Kosotogari is not only difficult to find competition film of, but it is also nearly indistinguishable from deashibarai when conditions are not perfect. It seems like my students and I must use it a lot more than most folks because it makes a great backup plan when deashibarai goes bad.
Ukigoshi is really hard to find competition videos of. This film contains a few seconds of instruction and 2-3 examples drawn from competition. the slo-mo of the girls throwing it really highlights the beauty of this technique.
First ten men to ever be promoted to 10th dan rank in Judo
Yamashita, Yoshitugu (1865-1935) Promoted 10th Dan 1935
Isogai, Hajime (1871-1947) Promoted 10th Dan 1937
Nagaoka, Hidekazu (1876-1952) Promoted 10th Dan 1937
Mifune, Kyuzo (1883-1965) Promoted 10th Dan 1945
Iizuka, Kunisaburo (1875-1958) Promoted 10th Dan 1946
Samura, Kaichiro (1880-1964) Promoted 10th Dan 1948
Tabata, Shotaro (1884-1950) Promoted 10th Dan 1948
Okano, Kotaro (1885-1967) Promoted 10th Dan 1967
Shoriki, Matsutaro (1885-1969) Promoted 10th Dan 1969
Nakano, Shozo (1888-1977) Promoted 10th Dan 1977
Although all of these men were Jigoro Kano's contemps, only the first three made Judan during Kano's lifetime. Since 1977 there have been several notable promotions to the rank of Judan. There were, of course, many notable judoka who never reached 10th dan.
One of the coolest things about judo is that it is real and honest. Outcomes are objective instead of subjective and everything is executed to completion, as opposed to pulling punches that might or might not have been effective or simply dancing around the mat with a partner.)
either you are able to make the other person fall or you can't
either you can make the other guy submit or you can't
either you can escape the other guy's hold or you can't
But there is a paradox or a bind that beginners (and even some old-heads) don't ever understand - beginners should never force the other person to prove that they can do the technique and even experts should only do it judiciously.
We work with semi-compliant partners called "ukes" instead of "attackers" or resistant "opponents" for a couple of reasons:
It is better for students to get many repetitions of poor approximations of a technique than to get very few reps of still-poor approximations because their partner confounded every attempt (which is easy to do to a beginner).
It is safer for uke to take an appropriate fall at an appropriate time because eventually you will encounter someone who really is able to force you to fall against your will. When that happens, you will want to have had a lot of falling practice! Also, when you force tori to prove they can make you fall, you always end up eating more energy when you do hit the ground.
So uke does not confound tori's techniques - especially in nagekomi practice. Instead, uke helps set up conditions for both a successful throw and a safe fall.
But how far does this compliance go? At some point, you have to shift toward the "real" and "honest" mentioned earlier, right?
Eventually, after uke and tori have each experienced hundreds or thousands of repetitions of a technique, uke can gradually and judiciously start increasing the resistance - forcing tori to prove that he can take the technique when he wants it.
It is hard to figure this relationship out - especially if we start doing randori or shiai very early. People get confused and want to prove or force their partner to prove techniques.
It can help if we clearly delineate how each person is to behave in each type of practice - uchikomi, nagekomi, randori, and shiai.
It can help if we teach explicitly-defined ukemi for each throw (tell uke exactly how to behave and how to fall when you are doing each particular technique.
It can help if we shift our attention from tori to uke. Make the techniques uke-centric by thinking about them as falling exercises. That way, tori is not expected to prove that he can do a thing to uke. Instead he is expected to help uke set up the conditions for a particular fall, and to help support uke like a spotter as uke does that fall a specific way. So, nagekomi is just a form of ukemi practice.
It can help to make sure that everyone plays the roles of uke and of tori often. Don't let the lower ranked students be throwing dummies for the upper ranks or the competitors. Don't let the old fat guys get totally out of ukemi (though you might have to cut back some).
Once you get ukes and toris working together successfully in this manner for thousands of reps at a time, they can start dialing up the resistance incrementally.
