We only have so much time in our lives, and only a fraction of that can go toward getting better at judo. So, what do you spend your time on?
If you figure that the Kodokan guys said that there are about 40 throws in judo and if we estimate that it takes about a month of classes to get pretty good at each throw, then it'll take us several years just to get good at all the throws.
But then, what happens when you start adding in combinations? If you treat each combo as a technique then you can guess that it will take a month to get pretty good at it. All of a sudden you're looking at an infinite amount of time to get competent at 40 throws plus several combos of those 40 throws.
So, what do you spend your time on?
I first approached this problem by defining what I consider to be a minimal set of representative throws - a kihon. I say there are about six or eight techniques that are representative of the rest of judo. Just about every other throw is a minor variation of one of these ideas. Also, if you watch a bunch of competition videos or do a bunch of randori, i think you'll see that 80 some-odd percent of the throws come from this set of 6-8 techniques.
So now we spend most of our time on these kihon and all of a sudden we're down from 40 months to 6-8 months to become decently competent at most of judo. But still, if you only pay attention to a half-dozen techniques, there are more than 700 potential combinations!
Judo is certainly something we want to be able to practice for the rest of our lives, but who wants to spend the next 60 years systematically working through combinations?
We need a way to work some combos and become competent and effective in real-time.
We need to apply Kano's "Maximally efficient use of effort" ideal not only technically but strategically to how we go about learning judo. We need to work on maximally efficient doctrine and pedagogy.
Stay tuned for some of my ideas about how to do this...