Thursday, April 14, 2011

Aim for the middle condition

My judo class spends the most standing time on small, technical ashiwaza (footsweeps), including deashibarai, okuriashibarai, and harai tsurikomiashi.  Of those three techniques we get hundreds more reps/month of deashi than the other two, and honestly, haraiTKashi doesn't really get too much practice simply because it's not my tokuiwaza.
That distribution of practice time in that particular series is probably not optimal.  Because okuriashi is the middle condition, happening about halfway in the technical spectrum of deashi and haraiTKashi, we should probably spend most of our time on it.  Because it is the middle condition, if you get good at hitting okuriashi and you miss to either side then you still have a chance to get deashi or harai.
This phenomenon of the middle condition happens in a lot of places in judo.
Another instance of the middle condition is in newaza when escaping from kesagatame (scarf hold).  The three most fundamental escaping actions are situp, uphill, and bridge&roll.  Situp escape happens when you throw your hips and legs away from uke, sit up, and let him fall in the space you just made.  Uphill happens after a failed situp - you throw back in, spoon with uke, turn to your belly for base, and extract your arm.  Bridge&roll happens easiest when you have tried uphill and uke presses into you to stop it - you hold him to your sternum and bridge over your opposite shoulder driving his head into the mat above your head.
So, uphill escape is a middle condition between situp and bridge&roll.  If you get good at uphill and uke interferes in either direction then he makes it easier to do one of the other two.  So it stands to reason that a lot of your kesa-escape practice should be occupied with uphill escape. (Incidentally, uphill escape has been shown statistically to be the most likely escape to save you from kesa in a competition, although bridge&roll is probably the best-known and most popular response).
The moral of this story - anywhere in judo that you can identify this middle condition relationship between techniques, you should concentrate on that middle condition.

Patrick Parker
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