who is with me on this one? Who can say that they understand what he is saying in relation to martial arts, or kata, or... pretty much all of life?

Promote Three - Keepin' it going

Time again for the Promote Three feature. This time I’m featuring three blogs that have impressed me because of the authors’ stick-tuitiveness. These guys get the ‘keepin-it-going’ award. I think the following three blogs deserve honors, traffic, and link-love greater than they are getting:
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Nathan at TDA Training gets it again this month for managing to keep his training and his blog going, and even expand things a little by offering free classes for veterans and hosting the Martial Arts Blog Carnival on his blog next month. And all that in the face of a move to another state and all the lifestyle upheaval that carries with it. Great job, Nathan! You’re an inspiration.
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John over at JohnDo – The Way of John. Not only did John move to another state fairly recently, but he managed to harass his ultra-busy roommate into continuing to teach him aikido and judo. Even with a very small space, couches for mats, and wooden spoons for practice knives, they kept on practicing. John finally managed to get some mats and a larger practice space – and what did the have to contend with then? His roommate-instructor graduating and moving off. So John has taken over as club instructor and has not only kept it going but has grown the club. That’s fantastic dedication!
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Andy at Andy’s Epic Ramble. John can’t get all the credit for keeping it going. Andy, one of my most dedicated students (who would regularly drive 90 miles one way to class), just moved down to Orlando and is working out with John, learning Johndo. I’m impressed with Andy’s desire and stick-tuitiveness. Keep it up!
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And as an added bonus, starting this month, each month I will move the three Promote Three winners to the top of my blogroll. You get first position, above the fold linklove in addition to kudos from me! That change in my blogroll will be in effect by tonight.

Gaze angle in multiple attacker randori


A few weekends ago I taught a seminar at Starkville and we talked about and worked on the importance of metsuke (proper gaze control). We demonstrated and gave some exercises to work on how to slow down the speed of the conflict by keeping the gaze angle constant on a fixed place on uke. In order to be able to do this when uke is facing away from us and in order to be ale to get that “far mountain gaze,” I told tori to always look through the center of mass of uke’s head, as if burning a hole with laser-vision. (Bet you didn't know that turkeys were masters of metsuke, but anyway...)

Chops made the observation that this change in perceptual speed is likely part of why multiple opponent randori is so fatiguing. We’re forced to switch gaze angle from one attacker to the next to keep track of them. Good catch, Chops. Sure enough, we do tend to screw ourselves up and wear ourselves out by switching back and forth from one uke to the next. I’ve been thinking about how to minimize or at least reduce these gaze shifts.
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Consider this article from a while back about tenkan ura forms (turning backward movement like in most of nijusan) giving us a wider view of what is going on around us before we commit to smearing uke. What if we can make use of this to reduce shifts in perspective. Let’s try this…
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Everybody in class gets an uke and finds a place on the mat. Uke stands still while tori fixes his gaze on uke and then walks around uke outside ma-ai keeping eyes burning right through the center of uke’s head. Pay attention to what you can see in your peripheral vision without ever changing gaze angle. Now do some techniques from nijusan keeping your eyes focused on the center of his head but attending to what you can see in your peripheral vision. Now add a second uke at walking speed and see if you are able to keep track of the uke you are not dealing with by making these tenkan ura motions.
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I think you will find that your peripheral vision is actually enhanced by this strategy. You see, peripheral vision only picks up motion – not shape. So a relatively motionless uke in your peripheral vision would be invisible to you. But by turning in a circle with eyes fixed on a point, we’re moving our field of vision without ever changing gaze angle, thus making everything in our peripheral vision move with respect to us. So we can see the second uke even better when we are turning backward.
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Try that out, Chops (and everyone else), and let me know how your mileage varies.

Vigorous judo tonight

Judo with Rob
  • ROM and groundwork cycle as warmup. The groundwork cycle was a lot more freeform and ranged across the mat almost like no-resistance ground randori. Cool.
  • Three flavors of ukigoshi. Good nagekomi. Lots of airtime and mat pounding followed by light standing randori emphasizing ukigoshi.
  • Newaza randori. I think I was the bear tonight. My ground mobility was particularly good tonight and Rob just had a hard time. Take away lesson: you have to keep your butt in motion., or if you're going to rest, get an assymetric grip on the opponent, get him offbalance and make him bear your weight. Then you can rest.
Aiki with Rob
  • Suwariwaza and Hammi handachi from Sankata.
CSSD with Rob
  • basic cuts (1-12 and the abbreviated 1-2-3-4-5-12), a Modular pattern, and some stick Crossada. I can see how I could become comfortable with the system but it sure sucks for me right now. Ah, the joys of being a newbie!

Attention Martial Arts Bloggers

SWOT yo’ Blog
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Chris at Martial Development recently challenged us to examine ourselves and confess to a handful of personal weaknesses as a personal development-type thing. I think this is a great idea and something that I occasionally do (though I'm not really into publishing the results of my navel-gazing). In fact, this is such a good thing that I think perhaps Chris does not go far enough with this. Personal weaknesses are only part of the picture.
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One great tool for the sort of self-examination I’m talking about is called SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. SWOT is a structured way of doing a systematic overview of an operation for strategic planning purposes.
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I am challenging y’all to SWOT yo’ Blog! Here’s how:
  • First you have to have an Objective. Some goal you want to accomplish. I recommend you use SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound).
  • List a few of your Strengths. Things your blog has going for it that will help it toward your objective. Be honest. Sometimes it is harder to write down good things about yourself than to admit to weaknesses. I recommend listing roughly 3-5 strengths.
  • List a few Weaknesses of your blog. Challenges that are internal to the way you are blogging that might hinder the attainment of your objective.
  • List a few Opportunities that exist within the environment (not within your blog itself). Chances you might have or conditions that might exist for you to approach your objective.
  • List a few Threats in the environment that might hinder your progress toward you objective.
  • Brainstorm a few SO Strategies – think of several ways that you can use your blog’s Strengths to take advantage of an Opportunity in the environment.
  • Brainstorm a few ST Strategies – think of several ways that you can use your blog’s Strengths to reduce the risk or potential impact of a Threat.
  • Brainstorm a few WO Strategies – think of several ways that you can reduce or overcome your blog’s Weaknesses in order to take advantage of an Opportunity in the environment.
  • Brainstorm a few WT Strategies – think of several ways that you can reduce or overcome your blog’s Weaknesses in order to reduce the risk or potential impact of a Threat.
  • Now, you have a list of several strategies! Things you can do to move toward your objective. Directions you can go with your blog! You might pick the strategy that seems easiest or choose the one that seems most likely to succeed or pick the one that you think will have the biggest impact, but pick one and GO DO IT!
SWOT yo’ Blog!
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How about a little linklove to sweeten the deal? You don't have to publish all your dark weaknesses or tell the world all your secret strategies for blogospheric domination, but if you SWOT yo' blog and drop me a note telling me what you thought of the exercise and a little bit about what you learned, I'll post a link to your blog at the top of my blogroll - front-page above-the-fold linklove!

