Encino Judo Tournament & Clinic with AnnMaria De Mars


Just got back from an Encino Judo Club tournament and Clinic on Saturday. We were fortunate to have AnnMaria De Mars, 6th Dan and former World Champion to teach the clinic. I thought I’d pass along a few tidbits from the class.  One interesting concept that she passed along was on the topic of the turtle. She comments that there are just three possibilities when your opponent turtles at a shiai:

1. They just forgot all they ever knew about Judo.
2. They are deathly afraid of you.
3. They are acting as bait, hoping that you’ll come after them.

Now, as AnnMaria asserts, with a record of over 1,100 matches, (12 of which she lost!) - she won an overwhelming majority of her matches with Newaza. So you might imagine that she was emphasizing choice # 3. She went on to show the familiar ‘Hook elbow with your arm and roll’ when uke places their arm across your back - but what was distinctive is that she knew that you’d not be so lucky as to have someone place their arm far over (like a wrestler’s position), so AnnMaria emphasized rolling up toward uke to meet the arm.

I’ve often commented on the necessity of being able to go on the offensive from all four basic newaza positions, and there are many more attacks that can be made from the turtle. This is the only one from the turtle that AnnMaria worked on today.

Another interesting concept that she covered was turning an opponent over who is flat on their stomach. AnnMaria showed a fairly standard turnover where you place your hand on uke’s back, and grab the near leg just above the knee, and pull up on the leg, and push them over. AnnMaria had a good laugh at Judoka who complain that this is a very low percentage turnover - for she admits that all she’s really looking for is for Uke to put an arm out. She demonstrated a lightening fast Jujigatame, then apologized for having slowed down as she’s getting older. Smiley She also demonstrated the half-nelson turnover on the turtle, and demonstrated that if someone keeps their elbows tucked in tight enough to avoid you getting the half-nelson, then simply pushing them over (just like rolling a ball!) is quite easy.

There were quite a few fun games, that even the adults enjoyed. One rather unusual game was started by splitting the class into four groups, and each person in a group had a number. Let’s imagine 20 Judoka - split them up into the four groups by size… the four biggest Judoka would all be “# 1″, and would be split into four groups… then the next four biggest Judoka get ‘# 2′, and are split into the four groups, and so on. Now, separate the four groups of Judoka to the four corners of the dojo, and toss a belt into the center of the dojo. Call out a number at random… if you call ‘# 5′ for example, the number fives in each group (which would be the smaller Judoka) all try to run to the center of the dojo and grab the belt, and return it to their group. One ‘wins’ by managing to get the belt to his or her’s group. If Sensei calls ‘# 1′, then the biggest Judoka in each group (who hold that number) would rush out and try to get the belt. This game emphasizes listening ability, speed, hand coordination, and if you aren’t fast enough, pulling ability! It’s really a nifty game - give it a try if you have enough Judoka to make it fun!

AnnMaria also emphasized two important aspects of newaza: speed and combinations. She illustrated in her demonstrations an amazing fluidity and speed that can only come from a lot of practice. Combinations she illustrated with her shifting turnovers… often starting a turnover not with the goal of actually turning Uke over, but forcing Uke to give up an arm to stop the turnover…

Another fascinating bit of information that AnnMaria passed along was the myth of training in Japan. Everyone knows that if you want to be an International competitor, and have a shot at winning the world championship, you must make the trek to Japan, and train at the Kodokan. However, as AnnMaria pointed out, her training was conducted at a local club in San Diego, with additional trips to Los Angeles. But she did make the point that she trained 4 days a week in San Diego, adding 3 visits a week to Los Angeles clubs. Now, it’s been awhile since I attended school, but as best as I can recall my math, that seems to mean that AnnMaria trained every single day. It’s this, and not the mythical trek to Japan that seems to be the key to high level Judo competition. Granted, however, that there is some really excellent Judo in the Southern California region - but AnnMaria’s experience seems to contradict the idea that you have to “Go to Mecca” to become really good in Judo.

I’ve placed photos from this clinic/tournament here on the website - contact me if you’d like a CD with all of them - or you can ‘right-click’ and save any particular photo… the thumbnails must be clicked on to see the normal sized photo - and these are not cropped or changed - so they are fairly big files, averaging around 1.7 Megs. Just go to AnnMaria Clinic Photos