Within the span of two weeks, I have seen two separate people, both good coaches, former outstanding competitors, demonstrate a technique that I have never seen work in competition. They looked really good doing it, though. Both of these coaches, I saw compete on many occasions "back in the day" and never once did I see them even attempt the technique being demonstrated.
One of the coaches trained at many of the same practices with me when we were young. I might have seen him do the technique he demonstrated once or twice on someone half his size or a new white belt.
Often, whether at a clinic or when visiting a practice, when coaches are asked to demonstrate several techniques an odd thing happens. First, they show the techniques they do best, the ones they have won matches with. Most of those techniques are pretty basic - throws like o soto gari . Everyone has seen o soto gari. It's not fancy and shiny new but it wins one hell of a lot of matches.
I feel a little funny watching these demonstrations because, quite the opposite of the perfect posture and exotic techniques that many people show, I don't look like a textbook at all. For example, in the transition from a shoulder throw to a pin I showed on this blog the other day, I have terrible technique. My knees are not bent and my back is, the exact opposite of the way seoi nage is taught. Of course, as I explained, I do it that way because my knees don't bend.
So, what should I do, show the technique the way it appears in the textbooks? Or the way I actually do it?
In the end, I decided to go with the way I actually threw people in competition and then went into the arm bar, not the way the books SAY you are supposed to have done it. I am sure some people will look at the book and say, "That's not the way you're supposed to do it."
Maybe I don't look pretty doing my techniques. Maybe I don't have the best-looking, most impressive clinics. I've heard people comment sometimes after clinics,
"That guy looked a lot more impressive and taught a lot more techniques. His looked a lot better than hers. I thought she was supposed to be good. I wonder how she ever won that much."
One reason, I guess, is that I was only worried about winning, in any way the rules allowed, and not at all about looking good.
The question that still puzzles me, though, is WHY people who really do know judo, who were legitimate competitors, who should know better, still demonstrate techniques that I've never seen be effective in competition, whether done by them or anyone else.
These are the kinds of questions I'd usually discuss with Jim as we are working on The Book but since he is in Japan for the next couple of weeks coaching, if anyone else has any opinions, please feel free to jump in.