Back to the grindstone

I’ve been getting back to classes because work has finally been letting up some. In no-gi we’ve been working chokes from the top, and in gi we’ve been working from the spider guard. Tanner has also started coming to Saturdays and I’m more frequently seeing Wade in class.

This last Saturday Tanner and I led judo since Matt and Tim went to Wahadachi for the coaches clinic. Tanner showed kouchi gari and I did ouchi gari. As it turns out I still suck at kouchi, but I do ouchi pretty well. The secret to a good ouchi gari is just like the secret to a good kouchi gake – commit 100% and be ready for the results if it doesn’t work. I’ve also realized I’m terrible at explaining judo throws unless I can talk about force vectors. Alternatively if there’s someone who already knows the throw and is trying to get details I can add in explicit information about grips and hip placement and drive, but to be honest, most of the throws I do are brutally simple. I lack the panache for throws where you’re doing 8 things at once and the details in how your feet and hands play out is a work of art. I like to entangle my leg and fall on them; and yes, it is just that simple.

Oh, I also got two stripes on my blue belt. It was a complete surprise to me. On one hand I’m stoked that I’ve gotten some recognition for the time I’ve been doing this. On the other hand I feel like I should be a lot better to be a blue belt with stripes. Nothing to do about it but get better.

The More You Know…

The more I learn about the Olympics as a result of earth-shattering stories the less I actually want to save wrestling being a part of it. Just for fun, here’s a Cracked.com article about five things you probably didn’t know about the Olympics. Onto more serious topics though, FILA is meeting with the IOC to discuss what changes they can make to save their sport.

Facing a wave of criticism from around the world, IOC President Jacques Rogge will meet with the head of wrestling’s governing body to discuss ways the sport can fight to save its place in the Olympics.

Rogge said Wednesday he has been contacted by Raphael Martinetti, the Swiss president of international wrestling federation FILA, and was encouraged by the sport’s resolve to make changes and fight for its place.

“We agreed we would meet at the first opportunity to have discussions,” Rogge said at a news conference at the close of a two-day board meeting. “I should say FILA reacted well to this disheartening news for them.

“They vowed to adapt the sport and vowed to fight to be eventually included in the 2020 slot.”

Let’s discuss: for openly political reasons wrestling is on the chopping block. For a long time the IOC has been talking about reducing the number of sports by eliminating redundancies, and Greco was suggested as one that should go. Now wrestling may be able to save itself by bending to the will of the all powerful IOC? Something’s rotten in the state of Switzerland.

What changes should we expect from wrestling? I’m not really sure. Paying the IOC more money probably. Based on the fact that the decisions were based on lobbying I think it’s safe to say that FILA just didn’t grease the palms enough.

The recent changes to the rules of judo have leaned towards a simplification in scoring and a limitation to the techniques. If there are actual rules qualms it’s probably based around the scoring system and other aspects that may be too complicated for the average viewer at home to know what’s going on in a match. It’s much easier to know that the guy on top is winning and the match is over when someone gets a successful throw or pin. Even judo has the problems of subjective scoring due to the minimal differences between a half and full point. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw wrestling try to adapt to a more objective scoring system. The rules are actually pretty well codified, but I can definitely see where the sports opinion page writers this week have been noting the scoring system as confusing except to those few dedicated fans. The one hope is that we don’t see wrestling reduce the number of legal techniques.

Even with potentially logical rule changes I think something else is afoot. This latest news makes the whole situation look more like a power struggle where the IOC just wants FILA to roll-over than a legitimate desire to reduce the number of sports. I think it would also be important to distinguish between limiting the number of sports or the number of events. Aquatics for example has four sports, and swimming has 17 men’s events alone. With seven weight classes even if we combined judo and wrestling into one super set the whole category of three sports would only have 21 mens events and 11 womens events (14 women’s events if female wrestling were to use the same weight classes as women’s judo). That instantly reduces the number of sports and the whole wrestling category (even if we assume 35 events) still has about the same number of events as swimming alone (34).