Controlling the encounter distance

In a couple of articles in the past few months I’ve written about perhaps the most fundamental rule of aikido – ma-ai. The basic gist of this idea is that you never let someone within arm’s reach of you without beginning to act. If you let them build a base of support within arm’s reach then they can attack faster than you can respond. I demonstrated this with the funny Trinity video as well as the Emil Boztepe video. Here is a video of a guy playing with some aikido throws and one of the things I was most impressed with was his skill at maintaining the encounter distance, forcing uke to leap at him. Before nearly every encounter there is at least a little retreat, forcing uke to commit.
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But in a book I was reading recently, Mastering Jujitsu by Renzo Gracie and John Danaher, the authors made the impressive point that in all the history of UFC, no fighter of any style had ever been able to control the encounter distance in order to remain standing and separated against an opponent intent on taking the conflict to the ground. In other words, if either fighter wants to go to the ground then that is where the conflict will take place regardless of the other fighter’s skill or intent to maintain ma-ai. To me, this further implies that no fighter has ever been able to prevent an opponent that intent on clinching, since a standing clinch is mostly prerequisite to a throw/takedown.
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But Gracie & Donaher’s observation works both ways in a self-defense situation. Consider this interview in which he talks about covering the hands and strategically retreating (two tactics that are commonly against the rules or simply impossible in ring-fighting). Gracie and Donaher suggests (albeit in a round-about way) that it is virtually impossible to stop an aikidoka from covering (a type of clinch) and retreating per the above interview. Indeed, we have found covering and retreating (what I call aiki brush-off) to be a spectacularly effective strategy in randori against judoka, modern-arnis guys, and other aikidoka. In fact, one of my students told us a story just last night about reflexively brushing off an attacker on the street and sailing him 8-10 feet.
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The bottom line: you can’t engage the enemy and control the encounter distance both at the same time. In order to control the encounter distance you have to be actively and strategically retreating (i.e. aiki brush-off). If you can do this while covering hands to damp out the attacker’s potential to hurt you, you can learn to be very effective in self-defense very quickly.

Working up to a cool scoop

Aiki with Patrick M., Kel, and JP:

  • Ukemi emphasizing matching the line across the back with the line of the fall and practicing slowly enough that you can catch errors.
  • Walking emphasizing the third pushing motion, the first turning motion, and the last turning motion. Especially the idea of matching the rise and fall of the center with the rise and fall of the arm and using the arm to clear a path for the center to sweep into.
    Hanasu #1-4 emphasizing watching for uke switching from ayumiashi to tsugiashi just before the attack and using the first offbalance to force uke to shift back to ayumiashi.
  • Chain #7 working our way through kaitennage, hikitaoshi, oshitaoshi, and tenkai kotehineri with special emphasis on the idea of switching from push to pull and from front to rear of uke and synchronizing hands with feet.
  • Cool ninja technique of the night was a variant of kohonage similar to the fifth standing technique in the following film. This was definately cool - but it blew everyone's minds so we went back to the zero-distance tenkai kotehineri from sankata. It conveyed the same idea and made more sense to everyone.

Ukigoshi and gearing ratio

Considering ukigoshi, if you look at uke and tori from above you can imagine them as gears turning together. One typically has to turn faster and farther than the other, thus creating different forms of throws. For example, sometimes tori turns a lot while uke doesn’t turn much, creating the big hip throws like ogoshi and koshiguruma. In other instances, tori turns a little as uke spins around him, creating different hip throws, like ukigoshi and haraigoshi. Most often it is some middle condition, with tori and uke each making some part of the turn. This variation in the turning speed of the two ‘gears’ is called gearing ratio, and you can get more info on that at wikipedia.
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With that in mind, you can define about two basic forms of any koshinage:
  • Catch uke stepping forward. Step to the side just as his front foot plants, pulling him into offbalance. Turn your hips backward into uke with a backstep, loading him and throwing.
  • Catch uke stepping forward. Step to the side just as his front foot plants, pulling him into offbalance. Pull uke’s lapel side 90 degrees to get him to step with the other leg. Load him onto your hips and throw as he turns the corner.
In the first form, tori makes all the turn as uke hovers in offbalance. This is the form classically taught in uchikomi, with tori pulling with the left arm and turning in to catch with the right arm. This is also the form taught in amateur wrestling – called something like ‘the back-step’. In the second form above, uke makes part the turn as tori makes the other part of the turn. As tori is turning to the left, uke is stepping with his left foot, taking up the slack.
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Both forms are decent beginning ways to learn the thing. I alternate between them in my teaching. I often teach the back-step technique as kubinage instead of ukigoshi or ogoshi – but that’s just a preference thing. There are many variations, but they mostly tend to fall in a spectrum between these two basic forms. In randori situations you have to find the right middle-ground between these two basic forms on the fly. That is just part of the art of the thing.

Right hand of the Devil

Now this is fun! But there is a lesson in this for us. Here is a great example of why you don't let someone within ma-ai distance if you can help it. In this range their hands can move faster than you can react. I figured Dojo Rat and Nathan would enjoy this clip...

Taking over the world!

YEAH, Baybee! I'm in the big leagues now! In addition to having a few of my articles picked up by Aikido Journal over the last couple of months, I've just now had an article picked up by Reuters through Blogburst. Black Belt Mama told us a week or two ago that she'd entered syndication the same way and I was jealous of her well-earned, fabulous success. Now I'm in the BBM syndicated super martial arts blogger club. Just the latest step in our top-secret plot for world domination!
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If you want to see my articles that have been picked up and re-published so far, they are:

SMART Goals

In a previous article I wrote about re-thinking your goals whenever you find techniques are not working for you. When this happens, you are likely thinking wrongly about how to approach the techniques. Specifically, you may be trying to accomplish the wrong goals. Instead of trying harder physically, re-think your goals.
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The overall goal in aikido is about self-defense. This does not mean beating someone else up, rather surviving violence intact. As Mike Denton puts it…

Aikido is not about 'winning' or finishing your opponent off, but rather about being able to disengage from a chaotic and violent situation as quickly and safely as possible.

