Monday, October 31, 2011

Do a half-nelson, damn it!

It has never made the slightest bit of sense to me that so many judo players who wrestle in high school and college forget wrestling once they put on a judo gi. Some of them are really good wrestlers. One technique I cannot believe that every judo player does not know and use is a half-nelson. Here is former Marine Corps wrestler and West Coast Judo Training Center coach, Gary Butts, demonstrating on his fellow WCJTC coach and head instructor at Ontario Judo, Victor Ortiz.

 The first thing to notice is that Gary has his weight on Victor. He is reaching around Victor's waist to pull him closer and put even more weight on him.  At the same time, he has his left arm under Victor's arm

 Notice how Gary shoots his left hand through and is grabbing his opponent's neck.

As he turns Victor, Gary pulls his right arm back and shoots it through underneath to grab Victor's bicep.

You can see below that Gary continues to crank on Victor's neck with his left hand as he pulls the opponent's arm in toward him with his right. Notice how his weight is STILL all pushing against Victor. There is no space between the two of them. Also, you can see in both photos that Gary is driving against Victor with all his weight. Notice how he is pushing off of his left leg.

The half-nelson finishes with the opponent on his back, pinned with yoko shiho gatame (what jiu-jitsu players call a side mount).

Now I know that anyone who ever wrestled learned a half-nelson and I see lots of judo players who are successful wrestlers get in the same position that Gary was above and they never try this move. It is just ridiculous. Cut it out! Do a half-nelson, damn it!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Book cover - what I did when I should have been working

I don't know why I spent so much time playing with the cover. In the end, I'm sure the publisher has far more artistically talented people than me who can put something together, but, I hope, this gives an idea what the book is about - physical conditioning, matwork and coaching, for judo and for other sports, like mixed martial arts.

So, what do you think?

Spent hours today working on the book when I should have been writing a statistical paper (good thing I'm president of the company). Still, I have commitments to meet to clients, so, I'm off to that now.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Matwork Connections: Tie-up series

Many judo players do a move called a tie-up or key-lock, where they slip one arm through the opponent's bent arm, pull over the gi and "tie-up" the opponent's arm. If you want to see the whole series (and there's a LOT of it), you'll need to buy our book. Since I am working on the outline, synopsis and all that stuff publishers want, here is a guest post from Jim Pedro, Sr. today. Thanks to him and thanks to Kayla Harrison for the demonstrations (congrats on the Panam Games medal) and to Riley McIlwain for taking the photos.

Another matwork connection sequence is when you are attempting to do the tie up, as your opponent starts to get up on her hands and knees. You step around and get your knee in front of her chest as the other knee is controlling her head. Then, you take your free arm and shoot it through the arm that you were trying to tie up.

You cross-face (put your bicep into her face) and drive her to the mat

into the pin shown below.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Smart Coaching: Caring that you know

Before I was interrupted by the Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo video of Ronda's two buns, I gave the beginning of the first chapter of the section on coaching, "Coaching matters" . This is the beginning of the second chapter in that section, "Smart enough to do it". We're just getting started on this chapter so feel free to jump in with comments. (Photo courtesy of Riley McIlwain - thanks, Riley .)

Love is not enough.

By itself, caring about your players won't build champions. The first two sections of this book gave specific techniques, exercises and drills, both for physical conditioning and matwork. This chapter gives specifics on how to be, and become, a smarter, better coach. Of course, that is a whole lot of books all by itself, so we’re following the same tactic of the first section of focusing on the areas we think are too often overlooked.

The first of these areas *I* call developmentally appropriate coaching, being a professor and all, and Jim calls recognizing the difference between children and adults. Whatever you call it, there's a need to adjust your coaching based on the physical and mental differences between junior and senior competitors. A second area is individualized coaching, fitting your program to the strengths and weaknesses of the athlete. The third area is building mental strength. That strength includes motivation to train harder and longer in practice, and to face down fears and anxieties in competition. Anyone who claims never to be anxious before a competition is either stupid or a liar. The skill to learn is to overcome those fears and come out on top despite them. The fourth area is matside coaching. This is where the coach is most visible and where too many people let their ego get in the way. If you admit that you don't know always what you're looking for when a player is on the mat, or what is the best thing to say, well then, you're an honest person because this is true for all coaches at least some of the time. Hopefully, after having read this chapter, you'll find yourself in that position less often. We'll give you a preview right now by telling you that we believe "Less is more". During or just before a match is not the time to be teaching your player techniques. That's what you should have been doing the months before the tournament and if you didn't do it then, it's too late now.

