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Zen Judo Memories.

American Zen Judo - The Future (posted 2nd May 2005)

It was with sadness that I read the e-mail from Sensei Cavalcanti regarding the situation which The American Zen Judo Family finds its self in. I believe that unlike American the UK seems to have a large number of small village and church halls and schools available for running clubs in and from that point of view we are able to keep minority martial arts clubs viable for the most part.

But from past experience I know that many clubs have a hard time finding and keeping members when they have to contend with large commercial leisure centres who have the money for large advertising campaigns and the ability to put on a martial art each day of the week, no matter that it might be on the same day as a local club which has been operating for years.

The situation which is present in the US is very likely to be the situation we will have here in another 10 years time. This will mean that all small martial arts clubs will be squeezed out of the running and only the large commercial concerns will survive. I hope I'm wrong but as hall hire costs climb the ability of clubs to be run on a non profit making basis will become more and more difficult to achieve.


Etiquette in the dojo (posted 2nd Aug 2005)

Should martial arts clubs maintain a high level of etiquette in the dojo or is it a waste of time in western clubs?

As a student it was always impressed on me by my Sensei's that a high level of etiquette was expected in the clubs I trained at and because of this I have tried to maintain these levels now I run my own club (not always easy).

I believe that this helps students to maintain the correct mental attitude while training and helps with general mat discipline and safety. The act of formally bowing in and out at the start and end of a session allows the student to train the mind to leave the problems he/she has at the dojo entrance and to spend the training time concentrating on his/her Judo (martial art). This mental training does not happen overnight and takes self discipline but when attained it can be used in everyday life in many way's.



Judo Kata Practice (various posters 3rd Mar 2002)

Should the judo kata be practiced for the vast amount of knowledge that can be gained from them, or do you see them as a means of getting another grade?

(Originally posted 03/03/02)


Kata should be practised when ever the opportunity presents its self. The main problem seems to be the availability of experienced instructors and kata partners. But each time I have had the opportunity to attend a kata session / course I have taken away a better understanding of the Judo I practice and also it has shown me just how much more there is to learn. At the end of the day if you practice either Kata or Judo just to gain another belt, then you are probably missing the point !!!.

(Originally posted 07/03/02)

If you want to be awestruck by how well Kata can be done you can do no better than the Kodakan Video series. The Nage-No-Kata is daunting stuff to watch and it will make you feel like a white belt. Performed to perfection by two 5th dan grades it is a ballet of Judo, inspiring yet seemingly unattainable at the same time. practice of this basic Kata would help to resolve some of the midgi / Hidari debate as all throws are performed to the left and right. Kata Guruma takes on a new challenge as I have yet to meet anyone who can execute the throw to the left as well as the right side.

(Originally posted 16/03/02)

Como dijo el Gran Maestro Jigoro Kano. "Las katas son la estética del Judo. En las katas se encuentra el espíritu del Judo, sin el cual es imposible ver la meta" (Translation by Julia McCall:- As the great master Jigoro Kano said: Kata is the most beautiful part of Judo (the aesthetics). In Kata you find the spirit of Judo, without it, it is impossible to see the end goal.)

(Originally posted 14/03/02)


After attending Shihan Gordon Lawson 5th Dan and Sensei Anne Parker 3rd Dan's excellent Katame-no-kata course at Thatcham last Sunday. My son asked an interesting question.

Why is it that we learn the Nage-no-kata right and left handed but only seem to do the ground work kata right handed (migi).

It has got me wondering now just how difficult it would be and if anyone else has ever tried it. I would guess that it would have to be done completely either right or left handed all the way through and not in the same way as we learn the Nage-no-kata.

Do You Spend Time Practicing Hidari? (posted 16/02/02)

Do you spend time practising hidari (Left handed) throws, groundholds and breakfalls. If you hold a green belt or above are you able to change between migi (right) and hidari (left) handed throws in randori. Do we tend to put less effort into hidari practise because its more difficult for most judoka. What do you think ???

(Originally posted 16/02/02)

I feel that we probably train students more for grading's than for skill at times - especially with Hidari techniques when the student is right handed. We don't insist on them being just as skilled left as right, and I'm just as guilty as any on that one!! The serious student will practice both but those who just learn for advancement will concentrate on Migi. My personal view, which is not necessarily that of everyone, is that the initial instructors MUST concentrate as much on Hidari, especially for juniors. How we teach the youngest pupils, and what we might skimp on, will set a model for our perceived standard for all to see!

(Originally posted 20/02/02)

Hidari rolling breakfalls is the most disconcerting thing that I do. I always feel like a white belt novice, rolling comes most un-naturally! I try, therefore, to practice rolling, two to the left side and one to the right. The side benefit being that it helps me empathise with those students who are learning to roll and how un- natural it feels to them. Some throws are easier than others. Hidari Kata Guruma is more difficult for me whereas I find Hidari Hiza Guruma no problem!

(Originally posted 19/04/02)

I used to avoid hidari at all cost, then damaged the ligaments in my right arm, and found that I had to train (mainly) left handed.

The result is that I am comfortable reacting left or right. I can attack left or right, but have to think about demonstrating / practising left handed. In other words, reacting is OK but thinking left handed is difficult.

The good side to this is that left handed counters, from a right handed attack ALWAYS confuse the opponent.

In addition try this next time you train. Taking a Left handed grip gives everyone the BIG HINT that your going to attack left handed - so don't! attack with a right handed technique instead !!!!! try Sode Tsuri Komi Goshi. You'll be amazed.


Very Happy I like using both, and switching between during randori, though this is not always the case for uke...