Osotogari is one of those techniques that is probably taught in every martial arts class that there is because it is extraordinarily easy to force an unsuspecting opponent down with it. What makes these examples of osotogari is they were done on other judoka who know that technique is coming and are watching for it and have some options for countering it!
In the first Tomiki aikido technique, shomenate, tori enters directly in front of uke and projects uke straight backwards by pressing on his face and stepping through him. .
But except for shomenate, aikidoka vastly prefer to be outside of uke's arms or behind his shoulder (shikaku). In fact, it is not until techniques #13 (tenkai kotehineri) and #14 (shihonage) that we encounter the other two basic solutions to the problem of being caught directly in front of uke. .
So, why is shomenate taught first when it seems so contrary to the aikidoka's primary tactic of getting into the dead angle behind uke's arm? .
Because as Jagger-sensei says, "You can't always get what you want." .
Almost 100% of the time, an attacker will have desires contrary to your standing behind them ;-) so (especially while you are learning) you will often find that uke can easily spoil your techniques by turning to face you. .
Tomiki's teaching system places the main backup plan first because it solves so many problems. .
Basically, Tomiki's system is set up as if to say, "Always try to get behind uke, but if you find yourself toe-to-toe inside uke's arms and too close, your simplest, most effective solution is to push uke's face and stride directly through him. That is, whenever an attacker spoils your technique by turning to face you, do shomenate. .
Isn't it kind of neat that Tomiki-sensei gave us the answer to most problems first!?
P.S. incidentally, isn't it also neat that kumi-judo gives us another great back-up plan for aikido techniques that go bad because virtually everything in judo is done from toe-to-toe, between uke's arms, and close!? P.P.S. isn't it also interesting that pressing the face as in shomenate is disallowed in judo competition? Ostensibly this is for safety, but shomenate also spoils most of the conditions that are required for most judo techniques to work - that is, toe-to-toe, between uke's arms, and close. .
Want to discuss this blog post? Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group
In karate, we were often exhorted not to get into the block-counterattack game because it is a never-ending, un-productive loop. He attacks, I block, I attack, he blocks, he attacks, I block... .
We were told that "blocks are not just blocks," that it was possible to destroy an opponent with a block. but we never got much instruction beyond, "Don't just block." .
This can be interpreted several ways, including...
Blocks are actually strikes to the attacking limb. I never personally got a ton of mileage from this paradigm, but I know people who did.
Blocks are actually odd-looking strikes, like using a rising block as an uppercut to the corner of the opponent's jaw. I got more mileage from this idea than from crushing an incoming strike with a block - but it's still kinda limited.
Blocks can unbalance the opponent and eliminate their ability to continue to attack. (kuzushi). This one made the most intuitive sense to me, but how do you learn to use blocks as kuzushi other than just practicing for years until you happen to transcend?
I think Kenji Tomiki had a good answer to this puzzle. It is found in an exercise that some folks call shichihon no kuzushi and other groups call wrist releases.
Typically these exercises are done with uke grabbing tori's wrist and tori doing the off-balance or release but our instructors assured us that they could be done just as easily with tori grabbing (or striking) uke.
So, if you are a karate guy looking for a way to make your blocking techniques all that they can be, check out the interwebs for "shichihon no kuzushi" or "tomiki aikido releases" (and watch with an open mind because it will not look like the karate you are used to.).
P.S. One last tidbit to blow your mind. The Japanese term for what we call "blocking techniques" is ukewaza, meaning "receiving techniques." That is the same uke (receiving) as in ukemi (receiving with or through the body). Think about that one for a minute. Karate guys consider receiving techniques to be useless, while in many judo and aikido groups, ukemi is considered to be the most important skill and the most valuable self-defense.
Ogoshi, though an effective, fundamental technique, is not as prolific in competitions as some techniques. You might argue that a few of these throws were something other than ogoshi, but the examples that were clearly ogoshi were majestic!