--  Well, there is more, but I have to brush Julia's hair. I told her that I needed to come up with the last sentence for this post first. She suggested, how about this


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fight-y Smurf's Hairstyling Tips from Ronda

Sneakerdoodle Zebra Judo Guest Video Blog from Ronda Rousey

How to do your hair.


The chapter I'm working on now for The Book is on coaching. We tag-teamed and it's Jim's turn to do some matwork techniques and edit my draft of the matwork section, while I edit his first draft of the coaching section. Thanks to Riley McIlwain for taking photos and Kayla Harrison for posing in them. Also, thanks in advance to Gary Butts and Victor Ortiz from the West Coast Judo Training Center who are going to be helping fill in the gaps this weekend by posing for some of the turnovers. (And, yes, Ronda, I DO deliberately have a white person in a white gi and a black person in a blue gi in all of the pictures we take at West Coast because it makes it easier for people to see immediately who is doing what to you.)  So .... here is what I am working on today .....

To excel at coaching, you need to be smart enough to do it and dumb enough to believe it’s important. We thought about that saying a lot before deciding it’s true - which is why we have divided this section into three chapters, believing it’s important, being smart enough to do it and there isn’t a manual for this.

Over the years, we could have made a lot more money managing hedge funds, writing software or selling real estate than we’ve made teaching martial arts. It isn’t that a person can’t earn money in the martial arts industry - both of us have children who make a living coaching, teaching, competing and marketing to martial artists. The truth is, though, that anyone who succeeds as a professional martial artist probably has the drive, mental and physical ability to succeed in a lot of areas of life.

In this chapter, we’ll do our best to convince you that coaching is important in building champions, both on the mat and in life.

It’s been said that athletes don’t care how much you know but they know how much you care. That’s not completely true. We believe you need to care about your athletes. They need to trust you, to believe when you tell them to change weight divisions, switch their training plan, work out at one gym versus another - that you have their best interests at heart. No matter how technically skilled you may be, no matter how much you are up on the latest theories of coaching, no matter the number of degrees you get, if your athletes don’t trust you and you don’t have their best interests at heart you will never reach your potential as a coach. If your athletes reach their goals it will often be despite you instead of because of you.

Caring is necessary but it’s not enough. You can love your players like your own children but if you don’t know enough to tell them to lock the arm against the body and pinch their knees together when they go for an armbar they aren’t going to win as much as if you knew a little more technique.

If you’re a completely selfish person, no book is going to change you. If you’ve read this far, though, we assume you’re a coach who sincerely wants to help your athletes improve or an athlete motivated to succeed in your sport as far as humanly possible.

Coaching matters. It certainly matters when it comes to winning. The next chapter is all about how, the details of what to do. Right now, we want to run by three reasons why coaches help you win, why coaching matters. 

First of all, a good coach pushes you harder than you can push yourself. We’ve said it throughout this book - intensity is key to winning. It will pull you through when the opponent has better technique, more experience, better tactics. Part of that intensity comes from physical conditioning and part of it comes from mental toughness. The exercises in the first section develop physical condition, but they also build mental toughness as a coach pushes, encourages and demands more from an athlete than he or she believes possible. Many of the drills in the second section are about developing matwork techniques, but some, like the escape drills from pins and armbars, are also about building intensity. How much do you hate losing? How badly do you want to get out of that pin?

[Yeah, I know there are two more but it is past 1 a.m. and I have to write a lecture tomorrow, read four chapters on multivariate methods and write a paper on categorical models. Plus, I have clients who actually want me to write programs and answer their email. So I'll have to get those other two tomorrow. ]

Monday, October 10, 2011

Matwork Mistakes Not to Make

One mistake players can make when they hear us talk about connections in matwork is to think that everything has to be connected to everything else. That is not exactly true. I'll write about that some other time, or you can read our book, which is coming along nicely, thank you.

A bigger mistake to make than thinking everything needs to be connected is to get so focused on one move that you forget to make connections. An error we have seen too many times in competition is when a player is attempting an armbar against an opponent who is resisting very strongly, as in STEP 1 below.

Often what happens in this position is - nothing. There is no Step 2. The player on the top exerts a lot of effort trying to get the armbar but the player on the bottom has both arms locked together resisting. The referee stops the match and both players get up.

