Outside Eyes

by Jinryu

Yesterday, while at judo training, I had one of the guys film me while I was doing a round of sparring with somebody.

I was sparring with [Bronze], so named because he’s quite tanned (the french word for tanned being bronze with an accent on the “e,” but I don’t have that kind of keyboard capability, so…).  Bronze is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet at judo.  He’s a green belt of about 80kg (roughly 10kg heavier than me) with significantly longer legs and arms.  His technique isn’t as varied and his combos not as creative as some people at his level, but he has a particular physiology (the long arms and legs) that he’s really learned to work to his advantage.  

I really enjoy sparring with him because, to me, he represents a “miniboss,” sort of like a Megaman villain who has a particular theme to his abilities.  In the spirit of good game design, these types of bosses are typically to encourage you to learn a specific technique to trump their strength.

I had someone take a video of the round with my cellphone.  Taking videos is something I used to do occasionally with kickboxing and badminton, but it’s something I had– up until now– done with judo.  It’s always good, I think, to see yourself from the outside– it gives you additional perspective.  It’s easy enough to critisize others’ technique and tactics, but when you see yourself from the outside, everything is quite different.

The video was really revealing of what I need to work on.  The basic list is:

  • Too much leaning forward.  While in the match, I feel like I’m putting pressure on the opponent pull his stiff arms down– but looking from the outside, it’s not very effective, and puts me more off balance than it does the opponent.
  • I allow my opponent to secure a collar grip too easily.  This gives them good control of my head, and, coupled with my habit of leaning forward, allows them to disbalance me quite easily.
  • My grips are not effective for much except hip throws, and those aren’t happening because I’m not getting close enough.
  • I probably should try o ucchi gari (sweeps) more often, and I should probably do them much deeper.
  • I think I do better when I move around a lot.  The problems start when I try to have a muscle contest with my opponent, and then their technique and power prevails over mine.  If I move around more, my percentage of successful sweeps increases, while the opponent becomes more hesitant to use throws.

What I need to do:

  • Start getting in the habit of grip-fighting– preventing my opponent from getting dominant grips on me.  I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out, but it just seems so obvious now that [Zanshin]’s brother, [Sub60] told me.  Sub60 is a black belt in judo with multiple high profile wins.
  • Reconfigure my legs.  [SenseiR] points out that cycling is good for a lot of things, but not for judo– it makes you weak for the low, high speed squats you need to get in and bump your opponent with, and it makes your feet slow.  I’m going to reduce cycling and see if I can’t at least reduce cycling muscle mass, and then maybe see what I can do about developping more power in my knees. For now I’ll stick to less cycling and more “invisible chair” physiotherapy drills.
  • Posture up.

We’ll see what I can get done with this in mind.