The Way of Gentleness

by Jinryu

Yesterday, I went to my first judo lesson ever.  I had high expectations.  I don’t know much about doing judo, but [Zanshin]’s done judo for a fair number of years.  I also got to talk to his brother while I was in Montreal, who is also doing judo.  Overall, those opinions are what gave me the push to finally try going to a school, which I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now.


The fascination to me is because of the throws.  I can punch, kick, knee, elbow, and I have a fair game on the ground, but I don’t know anything about throwing people.  I have always found it really spectacular to see though!


The first lesson had it’s pluses and minuses.


The first minus was that I’m recovering from a bad resppiratory illness that I caught on the plane ride back from Los Angeles.  For the entire ride from LA to Sydney, I was sitting relatively near someone who was coughing the whole way, and basically, there was nowhere to retreat to.  By the time I landed in Sydney, I was still okay, but over the next few days, I developed a fever and flu-like symptoms.  A few days after that, I got some of the worst lungs I’ve ever had, coupled with asthma problems.  I’m actually an asthmatic– however, I don’t have it as bad as some, so I’ve mostly been able to control the symptoms with hard breathing and mental control.  Usually, when I get really sick though, the asthma takes over my lungs, making it really quite uncomfortable.


So this is kinda my own fault at being too excited to just wait another week before starting, but I went to that class yesterday with my lungs mostly (but not completely clear).  I’d started on  a pretty tough cocktail of steroids and antibiotics just a couple days before which were doing a good job of clearing things up.  When I went to judo though, the warmup routine almost killed me.  I felt like my stomach was going to turn inside out, because my cardio was so strained.

The second minus has to do with the class itself.  The instructor was pretty nice, and extremely knowledgeable, but he didn’t seem to take charge of the room.  The consequence was that I spent most of my time there learning by copying other people, but I didn’t get any specific instruction on some really basic stuff, such as how to break my fall properly, or the establishing grips on the other guy’s gi, etc.  The instructor was more than happy to answer direct questions, but frankly… I don’t know what questions to ask, so where does that leave me?


To be fair, apparently most of the higher level belts were away on competition business.  Perhaps in the normal course of events, those senior students would be the ones in charge of white belts like me.  I suppose the only way to find out is to just keep going back for a few times before making up my mind if I want to stay with them or not.


On the plus side, for what I could do, it was quite fun.  I learned a technique called osoto gari (spelling?) which is a basica one leg sweep throw thing.  I can’t really describe it better than that, except that it does make a big satisfying boom if you do it right.

One thing that made me quite happy is that we did a fair amount of groundwork as well– it’s the kind of stuff that I’ve learned to deffend against, but without knowing too much about how to set up to attack.


It is a bit confusing to hear all these japanese terms bouncing around when you’re used to normal English MMA terms, but that’ll come with time I suppose.


At the very least, it’s a great workout and I’ve met some interesting characters.