Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Graduation day

Today was the graduation day and judo demo and family night for the end of our first season of Kid's judo here at Mokuren. If you're coming into this story late, we decided to run kids' judo on a seasonal sports model, like teeball or soccer, since so many of the parents around here understand that sports model better than the usual 2-3 classes/week all the time model. We ran the season from last September till today and will take off during the busy baseball season and the intolerable heat of summer, to begin again this coming September. We practiced once per week and had club judo tournaments each month. It was a lot of fun and the kids learned a lot and we all had a lot of fun.

Following is the text of the program for tonight's judo demo for those interested:

Judo Embu (Demonstration)


In Feudal Japan, samurai warriors learned jujitsu, a form of empty-hand combat, as a backup plan in case they were disarmed on the battlefield. But after the Restoration of the Meiji Emperor to the throne in 1868, Japan began to pull itself out of feudalism through a long process of westernization and modernization. During this modernization, the old feudalistic samurai arts, including jujitsu were considered no longer necessary, and perhaps even backward. Hundreds of years of refinements of the jujitsu arts were in danger of dying out within the space of a generation.

In the 1880’s, Jigoro Kano, a master of several of the ancient jujitsu arts, came up with the idea to preserve the aspects of jujitsu that were still beneficial to individuals and to society - qualities like strength and courage and discipline. Kano took some of the techniques from the ancient jujitsu arts and used them to create a wrestling sport, which he called Judo. Judo rapidly grew in popularity in Japan, Europe, and throughout the world as both a sport and a form of self-defense.

Tonight you will see a demonstration of some of the skills that your children have learned over the course of the last few months; demonstrations of their maturing strength, technique, persistence, and courage. Thank you for joining us in this celebration of their achievement.


  • Line-up, salutes, and warm-up
  • Safe falling skills (forward roll, forward fall, left fall right fall, back fall)
  • More falling skills with a spotter (deashibarai, teguruma, hizaguruma, seoinage)
  • Throwing skill: osotogari (the big outside reap), that we call the “1-2 throw”
  • Holding skill: osotogari→kesagatame (the scarf hold)
  • Escape skill: osotogari→kesagatame→uphill escape
  • Ground grappling skills: crawling man contest
  • Standing wrestling skills: standing randori

Presentation of certificates and new belts

  • All students will be presented with certificates, and the older students will be presented with new belts. The younger students’ new belts are on back-order and will be presented during a post-season play-day during the Summer.
  • Gavin - Yellow Belt - Gavin is the oldest, and because of the age and mass advantage, had the coordination and strength to do well. Gavin especially improved in his mental control of his frustration when someone (like Whit) would grind him or play rough.
  • Whit - Yellow Belt - Whit is naturally athletic and coordinated. Particularly agile on his feet, he was able to dominate much of the standing work. Whit developed a good osotogari and a fair deashibarai this season and he is making progress in learning to control that alpha-male ego thing that he has going.
  • Mason - Yellow Belt - Mason is nearly indomitable on the ground because of his fierce persistence. He absolutely refuses to lose if there is anything he can do about it. He has also shown a great deal of control over natural frustration when he is dominated to the point of exhaustion on the ground by a larger opponent (like Gavin). Mason also has a naturally good leg pick.
  • Knox - White&Yellow Belt - Knox is the kind one. He has enjoyed being able to develop and express a more vigorous aggression in randori this season, but tonight in standing randori he absolutely refused to throw Emma because he thought he might hurt her.
  • Emma - White&Yellow Belt - It's hard (impossible?) to keep the attention of kids this young, but Emma has done very well and has improved her attention span greatly. She has had a lot of fun especially in the randori and groundwork games with Knox and Quin.
  • Quin - White&Yellow Belt - Got a late start this season, and was handicapped by his small size (a 000 gi swallows him), but he has a natural aggression and a will to power that will serve him well in judo as he picks up a little more mass and coordination.

Congratulations to all of our newly advanced students!


  1. I love the program... I am not looking to teach kids in the immediate future, but when I start my own army (to combat what will surely by then be the rising influence of the 30 boy and girl-strong Parker army), I think that serves as a great model. The intro and the individual comments keep the parents enthused, which, for kids classes, is just as important as keeping the kids themselves engaged. Actually, now that I think about it, it wouldn't be a bad idea to introduce something like that for my adult promotions... Anyways, nice job with that one, Pat.

  2. That sounds like a terrific program, and it looks like you have a great group of kids.

  3. Thanks, guys. I have had a blast working with these kids this season. Initially I was wary, and I didn't teach kids for years - not because i hate kids but more because I wasn't ready yet. see this great post and comments at formosa neijia blog:

    having kids has forced me to get used to tie idea and to get prepared over the last few years.

    but watch out! because now that we know that this model works, I'm getting ready to expand and take over the world. I figure to coerce another coach into this program so we can have 2 separate teams next year (with competitions between teams)

    if I expand by 2X each year it won't take long to take over the world!


  4. Congratulations Mokuren Dojo!

    Great Job Pat! I can tell by their smiles that their having a blast.

    David Shorey
    Acadian Judo

  5. Congratulations Pat, I can tell by your smile that you had the most fun of all!


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