With that overall objective in mind, it is possible to define better performance goals. An acronym that is used in business and personal coaching is SMART.
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A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
  • Specific – what exactly would be an acceptable outcome to you? What do you not really care about? Your flexibility or slack in the way you do the techniques exists among the things that you don’t really care about. You can’t sacrifice tactically if that means you don’t accomplish the essential outcomes but you can sacrifice tactically in the areas in which you don’t really care about the outcome.
  • Measurable – how can you tell if you have achieved your goal? Is your measure objective or subjective?
  • Attainable – Your essential goals must be things that are within your power to control. Something that is possible to practice safely.
  • Realistic – Your essential goals must be things that are within the realm of normal physics and biomechanics. It is smarter to base your essential goals on the natural rather than super-natural (regardless of what you believe about the super-natural). Your goal should promote tactics that reliably generalize to most of the population of potential attackers. Your goal should be based on probabilities instead of possibilities.
  • Time-Bound – You have to be able to execute tactics to move you toward your goals within real time. This means that your goals should promote tactics that make use of natural motion and gross motor skills within the opponent’s OODA loop.
Example: Kotegaeshi as a big fall. If tori gets the idea that in order to succeed at kotegaeshi, uke has to take a big fall that looks just like the instructor’s model, this is not SMART. It is not specific because you don’t know how big a fall uke has to take for tori to be a success. It is not measurable because you never know if the fall you just saw uke take was big enough. It is not attainable because it is not within tori’s power to control how uke reacts to the throw. It is not realistic because it is totally outside our experience to think that you can throw something as heavy as a person with that type of motion, and it is not time-bound because it often requires relatively precise leverage on the wrist and you are forced to plant your feet to exert into the throw – stopping your motion and taking you out of uke’s OODA loop.
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So, kotegaeshi as a big throw is a recipe for frustration. Without a compliant, skilled uke tori will never make that throw match his ideal of it.
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So, how do you make a SMART goal for kotegaeshi…
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Specific: tori should remain safe throughout the whole motion and uke should end up in a condition of unbalance with his arm turning outward in a gaeshi motion. Uke might fall down because of this but tori doesn’t really care if or how. Measurable: did tori get hit? is uke’s balance broken (this is a tough one to measure objectively)? Is uke’s arm turning outward? Attainable: staying safe, getting kuzushi, and holding uke’s wrist twisted are within tori’s ability to a great extent. These actions are largely related to things tori does as opposed to how uke acts or reacts. Realistic: it doesn’t take supernatural thinking to expect uke to stay safe, get an offbalance, and hold uke’s arm. Timebound: now, instead of exerting hard to throw uke thru the air, tori can relax and keep moving, acting to stay within uke’s ooda loop. These goals can be accomplished with natural, gross motor tactics.
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So, defining kotegaeshi as “tori safe, uke offbalance, holding uke’s wrist turned out” is SMARTer than defining it as some subjectively large fall out of a wrist-twist.
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The moral of the story is the same as in the previous post, “The mind drives the body. The body obeys the mind. Change your mind and you will change your performance.”

I am thankful for my first martial arts lesson

Well, I'm back. I hope y'all have all had a wonderful, restful Thanksgiving season and that it has prompted you toward thankfulness. As part of my restful few days I read an autobiography of Harry Truman. Perhaps not #1 on your list of Must Reads, but this was really interesting. I got it on a library discard shelf for 10 cents. You can probably find it under its original name, Mister Citizen, but it was also republished as Harry Truman Speaks his Mind. Reading his reminiscences of his childhood put me in the mood to write a childhood reminiscence. I'm sure y'all are not interested in 99.9% of my childhood, but this brought to mind my first martial arts lesson...
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I was about 16 years old and, as I've said before, had no clue about what martial arts was about. I'd never watched any martial arts movie or even heard of Bruce Lee. A buddy got me into TKD by telling me it was, "like boxing but you kick people." Well, I still remember one of my first couple of lessons. Instructor, Pat Little, had us standing after a workout one day and he told us to hold our arms out to the sides, make fists, and imagine that we were holding buckets in each hand. Heavy buckets. Five gallon buckets filled with water. We were told to imagine the weight as unbearable. He walked around us talking to each of us as we held our arms out. Pretty soon we were all convinced that there was no way we could hold up our arms. One by one we began to surrender and collapse.

After a couple of minutes rest and shaking it off, we repeated the exercise, but this time the verbal cues were different. We were to imagine strings tied to our arms holding them up. Imagine that our arms were hollow and weightless, filled with helium. Cool breezes blowing upward helping us hold. Soft pillows propped under our arms so that it was no effort to hold them up at all. You guessed it. We all sustained the posture much, much, much longer the second time.
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So, what was it about this simple, almost trite, demonstration that was so memorable, even so many years later? This was perhaps the first time I'd heard the moral of this exercise and had it so clearly linked to a practical, physical thing: "The mind drives the body. The body serves the mind. Change your mind and you change what you are physically able to do."
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And that is one of the most amazing things about the martial arts. Learning to change how you think about your circumstances in order to change the circumstances in your favor.

