Greatest Judo Training Camp on Earth Recap

So now that it's over... what do I really remember?

Ok... my last post that is just about my camp experience... How would I sum things up?  Well, let me first look at the instructors:

  • Nick Lowe:  His lessons/demonstrations were very clear and uncomplicated.  Taught at a level that a beginner could easily follow along, his lessons were nonetheless valuable to experienced players and instructors...  One of the things I noticed is that he never does the "1-2-3 Judo" - it is always a dynamic approach.  Accordingly, he teaches in a manner that I would expect to build randori/shiai skill very quickly.  He's also a very engaging, very motivational guy.  And it's funny every time a large, highly trained Judoka says the word "tummy" in an English accent.
  • Shenjiro Sasaki: As I mentioned before, he was the most explosive Judoka I have ever seen.  His lessons were very technical, and more advanced than most, not teaching to the lowest common denominator.  Almost none of what he taught can be found in any book I own (and I own a bunch). I think the coolest thing with Sasaki was that he demonstrated creativity, artistry and a real mastery of Judo - he has really made it his own, and it is neat to see the potential of our art in guys like him.  My favorite saying of his?  "Thatsu ma trap!"
  • Igor Yakimov:  In addition to being a cool guy, Igor is a great instructor.  And he brings a very different style of Judo than the others resulting from his roots in the Russian system.  I'm not sure why, but his techniques always seem to stick with me more than others, and I have more success with them... Lord knows I'm not built like Igor, but his stuff is still very relevant to me.  Maybe it's because I have historically had a difficult time with grip fighting, and his grips are so unorthodox here that most haven't developed great defenses for them?  Idunno.  Favorite Igorism?  Hmmm...  too many to choose from, but "Just straaaight his arm, guys!" is up there... 
  • Stan Wentz:  Stan's lessons focused on simple (though not readily apparent) solutions to common problems.  "You're in their half-guard?  Flop over, and you win!"  "They have a strong collar grip?  Grab their back, move their elbow, and you win!"  And damned if I didn't pull those both off in Randori!  I was amazed.  And, as I mentioned before, he's a wizard with grips.  While Stan doesn't have a cool accent like the other guys (he's from boring old Texas), I do have a favorite expression of his:  "They're going to pull my Lefty Card for teaching you guys this one..."
Aside from the instructors, there are lots of other things that I really appreciate about the camp:
  • It takes away your excuses.  Going to the camp, I see plenty of younger guys with greater skill and understanding of the art, and I see older guys who are in better shape...  So there's really no excuse for me not to be in better shape, and I need to keep developing if I want to be of any use as an instructor...
  • I can just be a student: I enjoy teaching - that's why I do it.  But I really do enjoy the opportunity to just be a student.  To practice and learn and have fun.  And that's pretty much all I did for the three days of the camp.
  • I really learned some stuff.  There's a difference between being taught something and learning it.  Any jackass can show up to a class and be taught something, but to learn it, you have to internalize it, and - in the case of Judo - have some ability to execute.  While I certainly didn't "learn" everything that was taught, I did find myself nailing several of the techniques they showed us.  For instance, I probably got Shenjiro's Sasae -> Osoto Gari combo about 8 times in the final Randori.  I hit his Sode Guruma Jime, too, and Stan's "flop over" arm bar from the half guard... and a couple of others.  I'm proud of that.
  • You get to meet and work with some cool folks.  There are tons of folks there, so you can find someone of the skill level and size of your choice.  And pretty much everybody you meet is a cool person to hang out with - and the CAJA folks set the camp up so that you get ample opportunity to hang out at dinner or drinks afterward.  The camaraderie is one of the things that I really love about Judo.
So... once again, I want to give a big shout out to the CAJA folks.  The camp was a great use of my time and money.  Other than the surreal experience of doing Judo while a Christian Rock band practiced - loudly - in the same room, I had no complaints.  The CAJA folks work hard to keep costs down and to bring in great talent.  Thanks again, guys!  And thanks to the instructors -  you guys were great, as well.



kodokanjudo said...

You've had me at the edge of my seat (not sure if ukemi works on that) this week with your updates.