Sunday, January 18, 2009

There's something I like about this video, but I can't quite put my finger on what, exactly.

Perhaps it is the judo throws?

Ki-Young Jeon, you have no idea how helpful this is.

oh man it's Jeon

I've been working hard at juji gatame lately, new setups, new entries, new grip breaks. (New to me, I mean; I am changing zero games here.) I'd been focused specifically on passing and pinning for the last while, but I've found that as that has come along, opportunities for the juji just kind of start to present themselves, you know? Like, I'm not looking for it, but all of a sudden it's like "oh shit, an arm, let's see about this." And so an increased interest in the juji gatame.

I have been plagued, though, by a thing that doesn't happen all that often but when it does, it makes you feel like a god damned idiot. What do you do if you're pretty much all set to finish the technique, but all of a sudden your opponent traps your damn leg between his damn legs and you can't finish damn it and before you know it your're in his damn half guard for some reason? Damn it, right?

Apparently there is a way to deal with this.

Pretty neat~

Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki at the 1982 Kano Cup

Here's one of the all-time greats very much in his prime, Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki at the 82 Kano Cup, only a year removed from his World Championship (in 1981! in Maastricht!).

In this first clip we see Kashiwazaki secure a strong belt grip, and from there Ponomarev is pretty much boned: as the analyst suggests, this strong grip forces Ponomarev into attacking very weakly with seoi nage (oh man, I've been there). Once Kashiwazaki has that grip, he works relentlessly for his signature obi tori gaeshi, his belt-grab reversal.

Against Cheuk Wing Mok, Kashiwazaki attacks with kosoto gari, and then shows a variation of the same obi tori gaeshi technique as seen above, this time turning his opponent to the side this time rather than rolling him over the top. Kashiwazaki illustrates both techniques in Attacking Judo, co-authored with Hidetoshi Nakanishi, a volume that owns like you would not believe.

In the finals, we see Kiyosuke Sahara unable to resist Kashiwazki's obi tori gaeshi (even though he knows it's coming), but he is able to escape the tate shiho gatame well before an ippon. Worth noting that Kashiwazki prefers to perform tate shiho across the body at a forty-five degree angle, trapping the far shoulder/extended arm? And that he thinks of this as the basic tate shiho, with the version seen way more often, and taught as one of the most basic of basics, as a variation? Anyway, he mentions that in Osaekomi, his rad book on pinning, and it intrigues me.

Moving on: Sahara clearly knows what is up when they are back on their feet, and attacks with something like yoko gake when Kashiwazaki goes for his belt grip. Nice. Later, Sahara gets a strong over hand grip, so you would think he was in business, as you never really had to worry about Kashiwazaki, say, flying under neath for a low seoi nage or anything. But Kashiwazaki ducks under and comes up with the ashi tori ouchi gari, the major inner reap with the leg pick. And we love it.

Kashiwazaki, man. Seriously.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Christmas gift to you is late this year, but it is classic judo books, so . . .

What an age we live in, in which dudes scan and share their extremely rare judo books rather than list them on ABE for hundreds of dollars. Well, dudes are still doing that too, a little, but a more enlightened breed that recognizes that all information wants is to be free has emerged. And so we have such things as these:

Judo, Sadaki Nakabayashi (et al) (1965)
Canon of Judo, Kyuzo Mifune (1958)
Higher Judo Ground Work (Katame Waza), Moshe Feldenkrais (1952)
Contest Judo, Charles Yerkow (1961)

Which you can find here.

The first point to make about all of these is that they are fucking awesome. It's only been in the last week or so that I've seen the Nakabayashi and Yerkow books making the rounds. The Feldenkrais has been around a while now, and I've spent quite a bit of time with it. The extended prose sections are worth the time, and the range of grappling techniques demonstrated is wide and varied, very much in keeping with what you'd expect from a French text of the era if you're familiar with Mikonosuke Kawaishi's influence in France. Kawaishi was a man who loved illegal kansetsu waza, you see, and it showed. Illegal in randori and shiai, that is -- the techniques still exist within judo, though they are far from central, and your average shodan or nidan isn't going to know many or perhaps any of them, really, except maybe for those preserved in kata. But they were, are, and will always be judo. Anyway, I know I have the French edition of Kawaishi's 1955 classic My Method of Judo somewhere, and I will definitely post it before too long. But, for now, enjoy the Feldenkrais, which will perhaps whet your appetite.

