Sunday, March 22, 2009

Short-term vs long-term thinking

A snippet of advice on randori (free practice) Judo founder Jigoro Kano:
"In order to beat someone now, it is best for those who are strong to use that strength to overcome the other person's strength.  However, with that method, if you encounter an opponent who is much stronger than you are, you will naturally lose.  So, even if you lose for a while, the correct practice of randori is to learn to slip dexterously away from your opponent, adapt to his strength, cause him to lose his balance while stepping back, and then take advantage of that opportunity to perform a waza [technique].  If you do this kind of training for a while you will be twisted by the arm and held down, or pushed down by your opponent.  But if you do not frequently engage in this kind of training you will never learn how to beat a stronger opponent." -- From Mind Over Muscle: Writings from the founder of Judo 
The person who wants to win at all costs (now!) is not going to learn much, if anything at all.  The best that (s)he can hope to do is validate what has been developed previously: Does it work, now?  

Beginners usually do one of two things when they first start randori:
  1. Fight like it's a life or death battle
  2. Only make a half-hearted attempt
To go further requires an attitude that we value learning over winning (at least in the short-term), and to remain positive and not be discouraged by "loss of face" when "defeated".

Achieving this balance is not necessarily natural, obvious or straightforward.  Choosing to treat randori as a game -- serious, but also fun -- can help.  If you can learn to notice what works against you, already you are learning something - and profiting from the experience.


Sue C said...

If I were to rely on strength alone, at 5ft 3in and 8st.10lb, I would lose every time! Having the patience to learn and practice techniques that I can use on 'big' people (that's most people to me) is clearly the key to my progess. I'm always amazed at how effective sweeps and other unbalancing techniques can be at bringing down an opponent. Goes to show - the bigger they are, the harder they fall!

Dan Prager said...

Hi Sue

It's true! Different shapes and sizes have different advantages, and the trap described by Kano does not really apply to petite people like yourself. You have no choice but to work on technique.

I should also have added that it is the males who tend to get carried away with (ineffective) use of strength. And not just the large ones: My five-year old son indicated his displeasure at my refusal to get out of bed to play with him at 6.15 am this morning with a headbutt to my solar plexus. It was ineffective!