Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Animal Judo Theme: I. The Shrimp

I didn't do this on purpose but I just happened to notice that all of the exercises I did for warm-ups had an animal theme. So, for the next few posts, I'd like to go through the "animal exercises".

First there is the shrimp. At some judo clubs they call this exercise 'ebi', which is just Japanese for shrimp. You probably know the shrimp crawl. You lay on your side with your knees bent push off with your feet and have both hands in front of you with your elbows bent.

You "shrimp" first to one side and then to the other, usually all the way down the mat. Do you know WHY you do that?

Well, I don't know why YOU do it but why I do it is because that is the exact move you use when trying to stop someone from pinning you when they are coming at you from the side.

In the picture above, you see Manny Gamburyan coming in for a pin and his opponent is doing that same shrimp move.

In the second picture, again, you see someone trying to pin me in judo with kesa gatame and I am doing the exact same shrimp move where I have my hands between the two of us to make some space so I can turn out before she pins me, my feet are on the floor, knees bent, turned on my side and I'm going to do that shrimp move to get out.

Two points:

  1. Many of the exercises we do in judo and other martial arts were originally developed for specific moves. I've been to lots of clubs where people just blindly go through the motions and don't know why.
  2. Whether it is mixed martial arts, grappling, judo or jiu jitsu, a lot of the same moves still apply.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Judo Done Right Can Teach You About Business

Oddly, I found myself having the exact same discussion twice. The first time was with a group of people who had flown in for training and we were discussing effective vocational rehabilitation (the program that puts people with disabilities back to work).

I said,

As an employer, I don't care if you broke up with your boyfriend, your child got the chickenpox, you were up all night studying for exams. I just don't care. This business largely runs on fixed deadlines - the bid is due  February 24th, close of business, Eastern Standard Time -  and if you get it in one minute late, they won't accept it. So, if you don't show up to work when it's crunch time, someone has to cover for you. You do that three times without a DAMN good reason and you're fired. I can guarantee you that my idea of a damn good reason is probably a lot stricter than yours - it better involve somebody's death, or, at the very least, blood, bones sticking out or a trip to the emergency room. Your kid is sick? Guess what, I started this business with three kids and had a fourth one while I was building it up. (Not, as Justin Flores always contends, giving birth on the floor of my office nor on the judo mat while simultaneously strangling my opponent with the umbilical cord - he exaggerates.)

The point is this, a very valuable trait to employers is that you can get your shit together enough to show up every day. Find a babysitter for your kids, schedule your studying and take some Nyquil, whatever you need to do, but when the push is on - get your ass in here. As Dr. Jacob Flores often said about coaching,

I can't put in what God left out.

Meaning, he could teach skills but if the person did not have the innate talent or motivation, there was nothing he could do about that. The same is true about business. I can teach someone SAS or how to interpret a Kaplan-Meier curve. Not knowing how to do something is no big deal, you can learn. Being unreliable, though, is the kiss of death as far as making it in business with me is concerned. One of the main points I emphasized in training was developing "soft skills" in employees - showing up when expected, not being on Facebook for hours at work - that sort of thing.

The very next day, I was talking to Jim Pedro, Sr. and we got into a discussion on coaching. He brought up a couple of times when Ronda was injured - she landed on her head and thought she might have a concussion, another time, she had dislocated her elbow in a match, won the match, fought a few more rounds in the tournament and then practiced at a training camp for several days. At the time, she hated him and thought he was the meanest person on earth, but now she knows she can fight through anything. He said,

I tell these players - no one cares if you have cancer, no one cares if you're injured, if your mother died - if you lose, that is all anyone remembers. Athletes are always looking for an excuse to lose and you have to not give it to them. They need to know that there is never an excuse to lose. There is no excuse. You can fight through anything. Obviously, if they are going to aggravate that injury so much it is going to become career-ending, you don't have them to do it. In 90% of the cases, though, if it just hurts, they're sick, it's some personal problem - get out there and fight. I make them do it because I am trying to help them, whether they realize it or not. What do you think, on the day of the Olympics, the world title fight, it's going to be guaranteed everything is going great for you? So you make them fight even when they don't feel like it so that when that day comes, they know that no matter what the conditions they can fight and they can win. 
There is an assumption that judo, karate and other martial arts teach people discipline and that they develop all sorts of useful skills and attitudes that translate to other areas of life. That is only partially true. Martial arts (and sports in general) *can* develop those traits, but they often don't, because too often people take the same attitude in their sport that they later adopt in business - "It's too hard, you're just mean to make me do it."

So, you can learn a lot about success in business from judo, but that doesn't mean that everyone will.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sneaky armbar entry

Previously here, on many occasions, I covered the "Collect the Arm" move. I also talked about the Lego Theory of Judo where everything connects to everything else. Moving on ....  let's put these two ideas together.