Kyuzo Mifune's Canon of Judo is probably of the most interest here, however. Until coming back into print not long ago, this was almost certainly the most sought after out-of-print judo book, fetching absurd prices for an incredibly poorly translated work of esoteric near-mysticism. Mifune gets . . . a little out there at times, but of course I do not wish it otherwise. I will leave it to you to discover such instances. The new Francoise White translation is quite excellent and pretty much indispensable, but you've got to take it back to 1958 to get this kind of thing:

"Hadaka Jime

(Nude Strangle)

-- The Gist --

This is to wring up the opponent's throat without touching the clothes. Either in the standing or in the lying trick, this is to bring the opponent to the state of suspended animation by wringing the throat, making him incline backward and breaking his balance in the most natural way."

I mean, exactly, right?


While looking, unsuccessfully, for my copy of Kawaishi, I've found a 1947 Kodokan publication called What is Judo? that you might well enjoy. It's only little, and it is here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

So how is your judo at the moment?

Thing I'm gonna do this after every class until they really start to suck. Probably more for my edification than anything else. We'll see.

I missed Thursday and missed a white belt get promoted to sankyu and a sankyu get promoted to nikkyu so that sucked. Wish I had been there for those dudes. Being sick sucks because you usually feel good enough to judo but don't wanna get anyone sick.
So tonight I was doing uchi komi with white belts and it's so weird to be telling people what to do. Because I think I know virtually nothing about judo and yet I am correcting dudes seoi nages and I never ever do seoi nage is just so weird. And pretty cool!

A couple dudes in our club are up for shodan and that is really exciting because aside from our senseis, no one has any manner of black belt. I think a lot of the guys in our club started judo very young, went away from it for a while, then came back fairly recently. At least that's the only reason I can think of that we don't have more black belts, everyone is really good and I would say that all our brown belts except for me are at least as good as 90% of the shodans at my old club.

Currently we are working on nage no kata. For fear of being branded a heretic, I kind of hate it. I understand we need to know it for shodan and we got these dudes so we're doing it but ugh no more. I wanna throw the living hell out of dudes who don't want to get thrown, not sort of gently throw a dude who is sort of letting you throw him but also doesn't wanna get slammed.

So how are you guys? How is your judo? Let me know, I like hearing personal accounts of judo's glory.

Monday, December 15, 2008

IJF Rule Changes for 2009

The International Judo Federation has recently tested and finalized a number of rule changes, and we think it's pretty obvious that no one is better equipped to evaluate these changes than a sankyu and an ikkyu who have never competed beyond the local/regional/state/provincial level. I know, right? The rules themselves can be seen here, here, here, and here.

A.W.: I had sort of expected, before reading the updated IJF rules, that there would be some radical changes. But that is not really what I see to be honest! And that's just fine!

Goodbye koka, no one will mourn you. If there's anything I hate on an aesthetic and personal level, it's anything less than ippon judo. I know that there is an argument to be made for racking up a number of small scores but I think it's sort of garbage. Why tire yourself out when you can use perfect judo to instantly win and look awesome doing it?

Let's see, what else is there to this. Defensive gripping is bad! So is flopping to the ground! Weren't these always against the rules? In any event, that is why judo isn't brazilian jiujitsu, which is a beautiful art in it's own right.

The sokuteiki is a weird lil contraption, I don't know why it is better than a referee's hand but apparently it is!

