Feet - The Most Fascinating Object In Judo...

Feet, more correctly, your opponent’s feet, are apparently the most fascinating objects in all of Judo.  During every practice, I can look around at Judoka doing randori, and they are all, almost to a man, looking down at their opponent’s feet.

What is the fascination with feet?  Do we wonder if our opponent has properly clipped his toenails - prior to being attacked with De Ashi Barai?  Do we suspect that our opponent might be going somewhere - and we need to watch his feet to make that determination?

In all the years of Judo that I’ve done, I’ve convinced myself of one fact beyond any dispute… my opponent’s feet are below his body.  In fact, I frequently use various ashiwaza - as I’m getting too old and tired to throw with spectacular throws anymore - and prefer the small and effortless throws… and although I virtually never glance downward … my foot invariably contacts my opponent’s foot in just the right place.

I could begin explaining to others that my mystical insight and psychic powers have developed as I’ve trained through my black belt ranks… allowing me to accurately know where my opponent’s foot is… or I could be honest, and simply admit that I never can seem to find my opponent’s foot other than underneath him.

In the Marine Corps, we used to have a ‘running chant’ that had the verse: “Ain’t no sense in looking down, ain’t no beer can on the ground…”  In Judo, I’ll argue the same thing… Ain’t no sense in looking down, your opponents feet are still on the ground.

In looking down you also destroy the perfectly upright balance that you should have for rapid speed of movement.  One of my favorite thoughts about Judo is that we should always strive to help our opponent.  If he’s got his head down - we should immediately reach over his shoulder, and help him put his head where he so clearly wants it.  (Hikkomi Gaeshi seems to work nicely here…)

But what we shouldn’t do is help our opponent by staring at his feet - for the only help we’re offering is a weakness in our posture that will make it easy to throw us.  Try locking your eyeballs right into your opponent’s eyes - and see if your techniques still continue to work just fine… I suspect they will…