If it isn't easy, re-think it

Rory at Chiron just published a great article about the attitudinal difference between amateur martial artists and professional use-of-force folks (Rambling About Amateurs; Tuesday, November 20, 2007).
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He makes the point that the professional and the amateur in any field think differently about their domain of practice. This reminds me of something the late, great, Mac McNease told me, “If there is something in judo that isn’t easy for you to do then you’re not thinking about it correctly.” I thought that was profound and I still think it was perhaps the most profound lesson I ever received about Judo. It might even apply more in aikido than in judo.
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In aikido, if you disregard ukemi for the sake of argument, then there is nothing athletic about the system. If you are able to walk at a normal pace and push and pull with your hands hard enough to shut a heavy door then you are sufficiently athletic to do 100% of aikido. Virtually every adult on earth can do good aikido effectively, and if you can’t then you’re not thinking about it correctly.
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I’ve found over the years since that lesson from Mac and after I realized that there is nothing athletic about aikido, that it almost purely a mind game. Mental and attitudinal factors, as Rory puts it, are of primary importance - maybe even sole importance. All the magical aikido is simply a physical reflection of getting your attitude straight and getting your mind working right.
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So, if you are working on something and can’t do it, start re-thinking your goals and strategies. A lot of times you are working toward a faulty goal – something that is out of your control anyway. How are you applying the fundamental principles to your strategies to move toward your objectives? Is there one piece of the thing that is not working right? If so, work slower, break it into smaller and smaller pieces until you find something you can reproduce then start re-building it toward the whole thing. Is there a point in the process where the pieces don’t fit back together? If so, take it apart again and re-think it.
If it is not easy, you’re thinking about it wrong!
Re-think it.
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Stay tuned for a follow-up article about how to get your goals straightened out in aikido.

Jumpy jelly leg syndrome

In aikido we are always talking about relaxing and falling into our movements, but I think this can be taken too far at times and can lead to some stability problems that I'll call the jumpy jelly leg syndrome. This can lead to problems in your judo too. Let me give you some background.
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In order to take a step, you stand in an upright posture with knees slightly bent and feet under you. Disengage one leg - just turn it off - and your center of mass starts falling in that direction. Then you turn the leg back on under your hips and recover the leg that you left behind so that it is under your hips too. You have taken one sliding (tsugiashi) step.
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The problem comes right as the leading foot hits the ground. If you are only thinking to turn it on to keep your center vertically off the ground then your side-to-side and front-to-back muscles in your leg and hips and abs and back are left in an indeterminate state with your brain not really telling them to do anything at all. If you happen to be bumped right when the leading foot hits the ground then you can get this hyperactive reflex in these muscles that causes you to rock and bounce a few times before you can get your balance back. I'm sure you've encountered this if youve done randori with someone really good. They touch you and you either stand there bouncing spastically or you jump your own butt right out of the ground.
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How to fix the jumpy jelly leg syndrome? Give these otherwise-indeterminate muscles something to do. Doesn't especially matter what - just giving them a little tonus shuts down a lot of that bounce. For instance, you can:
  • Think about pulling yourself forward with the front leg just as it hits the ground. This turns on all the muscles in the back of the leg.
  • Think about tightening your thighs together to snap your recovery leg back under you. This turns on the thigh adductor (groin) muscles in the front leg.
Whatever scheme you use in your mind to get your legs to do this trick, your goal is to recover your rear leg back under you as quickly as possible and make your front leg active in the process. I often tell myself during walking kata to snap the recovery leg back under my hips.
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So how can you practice this? I say practice it in several different ways under different conditions. For instance...
  • Concentrate on this phenomenon especially during the first three or so moves in the walking kata. When you get good at that, spread it out into the pushing moves in the walking kata and from there, apply it to the turns.
  • Concentrate on this phenomenon when doing the nagenokata version of okuriashibarai. The side-to-side motion with a partner should be a great place to play with this. Have your partner bump you as the lead foot hits and see how different stepping strategies help or hurt.
  • Do the foot-sweep-to-control drill with a partner walking together up and down the mat bumping and sweeping deashibarai every third step. Here uke gets to play with stepping strategies just like in the side-to-side motion, but tori also gets to concentrate on putting a little drag on the front foot right as it hits on the third step. This should make the ball of the foot drag back toward tori ever so slightly right as the foot hits.
Try it and let me know your mileage. Down with the jumpy jelly legs!

Mokuren Dojo Martial Artist Hall of Fame

About a week ago I asked my readers as well as members of Budoseek, E-Budo, and the Convocation Forum for their opinions on the greatest martial artist they'd ever personally met. I intended it as an informal deal, so there was not much effort to specify rules or conditions or eliminate the inevitable bias. As could be expected, a couple of my students said that I was the greatest martial artist ever (At least I've got them trained to get that right). But seriously - I don't really think that I'm all that - certainly not on par with any of the geniuses or amazing athletes I've met, but to avoid getting into an endless process of censoring folks' opinions, I left my name in there.
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And when you look at this list I think you'll see that this is part of the charm of it. It is not rife with the same dozen names you hear constantly in conjunction with the martial arts. There are some relatively unknown names here right alongside the names of living legends. I think there's probably a lesson in that. Done this way, there are sure to be names on the list that any given reader has never heard of and who it would be good to do a little research on. I've done simple Google and Wikipedia searches on most of the names that I didn't know and have gotten a few good lessons out of it.
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So, without further ado, I present to you The Mokuren Dojo Martial Artist Hall of Fame.
  • Aleksander Karelin
  • Bill Pogue
  • Billy Hong
  • Bryce Lumpkin
  • Chip Wright
  • Chuck Norris
  • Dan Anderson
  • Dave Camarillo
  • Desmond Jackson
  • Don Angier
  • John Usher
  • Ed Johnson
  • Ed Saenz
  • Henry Copeland
  • Jhoon Rhee
  • Jim Thompson
  • John Waldrop
  • Bruce Gunderson
  • Todd Keane
  • Kuda Shinshi
  • Larry Lunn
  • Leon Jay
  • Masayuki Shimabukuro
  • Mike Belote
  • Mike DePasquale, Jr.
  • Mike Martello
  • Mike Miles
  • Patrick Parker
  • Raffy Pambuan
  • Randy Couture
  • Takahiko Ishikawa
  • Tri Thong Dang
  • Vincent Fernando
  • William Hayes
  • Zenpo Shimabukuro

The heroes of judo

Sign up for a judo class at Mokuren Dojo and you too can learn to be this tough and suave.



Thought y'all would enjoy that - particularly following Dojo Rat's week of Old School posts.

Mike Huckabee and Chuck Norris

Anyone who has read much of this blog will recognize that it is pretty close to apolitical. That is deliberate. But this I couldn't resist. I don't know anything about Mike Huckabee but kudos to him for coming up with something this funny and creative!

Jackson among the most dangerous of cities

Morgan Quitno (CQ Press) has just released its newest index of the most and least dangerous cities in the country. Thank God no local cities were absolute bottom of the barrel, but acording to this list compiled from FBI statistics, there are several cities around here in which friends of mine need to watch out for themselves. Out of 378 cities, all of the following were in the top quartile of most dangerous cities in the nation.