Groupings by number of events:

  • Athletics (47)
  • Aquatics (46) – Diving (8), Swimming (34), Synchronized Swimming (2), water polo (2)
  • Cycling (18) – BMX (2), Road (4), Track (10), Mountain Bike (2)
  • Gymnastics (18) – Artistic (14), Rhythmic (2), Trampoline (2)
  • Wrestling (18) – Greco-Roman (7), Freestyle (11)
  • Canoe kayak (16) – Slalom (4), Sprint (12)
  • Shooting (15)
  • Weightlifting (15)
  • Judo (14)
  • Rowing (14)
  • Boxing (13)
  • Fencing (10)
  • Sailing (10)
  • Taekwondo (8)
  • Equestrian (6) – Dressage (2), Eventing (2), Jumping (2)
  • Badminton (5)
  • Tennis (5)
  • Archery (4)
  • Table Tennis (4)
  • Volleyball (4) – Beach (2), Volleyball (2)
  • Basketball (2)
  • Football [Soccer] (2)
  • Golf (2)
  • Handball (2)
  • Hockey (2)
  • Modern Pentathlon (2)
  • Rugby (2)
  • Triathlon (2)

I don’t know about you, but I see quite a few sports we could take some events away from because they’re not really that distinct. It’s also pretty clear why the record for most olympic medals is held by a swimmer – no weight classes and 17 events per gender means it’s one of the only sports an individual can actually win more than 2 events per Olympic season. What was even more fascinating was evaluating the number of events compared to how frequently I think “Olympics” when I think of that sport. In fact, the Olympics is defined for me by athletics (track and field), swimming, gymnastics, wrestling, and weight lifting. I kind of vaguely remember what other sports exist when I’m watching the games or compile lists like this. That’s only five of the top eight. To me that means there are three sports which could do with fewer events (also, we could kill synchronized swimming and water polo). Here’s a list after a few proposed mergers:

  • Athletics (47)
  • Aquatics (42) – Diving (8), Swimming (34)
  • Wrestling (32) – Greco-Roman (7), Freestyle (11), Judo (14)
  • Rowing (30) – Rowing (14), Kayak Slalom (4), Kayak Sprint (12)
  • Cycling (18) – BMX (2), Road (4), Track (10), Mountain Bike (2)
  • Gymnastics (18) – Artistic (14), Rhythmic (2), Trampoline (2)
  • Shooting (15)
  • Weightlifting (15)
  • Pankration (14) – replaces boxing/TKD
  • Tennis (14) – Badminton (5), Table Tennis (4), Tennis (5)
  • Fencing (10)
  • Sailing (10)
  • Equestrian (6) – Dressage (2), Eventing (2), Jumping (2)
  • Archery (4)
  • Volleyball (4) – Beach (2), Volleyball (2)
  • Basketball (2)
  • Football [Soccer] (2)
  • Golf (2)
  • Handball (2)
  • Hockey (2)
  • Modern Pentathlon (2)
  • Rugby (2)
  • Triathlon (2)

From there we could pretty easily parse out extra events, but it reduces the list of “sports” to 24 (from 28) without dramatically touching the number of events. I clearly didn’t care about anything with fewer than 10 events, and I don’t really get why kayaking isn’t part of rowing (the individual equivalent at least). Trying to reduce the number of sports by cutting them instead of making intelligent merges just doesn’t add up, and as pretty much everyone has discussed at this point, there are much better sports to cut before wrestling (I’m looking at you equestrian, TKD, sailing, modern pentathlon, and table tennis).

RIP Wrestling…

In case you haven’t heard – the IOC is recommending dropping wrestling as an Olympic sport for 2020. That’s not a final decision per the article – there’s a ratification to happen in September in Buenos Aires. Based on the phrasing in this and similar articles it sounds like we’re pretty well losing wrestling in the Olympics though. The official IOC press release takes a less dramatic stance noting that wrestling could be chosen of the eight sports currently vying for a spot in the 2020 Olympics. FILA is meeting in just a couple days to discuss the possible presentation to the IOC for inclusion per their website.