A couple of weeks ago I did a post talking about several of my heroes in martial arts - people whose special sparks I want to emulate and develop in myself. .
One of those judo superheroes is Tokio Hirano. Unfortunately Hirano sensei passed away years ago and most of his adherents are in Europe so it's hard to lay hands on them, but fortunately he left us a ton of (often confusing and cryptic) video records. .
Here is a little tidbit of Tokio Hirano that I want to work on with my judo buddies and students and partners for a while - a really elegant seoinage (shoulder-carry throw).
Sasae tsurikomiashi, the foot prop, is one of my favorites. I can reliably get a lot of people down with this even though I usually don't get this much amplitude out of it. The first example on this video is spectacularly beautiful, and the last example is impressive not for the throw but for how tori was stuck so well to uke at the end of the fall.
A few days ago I mentioned that one of my judo heroes is Nick Lowry - particularly when it comes to developing my double foot sweep technique (okuriashibarai). .
Okuriashi is a thing that I have put a fair amount of practice into and I can get an okay effect with it occasionally. But if I'm going to grow up to be a judo superhero, it is something that I'd better put even more thought and focus and practice into. .
Here is a handful of short videos of some superheroes demonstrating, explaining, and expounding the action of okuriashibarai - the double footsweep. Stuff for me to work on for the next few years.
A compilation of very nice competition knee wheels. These are all very fine but the first one is so exquisitely perfect that I could watch it all day. I think the 3rd or 4th one (where tori steps on uke's lead foot) is my favorite!
Judo is a brand name of Japanese jujutsu just like Xerox is a brand name of copiers and Frigidaire (or "fridge") is a brand name of refrigerator. .
What makes Judo special that separates it from other brands of 19th century jujutsu is the randori and shiai system that allows practitioners to try their skills and techniques out on trained, suspecting, resistant opponents with force and speed without necessarily harming the participants every time. In the late 1800's, the ability to pressure-test techniques and theories caused Judo to rapidly surpass the other contemporary brands of jujutsu in popularity and effectiveness. .
Xerox machines certainly have some competitive features that make them special but there are certain things that all copiers do that Xerox machines also have to be able to do in order to be called copiers. For instance, pretty much all copiers (in USA) use standard 110volt 60hz AC power and standard-sized paper and produce crisp copies so Xerox machines have to be able to do those things too.
Judo is a specialized modern form of jujutsu but it is still jujutsu. so that suggests that despite Judo's special distinctive competitive brand advantages, there are things that judo-ka have to be able to do because they are also jujutsu-ka. .
What are those things that koryu jujutsu does that Judo has to be able to do (besides randori and shiai) to be called jujutsu?
Horseback riding (or the modern equivalent)?
Some old jujutsu schools even had a swimming in armor component.
Check out this tiny 5yo Quin Parker putting a nice kosotogari on his older brother! .
There are joys and frustrations associated with teaching your own children. .
Eventually kids all get to the age that they'd rather chew their own arms off than have to do anything that dad thinks would be fun or good for them. There is the endless litany of excuses about other stuff they would rather be doing, the endless eye-rolling that you're afraid is going to sprain an eyeball muscle, the loud sighs whenever you try to suggest there might be a better way to try a technique. .
But then years later there is the son that joins the Marines and when he goes off to boot camp at Parris Island he says, "Hey Dad, guess what I think prepared me for the Marines more than anything else in my life?" .
"All those times you made me practice judo with you."
Since I recently re-launched my judo classes after a 2-year sabbatical, several of my students and judo buddies have expressed their amusement and/or delight at what they have called my "Pat-isms." .
Those who know me know that I have a touch of a chip on my shoulder about American martial artists who try to out-Japanese the Japanese guys. People who know me also know that I have a passive aggressive streak about a mile wide, so I'm not afraid to turn a sacred cow into a cheeseburger just to frustrate a pseudo-Japanese grammar-Nazi. I also find it just plain funny that people think of Mississippi residents as ignorant yokels, so I enjoy wallowing in that stereotype. .
