Modern Judo - Techniques Of East And West

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Author: Peter Seisenbacher & George Kerr
Pub: 1991 by The Crowood Press Ltd.
Pages: 192
Ranking:Four star Rating
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An excellent book, with a great deal of information on the changes in Judo since Olympic era. More in the line of a 'biography', it nonetheless contains quite excellent technical discussions on the Seisenbacher's tournament techniques. This book is more oriented to competition Judo, and is quite good for that purpose. Numerous excellent photos, and easy-to-read text, this is a 'must-have' book for your library. Currently in print and available. Highly recommended!

 Preface                                        7
 1 The Japanese Tradition:                       
       A Personal History by George Kerr       11
 2 The Western Tradition:                        
       Judo for Sport by Peter Seisenbacher    35
 3 The Modern View                               
       by George Kerr and Peter Seisenbacher   63
 4 Contest Judo:                                 
       Championship Winning Techniques           
       by Peter Seisenbacher                   81
 5 Modern Training Methods                       
       by George Kerr                         149

 I The History of Judo in the West               
       by George Kerr                         161
 II World Championships and Olympic Games        
       Results and Analysis                      
       by Peter Seisenbacher                  169
    Glossary                                  187
    Index                                     191



It was a happy combination of circumstances that brought Peter Seisenbacher and myself together. I had gone from being a competitor and a club instructor to occupy a position as a Class One international referee but after the 1976 Montreal Olympics had decided to resign from refereeing over a difference of opinion regarding the interpretation of newly introduced passivity rulings intended to penalize the adoption of excessively defensive postures in contest. I had just seen the Austrian heavyweight lose to Keith Remfry and had said to Kurt Kucera, the President of the Austrian Federation, that if I had been coaching the Austrian team they could have won two medals. I did not apply for the position of Team Manager to the British Team, which was vacated by Ray Ross, because it required a full-time commitment and I had a business to run. It was taken over by Dave starbrook and Tony Macconnell.

Britain's loss was to be Austria's gain, because Kucera took me at my word and, on the recommendation of Lutz Liscka, the Austrian team trainer, a journalist who had come fifth in the Munich Olympics and had spent some time training with me at the Renshuden in 1962, I was offered a part-time appointment to begin coaching the Austrian squad. My first impressions of Peter Seisenbacher were not especially memorable. He was a tall, skinny, lanky brown belt who stood out from the rest only in that he was a bit more determined and was already quite good at newaza. Liscka had been especially keen to get me enlisted in the running of the team because he had problems with some of the more extrovert members of the squad like Klaus Wallas and Jurek Jatowtt, but discipline was never a problem once I was in charge; I put the responsibility for their performances in their own hands.

Taking on the Austrian team at this time was quite an interesting proposition and our first outing involved going to Paris for training and a team match with the French. I met Jean Paul Coche, ex-European Champion and one of the French coaches there and, when I told him of my new job, he quipped, 'You are starting out as a team manager in the best possible place: at the bottom!' Despite the obvious humour in his words, there was a ring of truth to them. We lost 9 -- 0 with Peter Koestenburger managing to draw. However, Koestenburger was young, aggressive, strong and full of potential and in the Junior World Championships, with my coaching later that year in Barcelona, he had just had the edge he needed to win the junior world title. Success breeds success and, once his team mates saw that one of their group could do it, they redoubled their efforts to match his success.

Seisenbacher's breakthrough came in the Junior European Championships in 1979 when he won a bronze medal. In the same year, in the Senior Europeans, aged twenty, he got to the final, coming from behind to throw Peter Donnelly of Great Britain for ippon with his ouchi-gari. He was beaten in the final by Iaskevitch, but he had had a tantalizing taste of what success might be like and he was hungry for more. After a disappointing performance in the 1980 Olympics, Seisenbacher decided he needed to be trained in Japan. I spent ten days there setting things up for him and he went out there initially for two six-week periods per year. Robert van de Walle used the same system as preparation for major championships because, like Seisenbacher, he could not get enough strong training partners at home.