This guy makes the mistake of knocking me down. Generally at this point the person moves in and tries to pin you. If he doesn't, I'm going to pull him in anyway.
I'm going to "collect his arm", by hooking over his arm above the elbow and reaching across to take a grip on the far lapel. Ronda demonstrated the turn over from here in a previous blog. Click here if you don't remember it. (What? You didn't memorize my blog? What's wrong with you?)
So, I have done the turnover and now I am on top. I am going to pull up with right arm, the one I had "collected" in the previous post. I may be able to put pressure on his elbow here and make him give up. Sometimes they do, but more often not. What they DO, though, is try to use that other arm to try to push me away.

If you have one arm caught at the elbow and you are pulling up on it, you're on top of a person and your opponent has the other arm free, he is naturally going to use that arm to try to push you off the arm you are applying pressure on.  When he does, I am going to lean forward, grab the *other* arm that he is pushing with, lock it against my body and step across his head, letting go of the arm I had a minute ago.
Notice how when I step across with my right leg, I come up off the floor.

My left leg is already on the other side of his body. All I need to do at this point is hold the arm locked against my body and arch.

Make a note of this, I'm *NOT* going to let go of the arm I had first if the arm bar is working. That would be stupid. However, the fact is that I often don't get the first arm bar attempt. Once I have rolled the person over and I have their arm trapped, they're suspicious, trying to pull in that arm. They aren't thinking so much about the arm that I don't have.

That's why it's called the sneaky arm bar entry.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Judo Athletes Need to Get a Sense of Perspective

Warning: This is another mean old lady rant. I do actually have some cool stuff on arm bars and escapes I'll put up later this week but I really have to get some work done first for my actual job where they pay me money.

If the cinch cast above doesn't play, you can try the link here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Judo Needs a Sense of Perspective

My work lately has been a reflection of Zeno's Paradox and a million points to Hayward Nishioka for when I mentioned that I seem to get 50% done and then 75% done and then 90% done but never 100% done asking,

"Hey, wasn't that something in math, like somebody's paradox?"

Yet another reason that I think Hayward is totally awesome.

I do have some photos on how to go from an inside turn to a pin, a sneaky way to do an arm bar or two and two ways to really get out of an arm bar. (I may save the latter for after March 3rd.)

Not having time to put those up, though, I thought I would just record a couple of rants on cinch cast on my drive to judo. So here, you go, rant number one.

If the link above doesn't work for you, try this one.

And if this rant makes you unhappy, you'll just *love* what I have to say about athletes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

How to do an inside turn

If you ask me - which you should, because this is one of those subjects I actually know something about - more people need to spend more time on escapes.

Let's take an inside turn to get out of something like kesa gatame (scarf hold) . This is one of the more basic escapes to one of the most basic pins . Even if you do grappling or mixed martial arts where you can't lose by a pin, you are in a bad position, because it is not too tough to do an arm bar from there.

Yet, I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen this exact thing, where the person on the bottom is trying to escape. How exactly am I supposed to get out like this? My opponent's head is in the way and unless it happens to pop off, which I don't think very likely, I am stuck.

First of all, the time to get out of a pin is before your opponent has really locked up tight. Another crazy thing people often do is start really fighting to get out AFTER they feel the opponent tighten up on the pin. By then,  it's usually too late.

What I want to do is as my opponent starts to get the pin slide my right hand between me and her (I'm just waving it in this picture so you look at it - this is not where your hand goes.) The next picture below is what you really want to do.

So, here we go, as your opponent starts to get close for the pin turn to your side and shove your hand in between the two of you. At the same time jerk your left hand as hard as you can trying to get it away from the opponent. It is a WHOLE BODY movement, jerking your left hand, turning your whole body on the side in toward your opponent (that's why we call it an inside turn.)

If you do the "shrimp crawl" exercise at your club, what some people call ebi (which is Japanese for shrimp - see how educational this blog is) that is the exact movement you are doing with your body.

Keep turning, keep pulling your left hand, shoving your right hand between the two of you. Notice something about both my arms - they are bent. I have seen people teach this move where they are shoving their whole arm through as if they are trying to swim out of the pin. That is a really bad idea, because if you extend a straight arm, an opponent who is good at arm bars is going to jump on it.

Once you get your head out, scoot backward, get up on your knees and come behind her. One of the dumber things I see people do in this position is turn out on their stomach and then lay there, giving the opponent the chance to turn them right back into the pin. No! Get out of there and now YOU attack your opponent!

Thank you to Mr. Gonzales and the students at Gompers Middle School for helping with this blog today. You are much appreciated.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Winning and Nick Diaz: My opinion on someone I have never met

The following post is my opinion on someone I have never met (Nick Diaz), something I know very little about (mixed martial arts) and something I know quite a lot about (athletes and winning).