When I get some more time, I will write about what SHOULD happen in Step 2. I only have a step 2, but Ronda has steps 2 through 9. (I counted. And took pictures.)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Completely Random Ronda Story

Ronda dropped by to visit today and we had a difference of opinion on something, which reminded me of something that happened a long time ago ...

We were visiting (*cough *cough) Judo Club and one of those things happens that happens to everybody if they are in judo, or really, any martial art, for long enough. You run into a jerk.

So I am a kind of little, kind of old lady and this guy quite a bit bigger asks me to do matwork. I was still young enough to work out somewhat, and so, I say okay, even though he is bigger than the partner I would usually choose. Thirty seconds into it, it's pretty obvious he is a jerk and a bully and trying to muscle me and show off, "I beat the world champion".

Really, what a moron.  It's not like some guy beating up a 115 pound woman in her forties is a big deal. But by now, I am a very annoyed 115-pound woman in her forties and I do this turn over here to the pin which, since he hadn't seen it before, works and since I am NOT stupid, I don't let him up to have another chance at me before they call matte.

When the person running practice calls time, Mr. Jerk "doesn't hear it", keeps going and "accidentally" pushes me into the wall.
Ronda, who was just a skinny little brown belt, comes over and asks me what is wrong with my wrist that I'm rubbing. I told her it was nothing, that jerk just pushed me into the wall is all.

The next round,  Ronda has some young brown belt guy a bit older and a lot bigger than her. She throws him off the mat, throws him on the mat and lands on him and just generally beats the crap out of him. People even stop to watch. This is extremely out of character for Ronda, who was generally a very nice kid.

When they call matte, I pull her aside and hiss at her,

"We are visiting here! What the hell was THAT all about? Don't you have any manners at all?"
Unrepentant, she shoots back,
"He deserved it! He hurt my Mommy!"

Shaking my head, I told her,
"It wasn't him! It was the guy standing next to him."

Two weeks later ....
I run into a friend of mine who is a judo coach. He asks me whether I had taken Ronda to visit (*cough *cough) Judo Club a couple of weeks ago. Surprised, I tell him yes, why, and he says ...

"There was a tournament a couple of weeks ago. The practice after a tournament, I discuss each person's individual performance - Joe got second place, his throws looks good but he needs to work more on his defense on the mat. Stuff like that. I tell them that if they have any questions they can stay and talk to me after class. So, one of my guys comes to talk to me and says, 'I don't have any questions about the tournament, but I do have a question. I was visiting this judo club after the tournament and this girl just beat the crap out of me.' I asked him was the girl bigger than him, and he said, no that was the weirdest thing about it, she was this skinny little girl with a blonde ponytail."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Matwork Connections: Latest in an occasional series

Jim told me that I could not use The Lego Theory of matwork because we were not writing a book for ten-year-olds (boo!). As much of it pains me to agree with him, I have to say I do like his new title for this chapter, "Matwork Connections".

He said some really good stuff about everything connecting to everything else which I wrote down and lost somewhere in the house. Hopefully, I find it while cleaning tomorrow.

Here is yet another example of a matwork connection. First, you collect the arm. You roll on top into what judo players call tate shiho gatame and what people in jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts call a mount.

If you were Ronda in a match, at this point you would punch the person in the face.
Let's say you're not Ronda, though and you're not in mixed martial arts. Suppose you are me and you are in judo. Then, at this point you would go straight into the pin.
You may wish to connect something to this pin, say, another pin and a choke. So, I push her arm across her face. I clasp my hands together so that I am now pinning and choking her.
Just because I think this pin and choke combination is not quite painful enough, I am going to move my legs so that I can use my body weight to put more pressure on the choke.
Notice two things in the photo above. First, I have my hands clasped tight together to put pressure on her neck. Second, I am up on my toes putting all of my weight on to her head.  Even really tough people will become distracted when you almost (or actually) dislocate their jaw, and not focus so much on escaping from the pin.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Today was AWESOME!!! (Despite the lack of a jiu-jitsu song)

One of the greatest things about living in southern California if you are in martial arts is that people who are legends can just wander in off the street and work out with you.

Today was the Grand Opening of the West Coast Judo Training Center at our new location, which is about twice the size of the old place. It's a good thing, too, because a whole lot of people showed up for practice today from Barstow, San Diego, Santa Monica, El Centro, San Gabriel and a bunch of cities out in San Bernardino county.

Dr. Jake Flores, head coach for many years at San Shi Dojo in San Diego and father and coach to world team members Justin Flores and Jacob Flores, Jr. just happened to find the time to stop by between seeing patients to teach gripping.

