Saturday, July 23, 2011
Develop your spidey sense for matwork
My favorite part about the Spiderman comics is when he would say his "spidey" sense is tingling. Supposedly spiders have an extra sense that allows them to detect danger. I guess this is to make them aware when you are about to step on them and squish them.
It seems to me that judo players who do A LOT of matwork develop a "spidey sense" of what is about to happen.
The best example I can think of this is many years ago when I had first met Jimmy Pedro, Jr. I had seen a lot of our U.S. players get beaten with sankaku jime (what some people call a triangle choke), had spent a very long time thinking about it and had come up with a counter. It worked on every person I tried it on. I taught it to Ronda and she used it effectively on a great many people, including in the Olympics. When drilling this, you let the person almost sink in the triangle but you slip your hands in between so that they can't figure-four their legs. You don't push, you don't do anything, you just gently cup one hand on their heel and have your other hand open with the backs of both hands touching. The attacker doesn't feel threatened at all, he/she almost has it and just goes with the technique thinking to lock the legs on the way over.
When that happens, I spread my arms as wide apart as I can and roll. The opponent ends up on her back with her legs apart like I'm making a wish with a wishbone on a Thanksgiving turkey. I wish that I am pinning her. This wish comes true.
At the time, I had come up with it not that long ago, and I wanted to see if it would work on someone who was very, very good at sankaku and Jimmy happened to be doing a clinic, so I asked him to do sankaku on me. He came into the technique like in the photo above. Unlike everyone else, he didn't go ahead. He came out and tried again. He did it a third time. Then he said, "I don't know why, but I can't do it on you" and he walked away.
He may have thought I was one of those jerks at clinics that try to show off by stopping the clinician from doing a technique. Seriously, if someone tells you the move they are going to do, it's not that hard to stop them. So, if he thought that, I'm sorry but since it was over a decade ago, I'm pretty sure he's gotten over it.
The fascinating part about this story to me is that he didn't fall for it. I have a theory about that and it's the same theory about why Ronda and I both have been very, very seldom armbarred, not even in practice. If you do something enough, if you are in that position often enough, even if you can't put your finger on it, can't put words to it, your spidey sense starts tingling. You sense something is wrong and you walk away rather than go through with the move you started and ending up pinned or armbarred.
There is no other way to develop this sense than gobs and gobs of matwork. Hours and endless repetitions in those very positions. This is why Jim Pedro, Sr. always says that the best thing for your sport is to do that sport. Weight-training is important. Building your endurance is important. Analysis of videos, yours and your opponents' is important. But if you ever have a choice between any of that and spending another 15 minutes on the mat, get your ass out on that mat.
Or you may end up squished.