  • Jackson MS - ranked 356 (and that's much worse than last year)

  • Baton Rouge, LA - ranked 351 (only marginally safer than Jackson)

  • Houston, TX - ranked 335

  • Dallas, TX - ranked 345

  • Orlando FL - ranked 368

  • Oklahoma City - ranked 304

  • Lafayette, LA - ranked 289

  • New Orleans - ranked 314 (much safer than Jackson)
and the 6th most dangerous city in the nation...
Considering that we already knew that Jackson is a perilous place, if you live anywhere around Mokuren Dojo (Southwest Mississippi and adjoining Louisiana), it might behoove you to get some training in a proven, reliable self-protection system like our aikido. Remember, when it comes to self-defense - a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing!
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If you are interested in self-defense in Southwest Mississippi or thereabouts, please don't hesitate to drop me a note at my email You can find the address in my profile at the bottom of this page.
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UPDATE: Oops! In my rush to get this important info out to y'all I got some of my numbers wrong. I've got them fixed now, and the newly corrected numbers didn't change any of my conclusions. If you want to see my source, check out this listing.

Amazing flow and continuity in Chain #3

Aiki with Kel
  • Tegatana several times with emphasis on getting little details right.
  • Hanasu 2-3 times as preview/warmup for chains.
  • Chain #3 including wakigatame and kotegaeshi. This is what we spent the bulk of our time on and it is the thing we were wowed over. Release #3 has this amazing, light, continuous remarkable lack of feeling when done right - particularly when done inchain form instaed of hanasu kata form. This release #3 really seems to be the prototype for the correct releasing feeling.
  • Part of chains #5 and #7 into various forms of kotemawashi, kaitennage, udegatame, or wakigatame.

November kohaku shiai

Today we had ur five-event shiai for the month. We had some of the same games as last time and a couple of new events. The five events included crab war, two-belt tugs, crawling man, Amazon wrestling, and newaza randori for 3-second pins. This month's club champions were:
  • 1st place - Mason Alford (10 wins)
  • 2nd place - Knox Parker (6 wins)
  • 3rd place - Gavin Jarrell (3 wins)
I was especially pleased that 2-3 of the kids got the hang of tapping out of trouble. For the past couple of months we've had occasional bickering, whinking, and hurt feelings because someone would smear their partner and the partner was frustrated because he couldn't figure out how to get out. Today they were trying and fighting hard but they were also intelligently using tapping-out to avoid that frustrated feeling. Progress. They are also learning good ukemi, as evidenced by Mason launching Whit into a great back fall with a single leg pick - and not getting Whit's brains spread all over the mat. Progress.
The kids have the most fun and get the most competition time doing crawling man and Amazon wrestling, So I figure to work on skills related to these two games for the next month. At each class I want to especially work on the following with everyone, but especially Whit and Emma:
  • Japanese pass into side or rear bearhug
  • osotogari into kesagatame
  • crossface turnover into munegatame

Boiling poisonous acid lava

Tonight we had the pleasure of Sensei Dave Shorey of Acadian Judo visiting our kids' judo class. He seemed to enjoy the class and I sure enjoyed having him drop by. It's good to get to know some more of the local grassroots judo crowd.
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Kids' judo with Dave, Jill, Gavin, Whit, Mason, Knox, and Emma
  • ROM and ukemi as usual.
  • Laps across the mat galloping, alternating one kid out per lap to take an assisted teguruma fall. Of all the types of movement skills I've worked on with these kids, galloping has been the toughest, so I had them gallop with a flag held in a hand and gave them the condition that they had to keep the flag out in front of them the whole time. Worked like a charm to get them galloping.
  • Crab war. I told them that the mat was boiling lava and poisonous acid and they had to keep their bottoms up out of it while trying to knock the other guys into the boiling poisonous acid lava. Again, they loved it.
  • Repetitions of suwari kubinage into kesagatame. I was pretty loose on the form of the thing - just wanted to get them knocking each other down with something approximating the technique. Then we had races to see whih judoka could throw his partner seven times in the least time.
  • Amazon wrestling (the river, not the naked, one-breasted, warrior women) This was our approximation of the ethnic wrestling style featured recently on Discovery Channel's Last One Standing. They did well and seemed to have fun. They've practiced tactics to get around to the back and secure a bearhug but they pretty much all favored the knee control route to winning.
  • Cool-down with seated meditation. Really just a quiet concentration game at this age. Quiet sitting with eyes closed trying to remember all the sounds they hear.
  • Tomorrow is the kohaku shiai for this month.

Brand differentiation and teaching to the test


As I was saying a couple of posts ago, Judo and BJJ appear to me to just be different brand names for the same thing, similar to how Xerox and Canon are both kinds of copiers or how Taco Bell and La Fiesta Brava both sell burritos. I posted that opinion to get some discussion going, and I thank Sensei Lori for biting that hook that I left dangling out there ;-) She responded…

I having trained in BJJ and worked with high-ranking Judo students, I think that though they have the same roots, there are important distinctions between the two arts. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has evolved to create a more highly developed ground game. On the other hand, Judo, the rules of which keep competitors on their feet much more than that of BJJ, focuses much more on throwing and takedown strategies. Both are fairly similar arts though, and their competition rules reflect that focal points of the individual arts.