The great advantage of being based in Austria, though, was that it is situated in the heart of Europe, where East meets West and access to hard competitions is virtually unlimited. Competitions like the Hungary Cup, the Bulgarian Open, Potsdam, the Czech Open, the Tournoi de Paris and the East and West German Opens were easily reached and provided perfect tune-up events to hone the skills that were trained in practice to perfection. This central geographic location was the main reason that Professor Shigeyoshi Matsumae built the International Budo Centre there.

The other big advantage that Seisenbacher had over many western judoka was that he was a soldier. In Austria, national service is compulsory, lasting nine months, but any young, budding judo man who wants to try can go off to thesaurus school (the Sudstatt) and do full-time judo. Accommodation is arranged and they can earn 10,000 schillings per month and receive full board. If they achieve a medal in a Class B tournament, they are permitted to carry on.

Seisenbacher thrived on hard training and particularly on the Japanese approach. As his judo got better and I helped prepare the way for him, he began to realize the value of a coach in a way he had not before. After deciding to make a three-month visit to Japan in 1981, he came back to Austria in March a changed fighter. Japan had transformed him; he never thought in materialistic terms, just of judo. He realized my value to him as a coach who understood the Japanese mind and the system: budoshi, the way of judo. Sadly this no longer seems to exist. But we spent much of the time at Tokai University, run by Nobuyuki Sato, who had himself twice won world titles and the coveted All-Japan Championships. Nobuyuki Sato is one of the few sensei in Japan who still tries to instil budoshi into his students. Since, in general, the sporting ethos of the West had replaced the traditional Japanese way. Most no longer regard their training as training for life. Sato still preserves the traditional New Year's Eve training: practising judo from 11.00 p.m. -- 1.00 a.m.; then sweeping out the dojo afterwards prior to a celebratory meal in preparation for the New Year.

From 1982, it was purely a matter of time before Seisenbacher achieved the success he deserved and, despite a disappointing World Championships in 1983, the prospect of the gold medal in Los Angeles grew ever more possible. In Homer's epic poem, The Iliad, the greatest warriors were always rewarded by the gods for their courage by an aristeia, a time when they could not be beaten by their opponents and glory would be theirs. For Peter Seisenbacher, that time was due in 1984.

The same determination and confidence that won him his gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics took him on to win the World Championships in 1985, the European Championships in 1986 and, most remarkably, a second Olympic gold medal in the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea - something no other judo man had ever achieved. The approach that had allowed him to achieve this was a modern one. As Seisenbacher's coach, I was mother, father and trainer all rolled into one. I did things for him that the traditional Japanese sensei would have considered unthinkable. The Japanese way has always been unquestioning obedience, while in the West the approach is more lively; values shift and progress is made through dialogue. To a certain extent, we were combining both approaches to get the best out of each and the balance was quite delicate.

The most telling example of the difference became the subject of a huge article in an Austrian newspaper and was based on a minute and apparently trivial comment. When we were in Japan, prior to the 1988 Olympics, I used to get up in the morning and make breakfast for Seisenbacher. On one particular day, when he was feeling stiff and sore, slightly overweight from eating too many Big Macs with chips and milk shakes at Tokyo Macdonalds, bored by the innumerable dojo training sessions and disgruntled by the prospect of another hard day he said to me, 'George, there is too much butter on my toast'. The complaint was like a slap in the face to someone who was himself a 7th dan, one of the highest of western grades and the product of the traditional Japanese system, and I had to ask myself, 'What am I doing here with this young guy?' It was the beginning of a dialogue, one of many, that helped us to understand exactly what we were doing and what we were out to achieve. The result is history.

This book sets out that history and highlights the collaborative, analytical approach to judo that really made the difference to Peter Seisenbacher's career and which has to be the basis for the development of our modern judo, a judo effective enough to win two Olympic gold medals, yet a judo that goes beyond mere sport.


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