Thursday, February 05, 2009

First class back for 2009: New mat cover, kuzushi

Last night we had our first class at Monash Caulfield for 2009, and it was fun. Three regulars returned (including Ash in his new colored belt -- congratulations!), two apologies were sent, and two newcomers came, joined in, and got off to a flying ;-) start.

Our new mat-cover
The first notable thing that has changed is that we have a new mat cover -- at last! This is an enormous (and valuable) canvas sheet that we use to keep all our judo mats together during training. It's an important piece of safety equipment because it prevents toes from getting caught between the mats, and stops the mats from slipping apart.

Spreading out the new cover for the first time

The previous cover -- manufactured out of painters' drop-sheets by myself and my-beloved -- had been lost by the university while reorganizing storage areas at the beginning of last year. While making do with a borrowed replacement that was too small, I spent a ridiculous amount of time last year negotiating compensation, navigating bureaucracy and arranging a new cover to be specially made. Even so the club had to make a significant co-payment. What a hassle!

Tucking it in

It was worth it! The new cover is great: Heavy-duty and soft at the same time -- kind of like jiu-jitsu! It looks good, feels nice, and works well (no readjustments needed during class). And, importantly, it is safely locked away.

Theme of the month

We started off with kuzushi as the theme of the month (our first), and it worked well. Having a "point of focus" is helpful for me because besides having planned some material to emphasize the theme, I just seeing the theme pop-up everywhere in our regular techniques (I hope my students do too!). These observations can lend themselves to some improvised segments in my teaching.

For example, when first learning the come-along arm-bar to beginners they often have difficulty in getting their partner to tap. The technique has lots of bits and it easy to subtly resist it if hand- and arm-positioning is even slightly out.

A come-along armbar featuring excellent technique (including kuzushi)

I would normally focus on the technical points needed to make the lock work actively: Correcting positioning, two-way action, etc. Last night it seemed natural to instead work on ways to increase kuzushi to kill off resistance; in this way the technique can work despite imperfect positioning etc.

It seems to me that kuzushi can be thought of as part of a tactical two-way action:
  1. Positive: Correct technique and positioning, good timing, use of force, etc.
  2. Negative: Kuzushi (in all forms) lessens the opponent's ability to resist
Another nice example of this was when Chris, one of the newcomers, did something only vaguely related to the demonstrated throw, but successfully threw his partner (me!) anyway by dint of having applied effective kuzushi.

* * *

The only downside I can see with the theme-of-the-month is getting too carried away. Just a few morsels each class should be plenty for us all to chew over.


Dave Chesser said...

I hadn't thought of kuzushi as being used to kill off resistance. Sounds very interesting. Thanks for that. I'll have to go research that aspect.

Patrick Parker said...

Goodness, Dave. I thought that was nearly all that kuzushi was used for - killing resistance... ;-)

Anonymous said...

I certainly saw it Kuzushi popping up all throughout the lesson in the regular techniques. I suppose when you have something as fundamental as throwing your opponent off balance it's bound to appear all the time.
And the new mat cover is great! Certainly feels somewhat more pleasant to fall on it compared to before. Can't wait for tonight's class!