Monday, December 09, 2019

Junokata shows us how to learn hip throws


Junokata is a curious exercise - especially to modern eyes and competitive western minds.  But one of the points of value that is probably easiest to see in Junokata are the hipthrows, shoulder throws, and pickups.
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Most judoka will readily admit the impressive skill that is apparent every time tori lifts a stiff uke and balances her right on the edge of the abyss and then slowly places her back on her feet.  This type of exercise is obviously a great way to build the strength, suppleness, and balance that it takes to execute world-class hip throws, shoulder throws, and pickups.
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So check out this video but don't pay too much attention (right now) to anything that looks totally alien and useless.  Instead focus on the slow, controlled lifts that occur just after 1:15, 1:40, 3:40, 4:10, 5:00, and 7:00. 
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Consider how we could use slow lift-and-return type exercises like this to build those qualities of control, strength, flexibility, and balance in ourselves and our partners.

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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, December 07, 2019

Tsurigoshi compilation

Just like kosotogake last week, tsurigoshi is another point of curiosity for me.  One of my instructors has told me that tsurigoshi is basically an evolutionary throwback to an earlier age of judo's development - a phylogenetic curiosity that was superseded by better techniques like ogoshi and ukigoshi.
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IDK, It seems to me that a lot of people make good use of tsurigoshi but I'm not sure that they couldn't have just as easily thrown ogoshi in those particular situations.  What do you think?



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Patrick Parker
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Monday, December 02, 2019

How to test your balance

If you know me then you know that I am always playing balance games, standing on one foot, walking on curbs, doing judo rolls as slowly as possible backwards and forwards.
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But you might have missed a really good balance game that Tomiki gave us as part of our aikido.  We know it as tegatana, or simply, "the walk," but some other practitioners call it unsoku and tandoku undo (footwork and solo exercises).
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There are several movements in which the practitioner waves a hand in front of himself, turns around, and then puts the hand above his head.  These moves look a little bit like a ballet pirouette.  It turns out that these aiki-pirouettes challenge your balance in several ways.

  • Taking the step creates horizontal momentum, which you then have to control.
  • Turning 180 degrees creates rotational momentum and suddenly changes the muscles that you have to use to control your momentum and balance.
  • Raising your arm above your head raises your center of balance and makes you less stable.
  • Some groups even finish this movement on tiptoes, which raises your balance further.

So, not only is this movement pattern functional, mimicking some motions that you will see later in techniques, but it is a fantastic balance test and balance-building exercise.


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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Kosotogake compilation

Kosotogake is a curious thing for me.  One of my most beloved judo instructors, Mac McNeese told me not to bother with kosotogake - that it was basically a waste of training time that I should be spending working on kosotogari. 
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I never got the chance to ask him what he meant and why he'd said that because he has since passed away.
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There are certainly people who make the gake move work beautifully.  Anyone have a guess what he was talking about?




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Patrick Parker
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Uchimata compilation

Statistically, uchimata is the most frequently thrown tournament technique in most levels of competition.  I'm not sure why.  Is there something inherently magical about that technique, or has everyone bought into the uchimata-is-magic thinking so they perform better because they have more faith and try it more often?  IDK. 
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It is a majestically beautiful thing when done properly. In this compilation, there is a clear, obvious difference between #1 and all the rest - #1 is just THAT much more skilled (or lucky?) performance!




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Patrick Parker
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Friday, November 29, 2019

How to show progress in a demo


We've been talking about embu lately - how to do a good demo - a demo that does several things, including
  • shows that the student knows some things - "Wow! That guy is really good at this!"
  • shows that the student is improving - "Wow! That guy is a lot better than last time!"
  • creates social validity for the school - "Wow! Mokuren Dojo is really good at this!"
  • creates self-confidence in the student - "Wow! I'm really good at this!"
One way that you can do this is to clearly demonstrate longitudinal improvement.  That is, the demo should contain at least some material that is repeated in all demos.  That way, it is easy to see that you are better (or at least different) than you were 6 months ago when you demonstrated this same material.
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You don't want to repeat a LOT of material every time because that is a recipe for boring the joseki to sleep, but you should at least show some repeated material.
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What I'm thinking about for this is to have all rank embu start with koshiki kihon (a short, somewhat casual exercise where you demonstrate 21 falls in about 3 minutes) and the clock exercise (1-2 minutes where you demonstrate moving into and between various groundwork positions).
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By having everyone demonstrate these at every level, it provides a sort of baseline against which improvements will be obvious.