Good points, and she’s right, there are clear distinctions between the two. But I think that those distinctions are mostly just artifacts of the competition rulesets. A jiu-jitsu guy could compete in a judo tourney or vice versa (so long as everybody followed the rules) and nobody would be in alien territory. Either guy could have a decent chance of doing well in either tournament. What I wonder, is whether the rulesets reflect the foci of the arts (as Sensei Lori says) or whether the way the arts are commonly practiced reflects the rulesets. Here’s what I mean…
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Consider the example of an elementary school whose funding is tied to student scores on a standardized test. In essence, that school is competing with a lot of other schools for the same limited pool of dollars. In this sort of situation it is common to “teach to the test” by trying to give the students test-specific skills that really don’t have much to do with education in the broader sense. If teaching to the test gives the students an advantage on that particular test then that school gets a competitive advantage against other schools. A clever administrator could use that advantage to brand differentiate his school.
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Now, consider a jiu-jitsu school that is competing (in the business sense) against all the other grappling (wrestling, jiujitsu, judo, etc…) schools around for the same, limited pool of students/dollars. They create a ruleset that is fun and educational and exciting to watch and may be ‘better’ in some sense than the judo and wrestling rulesets. They can then claim to be the best school around to prepare students for competition in that particular ruleset. This is brand differentiation, which makes their school seem to have more value than the others. (Think UFC here).
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Also, consider the evolution of the judo rules over the years. It started out with a mostly ‘anything goes’ type ruleset so that the Kodokan could have their pissing contest with all the older jujitsu schools. The Kodokan guys won a couple of highly influential tournaments (i.e. the Metro Police tourney) and they began to get the prestige and the right to set the rules like they liked them. Kano wanted to get judo into the Olympics, so he began playing with more western rulesets similar to the wrestling rules that were already in use in the Olympics. As an example, the old kohaku shiai tournament structure gradually became less prevalent as the modern tournament structures became more prevalent.
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Once you have judo in the Olympics you have two grappling styles (judo and wrestling) competing for the same limited pool of viewers’ interest. How do you differentiate judo from wrestling? Cool uniforms, exotic terminology, and rules to limit ground play and encourage spectacular throws. Everything sails along smoothly until the Gracies come up with the idea of UFC (new ruleset, brand differentiation) and now Judoka are competing to a greater extent with Jiu-jitsu guys for interest, students, and dollars. How do you differentiate Judo? More rules evolution.
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Now, sure, my three-paragraph history is a simplistic coverage of a thing that you could write an encyclopedia about, but you can see a trend here. The way the game is practiced changes whenever the ruleset changes, but that change in practice does not change the whole of the art. You can’t really say that judoka in the 1950’s were practing a different art from the judoka of today just because the rules have changed. They were doing the same art in a different way.
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Players who are serious about competition limit the scope of what they practice toward the scope of the competition. This is not the ruleset highlighting the focus of the art but rather the players teaching to the test. Does the ruleset define the boundaries of the art or does the ruleset represent a subset of the art?
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Anyway, that was a long-winded way of getting around to this: BJJ as it is played competitively is a subset of the whole of jiu-jitsu. Olympic judo competition rules also define a subset of the whole of judo. These two competition rulesets are different but jiujitsu in the holistic sense and judo in the holistic sense are the same thing. The two sports are competitively differentiated brand names for the same overall grappling art.

Left-right and hineri-gaeshi loops

Aiki with Patrick M., Kel, and Jill

  • Ukemi emphasizing using ab muscles to control momentum into the ground so that you can stop more gently or roll to standing more smoothly.

  • Walking exercise emphasizing pulling with the lead foot to snap your recovery step back under your hips. Also emphasized brushing the inside of the sphere on the turns.

  • All 8 releases in kata mode.

  • My brain skipped a track on the releases and we ended up doing part of release#4 when I said, "Ok, here's release#2." It worked out and we got the lesson I'd intended anyway. We emphasized stay-off-me hands and moving with uke in the left-right and gaeshi-hineri loops related to release #4.

  • Junana version of kote hineri emphasizing stepping aside at the end of the line and moving the body to make the hands conform in the right shape without ever losing your stay-off-me hands.

Excellent BJJ rank test video

I like to classify judo and BJJ in my mind as brand names of the same thing, but the BJJ guys (and the judo guys to a lesser extent) like to separate the two in a kind of brand differentiation scheme to add value to what they teach.
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Does this mean that I, as a judo guy, know everything that a BJJ guy has to offer? No. I'm sure that a lot of BJJ guys can beat me up or teach a circle around me. That doesn't change the fact that the two systems are derived from the same old arts and are currently more alike than different. That doesn't reduce the value of anybody's teachings.
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But for the judo folks that like to dismiss BJJ, check out this video. I'd say that to be able to write off BJJ as irrelevant to your training then you should be able to honestly say you can understand, do, and counteract much of what this non-black-belt BJJ guy is demonstrating. I certainly see some lessons in there for myself and my students.
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At the risk of being called a heretic...

...let’s re-think this falling thing.

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First, I am a big proponent of ukemi practice. It has a lot of benefits within and beyond the dojo. We practice ukemi in every single class and I am always preaching to take the technique all the way to the ground – nagekomi instead of uchikomi. But with that said, Does uke really have to take all those falls?
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If you make your aiki practice ukemi dependent, then...
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  • ...you have to have special equipment and a lot of space to practice.

  • ...you have to teach things in a certain order (generally from easier-to-harder) which means that you have to teach the relatively less street effective stuff first and it can take years to learn a sufficient amount of aikido to be effective in the street.

  • ...you either limit your mat years or you have to change how you are doing aiki mid-career. At some age aikidoka need to slow down on the falling and eventually stop altogether for self-protection.

  • ...you intimidate the novice and run students off.

  • ...you increase the safety issues and incur greater liability. I've heard of judo clubs being told to get rid of climbing ropes because of liability. Well, for Pete's sake, think! Which is more dangerous, climbing up a rope once or twice per class or taking dozens of airfalls per class?
Throws like kotegaeshi and sumiotoshi do not have to end in an airfall if you can be satisfied with practicing slowly and deliberately and achieving the reflexive precursors to the throw (i.e. kuzushi, positioning, metatarsal reflex, etc...). Only two falls make up virtually all self-defense applications. – side falls and forward rolls. Nearly all other forms of falling are either preparatory exercises for these two forms or they are merely filling in the corners with a few special-purpose falls that are very limited in their utility.

But on the other hand, these big throws are, in large part, the artistic trademark of aikido. Many of the people that you ask will say they got into aikido in the first place because they saw a little old man with a beard pitching young, athletic judo-type guys effortlessly. That the big falls looked like magic. Well, in my opinion, that illusion of effortless magic is actually detrimental to the popularity of aikido in today’s environment of ultra-pragmatic self-defense systems (i.e. kravmaga, CQB, etc…) and full-contact sport systems (BJJ, GJJ, UFC, NHB, etc…). I say get rid of the magic, get rid of the illusion, and concentrate on the real aiki. The aiki that the old guys did – and not necessarily the large-motion aiki that is exhibited so beautifully in demonstrations.

What does that mean we need to do?

