Advice for new judo guys
I've been doing judo for a few weeks now. I have a few months background in BJJ but no experience to the sport beyond that. There's a ton of stuff to absorb early, for me mainly relating to establishing correct posture and positional balance for various throws has been the toughest.
My question to all your experienced judo guys is do you have any general advice for the new guy? I realize everyone learns differently, but are there any pitfalls that I should try to avoid early or areas in which I should really concentrate my focus to get the most out of it?
Brian that is a great question. I just dabble with Judo the biggest thing that I have learned is that your arms bring you to your opponent not the other way around and that when you come into contact with your opponent you want to apply your entire weight to them.
Other than that I will let the Judo experts step in here.
Gant is the only real judo guy i can think of on here (there's prob more). although i've been doing BJJ for a while, i still feel limited in judo and wouldn't feel comfortable giving advice.
Enjoy the journey. judoforum.com is a good source of info. There are guys with 50+ years of judo that frequently post. With less than ten years in, I'm just a baby.
A few thoughts, in no particular order:
* You can't rush experience. You will feel like you're good before you really are good. Allow things to sink in.
* Trust your sensei/coach.
* You can't improve without having and being a good partner.
* Learn to fall and offer to uke (be the guy that gets thrown) for demos (by your instructors). Getting used to being thrown correctly gives you an instinctive feel for the proper pathway of each different throw. Trust me on this.
* "Winning" is a tournament concept. It should never apply to your practice.
* You don't have to compete, but you need to play with people who do. If none of your instructors compete, I'd go elsewhere.
* Don't become a judo snob. You can learn a lot from wrestling, BJJ, sambo, wrestling, MMA, etc. I have been a guest on many mats, and everybody has accepted me with kindness. Ten years from now you will see more similarities than differences. Leave the "my art is better" stuff for the noobs.
* Don't try to learn the big throws right off the bat. Everybody wants to learn uchi mata and harai goshi their third week. I didn't attempt either for three years. Learn the progressions first.
* Judo is hard, and judo hurts. This is unavoidable. However, you can find a playing style that promotes longevity. Learn to soften up when you can.
* Practice ashi waza (foot techniques) religiously. It is becoming a lost art.
* Keep your elbows in.
* Never enter for a throw unless you have first off-balanced your opponent.
* Integrate your game rather than compartmentalizing everything. Instead of throwing and then pinning, I grip my partner in what will be kesa gatame (hold down).
* Don't start wrenching on someone's neck or arm unless you know exactly what you are doing.
* Learn how move your feet. It's a dance.
* Relax and feel your opponent. After several years, you'll be able to feel their intentions (whether you are able to stop them is another story).
* Tap early and tap often. You'll learn a lot more getting submitted than you will watching with your arm in a sling.
* It is a sport. Athleticism--strength, speed, balance, coordination, power, agility--apply. Improve these and you will improve your judo.
* If you're not "getting worked" in practice, you're not improving. Seek out those who are better than you.
* Don't offer any advice for your first two years.
* There are 67 throws in Kodokan judo. You'll learn 40. You'll practice a dozen. You'll practice 8, and you'll use 4-6. But, if you can pick 2-3 throws and and MASTER them--learn to access them from every angle and every situation--you'll be unstoppable.
* You're not experiencing anything new. Everybody gets stiff-armed.
* Judo is a sport but also a way. We play; we don't fight. Even in a tournament, you should both leave having improved yourself. Everything you do brings honor or dishonor upon yourself, your instructor, your teammates, and judoka worldwide. Act accordingly.
* Never hurt anyone. You are responsible for your safety as well as your partner's.
* Pursue knowledge, not belts.
* Bathe yourself, mind your nails, and wash your gi, and you'll always have willing partners.
* Have fun!
From my dad when he was doing a one night training session with us:
combos win, nobody wins from one throw except in the newbie ranks. learn to fake one throw to connect to another. i found this helped me learn my hip and shoulder throws a lot better as they are my weak throws.
learn how to throw from both sides and left hand throw with what would be the way you grip on the right side
Thanks to everyone, particularly Gant, for the lengthy replies. A number of those resonated particularly with me. There is a lot to think about and going in with the right mindset is key for me.
Early classes feel like jumping into the middle of something because of the enormous number of things to think about and uncertainty about what is right or wrong in terms of progression. I've just tried to be patient and tenacious and listen to criticism.
Combos/fakes: A combo is effective when it is a sequence of good stand-alone throws or a really good setup (fake). When beginners try combos, they usually give do a really crappy fake with no kuzushi (off-balancing) before moving to their primary technique. This leaves them dead in the water.
A good way to teach combos (IMO) is to teach them to actually try a throw--get blocked--and move to the next. E.g. Tori attempts right o soto gari; uke steps back with his right; tori hits o uchi gari (or uchi mata, tai otoshi, etc.).
Throwing from both sides: The opinions are mixed. We all agree that students should be taught to throw from both sides. The question remains as to whether they should be taught from both sides at once.
I'd say a large majority teach one-sided judo (I am part of that). The motor patterns are hard enough to learn and can be easily confused. Despite learning one-sided judo myself, I threw two opponents for ippon last year with left-side throws despite never having practiced them. Once a throw it hard-wired, your body seems to be able to translate it. At least mine was. BTW, I work off both sides now and it works fine.
The other school of thought is that since everybody should learn how to throw off both sides that you may as well start this way. I don't know anybody personally who teaches this way, but I know there are some respected high dans around the world who do. I think it would be really difficult to start with this, as everybody has a natural pivot that makes learning one side easier.
I'm a powerlifter (trying to be anyway) and it seems like judo would be pretty hard on the body.
How much would you say it affects lifting?
How often would you recommend someone getting in to judo train it? Couple times a week? More?
It can be very hard on the body, which is why I suggest developing a personal style that isn't so "hard." I used all my power all the time, and I resisted everything my opponent did. It was a needless waste of energy and very hard on my body. I have a better style now, but competition is still difficult.
I don't try to get stronger during the season (obviously). I do a good job of maintaining what I have while improving my conditioning. When I finished the spring season this year, I took it easy at class for two months. My body healed, and my lifts went up substantially.
I can't quantify how much it affects lifting. In class, you're into muscular endurance and max power generation more than limit strength. There is also the matter of actually hitting the mat repeatedly. It depends how often you're going, how hard your club trains, and how hard you train.
Example: Yesterday I hit a new 3RM on squat (419#x3) at lunch, which was nice. That night, I randori'd (sparred) for twelve two-minute rounds (six with guys over 100kg, one with a 90kg player, four with guys under 81kg, and one with a girl). We have a good club, so all of these were difficult. I took about three hard falls, but it could have been worse. Then we fought on the ground for an hour, and I finished with two rounds of 2-on-1. Obviously there are better ways to recover, but it can be done.
In the beginning, one should go to class 2-3 times a week if one wants to improve.
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