Here is a video of a guy doing a clock exercise in a little different way than we usually do - but you get the idea of what I'm talking about.



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Ukigatame is a better way of doing things

Our first positional control or hold in judo, ukigatame, is more than just a hold and it is more than just a near-universal transition between tachiwaza and newaza.  Ukigatame is not just a tactic in which you crush uke with your knee on his belly or chest (or neck or back) - ukigatame is an example of a better way of doing all ground controls.
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What I mean is this - a common way of doing groundwork for beginners, especially physically powerful and mentally competitive beginners - is to get the other guy in a hold and use your size and power to lock and crush him into immobility.  Problems with lock&crush groundwork include -
  • it is exhausting for tori
  • it is abusive toward uke
  • it makes standard escape actions (like bridge & roll) easier for uke to do
  • it makes transitions harder for tori to do
  • it makes submissions like chokes and armbars harder to get to
But ukigatame shows us a different way of doing all our groundwork - a way that dissolves all of these issues associated with lock&crush newaza.

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Ukigatame means "floating hold," and the name suggests hovering over uke close enough to suppress his movement but remaining loose and floaty enough to shift and move over an uncontrolled uke.  Sort of like smothering uke with a heavy bag of shifting sand instead of crushing him with an iron bar.
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When I teach ukigatame it is not a specific position that I tell students to get into.  Rather I tell them that as uke takes a fall, move to stand beside (preferably behind) uke and put a knee and two hands somewhere on uke's body.  After just a little bit of nagekomi (throwing practice), tori finds that this is a great, balanced position to finish throws in, that it smothers uke's motion a little bit and provides tori an instant to get his bearings and decide how (and whether) to proceed to groundwork.
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As uke moves under tori, often the knee will slip off of uke's belly and will be replaced by a little more weight on tori's hands, or by tori's hip or butt, or by a body-surfing munegatame.  Tori only holds ukigatame until uke shows an opportunity for a better holding position or submission technique.
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You could put a knee on uke's belly, take nice grips on uke's belt and lapel, and use your weight and power to crush the ooze out of both ends of him - but that would be missing the point of ukigatame.  You can control uke more effectively with a floating feeling that is more in-line with judo's ideals.



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Patrick Parker
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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Udegatame the pressing armbar



A great testimonial and a couple of nice variations on our first armbar - udegatame. Check this out!


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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Haraigoshi compilation

Haraigoshi is such a versatile technique that you see it a LOT in judo and in MMA - and unlike some other techniques, it seems to mostly be thrown cleanly.



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Patrick Parker
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Friday, November 22, 2019

Killing fields

Killing field is a military science term describing an area through which an enemy is forced to move where they will be exposed to your power. Examples might include a fortified beach like Normandy or the mountain pass at Thermopylae.
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Basically a cattle chute.
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But the term applies in interpersonal conflict too, so where is the killing field in aikido, judo, and karate, for instance?
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I refer to the space in front of uke and within his reach (inside the boundary of ma-ai) as the killing field.  So, if you are in front of the opponent and you are close enough for him to touch you then you are standing in the killing field.
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Occasionally I will refer to this as being "between his arms" or "toe-to-toe."  Traditionally we called this, "within ma-ai" but that is sort of esoteric-sounding and does not have any of evocative connotations for western students.
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If you stand inside the killing field then it is likely that the opponent can do something to you before you can respond. But life happens, so you cannot avoid the killing field, so what is the best way to handle it?
  • You have to have your strategy defined and your tactics drilled before you get into a killing field because you cannot think and plan while under fire.
  • Do not stand still inside a killing field.
  • Attack the attacker in order to reduce his capacity (kuzushi upon contact)
  • Move as quickly and efficiently as possible (tai-sabaki) while in the killing field.
  • Move through the killing field to the opponent's flank (shikaku ) if possible, or retreat and regroup outside the killing field (push back past ma-ai)