Rethink your goals. aikido can be amazingly effective without uke being required to take an airfall. In fact, to do good aikido, tori absolutely must get rid of the idea that his goal is to make uke fall in a certain way. This is a nearly impossible goal to accomplish unless you have a compliant uke. Change your goals to things you have more control over (staying safe, keeping uke extended and offbalance, staying in motion, etc…) and which are less dependent on uke's compliance or skill. Get away from choreography like "tori does X and then uke does Y and so tori throws Z" and work on learning skills that allows tori to say, "I don't care how uke reacts to this. I'll be okay."

Look for the large subsets of aiki that you can do with uke responding by kneeling down or sitting back into a gentle backfall. Emphasize these subsets and all of a sudden you have an extremely viable, practical self-defense system that virtually anyone can learn rapidly (months - not years), comfortably, and in greater safety without the need for large open spaces and matted floors.

Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini vs. Duk Koo Kim

Ok, after a couple of lighter-hearted posts, I have this...
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Today is the anniversary of the tragic boxing mis-match between Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and Duk Koo Kim in 1982. Moments after the match was over, Kim collapsed into a coma. He died days later. Per Wikipedia, Kim's mother committed suicide four months later and the referree of the bout committed suicide the next year. Mancini was haunted for years . For more on this story, check out this ESPN article. This Mancini-Kim fight changed the boxing rules pretty dramatically.
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So, a few weeks ago I read someone commenting that MMA was so much safer than boxing because the flexibility in the MMA ruleset does not force the athletes to stand and take a pounding as in boxing. I don't box and I don't do MMA, but I know several of my readers do one or both of these, so I figured y'all would have some perspective on this.


Wrestling a turkey

Since we're creeping up on the Thanksgiving holiday in America I thought this clip was appropriate. Y'all had better know judo if you have to wrestle with a turkey like this. That is one monsterous bird!

Old judo lesson

This is come cool old footage of teaching kids judo. The cartoon guys narrate but the live judo footage starts about 1:49 into the clip. Enjoy.

The most amazing martial artist you ever met

I've got an cool idea...Let's put together our own Hall of Fame. Take a few seconds and leave me a comment. Let me know who is the single best, most amazing martial artist you've ever personally met? Who is the genius that you would most like to emulate? I know that there are so many that it's not an easy question, but I think my readers would be interested in knowing the names of the folks to watch for.

OODA and aikido

For a while, particularly since the seminar I taught in Starkville last Saturday, I've been talking and writing about metsuke (proper use of eye contact) during a conflict. It turns out that there is a model and a terminology that has already been in use for years dealing with some of what I've been talking about. It's called the OODA loop. OODA is an acronym for Observe-Orient-Decide-Act, the theory being that all actions are based on decisions which are predicated on observations that are filtered through our individual mental models (orientation). It turns out that the orient and decide stages usually take up the most time and you can even get stuck in a feedback loop in the early part of this model such that you never get to decide and act. You freeze up.
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I wrote in a couple of recent articles about the phenomenon of proper metsuke (eye contact or gaze control) seeming to slow combat down. I talked about an example training exercise in which two partners are doing randori with one constantly shifting his gaze back and forth from the partner. The partners find that the combat seems much slower to the man that properly uses metsuke and much, much faster to the man that is shifting his gaze. In OODA terminology, with a moving opponent, every time you change your gaze angle you create a completely new observation. You start the loop over. And since the second step, orientation, takes so much time, you are restarting with a new observation before you can ever orient, much less decide and act.
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For more info on OODA, check out Chiron's series of excellent articles (especially the earlier ones) and also check out this Wikipedia artcle. OODA has a lot of varied applications to aikido and judo - not only related to eye contact.
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Even more on this topic here and here.

Kid's judo and big-folks' aiki

Last night we had a superb kid's judo class. We worked on all our usual moving, falling, etc... Then got into some games that simulate different parts of randori. We did British bulldog (Sorry, Jill reminded me of the game but I couldn't remember the name she used, and it reminds me of British bulldog that we played as kids.) This was crawling man with one man in the middle and everyone else crawling across the mats with the man in the middle choosing someone to immobilize. Crawlers who are stopped become stoppers. The last crawler left unstopped wins.
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We also played with knee-grab randori. Start with a normal grip on the jacket and move around with the goal of securing a knee grab. The second form of randori that we played was really exceptional. Start with normal grips on the jacket and the goal is to win by taking a side or rear control (i.e. bearhug around the waist). to do this you have to remove one of his grips from your jacket and either spin him or offbalance him and slide around him. The kids did really well with this. The kohaku shiai for November is next week.
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In aikido, we worked on tegatana emphasizing how the unbendable arm helps with balance in the turns and how we should keep placing our feet under our butts instead of trying to move our butts over our feet. We spun thru hanasu a couple of times then got into chain #2 again to work on the sharp turn-shomenate-wakiatame chain and the kotetaoshi-maeotoshi-hikitaoshi chain.

Nick Hogan

Looks like Nick Hogan, son of wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan, is in deep dookie! Clearwater Florida police arrested him today after he totalled his car back in August. It appears he made a whole series of collossal mistakes:
  • street racing
  • driving under the influence of alcohol
  • under the age of 21
  • illegal window tint (not a biggie in my book but still not wise)
I know that deep down many all of us love to see rich kids screw up and get caught but what really makes this whole thing tragic is the fact that the crash threw his passenger (best friend, Marine, John Graziano) into a coma with potential brain damage. Apparently Hogan was seat-belted but his passenger wasn't. At least it seems that the Hogans are handling the situation in a positive manner. I'll be praying for the families of those involved.
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Now, for just a moment, let's apply this as a lesson to ourselves. As martial artists, we do dangerous things all the time. LET'S NOT DO STUPID THINGS. Come on, folks...

