Last Day

Last night was my last night of judo for awhile. I didn’t give Anders a set date I would be back, because I really don’t know how this is all going to turn out. I just know I’m coming back eventually. Three months is my best guess, but maybe it will be less, maybe more. I definitely have to take a two month break during May and June to avoid injuries.

It was a good last day. There was almost no one in class so we got to pick what we worked on. We did ippon seoi nage and okuriashi harai (at my request). To me, okuri is the hardest throw. I’ve landed just about every hip/hand/sacrifice throw at some point, but foot sweeps are my kryptonite. Of foot sweeps, okuriashi harai and deashi harai are the two that require the most timing. So, in my head if I can learn timing from okuri I can do anything.

I got to do tachi waza randori with Anders also. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve gotten to do that. He’s good. After 25 years he better be, right? He’s shorter than me and much lighter than me (I’d guess I have 30-40 lbs on him), but I can’t get in to throw him unless I wrestle. I was trying my hardest not to wrestle. When I explained that Anders said that it was fine to wrestle in judo, and in turn I explained that I don’t want to have to wrestle though. I’m not sure if he’d been thinking about it for awhile or if that’s the first time he’s noticed, but I hold back a ton in randori because I’m trying to work judo instead of just bowling people over. When I full on wrestle with advanced belts I’ll often get thrown by sacrifice, but I can also get their backs for a lift or drag them to the ground. That’s not judo though. I want to learn to do footsweeps against resisting opponents. I want to be able to execute a beautiful tai otoshi on someone who steps around my footsweep to defend or counter. Randori isn’t the time for me to prove that I can take your back and throw you or drag you to the ground for my submission. It’s the time to work on what needs to be worked on. I need to work on my judo; my wrestling is doing just fine. I don’t fear being thrown. I fear not learning what I need to.

When I told Anders I had to leave for awhile he asked when I would be back. Apparently promotions are coming up and he thinks I’m ready. I’m still touchy about the subject. Sankyu is a big deal. It’s when I can apply for my referee’s license. It’s when I get to fight in the advanced division regardless of the tournament. It just feels like it’s been tainted. I really wish I could take him aside to discuss it. I’d be thrilled with sankyu. Nikkyu would be justice.

Here’s a fun reference for when I describe judo throws:

Today I’m setting goals. I know I want to go back, but I need things to work on in my absence and I need to have goals to make sure I return as soon as possible instead of becoming complacent as a ground fighter again.

  1. I want my reputation for the ground back. The greatest feeling in the world is when a judo black belt is terrified of ending up on the ground with you in a match because he watched your last match. If you can make an opponent fear even one aspect of your game you can control them by threatening it, and you will win if you land it because they are committed to the idea that if you get it it will end the fight. I want to get back to out-wrestling people in tournaments. I want all but the BJJ purple belts to fear me taking their back or getting guard. Eventually I want them to fear it just as much, but baby steps.
  2. I want to work my foot sweeps until they work on guys who assume wrestling stances. Foot sweeps against judo are relatively easy compared to when you have someone hunched over driving always forward who’s waiting to reap your leg. For reference in judo almost everyone fights straight up and down because the hunched stance is a penalty if you assume it for too long or without successfully attacking.
  3. I want my wrestling to be so good that people are happier when I hold back to play judo instead of commenting that I should go harder and try to take the throw. When I play judo I can throw the people my size who play judo (who don’t have like 15-20 years on me). When I wrestle as it is I can trade throws with the larger and more skillful players. I want my wrestling to be such that I dominate the larger and more skilled players with it so even they appreciate me playing judo instead. I realize the domination is a good goal and the appreciation is petty. Sometimes being petty is what drives us forward the fastest.
  4. I want to switch back to USJI. My USJA rank expires at the end of October. Everyone has their reasons for belonging to their choice of the three NGBs. For me it’s because I don’t want to pay to have a rank that I earned recognized. USJI is pretty chill about ranks below black belt. They should be. The ranks below black aren’t well standardized with the other groups, shodan and above are.

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