Friday, November 26, 2010

How NOT to do a Judo Camp

Today, I was talking to Bill Caldwell, from San Shi Dojo in Vista, CA about the camp that California Judo, Inc. sponsors every year between Christmas and New Year's Day. We got on the subject of what we hate in clinics and camps and it turned out to be the same thing - those sessions you attend where the person shows 1,487 different moves and you get to practice fifteen of them two times each. At the end of the day, there isn't a single thing you can do, but you leave thinking,

"Wow, Sensei Joe-Bob sure knows a lot of judo."

I've been to camps and clinics where the person before me taught a bunch of extremely advanced moves and then it was my turn and I would teach a throw, a pin and an armbar. I've heard (some) people mutter afterward,

"She isn't very good is she? How did she ever manage to win the world championships?"

That always amuses me. Here is an important point that I believe about judo camps and clinics - the purpose is not to show off but to show judo.

As Bill said, what he wants in a camp is,
"Less talking, less showing, more doing."

Judo skill isn't a disease. You don't catch it by hanging out next to someone good. You get it by practicing over and over. No one wins with 396 different techniques. If you're amazing, you might have a few dozen. If you're a normal person, you have, at most, a dozen techniques you score with regularly. More likely, you can count them on one hand.

The awesome Serge Boussyou at Mayo Quanchi once gave me this really good advice  - don't just tell people what NOT to do, you need to tell them what to do, also.

My suggestion would be, when you go to a camp, if the clinician shows six techniques, pick one or two that seem like they would work for you and practice those over and over. In picking those two, consider what you already do. If you have a killer uchimata and the person shows an entry into uchimata, or a combination from uchimata or a set-up to uchimata, do that, it fits into your arsenal. If you are just beginning judo, do whatever looks cool to you. You don't have an arsenal yet. Still, pick one or two techniques and try to get those down at least well enough that you can practice back at your own club.

It's always a good idea when you go to a camp to have a teammate with you. At a camp, do randori with people from other clubs but drills with people from your club. That way, you get practice against people who don't know your techniques (from the randori) but when you get home and want to work on the new techniques, you and your teammate can put your heads together, and hopefully, remember what you learned.

It's funny, a few weeks ago, I was giving almost this exact talk about how, if you don't want to end up irrelevant what you need to do is focus not on impressing your audience but informing them. It was to a group of statisticians (and I bet all of you who clicked on that previous link are now disappointed.)

1 comment:

plam said...

Disappointed? No. Then again, I am a computer scientist.