Competitive ethos

A while back I reviewed Paul Greenhill's email newsletter service, ihateyoungpunks.com. Today I got the most recent email and thought I'd share part of it with y'all.
...I've had the pleasure of being around and training with many martial arts champions (and a few pro football athletes) over the years and the one thing that I'd never heard any of them do was expect mercy from their opponents. Those champions understood that it was a contest to see which person (or team) was superior on that particular day. And they understood that it was their goal to dominate their opponents, hoping to leave a permanent scar on their mental psyche that would make their opponents to never want to tangle with them again. And if the outcome didn't turn out the way those proud champions expected it to, they took their butt-kicking with pride and expected NO MERCY from their opposition! They didn't get mad at the end of the contest for getting publicly embarrassed; they took it upon themselves to stop the embarrassment or to store the anger from the embarrassment for payback in the future! They didn't try to gain support from the media or rationalize the beating they received from the opponent with their fan base. They took their beating, focused on what they could've done differently with their preparation, fix the mistakes, and hope for a second chance for redemption in the near future.
I'm not sure where this attitude of "losing with dignity" came from...but it stinks and anyone that thinks losing with dignity is what a real champion would do is completely off the mark... (excerpted from emails available at www.ihateyoungpunks.com or via email at paul@thewisegrappler.com.)
What do y'all think?

Metsuke and stay-off-me hands

Tonight Jill and I reviewed some of the cool stuf that she missed at the seminar this past weekend. We worked on tegatana a couple of times, first half of hanasu several times, second half of hanasu a couple of times, then moved into chain #2 including techniques like kotetaoshi, gyakugamaeate, and gedanate. We got to discuss and work on slowing the conflict down through proper eye contact and we worked on using the "stay off me" hands to continually brush off and roll the ball right in the centerline (we called this "crazy man randori" at the seminar). We transitioned into randori naming the releases and from there into plain, old randori. It was a good night.

Martial arts trends




Just for kicks, I looked up several martial arts related topics on Google Trends. here are some of the results that were especially interesting to me. The blue line is aikido, the red line is judo. It appears that judo maintains a moderate and level trend over time with a single spike in popularity - I guess each four years coincident with the Olympics. Aikido is trending steadily downward in popularity but what is really odd is a surge in interest in aikido during the third quarter of each year (magnified below). What's going on there, I wonder. Anyway,
the orange and green lines in the graph above are UFC and MMA, respectively. UFC appears to have a huge spike in interest around each event as well as a strong upward trend. The green MMA line starts low and surpasses all the others except UFC.

The Bourne Aikidoka

Here is a good example of one phenomenon that I talked about at the seminar this past weekend. In these film clips the point of view changes rapidly from one angle to another to create the illusion of hyper-speed motion. Notice that even when Bourne is just standing still holding a gun, the camera jiggles a little bit, creating an illusion of motion and urgency.
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Well, the same thing happens in aikido. If tori allows his eyes to flit from one place to another, it changes his point of view. Not only does this spoil tori's sense of distance and angle, but it makes the conflict appear to take place at hyper-speed. We worked some randori with one partner assigned to lock his gaze on the center of mass of the other one's head while the other partner was instructed to constantly shift his gaze from his partner to the nearest corner of the room. Everyone agreed that this shifting of gaze angle and focus was not only disorienting, but it was physically exhausting because it seemed like the randori was going so much faster.

Tom Peters on Excellence


Everyone gets into martial arts for a different mix of reasons. Everyone gets different benefits from their practice. It is in many ways a subjective experience. For those of you that are in it for the personal mastery or the perfection of self, consider this slide that Tom Peters presented recently at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. Peters applies this in the context of business performance but if you're interested in a mind-blowing shift in perspective, check out tompeters.com and browse through his slide sets.

Fall 2007 Starkville workout

Ok, I'm back from teaching at Starkville this weekend. I think we all had fun - I know I had a blast. Over the next several posts I figure to review some of the stuff we worked on, including:
  • Ping, roll the ball, and brushoff as a way out of an awkward position
  • Contact improv as a way to introduce randori
  • Sidestep at the end of the line
  • "Stay off me" hands - also known as ki hands
  • Metsuke laser vision
  • Aikido as a pure force avoidance art
  • Variations in walking tempo
  • Ways to slow uke down to a manageable pace
  • The judo groundwork cycle
Y'all that were there, which of these things did y'all get the most out of? What do y'all think you need some more explanation on?

Hook punch, vertical or horizontal?

After my recent post at TDA Training, Video: MCMAP Punches - Tan, I received a great comment from Dojo Rat:

Very nice form, but I have a question:
I use a vertical fist of the hook-- you are using a horizontal fist, as do other boxers I have seen.
Any thoughts? I am much more comfortable with a near-vertical fist in the hook, at least.
D.R.

Which I answered:

Thanks DR. I will post on the hook punch for everyone, with video explanation. For MCMAP, I am trying to do everything strictly from the curriculum, and I think that's what they use (I'll double-check for you). I do find that the vertical fist is generally better because it keeps your elbow down, thereby using more of the lats, which supply most of the power with the hip torque. Using a horizontal fist is necessary versus a taller opponent, though, as some experimentation will probably show. I am in the vertical hook camp, though.
Good eye, there, DR. Methinks you are much sharper when you're off the bloody mary IV! :-)

Illustrated below:

TDA Training in da Dojo!

I saw that Pat had left the dojo, noticed that he left the door ajar, and slipped in!

Nathan here, from TDA Training. Pat's been so kind as to invite me to do whatever it is I do here at Mokuren Dojo, and I was honored to accept. It was short notice, and I've been giving thought to what to post ever since I got the invite late Thursday night, and come up with a few ideas. I'd thought about trying to post in Pat's area of expertise, but realized that you'd see through me right away, as I don't have the depth of knowledge that Pat makes apparent in every post.

I could just post a video of me singing, a la BBM, but I don't want to destroy the house that Pat's build over a year in just one weekend, and hurt many, many people in the process. TDA Training isn't about hurting people unnecessarily, either. So what shall I post? Check back later today to find out!

Great quote

I just came across another martial arts quote and added it to the quote bar above. I thought it was so incredibly excellent that I'm going to post it here for more folks to see. This has been alternately attributed to Philo of Alexandria and to Plato of Athens. Either way, pay attention:
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Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Be tantalized...

Tonight we had a lovely kid's judo practice followed by a super-cool aiki practice (as usual). We previewed some of the stuff we're going to be working on in Starkville this weekend. Stuff regarding controlling the pace of the conflict. But I can't go into detail, cause then it wouldn't be a surprise for Chops or P3 or any of my other numerous readers who will be in attendance.
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Remember - No class at Mokuren Dojo this weekend. I'll be teaching at Starkville.
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But I might also have a little surprise for my readers. Perhaps a guest blogger for the weekend. Perhaps a highly-read, super-popular, ever interesting guest blogger. Looking forward to seeing what they come up with this weekend...

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