But you know what's really interesting? I have found over the years that I can communicate martial arts ideas better using portmanteau, malapropism, puns, and poetic terminology than I can using the martial-Japanese equivalent of pidgin, Spanglish, or Engrish. .
So, my classes end up being a celebration of colloquialism and loose translation such as,
"This technique is called, shomenate, which in the ancient Japanese language, means, 'Grab the other guy by his face.'"
"Tonight we're working on koshiwaza (that is, crack-of-the-butt throws)."
"Now let's do the drinking bird exercise."
"First thing you do in this move is get out da way (because you do not have time to get...out...of...the...way) and throw both hands up like a cow-catcher."
Y'all move around and get all swoovely so you won't pull a muscle.
This move is named, "Snow Resting on a Willow," because it was named by an old dead poet and we don't have any better name for it.
Scooting instead of shrimping.
"He might bust me and kill me and do all sorts of stuff to me - but he's going to have to do it with my arm spearing through his head."
My students have laughed and marvelled at this sort of Pat-ism for years, and it doesn't look like my storehouse of stupid is going to run out any time soon, so if that makes me the Yogi Berra of judo, so be it. .
But if you enjoy a friendly, colloquial judo practice full of people who actually realize that they are not, in fact, Japanese, then come on down to Mokuren Dojo and play with us!
You thought I'd completely shifted my focus to judo, didn't you? Not so! Here's some of the other stuff I've been thinking about and playing around with lately.
For jo folks that are not used to this sort of practice, watch with fresh eyes and think about it as similar to the foot sweep to control exercise that Nick demonstrates here - that is, simple set of paired techniques that repeats infinitely and provides a basis from which to riff and expound - a basic framework to insert other techniques, jodori, jo no tsukai, etc... And a framework to begin varying toward something like randori.
Or think about it as similar to a hubud drill - as this instructor calls it, "a generator." That is, a basic sequence that spawns all sorts of opportunity to delve into other techniques or aspects of the art.
Since the beginning of the Scouting Movement in the late 1800s, Scouting has had an association with Martial Arts. Scouting began as a sort of paramilitary organization intended to prepare, well, military scouts. It makes sense that there would be a martial arts or combatives component to Scouting. .
People all over the world rapidly saw the benefits of Scouting for youth development apart from the military and over the years the association between Scouting and martial arts has become largely obscured.
One of the original 14 Badges of Merit in the BSA was the Master at Arms award. Master at Arms had only one requirement (albeit a rather stout one) - "Master (or attain proficiency in) at least two (some pamphlets said three) of the following subjects"
single stick (fencing),
The quarterstaff, or scout staff was a standard piece of gear for all Scouts until well into the 20th century and now it is still an optional piece. Single stick was an exceptionally useful Scout martial art because Scouts are always near sticks. .
The BSA's current Guide to Safe Scouting states,
Boxing, karate, and related martial arts—except judo, aikido, and tai chi—are not authorized activities.
Some years ago I communicated with some of the BSA upper ups and it seems that the original idea of whoever came up with that rule was that boxing and karate were "against the spirit of Scouting" because they were offensive, attacking arts and the common perception of aikido and judo was that they were defensive arts. IKR, stupid, but that's how I try to understand what they were thinking. Now I think that the martial arts prohibition in BSA is almost certainly an insurance thing.
Even with the explicit exclusion of boxing and karate, the Master at Arms curriculum could easily be implemented for individual Scouts, Patrols, Troops, or Crews that wished to make martial arts or self-defense a Program Focus. .
All of the activities in the Master atArms list (except boxing) could reasonably be used in partial completion of Sports Merit Badge, and the quarterstaff activity can be used in partial completion of the Scouting Heritage Merit Badge. .
A Troop or Patrol or Crew would not be able to re-issue the Master at Arms as a Merit Badge, but there is nothing keeping them from issuing it as an Activity Badge based on a Master at Arms program feature. . So, are there any local Scouts or Venturers up for a Master at Arms program feature involving judo, aikido, quarterstaff, and/or single stick fencing - because I might happen to know a Scouter around here that could make that a reality.
