Shaky Knees

by Jinryu

Force = mass times acceleration– for squats, there is almost no acceleration involved, so you’re dealing with the newtons of basically the mass itself.  But in judo, no opponent in their right mind will let you take your sweet time as you pull them towards you and squat under them.  If they did, that’d be a behavioral pattern just asking for extinction.  So the technique has to be quick and explosive.  For hip and shoulder type throws which I mentioned, you are basically tilting your opponent towards his front, and then wedging yourself like a coiled sprint between his centre of gravity and the ground– as soon as his momentum carries him a bit beyond your leveraging point, you then pump your legs and pop his lower body off the ground, even as you twist and pull his upper body to the ground.  That’s what gives it the opponent that beautiful sommersault arc, which ideally, lands him square on his back.


I wish I had better knees.

The cartilege got ruined from a combination of volleyball, jeet kune do and badminton.  And now that I’m doing judo, I regret how I treated them, although nobody warned me so I suppose I couldn’t have done much different.  It’s really annoying.  Yes, I know a lot of people who tried glucossamine, but I’m not really seeing much research supported evidence that it really works.

I did buy insurance for [CM] and me though, so perhaps when the cooldown period is over I’ll look into whether or not physio helps me out.  In the meantime, I’m working to strengthen the full range of my knees motions and flexibility, so that they’re not just geared towards cycling.

Not having strong knees has a substantial effect on my style of judo.  Certain throws, such as shoulder throws and hip throws for example, really require you to quickly wedge your hips under your opponent’s centre of gravity, which means a quick entry with your needs bent.

I really love hip throws, because I’ve got decent squat power.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the gym, but even when I wasn’t cycling almost daily, I could squat 12 reps of roughly double my own bodyweight.  In a judo context, it’s relatively easy for me to throw someone 50% heavier than me with a hip throw in technical practice.  The problem is that my knees only allow me to do that in a slow and controlled fashion– they give me this scary near-buckling feeling if I go into a 90 degree angle with a violent loading of weight, even if it’s not even a huge amount.  The problem isn’t the amount weight (more accurately, the mass) I can carry.  It’s the acceleration at which at which my knees have to counter it.   The need for speed is super apparent when sparring.


Saturday classes at judo is a nearly completely different mix from weekday classes.  Weekday classes are mostly University of Sydney judokas; almost all students at the uni.  The aside from the two instructors, there’s usually a couple of brown belts, perhaps a blue, but the majority of us are orange belts.

On Saturdays, it’s a room of about 20 judokas who are are multi-dan black belts.  Many of them are instructors at other schools, and who are 40 years or older.  They’ve got a lot of experience on their sides.  I keep on forgetting to ask them for their advice to make a knee-friendly gameplan, but it’s something on my to do list.