Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Judo Class #2 and Lessons Learning

I attended my second Judo class in a week and the sheer physicality feels great, though the shoulder I had injured back in December is giving me a little of grief. At 6’1” and 220 lbs I was one of the smallest guys there, but there was a nice mix of younger bucks and old boys. I place my self in the category of the older members, though many are surprised to hear that I’m 37 (and if 35 is the age to compete at the Master’s level, then I’m an old boy)! I’m certain that I feel a lot older than many of the strapping young men in their early 20’s the next day for certain! Isao Inokuma, in an article I was reading recently, captures the spirit of training very well:

Judo is a combative sport. It is a martial art aimed at defeating your opponent. Other purposes of judo involve developing physical strength and mental spirit. But when you are up against an opponent, you must never forget the combative aspect of the sport. You fight against your opponent, throwing him down to the mat to achieve victory. At the same time, you fight against yourself. If you think your opponent is stronger than you and get the jitters, or if you are in a difficult position and feel that you must give up, then it will be impossible for you to win. You must not give up the bout until the last second, no matter how strong your opponent may be. You must have a fighting spirit which will urge you on to attack and attack again to the very end. Fighting spirit, to put it simply, is the first thing a judoist needs.”

It is the fight against the self combining the fear of being thrown (which isn’t so bad, but, cerebrally, the notion of my 99 kgs flying over someone’s back/hip onto the floor is not comforting) and practising patience (which is the tangent upon which I have been focusing most, realising my limitations and not opening up full throttle from the get-go). So far so good. I remember getting so frustrated before at Judo. Then I was reading a book about the Art which made the point that in the lower levels, completing a throw is gravy, but the primary focus is to develop one’s ability to break his/her opponents balance. Back then, when I was starting out, I thought one was taught the technique and then should be able to execute. It was like when I played Defensive Tackle in High School Football: I didn’t really understand the objective of my position and thus didn’t excel and rode the pine for my only season of play (I did actually get in for three or for reps, highlighted by a fumble recovery though!). When I made the move to Rugby a couple years later, my team mates totally took me under their wing and it wasn’t too long afterward that I donned the red and white jersey of my country, followed by a brief playing career in England. Rugby was a significant team effort to help me learn my job, in Judo clarity was a simple sentence in a book (now that’s what I call Zen!).

So, my point is for all you instructors, coaches and parents out there, ensure those with whom you are facilitating learning really understand the key concepts as opposed to simply giving information. For example, teach why we need to teach History before we attempt to ram History down their throats. Or explain the concept of why sometimes, in Soccer, backwards is forward and that the dump and chase theory is better suited to Hockey. A good friend of mine and ex-French Foreign Legionnaire is always telling me “if you understand ‘why’ then ‘how’ is the easy part”. It makes sense!


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