Saturday, December 4, 2010


Another guest blog by Jim Pedro, Sr. because I am busy working on a paper for my "day job" and he took off for Japan leaving me to work on this book, so I figured I'd put one of his sections of the book on this blog and invite anyone to comment or make suggestions. In re-reading this, I find it interesting that people generally think of Jim as a coach for elite athletes. When I first paid any attention to him at all it was because I'd just had a baby (Ronda's oldest sister) and so I started noticing people with their children and here was this guy at the camps and tournaments with two young kids, Tanya and Jimmy, Jr.,  (who years later went on to win the U.S. Open & world championships).

In other articles, I have discussed the basic standing techniques for juniors, WHAT it is that I teach. In this post, I discuss WHY.

I think it is key that you, as an instructor, have a reason for what you do. Too many instructors just teach the way they themselves were taught, or, even worse, just do whatever they happen to feel like doing that day, with no real thought having been put into having a coherent program. Then, when the student asks,
“Why do we have to do this?”
the instructor either changes his mind and does whatever the student wants to do or takes it as a challenge to his authority and loses his temper. While I might tell a student to just do what I say, I certainly would not be threatened by the question and, depending on the tone in which it was asked, I may explain my reasoning. With parents, certainly I am happy to explain why I teach techniques in a certain order. Those coaches who take an arrogant attitude that , “I am the sensei” are on the totally wrong track. The parents are paying you, it is a positive that they are interested in their child and it is your chance to educate the parents and gain their support as well.

I have a very specific system for teaching and reasons for selecting the throws I teach to juniors. Here is what I teach juniors at the very beginning, and why.

O goshi or Koshi garuma – Major hip throw
Why I teach it as a basis: Teaches kids to use hips to throw.

Right vs. Right:
Ippon Seoi nage Ippon Seoi nage to Kouchi Sutemi
Sode when they grab neck Left side o goshi when they grab neck
Why I teach it as a basis: Both are common situation for juniors, encountering a righthanded player against another right-handed player and having another player grab the student around the neck. It is simply good practice to teach beginning students the situations they are most likely to encounter.

Tani otoshi Uranage
Why I teach it as a basis: Again, these counters are effective against very common throws, such as seoi nage. Also, it is important to teach children early on to start thinking about counters. If you watch the junior nationals, you will notice that very few students perform counters, thus giving an advantage to your students that do.
 I included the divider line above because it was the least manly thing I could find and I knew it was a good bet to annoy Jim. Check back tomorrow for a post on the next step, teaching intermediate players. After that, I should have finished the paper I am writing on analysis of ethics data for the Consortia of Administrators of Native American Rehabilitation in San Diego on Monday. Then, I will try to remember if there is any more judo that I know.


Jorge Almeida said...

This is a very good post because there is really a need to have a reason to teach the different techniques.
I strongly agree with the reasons to teach O-goshi and Seio nage. It would be useful to add some other techniques and the particular reasons to teach them. A non exhaustive comprehensive list would help the teachers to teach.
When I am teaching a technique, I always give the counter for that technique so that there is neutral advantage on the class.

There is a particular point that I disagree with. That point is the particular emphasis on counter attacks for Juniors and white belts because of 3 reasons.

The first reason is that a counter attack is an easy technique to perform with minimal commitment and big result. This sounds good. The bad part is that it requires the other player to attack. This means that a judoka can win plenty of fights without investing in creating fully rounded judo (with other technique groups). This is very appealing for young judokas and white belts. I have seen a lot of people just doing counter attacks for the first years and getting a lot of success just to be thrown easily on the final match because they do not have a rounded basis.
The second reason is that a judoka that is only focused on counter attacks will not be good to practice against on randoris. The other judokas will be afraid of practicing weaker techniques because that particular player will slam them with tani-otoshi and ura nage. The tori will actually stop from practicing the weak techniques and will only focus on the few that he is strong with. This has a negative impact of the whole club.
The third reason is that the counter techniques are the easiest to counter. The tori just has to simulate the beginning of the technique with no commitment for the uke to provide a good kuzushi backwards. The tori just has to hook the leg for a ko uchi gari, o uchi gari or pass the hip and leg to the back and do tani otoshi.
This said, I should say that counters should be taught, but they should be taught with the counter counter in order to haves neutral advantage on the class. The counter becomes a technique that is easy to execute, low commitment but very risky if the other player is waiting for it. This normally takes the edge out of counters and everyone can proceed into developing a well rounded basis.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

I disagree somewhat with your position on counters. Yes, it is true that it can be a problem if people learn to just rely on counters. That's a very good point.

It's also true that students who learn counters early on, just like those who learn drop seoi and anything else that might be like a "trick" can be stunted in their development because they win by that and aren't then forced to learn other techniques.

The part where I sort of disagree is the fact that so few students learn counters EVER that it's hard to argue that it is bad to teach these.

Jim wrote this a while ago and he is in Japan now. I'll ask him his opinion when he gets back.

Jorge Almeida said...

Thank you for taking the time to answer my comment. I agree that counters should be taught. I have just seen too many people stuck on them for too long.
Another point that sometimes we forget is that not all counters are tani-otoshi and ura-nage. Examples are sumi-otoshi as a counter of uchi-mata, utsuri-goshi as a counter for o-goshi,...

Dr. AnnMaria said...


Jorge's concern misunderstands how much I emphasize counters.

I'm not focusing on just counters in my teaching, nor do I allow players to develop a limited repertoire. Also, you need to know techniques in the first place to be able to use them as counters. For example, how will you counter o soto gari? Usually with either harai goshi or o soto gari. How can you do that unless you know o soto and harai to begin with?

As far as doing counters in randori, the advantage for the other students is that they learn to expect and defend against counters. How are they going to learn if the opponents don't try counters in randori?

Jorge Almeida said...

Thank you Jim for providing the clarification.
From the first text I understood that counters should be taught to Juniors so that they could have an advantage over all the other players at their age that have not learnt them.
From your answer I understand that counters should be taught in a balanced context with the other techniques and that they are not entirely limited to tani-otoshi and ura-nage. I share your view.
However, I put counters in the same bag of drop seio-nages and first grip attacks. They are all very efficient and people can win plenty of easy matches with them. Nevertheless, I think that they do not constitute a balanced foundation for judo if the other techniques are left out. Particularly on later phases of judo.

Perez said...

Thank you for taking the time to answer my comment. I agree that counters should be taught. I have just seen too many people stuck on them for too long. Another point that sometimes we forget is that not all counters are tani-otoshi and ura-nage. Examples are sumi-otoshi as a counter of uchi-mata, utsuri-goshi as a counter for o-goshi,...