Hayward Nishioka drove out from San Pedro to teach gripping and foot techniques. We all clapped when he came in and he looked at us like he honestly couldn't figure out what all of the fuss was about. Seriously, this is a man who has been a competitor at the world championships, U.S. Grand Champion, Panamerican Champion, coached at the world championships, refereed at the world championships, produced several judo videos, written several judo books, and just walks in and says, "I'm here to do whatever you want me to do."

Then there were other people who are too young to be legendary but are just really, really good teachers. Victor Ortiz did a phenomenal job teaching shoulder throws and foot techniques to our younger players. Blinky Elizalde, who has been in several Olympic Trials, a member of the U.S. team back in the day and taught judo for well over thirty years helped everyone with their ko uchi gari (and some of you really needed it - I've seen you try to throw). Gary Butts taught no-gi techniques, assisted by demonstrations from the inimitable Crystal Butts. (As Gary would say - "inimitable, those of you who went to public schools, look it up!") Tom Reusling taught jiu-jitsu.

I was particularly proud of Ronda, and not just because I am her mom. I see a lot of younger athletes and athletes newly-retired from judo competition who have a complete "What's in it for me?" attitude. You will never see them do a camp or clinic unless there is a fat paycheck involved. Now, Ronda does mixed martial arts professionally and she does charge a fair bit for teaching and private lessons. She has a fight coming up in six weeks. However, she also has known a lot of the people who teach or train at the training center for over half of her life. After working out for several hours this morning, she drove well over an hour to get to the training center and then taught for twice as long as she had been scheduled because there were some people who wanted her to show specific techniques.

She even taught a choke and sang a song. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that Tom Reusling had an entire twenty minutes advance notice to come up with a jiu-jitsu song and he failed. We trust that he will be working on correcting this lapse. I once suggested to Gary Butts that he come up with a no-gi grappling song. His response is not printable in a family blog but if you have met him you can imagine it.

I'm not sure how much those kids really wanted to see Ronda demonstrate o soto gari again and how much they were just amused by her continually missing the crash pad. It wasn't on purpose. Honest!

Regardless of the number of songs or lack thereof, it was an awesome day. Thanks to everybody who made it that way. I did not get picture of all of the instructors teaching so I am hoping someone else did and will post them on the West Coast Judo blog or Facebook page. Yeah, I'm talking about YOU, you know who you are ...

Middle School Judo: Day 2

Learning a turnover, pin and escape

Here we are in the second day of teaching at Gompers Middle School and it is great! We don't have enough gis and half the gis are missing belts, but whatever. There are 14 kids who work hard from the minute class starts until it is over an hour and a half later.

To be a member of the class, students are required to have good grades, no behavior problems at school and commit to attend the entire school year. Every Friday, after school they come upstairs and put down the mats. When I get there at 3:30 we start practice with a warm up and then go right into judo matwork drills, exercises and throws.

There isn't a water fountain in the room and it isn't always the best idea for the students to be outside the area where judo is, so the teacher, Mr. Gonzales and I decided we'd have to remember to get water for the kids for next week. He said he would just go out and buy a couple of cases of water because it's not very expensive. Note, this is a teacher who has two small children, one of them a newborn, who works all day and then helps organize and teach this class after school for free, since there is no budget. Next time you hear someone talk about how bad LAUSD teachers are, think of him.

A terrific, and I think very accurate, description of what it is like teaching at Gompers is given in this post by a teacher called "A View from our Watts Middle School."

Yeah, there are a lot of things they lack, but as you can see from the picture below, talent isn't one of them.

One other thing I appreciate about this class is there is NO WHINING.  The students were selected to be here. They want to be here and they work hard with very little goofing off, especially considering they are all sixth, seventh and eighth grade students who have come here straight from school with no break.

Some people tell me that I am crazy that I teach for free, I'm a world champion, I have a Ph.D., I'm de-valuing myself, blah blah blah. I disagree. Everything doesn't have to be about me getting every dime I possibly can from people. There is no money for programs like this in the district budget so either I teach for free or there is no class. I'm not hypocrite enough to complain about the state of American education (which I do frequently) and the lack of physical fitness in youth and yet never get off my ass and help.

Besides, it's fun.

And frankly, I hate that "what's in it for me?" attitude so many people have that you should never do anything for free. Most of the best things that paid off the most for me in terms of having a great life - sex, parenting, getting an education, traveling around the world - I did for free.