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Patrick Parker
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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Social validity and street cred


There is an old aphorism about the difference between freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  It is said that...
  • Freshmen are clueless and they don't know it.
  • Sophomores still don't know anything but they realize that they are ignorant.
  • Juniors know something but they don't realize what they know.
  • Seniors (hopefully) know and they know what they know.
I suppose what this is saying is that over time, knowledge increases and meta-knowledge (knowing what you know) increases.
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But that is not the end of the progression.  New graduates may know their subject and they may have great self-awareness of their capabilities, but they have no job experience.  Their education and knowledge still lacks social validity and they often find themselves in a Catch-22 situation in which they can't get a job without experience and they can't get experience without a job.
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Without street cred, noone will hire them because the public does not know if or what the graduate knows.  It is similar to a recent quote by Elon Musk - He is apparently not interested in hiring you unless you can demonstrate clear evidence of exceptional ability.
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Perhaps you could add a couple more levels to the hierarchy above...
  • An novice practitioner knows that he knows but nobody else knows it.
  • A master or expert practitioner knows and he knows that he knows, and everyone around him can see that he knows.
You have to know. (knowledge, skills, abilities)
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You have to know what you know. (self-awareness)
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And you have to show what you know. (demonstrate clear evidence of exceptional ability)
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So, what does this have to do with martial arts?  It's not like most of us are trying to learn martial arts in order to get hired based on those skills.
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Everything! You could replace Freshmen, Sophomore, etc.  with white belt, green belt, etc..
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The black belt is not an expert, partly because he knows that he does not know it all and partly because his skills have not had enough time and experience and seasoning.
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The shodan knows some stuff but nobody else understands or acknowledges it because the shodan has not had time to develop and demonstrate his skills.
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Often this will lead to an existential crisis soon after shodan.  At this point, they are suddenly awarded the "coveted black belt" honor (because they know stuff) but the new shodan is acutely aware of his own deficiencies (they know what they don't know) and noone around them can see much difference in them (no social validity).  This creates self-doubt.
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One possible solution is what Roy Dean has done - create rank demo embus that make it obvious to everyone that the student has knowledge, knows what he knows, and knows how to show what he knows.
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Who are you demonstrating to when you do a rank demo (embu)? You are demonstrating to others and to yourself in order to generate social validity (street cred) and to boost your own confidence and belief in self and system.
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Check out this demonstration (not a rank embu but still a demonstration) and watch how the it shows these three things about their knowledge/skills.


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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Taiotoshi compilation

Taiotoshi is a magnificent tournament throw when properly executed.  Check out this compilation!




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Patrick Parker
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Nothing ever works

Folks are always moaning about how aikido doesn't work.  Well, let me tell you a secret... Real aikido folks already know that!  See, we know that aikido does not work, because nothing ever works.
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I dare you to show me a move from karate or kravmaga or any other super-awesome martial science that always just works.  It would be worth a lot of good money to study your one super-cool thing that has no pre-suppositions or assumptions, and just plain works regardless of the context!
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But saying "aikido doesn't work" is not the same thing as saying "aikido sucks."  Aikido is amazingly practical and efficient as a self-defense (among other things).  It just doesn't work - at least, not like you think it should.
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Nobody can make it work.  You can't just go out and aikido someone to death.  Even the greatest aikido masters can't just choose the cool technique that they want to use to exert their will upon the bad guy.  Aikido does work, but in its own time and on its own terms.
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What really takes a while is learning to trust that the way that aikido works is okay.  The first step on that path is realizing that there is no magical samurai technology that just plain works.  There are no sure things.
  
