Recap of Toni Lettner Clinic at Wall 2 Wall Martial Arts

I wanted to share this from a recent clinic up at Wall 2 Wall Martial Arts in Fredericksburg.  Another thanks to Chuck Wall for bringing such great guys in, and to Toni Lettner for teaching.  I learned some new stuff there, and wanted to share it on my blog to a) let you guys see what we did, and b) keep from forgetting it!

We started with a sankaku entry when your opponent is on his belly or turtled:

Note that before the video starts, I mentioned that you need to get your knee (right knee, if you are on uke's left side) between uke's elbow and body.  And when I roll him over me, I am grabbing the gi behind his far knee and pulling it over my face.

If your opponent decides to stop you by grabbing your ankle to prevent you from stepping over, then you do this:

We then went on to standing work, starting with what what I often refer to as the "Igor Grip" (since I was first exposed to this series by Igor Yakimov at the "Greatest Judo Training Camp on Earth" (and I'll be attending again this year!)) from a Kenka Yotsu (righty vs. lefty) situation.  You start with an Ouchi Gari:
Kouchi Gari can then follow if that doesn't work (note that I didn't demonstrate very good posture here... do better than I did):
Another option from the same scenario that is useful for us stubby-legged folk is the heel pick (Kibisu Gaeshi):
And if he resists that by pressing in to you - Hikikomi Gaeshi (which I inaccurately refer to as Sumi Gaeshi):

After that, we looked at an Ai Yotsu (righty vs. righty, lefty vs. lefty) situation, taking a different grip (maybe I'll call that Toni grip?  Or maybe the Scoop grip?), and again starting with a Kouchi Gari:
And when he learns to fear your Kouchi Gari, you again move to a Hikikomi Gaeshi:

Thanks again to Chuck, Toni, and to Chuck's students at Wall 2 Wall - they were great training partners, and everyone there made me feel very welcome.


Mess With Their Feet, Part 1: The Messing

If they can't walk, they can't attack.

This is the first post in a series about messing with your opponent's feet - specifically, how to harrass every step they take.  This post will focus on the "phases" of a step, and what attacks suit themselves to the different phases.  The next post will look at what to do if your attack doesn't successfully throw the opponent, but does disrupt their step...

Think about the step as a cycle:

  1. The foot and body rise and move forward
  2. The body lowers as the foot begins to plant into the ground and take weight ("the fall").
  3. The foot is planted, and the other foot (particuarly in Tsugiashi, less so in Ayumiashi) closes distance with the first foot (what I'll call "the recovery").
There are great opportunities to attack the feet at each point in this cycle. For my purposes, I selected a subset of Ashiwaza (foot techniques) that can be quickly launched without having to turn the body away from the Uke.  And not only can these low-risk throws be quickly launched, but they can be quickly recovered from, which is important for part 2 of this series (coming... soon?).   Note that if you attack during the rise or the fall, you will want to generally get as far away from the middle of the step as you can - either hit the beginning of the rise, or the end of the fall.  This is because the travelling foot tends to "float" in the middle, and attacking a floating foot isn't generally going to be successful.

The start of the cycle (the rise):
  • Hiza Guruma
  • Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi
  • Osoto otoshi
  • Osoto Guruma
The fall:
  • Ouchi Gari
  • Kouch Gari
  • Osoto Gari (sort of)
  • Kosoto Gari
  • Osoto Otoshi
  • Hiza Guruma
  • Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi
  • Deashi Barai
After the plant (pre-recovery, or early recovery):
  • Ouchi Gari
  • Kouchi Gari
  • Osoto Gari
  • Kosoto Gari
  • Kosoto Gake
  • Osoto Otoshi
  • Osoto Guruma
Late recovery:
  • Okuriashi Barai
  • Deashi Barai
  • Harai Tsurikomi Ashi
This is certainly not a comprehensive list.  If you can think of a particular throw that I didn't post but should have, please let me know.  There would be one of four reasons why I missed it:
  1. Oversight - I just didn't think of it.
  2. Ignorance - I don't know how to do the throw that way - and I'd love to understand how you do it.
  3. Intentional Omission - It didn't fit the criteria I was looking for.
  4. You're wrong - Maybe it really doesn't work the way you are thinking (It's possible, right?)
So what do you think?  A useful way to think about this?


