Workout Ideas

Light on your feet

Judo is ridiculously complicated. Once you figure out how to perform a judo throw (and there are over 60 of them without even getting into the bloody variations) you realise that throwing someone who’s resisting you is just not possible. Unless they’re very small or doing you a favour/massaging your ego. 

So if you’re like me you start looking at:

  1. Getting better at the mechanics of the throw itself
  2. Getting faster at setting up for the throw.
  3. Learning different feints, switches, distractions etc. 
  4. Getting to grips with combining throws together to pull your main throw off.
  5. Start watching Steven Seagal movies and decide you want to take up Aikido instead. Because that’s real.

In this month’s rambling I’m going to focus on b) getting faster at setting up for the throw, and specifically on footwork. 

The gym does not necessarily always benefit

I’ve been an avid gym bunny for much of my existence. I can perform a squat or deadlift with decent enough technique. I say this confidently as I have yet to develop a crick in my back for my troubles. Going back to Judo after a 20 year hiatus found me more sluggish in my movements than back in the ‘90s when I used to wear those brick-heavy New Rock ankle boots that were all the rage in the Goth clubs of the day.

I would attempt a Seoi Nage throw during randori, turning in for the throw…. and my opponent would essentially go for a cup of tea, check Facebook on his phone and then come to the mat, side-step my manoevre and counter-throw me. Yes, I’m exaggerating. My point here is my sloooooowness.

A cheap and highly effective bit of sports kit

Dear readers, may I introduce the uninitiated to the magic of the jump rope. Who’d have thought a simple and cheap-arse piece of exercise equipment would give you a world of benefits. The first major benefit I’ve found is nimbleness – it makes you lighter on your feet. How? Without having any scientific research to back my claims other than my own personal experience I can attest to being quicker in my uchi komi. I’m sure it’s to do with having to work muscles that I rarely used previously. My calves are significantly bigger (although not like those of a Cro-Magnon that frequents my local gym but that’s another story)..

Another benefit is coordination. When you jump rope you have to be coordinated. Otherwise you whip yourself. You learn to coordinate your hand and foot movement. I remember watching a small video of Darcel Yantzi talking about how often in randori he will move to the beat of a song in his head. In my brief foray into kickboxing I found my better peers had a natural rhythm to their striking movements and patterns, so coordination exercises are fantastic. 

There’s plenty of benefits to the humble jump rope, the internet is awash with details on this

Another great method to get more nimble is plyometrics and just any kind of prolonged jumping or hopping activity. It’s the business.

All the forward facing throws (i.e. where you’re having your back to your opponent/uke) have significant similarities (yes, yes, there are subtleties yardy yah). Equally rear throws have significant similarities. And there’s little pointers you’ll pick up on the way i.e. creating a whip action of the trailing foot for forward throws to build additional momentum. There are plenty of youtube videos which do a better job of showcasing those subtleties, but to begin with you need to be light on your feet

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