Building Blocks

by Jinryu

Last week at judo,

[Kobain], a brown belt who usually leads the warmup routines, wasn’t practicing because he had broken his collarbone in a rugby hit. [Batsugan], who is a black belt who sometimes runs the show, also wasn’t it.

Somehow, it fell upon me to lead the class of 30 or so people in warmups. I am a green belt, which is about halfway up the coloured belts (black not being considered “coloured”). I’m not sure how exactly it happened, but I had fun as the warmup leader.

Warmups are one of the things I love about our judo club, because we run a very complete routine. Each training session on a weeknight is 2 hours long, and of those 2 hours, between 30 and 40 minutes are warmups.

Given that I’m now twice the age of some of the people in the class, and that over the years I’ve learned to respect my body through a long and storied list of injuries, I believe that proper warmups are a key foundation to any martial arts practice.

The thing is, most people consider warmups tedious. But if you have an eye for it, and you look around the room, you can predict from day one of a class of 30 new beginners just who is going to be great some day– they’re the ones who jump high and duck low. They’re the ones who are struggling to do the 20th pushup, and who didn’t just stop at 12 to look around and see where everyone else is at.

The problem is that a lot of green belts and orange belts, who have been there for a while, tend to get lazy with warmups– obviously, they get better at doing the techniques, but that brings the problem of apathy and cheating.

It wasn’t so much that my warmups were any different from the normal ones we do– but I made a point of targetting “cheating” and making sure that everyone was on the same page.

I knew what I was doing was right because at some point, one of the orange belts called me a “slave driver”.

I kind of hope that I’ll get the chance to do it again.