Book Review: Judo Inside Out by Geof Gleeson

An oddly arranged book that seems almost stream-of-consciousness at times, but you can get some pearls out of it.  Two Stars (out of Four)
Judo Inside Out

The Upshot:
This, like the last book I reviewed, is not meant to give instruction on any technique - rather, it tries to explore the essence of Judo.  Even apart from that, this one is certainly different.  It has 6 chapters, though there is barely a unifying theme within chapters.  He jumps from his theory on how the brain launches a judo attack to a discussion of Itsutsu No Kata to a discussion on taxonomy within the same section.  OK.  From what I can gather, Gleeson seems to be an iconoclast - one who, in order to make progress, attacks the things that others hold sacred.  But many iconoclasts have the same disease that the overly reverent have, in that they can't see any value in the other side; that is, iconoclasts tend to think that *all* common knowledge, *all* traditions, and *every* sacred cow is without value, and it is up to them to reinvent every aspect of the thing...  Anyhow, there are a bunch of (IMO) half-baked notions in here which don't add much to anything, but there are also some great ideas that benefit both sensei and student.  And unlike the 12 Winds book, I'd say that this one is worth slogging through (it's short, so not that much of a slog) to get the good stuff.  I didn't particularly enjoy the book, but given that there are a decent number of "Gleesonites" in the world, I'll give him another shot and read one of his other works.  Anyone have a recommendation?

What's In It and How It's Organized:

  • Forward/Acknowledgements/Introduction:  In addition to standard intro stuff, he gives a nice (though partial) intro into how he evaluates/classifies throws.  Going beyond the normal hand/hip/foot categories, he also considers:  the 'handedness' (e.g., left or right) of the throw, pivot foot movement, driving foot movement, grip, line of atack, direction of throw, and the 'opportunity' (the trigger for the attack).
  • Some Differences between Skill and Technique:  He gives an explanation of the difference between the terms, and expounds on why the difference is important.  And then he goes off on an aside about taxonomy, and a few other unrelated tangents.  But  he largely stays on point.
  • Countering Skills:  The skills of counter attacking.  And he groups counters and combinations together as the same thing.  More tangents in here, too...
  • Let's Start Again:  Here, he recommends tailoring instruction (particularly the beginning of instruction) to the objectives of the participant.  For instance, teach would-be competitors first about the scoring system, and how to achieve different scores.  Start those interested in fitness on the ground
  • The Psychology of Competition:  Really goes off the rails in this chapter.  He gives his theories on brain and nervous system function.  He ties Uchikomi to the writings of St. Augustine.  Some decent thoughts on classification.  And there's a bunch of other stuff in here.
  • A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words:  Here, he analyzes pictures to guess what was happening, what kind of score might have resulted, etc.  I *think*, though, that the point of this chapter was to show that people of execute techniques with meaningful differences from how those techniques are taught.
  • A Summing Up:  A brief conclusion.
The Good:
Folks like Gleeson take nothing for granted, and challenge assumptions that most would overlook.  This will spur you to think - even if you disagree with his conclusions.  And to be clear, I think he has some good notions in here.  And I reckon that everyone will take something different away from their reading.  And it's a bit beside the point, but there was one line that I particularly liked, regarding how one should go about answering a question without a definitive answer:  "The individual answerer can but allow his prejudice full reign, but hopefully it is one of those better, more educated prejudices that has had its intake of substantial knowledge."  Kind of Twain-esque, though a bit clunky.

Could Have Been Better:
Well, it was poorly organized - almost stream-of-consciousness at points diving off on random tangents (note - if you are going to write a book, get a good editor) - he even has frequent sections titled "A by-the-way".  His writing gets pretty clunky at times, and he seems keen to prove his erudition, so you get lots of references to history, philosophy, etc, that seem to be there primarily to show you that he's well-read.  Aside from that, there's a decent helping of half-baked ideas that don't contribute much, in my opinion.

One Thing I Learned:
He includes a great explanation of Itsutsu No Kata, which had never really made sense to me in any way, shape, or form.  I always viewed it as some sort of interpretive dance, but Gleeson believes that the 5 movements are representations of 5 types of force in Judo:
  1. Dominant, overpowering force (Go)
  2. Utilizing force (Ju) - The attacker's out-of-control force is used to Tori's advantage.
  3. Centrifugal force
  4. Accelerating force - as with combos where uke eventually can't keep up
  5. Existential force - that is, just by 'being' (in the right place at the right time), you can thwart Uke's attack.

I'm not sure if he's right, but it seems a decent explanation to me.