--
____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com

Friday, November 15, 2019

Seiichi Shirai, Kodokan Judo 9th dan


photo from: http://files.4medicine.pl/download.php?cfs_id=1388


Our judo and aikido teacher, Karl Geis, attributed a significant portion of his newaza doctrine to seemingly little-known judo sensei (at least in America) Seiichi Shirai. Geis even called part of his groundwork doctrine, "The Shirai System."
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But there is relatively little online about a Shirai-sensei, so who was this Shirai guy? It turns out that he was one of Kyuzo Mifune's uchideshi, favorite ukes, and later Mifune's nephew-in-law. That clue gives us some research leverage because there IS a lot online and in print about Mifune!
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We can get a glimpse into Shirai-sensei's thinking on judo from these quotes in Draeger's Training Methods book:
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...and from Draeger & Otaki's Judo Formal Techniques book:
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...and from some lessons quoted from the Spring Park Judo Club at Garland TX:
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"...Another of judo’s first generation who trained under founder Jigoro Kano was Seiichi Shirai. He also trained with Mifune and eventually married Mifune's niece. ...a story that Shirai would tell about the importance of repeating a lesson:.The mind is like a tea cup. And if you fill it again and again with green tea, the cup will eventually turn green, absorbing the lesson. “And that’s the way,” Shirai would say, “I would repeat a story, over and over and over again.”...Another lesson ... from Shirai was about gaijyu and naiko. While the outside appearance of people in dealing with each other should be soft and gentle – gaijyu, the mind and the heart inside should be strong like steel – naiko."
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Shirai doing randori with Mifune begins at about 3 minutes into this video.



And here's Mifune-sensei demonstrating kata with Shirai-sensei




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So, what parts of our judo doctrine at Mokuren Dojo appear to have come down through the years from Shirai?

  • Throw into ground control. Throws should transition directly, immediately, and naturally to ground control.
  • 2-hands on a point and shrimp-bridge - Tear holes in the opponent's ground control and balance by getting 2-hands on 1 point on the opponent and blindly shrimping and bridging.
  • Use pointy elbows and knees to fill the holes created by shrimping and bridging. Also use pointy elbows and knees as part of udeosae-type hold-downs
  • Meatgrinder - our basic lessons about turning turtles and taking backs that we call "The Meatgrinder" have been attributed to Shirai.



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Patrick Parker

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Katatejime from ukigatame



Here's a fun-looking tidbit that I stumbled upon.  Since we start our choking instruction with katatejime from ukigatame, this looks like it would fit right in. Maybe a class on attacking either this or katagatame from ukigatame.



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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, November 09, 2019

Okuriashibarai compilation

For the past several months I've been posting technique compilation videos on Saturdays and I've been following the order of the Gokyo no waza.  This week we are halfway through the 2nd kyo and the technique is okuriashibarai.  Problem with compiling video of ashiwaza ippons is when conditions are imperfect (i.e. tournament) all the ashiwaza sorta look alike so it's hard to distinguish okuriashibarai from deashibarai from kosotogari.
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So, here's an ashiwaza compilation that is bound to have an okuriashibarai in there if you look hard enough.




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Friday, November 08, 2019

Koshiki and Itsutsu as sport-specific warmup and contextualized ukemi practice

For some years now (Wow! has it really been 6 years!?) we at Mokuren Dojo have been using a peculiar form of Koshiki no kata as a sort of a sport-specific warmup and contextualized ukemi exercise.
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We will take 1-2 of these techniques per class, and after doing some rocking and slapping type warmup and basic ukemi drills, we'll spend the rest of our ukemi time on these rich techniques.  Students of all ages generally love this practice for the variety it provides in an otherwise same-old-same-old warmup and ukemi practice.
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I keep coming back to these videos as a basic reference for this practice.  I find these guys' demonstration mezmerizing and I think it's charming that these two obviously advanced players are wearing white belts!
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BTW, These guy's YouTube channel has a lot of cool, semi-random martial content related to their weekly meet-up, which their website says is still active.
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Anyway, I was thinking about our use of Koshikinokata.  It seems peculiar to our dojo but it seems to work well for us and I intend to continue using this form of Koshiki for these purposes.
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That led me to think about the other facet of modern Judo - that is, ancient Tenjin Shinyo Jujutsu, and it occurred to me that their representative kata in Judo would also make a great advanced contextualized ukemi warmup.  Check out Itsutsunokata - you might wind up seeing more of it!




