My first randori session after a five month layoff

To bring you up-to-date, I tore my left distal bicep tendon at the end of March this year. A surgery and extensive rehabilitation program later, I partook in Judo randori at my local club 5 months later. It was a combination of utterly exhausting, saddening and thrilling all rolled into one. Let me explain..

That left arm…

It’s a common observation that your return to sport will lead to an over-sensitivity and protectiveness of a previously injured part. I was no exception to this rule. Previously I would yank my left arm backward in order to get a reaction from my adversaries; it would even be my go-to tactic. I’m now a lot more sparing of it and rely on other tactics.

My gripping is now slightly different: I’m not so fixed on maintaining my left grip. My right grip is now becoming more important to my game.

The novice guys aren’t so novice anymore

In my absence the novice-level guys continued attending classes and have made fantastic improvements! There will always be plateaus in the phases of skill acquisition especially if you’re practicing it for a while. The early stages though are where I feel the biggest advancements are made. It’s been both disheartening to see the general novice level increase but also reassuring that with time comes improvement, regardless of who you are and where you’re at.

Belt promotions all-round

What was massively disheartening was noticing many of the belt promotions among my peers. The fellow 2nd kyu’s I trained with have all been promoted to 1st kyu (brown). It was a challenge to shake off the thoughts of “if you hadn’t injured yourself you’d be with them” but I got over it. I congratulated one chap who’s probably the closest thing to a gym rival and I honestly meant it, although the randori with him afterwards ended up being a proper scrap!

What you see is not what you get

While I’ve been out of training I’ve consumed countless hours of instructionals from Judo Fanatics. When you see someone doing polished technique over and over you start developing a false sense that it all instantly translates to the mat. (Spoiler: It doesn’t.)
The only way to derive benefit from an instructional is to watch a little and then train a little. Given I did none of that, I came to the mat with a jumble of different ideas. Some really stuck, others didn’t. And that’s ok.


My coach is farely sparse on the verbal encouragement front, but he provided some for me that evening. I’ll take what I can get!

One thing I didn’t mention was cardio – I was breathless by the end of the randori but it wasn’t a complete killer. I did indoor cycling during my layoff which helped massively to keep me in the game. I can’t rate this kind of cardio training enough, particularly if you couple it with a heart rate monitor to ensure you’re at a pre-defined heart rate zone.

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