Hajime to Matte Model: Move Before the Grip

If you have to be a target, be a moving target...

In a recent post, I mentioned the "Hajime to Matte" model that Sensei Nick Lowe shared with us at the camp.  If you go to Akari Judo, we're going to be spending the month of July working on this Hajime to Matte model, so I wanted to devote some posts to my thoughts on each phase.

The first phase of this model is "Move before you grip."  The basic idea is that once you hear "Hajime" (Japanese for "begin") you need to move to get the right position - position relative to your opponent, and position relative to the mat area - to set yourself up for success in the next phase:  the grip.

So what are those aspects that you need to consider when thinking about moving before the grip?  Well, first you'll want to think about how to move, to be sure that you are moving the right way - that is, in a way that will keep you mobile and won't set you up to be thrown.  Then, you'll need to think about where to go - and that will be determined by where your opponent is and what part of the mat you want to be near (e.g., a corner, a sideline, the middle, etc.).

How to Move:
  • The Balls of Your Feet:  I've talked about the importance of the balls before!  I focused mostly on throwing, there, but you should be staying on the balls of your feet even before you touch your opponent.  The same reasons apply:  balance, power, and mobility are all improved if you are on the balls of your feet vs. flat footed (or worse, on your heels!).
  • Keep Your Feet Apart...:  If your feet touch, your weight is supported with a very narrow base.  That narrow base will decrease your upper body mobility, and make you suceptible to a pre-grip throw!  That's embarassing.
  • ... But Not Far Apart:  My students have heard me yell "Too wide!  Too wide!" thousands of times.  If your feet are too far apart, then you are very sweepable, and not that mobile.  I'll catch someone with a pre-grip Deashi at least once per month because people are taking big steps towards me, and they can't recover.  So no long steps, no wide stances.
  • Tsugi Ashi:  Tsugi Ashi (following foot) is a style of walking that involves doing all of the stuff I mentioned above, and walking by first sliding the foot that is closest to the direction you want to move, then sliding the trailing foot into place.  For instance, if you are standing with your right foot forward, and you want to move backwards, you would first slide your left foot further back (because it is the closest to the direction you want to move), and then slide your right foot back.  Read this post to find out more about the benefits of Tsugi Ashi.
  • Hands Up!:  Keeping your hands up won't change much about how you move, but it will keep you ready to grip and defend while you move.  Remember, you are moving to get a grip, and having your hands up (in front of your shoulders, let's say) will help with that.
  • Pace Yourself:  Depending on where you want to go (and many other factors), you may want to move at a faster or slower pace.  There are situation-specific advantages and disadvantages to both... Just give it a thought.
OK... You know how to move.  But where should you go?  Well...  That depends on a number of things:
  • Your Grip:  You can try to position yourself at the right angle to take your grip.  Also, if you assume that your opponent will be moving in reaction to your movement, you can use this reaction to help set up your grip. 
  • His Grip:  Are you playing someone that will nail you if he gets his right hand on your back?  Then keep your back away from his right hand!
  • Your Throw:  You'll still probably want to move again after you grip, but you should be thinking about your throw from the get go.  Do you need lots room to your left side to execute?  Then you probably don't want to have a sideline to your left.  Do you need uke to be reaching forwards?  Maybe you should back away a bit. 
  • His Throw:  Same points as above, just this time, if he needs room to his left, you may want to pin his left side to the line.
  • Penalties:  Is he a sucker for stepping out of bounds?  Then get him over that line!  It may not be beautiful Judo, but it is a way to win.  And reverse applies if he is great at making others step out...  Stay away from that line!
  • Time:  As time starts to wind down, the player who is ahead starts to get a little wild, and sometimes unpredictable.  If you're ahead, you want to avoid getting boxed in or taking any penalties, so you may want to stay near the center.  And if you are behind?  You get the idea... 
OK... that should cover the basics...  What did I miss?



ward said...

It just occurred to me that this model is a great way of sort of forcing randori but preventing everyone from just getting defensive and hunkering down. Controlled randori. I got a great workout and learned a lot Saturday.

Chad Morrison said...

Yeah... Getting people focused on the parts seems to take them out of the "I MUST NOT BE THROWN" mindset. Glad you liked it, too - because we're doing it all month! =:>