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Thursday, November 07, 2019

Thoughts on the ordering of Tomiki's techniques


Somewhat stream-of-consciousness thoughts on the order that we teach things in...
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Tomiki sensei gave us a set of a couple dozen techniques (sometimes 15, sometimes 17.  Some students added 5-10 more) that were representative of a large chunk of the aikido universe, but which were few enough that you could get good at them and get started with randori asap.
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Tomiki's randori-no-kata eventually got canonized (fossilized?) into Junana Hon Kata, a set of 17 fundamental techniques divided into sections of 5 atemiwaza, 5 hijiwaza, 4 tekubiwaza, and 3 ukiwaza.
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But who ever said we had to teach the 17 techniques in order? 1 then 2 then 3 then 4...
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Who declared it and made it so that...
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"...thou shalt first teach Shomenate and then having taught Shomenate thou shall proceed to Aigamaeate.  Thou shalt not proceed to Gyakugamae except having first taught Shomenate and then Aigamaeate..."
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Of course, shomenate is a good place to start. We've spent a lot of time defending the primacy of shomenate.  It is, in some ways, the basis of everything else in Junana, and it is a very good answer whenever anything goes wrong with most any other technique.  Some old dead wise guy even allegedly said that nothing else in aikido will work unless preceded by atemi (like shomenate).
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But why does it have to be first?  Other teachers started things out different ways, and our insistence on #1 then #2 then #3 and so on puts us at odds with them and makes interchange of ideas clumsy.

  • Aikikai schools often begin with iriminage (aigamaeate) and then ikkyo (oshitaoshi).
  • What little I know of Merritt Stevens, he taught oshitaoshi first, followed by iriminage.
  • What I've seen of J.W. Bode, he likes to begin with gyakugamae, ushiroate, and hadakajime.

What if Junana, instead of being taught in technique-order were taught in set-order.  That is, introduce any atemiwaza first followed by any hijiwaza then any tekubiwaza and so on.
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That would largely encompass the self-defense ideas of
  • Feldenkrais
  • Gracie Jiujitsu
  • J.W. Bode
  • Merritt Stevens
  • Aikikai
...and it would free us to teach things in a potentially more practical order, all without diminishing Tomiki-sensei's life of work and contribution to the aiki-space.

P.S. While we're killing out sacred cows, who decided that release#1 was first?  I've often thought that the set of releases feels like it should go #3, #1, #4, #2...




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Patrick Parker
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Monday, November 04, 2019

The king of embu

Check out this video.  Roy Dean is (IMO) the king of nice-looking rank demos (embu).



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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, November 02, 2019

(Sode) Tsurikomigoshi compilation

Tsurikomigoshi, and particularly the "sode" or sleeve-ends version, is one of the throws that mezmerizes me the most.  For me watching competitors perform this throw (especially in slow motion) is like staring into a fire.




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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Koshiguruma compilation

My favorite hip technique is koshiguruma because the version that I throw most does not require as much turn-in as any of the other hip throws so I can get into position and pull the trigger pretty quickly as compared to any of the other hip throws.




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Friday, October 25, 2019

Rank embu


At Mokuren Dojo, we have always scheduled rank advancement demonstrations (embu) to occur any time 1-2 students would become ready to advance.  We're going to continue to provide excellent, individualized instruction, but we're going to start doing a slightly different thing with rank embu.
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Starting immediately, we will be having quarterly ranking embu during March, June, September, and December.  Specific dates will be announced the month before, at which time, any student who feels ready can sign up to do the rank embu.

Embu are formal events. In order to attend a rank test embu, each ranking student will need to wear a clean, proper judo gi and will need to be current on their monthly dues.  Check out this article about how to do a nice-looking embu.  If you need additional coaching on this, schedule some extra class time with sensei.



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Patrick Parker
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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Ten kata of judo


The first and foremost school of Judo in Japan, Kodokan, sprang from two ancient schools of jujutsu - Kito Ryu and Tenjin Shinyo Ryu.  These ancient forms were largely kata arts because it was thought to be too dangerous to utilize the techniques of the art in free-practice, randori, or sparring.
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The kata of Kito and Tenjin Shinyo filtered down into their offspring, Kodokan Judo, and supplemented by a handful of new kata, became the official seven forms of Judo.
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But over the years other masters have put together various kata that have had some marginal use in the Judo world.
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Here are perhaps the most popular ten of the many kata of Judo.