When I think the Olympics I think of wrestling, gymnastics, weightlifting, swimming, and track & field events, so really I’d be shocked if any of those left. I wouldn’t be too sad to see them ax any of the other of the remaining 25 sports (athletics, rowing, badminton, basketball, boxing, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, fencing, football, gymnastics, weightlifting, handball, hockey, judo, swimming, modern pentathlon, taekwondo, tennis, table tennis, shooting, archery, triathlon, sailing and volleyball). I’d even be sated to see judo dropped in place of wrestling.

Assuming they do end up dropping wrestling for good, I’d just like to put forward the idea that judo should be modified to have rules that would allow wrestlers and jiujitsuka to compete more fairly. Allow leg grabs, leg locks, and have a no-gi competition format. Change the current seeding process so that anyone can compete to qualify for an Olympic spot. The beauty of wrestling is that it allowed all folk styles to compete in freestyle under a relatively fair rule set. If we are to lose one of the oldest Olympic sports it would be good to see the closest known relative pick up the slack.

One Thousand Times This.

http://rongoinpuma.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/wake-up-call-my-interview-with-marc.html

Before someone shared this on Fitocracy I had never heard of Marc MacYoung. I did ninjitsu with a group in Madison for a few months back in college and the then instructor Shawn has a profound impact on getting me to read the books that shaped my view about self defense. Grossman, Miller, and Siddle were common subjects to be discussed so I had read books by all three of them and that was that. Those were the experts I was exposed to and they must have been right because no one was talking about anyone else. We discussed sliding scale force, prevention before confrontation, and the physiological and psychological impacts of violence. The subject matter was the same stuff that we were discussing in WRJ at the Budo Club, but without the reference material and classes were focused more on training the techniques than talking through the philosophical.

Each author covers a different issue that I think every martial artist should at least be aware of – Grossman’s On Combat and On Killing were great for being able to talk to my friends who came back from Iraq, Miller’s Meditations On Violence is on my must read list for every martial artist who’s looking for a self-defense component, and Siddle wrote some cool stuff to know about your own body. I haven’t read the other two of Miller’s books that people have told me a lot about – Facing Violence and Scaling Force. I have been told good things about them.

Then I read this. It’s not super profound. It’s not a silver bullet. In fact, it calls out the old axiom that there are no silver bullets; which is important. He’s blunt. I respect that. I love when people are blunt. I hate the eggshells we’re forced to walk on to not offend people’s beliefs, especially in the martial arts community where all you need to do to prove someone wrong is repeat what they just said out loud and make them think about it.

In the wake of the events that have rocked the BJJ community the discussion about rape is super important. I think it’s important to draw a line between blaming the victim and discussing prevention. I actually have a post mocked up about it that I never posted because I kept feeling like it came off sexist. In the online community one can’t be too careful about not being an inadvertent bigot. The part I was missing was the discussion about how rape should go in the same bucket as the rest of violence. Taking precautionary measures isn’t about blaming the victim, it’s about preventing the incident in the first place. I know someone’s going to read it and get offended at his anecdote about the girl going to the frat, but I think it’s important to consider that this is a discussion of the factors that can be controlled, and it doesn’t mean taking all the preventative steps will ever completely prevent a rape. There are certainly those scenarios that are completely outside the control of the victim. In the same way not everyone who gets stabbed outside a club is a Bro who was out drinking just looking for a fight, but when we see that Bro it’s no surprise when he’s beaten bloody in a gutter by the end of the night.

I probably take the wrong messages from reading this piece. Reading between the lines it sounds like there’s a better way to self-defense, but the face value I get is that training a combat sport for fun and fitness lacks the assumptions and is therefor correct. I also take for granted the security that law enforcement and an upscale suburban community with a near zero crime rate and almost homogeneous population come with.

I guess the point here is that we could all stand a bit more education on these kinds of topics as even the experts are constantly being shocked by the amount they didn’t know.