Poseurs in Judo


Poseur: From the French - a person who pretends to be what he or she is not: an affected or insincere person…

Most martial arts are afflicted with ‘em. I well recall as a young Ikkyu meeting a 20 something year old Marine, holding a 7th degree belt in some arcane art, who informed me that his art was so deadly, that he could not step on the mat with me.

Fortunately, we don’t have too many poseurs in Judo - since it becomes instantly clear who is knowledgeable, and who is not - when we step on the mat. No amount of theoretical knowledge is going to over-ride a person’s inability to perform simple throws.

Yet with the dramatically increasing presence of the Internet, a new phenomenon has appeared… Actual Judo poseurs! Something that without the Internet would not be possible.  It’s quite hard to step on the mat with someone that’s 3,000 miles away.  Fortunately however, with the amount of knowledge that the average American black belt possesses, it’s still easy to tell the difference.

One recent example occurred over on rec.martial-arts - the newsgroup where ‘armchair’ martial artists hang out with real ones… This particular person claims that kansetsuwaza was not taught in Judo clubs of the 1960’s, that belt rank derived from the “dirty belt” tradition (although interestingly, he believes that Kano used a “dirty belt” tradition from China to invent the belt system), and has shown other rather fascinating misconceptions of Judo, all the while claiming to have practiced the art.

Another favorite poseur no longer posts - but she was famous (or infamous, as you will) for claiming that all Judo throws were designed to land Uke on his head. Tawara Gaeshi comes to mind, here - since when done the way it’s taught, Uke’s head can never touch the ground. And when was the last time you saw a De Ashi Barai so powerful that it was able to turn Uke upside down?

They are amusing, however - and a way to judge your knowledge and skill. The game is simple - who is a real Judoka, and who is the poseur? Anyone can play. Simply run to your nearest newsgroup or discussion area - where they are talking about Judo - and try to figure out who’s a real Judoka, and who simply thinks that they know Judo.