This makes me more qualified to comment than most people talking about it, so here you go. ...

In a nutshell, there was a UFC fight tonight in Las Vegas and the main event was Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit. Diaz lost on what some consider a controversial referee's decision (I wouldn't know). He then did not go to the media event afterward and reportedly said he was quitting  the UFC in protest. Whether he will actually do that or not, I also wouldn't know.

There have been a number of people criticizing Diaz for acting inappropriately after the fight by saying he was quitting, not going to the press conference. Well, I won't go so far to say YOU people are idiots, maybe you're not, I don't know you either, but what I DO know is what it is like to be an elite athlete.

Several years ago, Carlos Diaz (no relation to Nick, he is a judo referee from Venezuela and one of the very few judo referees I hold in high esteem) said about a somewhat similar situation with an athlete:

She is passionate about winning and she felt she had been wronged, so it is natural that she was emotional about it. We want athletes who care passionately about our sport. That is a good thing.

Anyone who makes it to the top of their sport cares deeply, passionately about winning. This is what we want to see in an athlete. When those athletes feel that they have been wronged, they are going to get emotional about it. That is understandable. Anyone who maintains a calm demeanor in that situation has got to have the personality of processed cheese.

Of course if you poured your heart into something and felt you got cheated you are going to be upset. Any person who doesn't feel that strongly about a sport - and about fairness - is not the kind of person who I would respect as an athlete.

As far as I know, Nick Diaz didn't punch a baby, go down to Mandalay Bay and pour poison into the Dolphin Pool or anything else mean or illegal. So, cut the guy a break.

If I were him, I would go out tonight surrounded by friends who would keep me out of trouble, drink more whiskey than I should and swear a lot. Then, after I got over the mother of all hangovers, I'd go back to training, because as another wise man once said;

At the end of the day, there's another day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ronda! I'm proud of you!

The cake above has one candle for each one of the top 25 contributors in the rondamma free rice group. Today is Ronda's 25th birthday and I was trying to think of some way to recognize some people who have been really involved in the free rice group and it all came together. You'll have to forgive me on the art work. As I always tell people, I aced multivariate statistics in my doctoral program and failed art in junior high and that pretty much sums up my talents.

The group has donated over 5,700,000 grains of rice which is enough to feed over 1,600 people. The top 25 people are each represented by a candle. The two top guys, Tim Riggins and Ryan Ghidina, have donated a million grains of rice between them, and the top 25 people alone have donated enough rice to feed over 1,000 hungry people.

So what does all of this have to do with being proud of Ronda?

Well, people say that to me all of the time,

"You must be really proud of your daughter!"

And I think ,

"Well, yes, but not so much more than of her sisters."

Of course, I love all of my children.

Jennifer teaches middle school to children who have a lot of disadvantages in life and Jenn pours her heart and soul into it. Teaching takes an enormous amount of dedication and hard work. Plus, it makes a huge difference in other people's lives.

Maria is a sports writer and the mother of one, soon to be two. She's been a board member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists for many years and mentored many students. She has also taught at Tufts University and Emerson College. Being a writer, professor and terrific mother takes a lot of dedication and hard work. It makes a huge difference in other people's lives.

Julia is only 13 years old but she is a good kid, studies hard, is very dedicated to her soccer team and has a kind heart. I'm proud of her, too.

Ronda is good at beating people up. She has been to two Olympics, won a bucket of medals and trains her ass off. Now she is doing really well in mixed martial arts. Certainly no mother can complain about a child who is hard-working, disciplined, responsible and stays out of trouble.  Plus, Ronda, like her little sister, is genuinely soft-hearted.

Lately, though, Ronda has done something that really made me proud of her. She has been cutting weight for the 135 lb world title and, instead of being all focused on feeling sorry for herself and bemoaning how tough her lot is in life, she decided to use her weight cut to draw attention to people who are hungry every day. She started a group on free rice.com , an organization that donates money to the World Food Program every time someone plays their on-line game. (Check it out, it's free.)

Winning medals is good. Winning world titles is good. Encouraging enough people to feed 1,600 starving  people in a week is amazing.  People like Tim Riggins, Ryan Ghidina, Ritchie, Yariv, Frankie - I hope I get to meet you some day. Look at the names under those candles above - what a kind thing to do when you have time to just click here and there and feed other people you will never know.

There are over 400 members of the group now. Many, like me, have only donated 15,000 grains of rice or less. I'm busy, and I feel a bit bad about that, but, on the other hand, that is four meals for people who would have had none.

So, happy birthday, pumpkin! I am happy when you win, and I am nervous as hell when you compete but I am really proud of you for using your competitive experience to encourage people to think about world hunger.

See you tonight, we'll have presents for you. But no cake - you still have to cut weight!