7 Pounds of Flesh

by Jinryu

My judo group has been encouraging me to start competing.  The issue is that I currently weigh in at about 67-70 kilos– that puts me in the light middleweight division which is from 64 to 81 kilograms.  That’s not all that great– it means that I’m one of the lightest in my division.  If someone basically trains to be 80kilograms, they’ll be about 10kg of muscle (about 22 pounds) more than me.  That kind of sucks.

Ideally, I would cut my weight down to get into the under 64 kg division so I could be the biggest of the next weight class below me.  That’s kinda troublesome though– that involves me losing about 3kg (about 7 pounds) and that’s not easy for me.  The reason being is that my current weight is what I call my natural training weight– this means my weight when I’m eating normally and training on a fairly consistent basis.  Normally, I can swing my weight by a couple of kilos just by water loss, but anything beyond that?  It’d involve a fair amount of fat loss (which will be really hard, since my body fat percentage is already single digits).  That being said, it would mean that I’d need to shed muscle weight and do some pretty strict dieting.

I’ve been weighing it up in my head– what do I want out of judo anyways? [Zanshin] asked me this a few months back and I’ve wondered about the answer to that.  Do I want to win in competitions?  Or do I just want to get better at something?


Part of me wonders about getting back into the whole weight control practice to see if i can.  But on the other hand, I think at the end of the day, it’s more likely that I’ll just allow myself to enter competitions at whatever my natural training weight is.  I’m not willing enough to sacrifice quality of life, and frankly, I don’t have the time to dedicate to it because my focus right now really has to be law school.


Weight has never been a super sensitive issue for me. I’ve never been really overweight.  I was skinny most of my childhood, and although I started eating lots more in high school, I was always relatively lean I think.  I’m a pretty active guy I suppose, and having cycling built into my daily routine certainly makes it hard for me to stock up on too much excess weight.

From a martial arts perspective though, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a different body type.  I remember sparring with a german guy at the kickboxing club a few years ago– I was quicker than him, but he had about 3 inches longer reach and his jabs were as strong as my crosses.  Sports wise, yes, there are weight classes and they account somewhat for un-ignorable fact that larger people have a reach, height and power advantage.  But what about the real world?

My interest in martial arts has always been somewhere routed in the confidence it gives me to live my life.  It doesn’t mean that I walk around in the streets looking for fights– but it does mean that I feel a bit safer knowing that I have developed not only some ability to fight, but the mentality required to actually commit to hurting someone.  Given the right conditions, I have no doubt that I could take down someone larger than me if he’s unskilled.


However, the thing is, suppose someone does pick a fight.  THe people who pick fights are usually people who have a lot of confidence in their abilities.  Martial arts aren’t as mystic as they were back int he 60s or 70s– nowadays, everyone peripherally knows about the UFC, and with an increasingly international culture, especially from asian countries, there’s more and more people who are likely to have undergone mandatory military training.  My point is this– there are lot more people out there who are somewhat skilled at fighting than a decade or two ago.

So what happens when I go up against someone equally skilled, but heavier?  Chances are, I’ll lose.


This is all hypothetical of course.  And I’m being overly simplistic about all the variables that actually come into play in an all or nothing street fight.


But even after almost two decades of training– what do I think I could do, at 67 kilos, against a 100 kilo rugby player who decides to charge in and tackle me?