I've been on a martial arts sabbatical for the past couple of years. .
Before relaunching my classes a couple of months ago I hadn't done anything remotely martial in two years. I had a host of reasons - really lame rationalizations or B.S. excuses, including...
I am mostly doing it for my kids but they would rather do other things.
I can't afford it.
Judo and aikido make my joints hurt.
As I'm getting older I am getting fatter and more sluggish.
I am trying to deal with depression.
I'm not making any progress.
One of my teachers died and another one retired.
I am super-busy with community service.
My job is keeping me distracted.
I can't find many students or partners to play with me.
I have gotten into other activities, like hiking and mountain climbing.
I figure to retire and leave this area in a few years anyway.
I'm not really any good at judo anyway so what business do I have teaching?
So, when you give me some B.S. about quitting your practice and I smile thinly or raise an eyebrow, it's not just that I've heard that same stale excuse before - It's probably one of the same lame excuses that I've tried to use on myself a few times. .
It didn't work when I tried to convince myself to quit that way, and I am a lot more convincing than you are, so give it a rest and just go practice.
In judo, we assign names to the two partners in an engagement. Sometimes picking out who plays each role can be tricky, but in very broad terms...
uke is the guy that hits the ground first.
tori is the guy left standing when uke hits the ground.
Just because someone has fallen does not mean that the encounter is ended. Both uke and tori have things they need to be putting into action as uke is hitting the ground - strategies that will improve each guy's chances of coming out on top when the encounter really is ended.
tori wants to guide uke to the ground so that he lands facing away from tori, and then tori wants to move into a controlling position or hold. In our class, ukigatame (floating hold or knee-on-belly) is the most common position that tori moves to as uke falls.
uke wants to fall safely, and then immediately turn to face tori and shift to place his knees or feet between him and tori.
You can easily turn this set of conflicting first strategies into a micro-randori session. Specify a throw and do nagekomis, if uke is able to fall then turn toward then he wins but if tori is able to throw and then set ukigatame before uke turns in then he wins - fun little addition to nagekomi practice.
Judo is control. We used to say the criteria for ippon is "hard, fast, and in-control" but hard and fast are really poor criteria because speed is almost completely controlled by gravity and force is an endogenous opiate that you don't want to get hooked on. So, control is the central idea in judo.
I like to translate the term, gatame, as "control" instead of "hold," and however you translate it, the concept of gatame does NOT include pain or crushing or punishment.
Control is not the same thing as coercion. There may be times and jobs where coercion is appropriate - but that is not synonymous with control.
Learn to use your feet like hands (as if picking up a sock with your toes) and pull with the hamstrings instead of pushing with the hip. This will give you more power and fine control especially in small ashiwaza.
I want to be an uke-whisperer instead of an uke-breaker. If we are to become uke-whisperers we have to figure out how to avoid doing things that threaten uke and provoke an automatic fear-based resistance. Re-read all the uke-centric kata posts and continue along that line of thought.
If control is not the same as coercion and if it is to be non-threatening to uke, we need to figure out what kind of control is winsome. What does winsome control feel like to uke? How do we figure out how to embody winsome as a control strategy?
What does a typical judo class at Mokuren Dojo look like? Here is a really general sort of guide that I use to create lesson plans for most of my judo classes.
Individuals warmup with light, careful ROM or stretching exercises before class starts. Move around to create a sense of freedom in your muscles and joints. Do something that makes you feel slightly flushed and increases your heart rate and breathing rate a little bit.
After we bow in the entire group will warm-up with about 20 minutes of ukemi (falling/rolling) and sport-specific activities. For safety reasons we almost never practice standing judo and groundwork on the same mat at the same time so I have two slightly different warmups depending on whether it is tachiwaza (standing judo) night or newaza (groundwork) night.
tachiwaza warmup - rock on back, rock&slap, rock&flop, fish flops, kneeling forward rolls, seated back rolls, kneesavers, drinking bird, footsweep to control
newaza warmup - rock on back, rock&slap, rock&flop, fish flops, kneeling forward rolls, seated back rolls, shrimping forward and back, shrimp w/ feet on uke, knee-in knee-out, push-backs, x-crawl
After the sport-specific warmup, There is an instruction time.