  1. Nagenokata (The Forms of Throwing)
  2. Katamenokata (The Forms of Holding)
  3. Kimenokata (The forms of Decision)
  4. Kodokan Goshin Jutsu (Self-Defense Practices) by a committee led by Kenji Tomiki
  5. Junokata (Forms of Gentleness)
  6. Koshikinokata (Ancient Forms) derived from Kitoryu
  7. Itsutsunokata (Five forms) derived from Tenjin Shinyo Ryu
  8. Nagewaza Ura no Kata A.K.A. Gonosen no Kata (Forms of Counter-throwing) by Kyuzo Mifune
  9. Gonokata (Forms of Hardness) an abandoned essay by Jigoro Kano
  10. Nanatsu no Kata (Seven Forms - A.K.A. Form of Waves) by Tokio Hirano 



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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Kouchigari compilation

Kouchigari is not my best technique but it was one of my most favorite teacher's most favorite throw though and I'm still working on it!  Here's to John Usher!



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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Kosotogari compilation

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.




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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, October 05, 2019

Seoinage compilation

Seoinage is not exactly my favorite throw but it is super effective and super-common in tournament play! These are some superb examples!




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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Ouchigari compilation

Ouchigari is frequently successful in tournaments but it often looks clumsy.  There are some smooth and some clumsy examples on this compilation but they were all successful!




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Patrick Parker
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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

10 actors who were judoka

Judo has been popular with entertainers, artists, and actors, including...
  1. James Cagney
  2. Sonny Chiba
  3. George Harris
  4. Lucille Ball
  5. Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice)
  6. Ed Parker
  7. Gene LeBell
  8. Ronda Rousey
  9. Chuck Norris
  10. Peter Sellers


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Patrick Parker
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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Ukigoshi compilation

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.




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Friday, September 20, 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

First 10 Judo 10th dans

First ten men to ever be promoted to 10th dan rank in Judo
  1. Yamashita, Yoshitugu (1865-1935) Promoted 10th Dan 1935
  2. Isogai, Hajime (1871-1947) Promoted 10th Dan 1937
  3. Nagaoka, Hidekazu (1876-1952) Promoted 10th Dan 1937
  4. Mifune, Kyuzo (1883-1965) Promoted 10th Dan 1945
  5. Iizuka, Kunisaburo (1875-1958) Promoted 10th Dan 1946
  6. Samura, Kaichiro (1880-1964) Promoted 10th Dan 1948
  7. Tabata, Shotaro (1884-1950) Promoted 10th Dan 1948
  8. Okano, Kotaro (1885-1967) Promoted 10th Dan 1967
  9. Shoriki, Matsutaro (1885-1969) Promoted 10th Dan 1969
  10. 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.


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Monday, September 16, 2019

Never force tori to prove his technique

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.



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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Osotogari compilation

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!




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Friday, September 13, 2019

Why is shomen-ate taught first?


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.
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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.
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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?
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Because as Jagger-sensei says, "You can't always get what you want."
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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.
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Tomiki's teaching system places the main backup plan first because it solves so many problems.
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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.
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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.

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Patrick Parker
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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Ukewaza and ukemi - most valuable skill or useless time-waster?

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...
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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."
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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.  
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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.
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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.).
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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.



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Patrick Parker
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ten grappling arts from around the world

There are pretty much as many different forms of grappling arts and sports as there are people who like to grapple.  Here are ten of the many.

  1. Judo
  2. Aikido
  3. Japanese jujutsu
  4. Brazillian jiujitsu
  5. Glima
  6. Greco-Roman wrestling
  7. Freestyle wrestling
  8. Shuai jiao
  9. Malla-yuddha
  10. Sambo

But even with all this variety, there are only so many ways that one human can effectively twist or throw or crush another human, so you are bound to see interesting similarities.


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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, September 07, 2019

Ogoshi compilation

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!




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Friday, September 06, 2019

Tokio Hirano's seoinage

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.
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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.
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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).




