Started off with a quick breakfast, then the usual 10 km bike ride to school. Attended my class on employment law, which was interesting-ish. After class, rode on to the judo club.
There, we did tournament training.
The difference between normal training and tournament training is the intensity of the randori. By intensity, I don’t mean just the physical difficulty, although that does factor in. The big issue is that during normal training, people are generally pretty, well, nice. Despite that it’s a combat sport, people sparring with eachother will tend to go relatively easy on each other. This is done probably in large part subconsciously, as an opportunity for your training partner to experiment, and also to de-escalate the mental burden of the context as a whole so that you yourself can experiment.
Tournament training is a bit different, because, well, tournaments are quite different from normal training. If you only sparred with friendlies, you’d probably get murdered at a tournament. There is, first of all, the mental shock of suddenly going against people who want to take your head off. And secondly, they are physically trying to take your head off.
Tournament training days at the dojo are meant to bridge that experiential gap– to put you in a situation where you’re still among friends, but where you must take your fighting seriously. It is expected that your opponents will be taking you seriously, doing everything they can within the rules to win.
Essentially, the difference is in killing intent.
I’m still a beginner at judo, with a lowly orange belt and still under a year of experience to my name. But through other life activities, such as other martial arts and badminton, as well as non-sporting activities, I’ve developed a pretty good compartmentalisation of my agressive tendencies. I’m normally a very supportive, happy-go-lucky kind of person who encourages group development and all these really warm ‘n fuzzy community feelings. But when it comes to situations where I decide to be “serious,” I can and do flip a mental switch, going into a mode that takes no prisoners. Alternatively, it dissalows me from being taken prisoner.
It has nothing to do with effectiveness exactly. By that, I mean to emphasize that real life isn’t like a shonen manga– no matter how much burning passion I have, it doesn’t necessarily mean that fate will reward me with a win. But what it does mean is that I operate at a level that is quite different from technical practice, in that I attempt to make use of as much potential accross a wide spectrum of techniques, and do not judge anyone to be deserving of anything less than my full ability.
I think that someone’s results in a given activity are usually determined by a few things. Generally, it boils down to ability and fighting spirit. Ability is pretty much potential, which entails the technical possibility of using certain techniques because you’re either talented and naturally have them, or because you worked hard to acquire them. But these are just tools in the shed, either way. Fighting spirit is the willigness, and later, the conviction, to employ these tools.
When I spar with the brown belts at our club, there is generally this feeling that I’ve never even triggered their fighting spirits. The thing is, even without being interested in something, you are able to do something because of your pure technical ability. For example– you don’t have to be an expert cook to know how to use a fork. And even if the thing you’re eating isn’t the most exciting and engaging meal you’ve ever feasted on, you’re not suddenly going to fail at using a fork.
That being said, people have varing degrees of performance based on their fighting spirit. Even someone who is completely disiniterested or unmotivated to fight has a certain amount of technical ability.
Thus, when I used to fight brown belts, my actual effectiveness used to be so low that even without engaging their fighting spirit, them fighting in a state of disinterest or unmotivatedness was enough because their pure technical ability, even if limited without spirit, was greater than my maximum output of technical ability plus spirit.
But that’s changed. This second tournament training session showed me that I’ve actually come a long way– much further than I originally though. Not only did I attract the seriousness of my seniors as a cautionary measure, but I forced them to take me seriously.
One of the brown belts, [EternalBrown], I managed to catch him in an arm bar, but he managed to break out of it by lifting me off the ground. (in judo, lifiting your opponent completely off the ground during grondwork results in a breaking up). I also managed to almost score on him with an uchi mata. If it weren’t for his freakish reflexes, it would have been my win– my execution would have put any of my usual opponents flat on their back. Instead, I scored a yuko, which is a technical point.
A yuko might not sound like a big deal, but to EternalBrown, after we separated from that throw, it clearly had surprised him. “hooooooooooo…. interestingggg…” he said.
Because of those two attacks that came close to ending the match, I felt that something in him switched. Well, felt, for sure– because after that, he came at me with clear determination to beat me down wheras earlier, it seemed like he was just more curious as to what I was capable of.
Well, he beat me– using my favourite technique, a countering-suplex. Except instead of my lower quality suplex, his actually had my entire body about 5 feet off the ground.
Yes, I lost. But I scored my yuko– it marks a chink in the opponent’s armour that I made myself, all on my own. And yes, he totally showed me how it’s done– but it’s nice to be taken seriously, isn’t it?
As with anything, one step at a time.