Friday, November 11, 2011

Why I do what I do (useless pain is stupid)

I've been working on The Book (working title "Building Martial Arts Champions - from the Ground Up") a lot the past few weeks and come to the conclusion that Jim and I have a little different ideas on teaching beginners. I teach the turnover to a pin shown here with me starting on my knees facing the other player and them facing me.


In step two, I turn, get my hips in front, get a grip on the head and pull the opponent's arm tight across my chest.


into a pin.


Jim doesn't do this. In fact, he punishes his students by making them do bunny hops if they get in this position because he says (rightly so) it is a stupid position to get into and you should always be on the other person's back.

So why do I do it? Three reasons.

First, novices (not stupid people, but people with very little judo experience) DO get in this position quite often. Over the years, I have taught a lot of people who were a long way from becoming international players. These included six-year-olds, white belt kids taking judo once a week and adults who just want to get some exercise after work. My goal for them is to feel successful immediately and have fun. This is above where you can learn to do a turnover, pin, escape and a second pin, learn the concept of matwork connections and look and feel pretty cool doing it.

Second, it teaches you to move your hips in front of the other person, which is something people always seem to have a hard time learning. Compare Tony's position in the picture above with my position in the previous picture. It is the exact same move as o soto makikomi  or harai makikomi which is a really, really hard fall to take from standing. People who are not very used to getting thrown are likely to stick their arm out to keep from landing hard and hurt themselves. At the very least, if someone throws you from standing with that move and then lands on you, you'll probably get the wind knocked out of you.

So what? Usually the person saying so what is the coach standing on the sideline who hasn't taken a hard fall in 30 years. Yes, I remember taking falls on the tatami at Tenri Dojo, over and over. I remember how much it sucked. It didn't make me any better but I had to take falls because I wanted my  turn at throwing my partner. When we got crash pads at other clubs like the Naval Training Center down in San Diego, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. After that lots of people would let me throw them, even if they weren't personally training for anything, because the fall didn't hurt.

So, the second reason is that I can get the students to learn how to get a grip for a throw around the opponent's head and on the sleeve, a grip used for all kinds of effective throws.

When I am teaching this move, beginning on your knees, face to face, I teach it as a sequence. So, novice players get in this position and they can surprise an opponent by doing a matwork counter. When the opponent grabs the head and arm, you can get a grip around the waist

.... turn your hips in front of her ....


and throw her into a pin. So, now, the student has gotten the basic idea of a matwork counter. Also, her opponent is pinned ...

with a pin that can be escaped by doing an inside turn ....

Which allows the second player to work on her escapes, and allows the first player to hook the arm coming through 

and do a kami shiho gatame, which is a really good pin.

The third reason is that the sequence from six on works at all levels. I can guarantee this because either Steve Scott or Hayward Nishioka (in a Rick Perry moment, I can't remember which) has a picture of me in one of their books pinning someone in the world trials with this exact move. You know those last two parts, where the person is in kuzure kesa gate, turns in, I catch the arm and pin with kami shiho gatame?

You know the other time you get in that exact position? When you do a wrestler's roll.

In short (well, I guess it is too late for that now) - I teach the way I do because it will give the players early success, teach some basic movements they need to learn and part of it will be techniques in their repertoire that will work the exact same way for as long as they compete.

Jim's argument, on the other hand, is that I am letting them get away with bad habits and no one should be on their knees face to face, ever.  Maybe he is right, but I would say more likely it depends on what it is you are trying to accomplish.


aglee said...

Interesting about teaching people to get their hips across, which is one of those humps of discomfort newcomers often have to get over. Maybe it feels less vulnerable to do so when they're on their knees?

Dr. AnnMaria said...

I think you're right. I think they do feel less vulnerable on their knees.

robthornton72 said...

I've seen a couple of instructors who use this method as an intro to learning and a beginning for falling. Not my preferred method, but nothing wrong with it.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Rob -
That pretty much was what Jim said, too, that every situation is different and far be it from him to tell everyone in America how they ought to teach. I think a big reason he and I teach differently is he is often teaching adults who have already been in judo for years where, about half the time, I am teaching kids who have been in judo a year or less.