Starting From Scratch

Today, after over a year of thinking about it, I finally took my first Judo class. At Mid-America we have 2 Judo black belts that teach twice a week (Thursday and Saturday.) Due to schedule issues, I’ll probably almost never make it to a Thursday Judo class, but a lot of time I’m just sitting around surfing the web on Saturday morning anyway. I knew I should go take Judo. Quite a few guys in BJJ have told me I should take Judo, and I’ve seen more than one tournament match where Judo played an important part. Especially at the white belt level, if you can do Judo, people are afraid of you.

So I went this morning and the class had quite a dichotomy. In addition to the two teachers, there were two brown belts and 3 white belts, and nothing in between. I was fortunate enough to be able to work in with the brown belts (AC and Jason). It felt glaringly obvious that I didn’t know what I was doing. But that’s one thing that was nice watching Jason and AC practice on each other. I could see things that they were doing. While I knew basically no Judo moves. I know kesa gatame from BJJ and I’ve heard uchi matta and I know it’s some kind of throw, but that was about it. However, it’s a little different than when I started BJJ. When I started that, almost 2 years ago, I didn’t even really know how to move my body or have a concept of space. Now I’m still not great at it, but I have a better understanding.

That said, it still felt some like my first BJJ class. We did, what I believe was called a tao goshei, that involved stepping in to my partner, turning my hips and taking them down.  I felt completely uncoordinated in stepping and turning. We ended up doing 3 different throws. In some ways I was reminded of the first time I did an arm bar from mount. For the life of me, I could not spin around, grab the arm and hit the ground with my butt without falling to my back. I’m sure in a few months, I’ll remember how I could never get my hips in the correct spot on a hip throw.

I really enjoyed Judo. I wish I had started it a year ago when I first thought of it. It was a nice change of pace focusing exclusively on stand-up techniques. It was also quite the workout, my gi was just as soaked when I left as any other time I’ve been to the gym.

My main motivation for learning Judo was that I know what the weakest part of my game is. It’s anything to do with me on my feet. It’s one reason I’m willing to pull-guard at a tournament, because I’m more comfortable on the ground than standing. So if I can mitigate, it will make me better.