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Tuesday, September 03, 2019

10 pro-tips for deashibarai


  1. Deashibarai is a going-down throw.  It happens when uke is trying to put his foot down on the ground - not when uke is trying to pick his foot up. 
  2. Do not try to kick uke's foot to the moon.
  3. Try to get the feel of grabbing a sock with your toes - that is, grasping as if your foot were a hand.
  4. Grasp uke's foot below and behind the ankle near where his heel touches the ground.
  5. Grasp uke's foot with the bottom of your foot - not the side
  6. Point your sweeping foot and turn your sweeping hip outward
  7. Pull with your hamstrings (bend the knee) instead of sweeping from the hip with a straight leg.
  8. Pull uke's foot directly toward your own standing foot
  9. Pull directly along the plane of the mat as if scraping gum off the bottom of your toes.
  10. You can use deashibarai as a connector to create a combo out of almost any two techniques.



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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Sasae tsurikomiashi compilation

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.




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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

10 politicians who were judoka

Judo has been a popular pastime for politicians and political leaders all over the world for the last century, including...
  1. Theodore Roosevelt (United States)
  2. Angela Merkel (Germany)
  3. Pierre Trudeau (Canada)
  4. Vladimir Putin (Russia)
  5. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Colorado)
  6. Ulla Werbrouck (Belgium)
  7. William Hague (United Kingdom)
  8. Albert II (Monaco)
  9. Battulga Khaltmaa (Mongolia)
  10. Curtis LeMay (United States)


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Patrick Parker
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Monday, August 26, 2019

Nick Lowry's okuriashibarai

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).
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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.
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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.






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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Hizaguruma compilation

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!




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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Judo is a brand name like Xerox

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.
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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.
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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.
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What are those things that koryu jujutsu does that Judo has to be able to do (besides randori and shiai) to be called jujutsu?

  • Self-defense?
  • Arresting/tying techniques?
  • Weapons?
  • Resuscitation techniques?
  • Horseback riding (or the modern equivalent)?
  • Some old jujutsu schools even had a swimming in armor component.



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Patrick Parker
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Joys and frustrations of teaching your own


Check out this tiny 5yo Quin Parker putting a nice kosotogari on his older brother!
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There are joys and frustrations associated with teaching your own children.
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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.
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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?"
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"What?"
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"All those times you made me practice judo with you."




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Patrick Parker
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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

10 judoka with superpowers I want to develop in myself

We all have our tokuiwaza, our special techniques or abilities or attributes.  Here are 10 martial artists whose special sparks I want to develop within myself.
  1. Nick Lowry's okuriashibarai and ability to gather a community around the dojo
  2. Kyuzo Mifune's outstanding effortless floating counters
  3. Bob Rea's empty jacket feel
  4. Karl Geis' amazing tewaza
  5. Zdenek Matl's gentle but relentless control throughout techniques
  6. Chad Morrison's vigorous, active teaching style
  7. Pat Little's positive, encouraging, empowering teaching style
  8. Dr. John Kirby's amazing ability to translate theory in the dojo to functional ability in shiai.
  9. J.W. Bode's ability to apply fundamentals to self-defense situations
  10. Eric Pearson's off-the-hook creativity and synthesis
  11. (I know I can't count) Tokio Hirano's ability to create a rhythm in uke then insert techniques into that rhythm.
  12. (11 and 12 are lagniappe) Henry Copeland's ability to use kuzushi to make a fast opponent slow down to manageable speed indefinitely.
When I manage to steal all these masters' superpowers, no one will ever be able to stop me! Mwahaha!

Seriously though, I know that in order to do the things they can do, I have to do the things they have done.  Sounds like a few decades worth of material to keep me occupied.


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Patrick Parker
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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Deashibarai compilation

A compilation of instances of my favorite technique done successfully (in come cases, magically) in competition.  This sort of thing turns me on!




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Friday, August 16, 2019

Pat-isms and loose translations

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." 
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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. 
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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.
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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. 
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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!



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Patrick Parker
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Thursday, August 15, 2019

What is 6-jo kata good for anyway?


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.
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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.





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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Scouts and the Martial Arts


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.
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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.
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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),
  • quarterstaff,
  • fencing,
  • boxing,
  • ju jitsu,
  • gymnastics, and
  • wrestling
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.






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____________________

Patrick Parker

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