If it is tachiwaza night we'll do a few minutes of nagekomi (trading throws) focussed on one of the first few techniques that I consider to be foundational. Then we'll do a few more minutes on a more advanced technique - either someone's tokuiwaza (favorite technique) or a rank requirement.
If it is newaza night, we'll do a few minutes of something that comes from or happens in the basic clock cycle (uki-kesa-mune-ushirokesa-tate...). Then we'll do something fun or curious or a rank requirement.
Then it is randori (free play) time. For 1/3 of each class (or longer), we should be doing sparring, drills, or exercises that involve some sort of resistance, free flow, unstructured play, or unpredictability. This is not shiai (competition) - but more like a musical jam session or a game of catch.
Henry Copeland sensei asked me one time, "What is your favorite technique?" and I instantly responded, "sumiotoshi." .
I was excited at the prospect of working on my most favorite move with such an auspicious teacher but he was not thinking to build a lesson plan out of my tokuiwaza and he let the wind out of my sails pretty quickly when he said, "The reason that is your favorite technique is because you are afraid of it." .
Like much of what Henry said, this didn't make sense. I was pretty good at sumiotoshi and I'd practiced it a good bit. I'd thrown it thousands of times and been thrown by it thousands of times. I knew how to fall out of it safely. What was there to fear? .
Maybe he was talking about fear in the biblical sense of the word, as in, "Fear of the Lord," as in respect. .
He went on to say that in order for that to be my favorite I had to attribute some quality or power to it that I thought other techniques lacked. He was saying that deep down I felt that sumiotoshi was a magic talisman that could fell opponents and slay dragons. .
He was saying that I wanted to practice it partly in order to put that magic talisman into my arsenal but also because I was afraid that the magic might fall into the wrong hands and someone might use my magical move against me. .
I think he was onto something - but you know what is weird? Even 25 years later, I still have techniques that are my favorites (tokuiwaza) and techniques that I dislike so much that I have a lot of trouble even practicing. You might call these anti-tokuiwaza. .
I have no problem admitting that there are techniques that I'm still afraid of - techniques that represent an opponent's fearsome power over me. Techniques that, as a teacher, I am loath to teach to my students. .
But you know what? Shining light on this collection of dragons robs them of power, so here goes - my anti-tokuiwaza include...
I'm sure there are a few more dragons in there but just listing this few makes my stomach roil tinking about them. .
You know who would be my ultimate arch-nemesis? An athletic, healthy young adult with any 4 of these as their tokuiwaza!
Sometimes you hear martial arts referred to as spiritual disciplines, and sometimes you hear of parents who put their kids into a martial arts class to "get discipline," But all the classes I've ever seen seem to deal a lot more with sweat and pain (or the avoidance thereof) than they do spiritual things or even with training mental discipline. .
So, what do martial arts actually have to do with honing the mind or spirit? .
Here's how I look at it. .
My spirit leads my mind
My mind uses my brain to operate my body.
My body creates results or actions in the physical world. .
But it is not a one-way relationship. .
My actions in the physical world influence or change my body.
The operation of my body influences the operation of my brain.
The functioning of my brain influences my mind.
My mind over time forges my spirit. .
So, if I want to influence any one of these aspects of my being, then I can choose whichever other aspect I feel like I have the most leverage with right now, and by exercising that aspect, all other aspects of my being are influenced. .
So, If I want to develop spiritual or mental discipline, then I can use a martial art as a physical, active lever with which to influence or reform my actions, my body, my brain, and in turn, my mind and spirit. .
Or I could play hockey or read self-help books or any other activity that activates or exercises my actions, body, or brain.