Odds & Ends - Musings of a Long Time Judoka

These are just random tidbits of information or thought that don't really merit an entire article, but may be of interest. This is not aimed at beginning students, rather for instructors… but anyone may pick up whatever they can.

"Where the head goes, the body will follow" - A constant refrain of mine. This is one of the major reasons that I like a high collar grip… if I can move uke's head, his body is going to follow.

"Triangle of Techniques" - When attempting a choke, uke will often open himself to an armbar, or pin. Whatever ground technique you're attempting, think in terms of a "triangle" of techniques… threaten one to open opportunities for another. Don't get your mind "set" on just one particular technique. Combinations work just as well in newaza as they do in tachiwaza.

If you learn Tani Otoshi, you've also learned Yoko Otoshi, and Uki Waza… only the direction that uke is thrown in is different. When teaching Yoko Otoshi, it's easy to teach it as a combination to a left-sided Osotogari attack. When Uke pulls back from the Osotogari, it leads directly into Yoko Otoshi.

On Ouchigari, put your head on uke's -opposite- arm… ie; if you are attacking uke's left leg (standard right-handed Ouchigari), put your head on uke's -right- arm. This prevents the common Uranage type defenses to Ouchigari.

Standing choke or armbar attempts make wonderful lead-in combinations for throws. They are so rarely attempted that most Judoka take them too seriously…

Why do we teach Seoi Otoshi as a lifting up throw identical in action to Seoinage? Doesn't "Otoshi" mean -drop-?? Instead of driving your right leg back, with a 'live' foot position (toes dug in), try driving the right leg back with a 'dead' foot position, it gets you lower and deeper… now, DROP uke to your right side… NOT up and over your shoulder.

I've always disliked the standard Yokoshihogatame - it's far too easy for uke to push your head with his 'free' arm - down where he can loop around with a leg. Munegatame, which doesn't position tori in quite as 'low' a position on uke's body, has been far better for me in competition. I can also shift into Ude Garami far easier.

Ippon Seoinage into Morotegari is a little known or used combination. Drive in on Ippon Seoi - if uke defends by stiffening and pulling back, drop your grip and continue spinning in the same direction… you'll end up facing uke again after two 180 degree turns… drive low and attack with Morotegari. Very surprising move to most people.

Feet rarely stray very far from being under a person. When students insist on bending downward as they stare at their opponent's feet, point out this simple fact.

You don't increase your ability with a particular skill by NOT using it, rather, it is by your repeated use of a particular skill or technique, that you gain in ability. Why then do we encourage everyone to train with higher ranked Judoka to gain skill? Mismatch everyone constantly… the better Judoka will be gaining repetitions on their throws. Attempting to match everyone to equal skill levels doesn't give them the opportunity to actually apply their skills repetitively. Instead of randori - which far too many Judoka regard as just a hair short of shiai - have a 'give & take' randori - make it mandatory to exchange throws…

There are just four positions on the ground:

1.	Hands and Knees - Bottom  (Worst position)
2.	Hands and Knees - Top     (Best position)
3.	Legs around - Bottom      (Even position)
4.	Legs around - Top         (Even position)

Everyone should learn methods of attack from all four positions. None of these positions are good for defense.

Most Judo clubs that I've seen spend far too much time doing exercises and warm-ups, and not enough time doing Judo. The warm-ups should consist of leg and arm and neck stretches, then start in with newaza drills. Simple drills such as shifting from pin to pin, then gradually moving into newaza randori. ½ hour of this will replace all the warm-up exercises most clubs are currently doing, and actually train in Judo at the same time. After this, falling drills, then uchikomi, and on to either kata or randori, depending on your schedule. Most of us teach the same way we learned, and never really consider how to improve the class schedule

If you don't have significant self-defense instruction in class - ask the students if they'd like more self-defense training. Taking the last 10 minutes of class drilling on Kote Gaeshi, or various self-defense applications, once or twice a week - will give a wonderful 'warm-down' to the class, and provide incentive for people to keep training.

The first major thinker in Judo was Jigoro Kano. The second major thinker on Judo was Geof Gleeson. If you haven't read his books, or learned about his thoughts on Judo, you should. (Much of what Phil Porter teaches derives directly from Gleeson) If you don't know the term "driver-leg", or "power-arm", it would be useful to read Gleeson's books. It will help your Judo. For example, the major reason that throws fail can be traced to poor "driver-leg" positioning. Learning what the correct placement for any particular throw makes it easier to teach accurate technique. Being able to do - is not the same thing as being able to teach.

The twisting of the hips creates the largest single amount of power in a throw. Examine your technique, and see where you can add more hip twist. One example is the first throw of the Nage no Kata, Uki Otoshi. The right hand version, tori drops to his left knee… a more powerful version is to turn 180 degrees to your left, so you are facing the same direction as uke, dropping to your right knee, and executing the same throw. The twisting of the hips adds momentum and power to the throw… and your right hand will become more important to the throw's execution.