KS: Yes, there is less here than we had been led to expect, I think, but the abolition (yeah, abolition) of koka is pretty significant. I was hoping that, without koka, the osaekomi times in ne waza would be reduced accordingly, so that ten seconds would score yuko, fifteen waza-arai, and twenty ippon. But alas.

The gripping clarifications are mostly reinforcing existing rules, as my most esteemed colleague has said: excessively defensive gripping is a penalty, endlessly holding your opponent down in obi-tori grip is a penalty, etc. But there are a couple of meaningful changes here, at least in the way these rules are being interpreted for now. Grasping your own lapel to prevent your opponent's grip is a penalty now, and beginning an attack by grabbing the pant legs is a penalty. Both of those changes will be noticeable. Apparently a morote gari where you shoot in, no grip, is still totally cool so long as you hook the legs with your hands or arms? This is the word. And you can grab the hell out of the pants so long as it is in the middle of an attack that you do so. But your first grip can't be a pants grip. I guess.

I like the new boundary rules. So long as one of the competitors is in bounds, and the other, even if he's out of bounds, hasn't deliberately stepped out to avoid fighting, everything is cool. That's a big improvement. It never happened to me, but it was brutal to see people penalized for completely incidentally stepping out of bounds.

Anything to to keep people from pushing the rules on gi size is a good thing as far as I can see, and so I welcome you, sokuteiki.

Finally, I am a little nervous that my drop seoi otoshi will be penalized as a false attack by the overzealous when in truth it is often a genuinely failed attack offered in all earnestness. It is just that dudes do not sail over-top me with the kind of frequency I would like, you know?

Friday, December 12, 2008

2008 Kano Cup, Tokyo, Japan: Day One

The Kano Cup is underway at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gym, and Tokyo TV has a handful of the key matches from day one available streaming from their website. You can watch them here. And you should! Two real stories coming out day one. The first is that 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Masato Uchishiba lost; the second is that Tsukuba University hotshot Kisei Akimoto didn't.

Tokyo TV has three matches from the 60 kg division up. The first is M. Fukuoka's sharp juji-gatame win, the next two are Akimoto, and he shows a nice range of technique. Everything for Akimoto comes out of the ouchi gari, which he attacks with pretty much constantly. Whether it's his low tai otoshi (which he doesn’t hit, but watch him dig dig dig) or the uchimata that scores waza ari in his second match, the ouchi seems key in setting it all up. The sukui nage (te guruma? as you like it, friends, as you like it) he scores yuko with late in the gold medal match against Choi Gwang Hyeon comes out of an ouchi gari attack as well. It's pretty neat. Choi threatens with his seoi otoshi a couple of times but from the clips it seems like Akimoto was pretty much running things on the whole. Note too that we have here a dude who goes for the Tsukuba roll whenever possible in ne waza, thereby repping his school to the fullest.

So, Masato Uchishiba, then. He blames the loss on a lack of training, and I can see how you might take it a little easier than normal coming off an Olympic win, sure. But full marks to Haskhbaatar Tsagaanbaatar for the yoko gake for ippon when he was down by a yuko. Those Mongolians, man: they do not relent.

Tatsuaki Egusa had two awesome, awesome matches. They're the last two on the Tokyo TV page right now, and they're totally worth your while. A juji-gatame win in golden score over Draksic (who almost escapes), a huge harai goshi in the dying seconds (he was already way up) to secure the win over An Jeong Hwan (KOR). I also like his insistence on the seoi otoshi that he never actually gets to work. He insists on that throw. Also, can I just say: I am digging the hell out of the osoto gari from the ippon seoi nage setup that An is after here. When that works, my god does it look like judo.

The heavyweight women's matches posted are pretty ok, though obviously the pace was comparatively sluggish. Yang Xiuli (CHN) beat Kumiko Horie (JPN) with a pretty swank ura nage in the 78 kg (I liked the tani otoshi for yuko just before), and towering giantess Elena Ivashchenko (RUS) caught Mika Sugimoto (JPN) with a pretty loose tani otoshi for gold in the +78 kg. Such enormity.