Judo Primer

From The Martial Arts Encyclopedia

Edited By Rock Ape

Hygiene and the Gi

Your judogi is now your training equipment and a valuable tool in your progression in Judo. Think of your judogi now as you would a handgun. It must always be clean, in good repair and ready to go.

The best way to insure that you have a clean judogi is to have 2 of them. This will help because of the long time they have to dry.

Basically you can wash your judogi in the washing machine as you would any cotton clothes. DO NOT USE BLEACH on a regular basis. Its OK every couple of months to dilute a small amount of bleach to get some of the grunge looks out of it. After you wash it air dry the top. If you keep putting the top in the dryer it will shrink too much. It is best to just hang it on the back of a chair after it comes out of the dryer.

To remove any bad odors your judogi will acquire use a cup of white vinegar in the wash. The bad smell is from bacteria. This bacterium is activated by heat. This is the reason your judogi will smell worse after you have it on for awhile. The vinegar changes the PH solution of the water and kills the bacteria in the wash.

It would behoove you to purchase a mid range judogi. Many companies have reasonably priced judogis that hold up longer than a lightweight judogi your club will give you on signing up. While many people have their favorites look for one that fits your budget.

What do I bring to the first class / how do I prepare for the first class? Before starting any physical activity you should get a doctor’s exam and opinion if you should begin training. That being said there is really nothing you need to bring to your first class other than an open mind and a lot of patience.

It’s best to dress in a t-shirt and cotton sweat pants if you plan on participating in class on the first day. The dojo should have some spare judogis lying around for you to use when trying out. If not it’s not a big deal to practice without a judogi for the first class.

The best preparation for your first class is to do some reading on exactly what Judo is and what it is not. More than likely if you are reading this you are doing such a thing so you are well ahead of the curve. Just remember that Judo is a slow progression. You will not be performing highlight reel techniques on the first day.

What will my first class be like?

Aside from tying your belt and bowing properly (see below) Judo noobs just need to sit down and shut the fuck up. Different clubs follow different logic paths and different skill progressions. Some places put a lot of emphasis on break falling at the beginning, some clubs on learning throws, others on newaza (groundwork). It depends on the club and the instructor. Bottom line: get your ass to class.

Sadly, the first day will be boring as all hell. The instructor will be throwing out terms in Japanese that make little to no sense to you. You will begin with some basic warm up and stretching then you will start the most grueling task in Judo, ukemi (break falling).

Ukemi is the most over looked component of being a good Judoka. The ability to break fall well will serve you through your entire Judo career. Do not trivialize these important techniques: they will save you from injury and allow you to train Judo for a very long time.

Depending on the club you may do a little light ne-waza randori (ground technique sparring) on your first day, or you might be taught a throw or two. The most important aspect of the throws is Kuzushi (balance-taking). All judo throws depend on this. The most important thing is to be relaxed. Take your time.

Take it easy in randori in the beginning and try to perform the technique you were taught on that day. If you go crazy and think you've got something to prove by beating up the Judoka on the mat you’re in for a shock if you’re in a competitive club. They will have someone on the mat that specializes in controlling overly excited beginners. In a recreational club they may just ask you to sit down or even not come back. Remember: it is perfectly normal to be thrown in Judo. Rather than resist, just relax, take the fall and keep on working. Attack frequently and try not to stiff-arm.

YouTube - Judo For Kids : How to Tie a Belt in Judo for Children

Judo + Striking = Awesome When combined with a striking art, judo becomes a potent all-around fighting system. This has been done to great effect with Ashihara (Sabaki) karate as well as Daido Juku and many other similar systems. Karo Parisyan and others have also used judo as a base art for MMA, to great effect. You can take advantage of this by cross-training judo with a striking art; any hard-sparring karate, kung fu, tae kwon do, Muay Thai or boxing school would be fine. Judo Atemi - No BS MMA and Martial Arts practical to combine judo and striking art? - No BS MMA and Martial Arts Judo in MMA: http://www.sherdog.net/forums/f2/judo-mma-gifs-928301/

Judo Newaza / Comparisons to BJJ

The differences, similarities, history, worthiness of cross-training, and relationships between BJJ and judo has been done to death. Here's a tiny sample, and please--let's try to transcend these petty and shallow arguments. For the children. Isao Okano on the Importance of Ne-waza - No BS MMA and Martial Arts Why do judoka give up their back? - No BS MMA and Martial Arts

How should I pick a tokui-waza (favorite technique)? This is really a personal choice but sometimes you are stuck in a club that does a certain technique and you just do it because everyone else is doing it.

If you have a good coach, though, you will be placed into one of two groups, the seoinage goup or the uchimata group. The seoinage group is usually the shorter stockier guys with good hips and grips from hell. They focus on seois and hip tosses. The uchimata group will lean toward the taller lanky guys with good footwork. They do a lot of uchimatas harais and footsweeps. Just listen to your coach when he says try stuff and if you like it or can make it work then master it. Yes you can still learn all the throws but you will lean to a certain throw more than others. (thanks Coach Josh!)

What should I look for in a Judo training gym (dojo)?

This is directed at the physical aspects of the gym. Mainly it should be clean and well kept. The mats (tatami) should be clean and put together so there are few cracks or spaces in the mats. Since many Judo clubs are located in YMCAs or other public parks and recreation centers, expect to have to pick up and put down mats on a regular basis.

Look around and see if there are crash pads. These are 4-6 inch mats roughly 4’x8’ that are used to do repetitive throwing drills. In clubs that do not have permanent floors and the mats rest on concrete a crash pad is an essential tool. If the club has a “spring loaded” floor then they are very serious about their Judo and crash pads are not really needed.

Don’t be shocked if there is not a bunch of trophies and medals hanging up on the wall. Many clubs don’t put much stock in amassing these trophies and just love the idea of doing Judo. It’s not surprising to have guys pull a medal out of there gym bag from months ago and just toss it in the trash. Judo players (Judoka) generally don’t have much interest in medal collecting even the ones who compete every weekend. The other thing is that many clubs are in public centers or they are renting space from another gym.

Speaking on the intangibles like the attitude or atmosphere of the club. Judo dojos run the gamut when it comes to the style of club. They generally fall into two categories, recreational and competitive.

Recreational clubs are generally strict on protocol and formalities. They don’t do many tournaments and spend a lot of time talking about when they used to compete. They will spend more time on self defense, drills, kata and little time on sparring (randori). Quite frankly you will learn more about Judo and become technically proficient in a wider variety of throws.

Competitive clubs are generally lax when it comes to formality and protocol. They spend more time on sparring and drilling. Asking about kata in this club usually gets you a sideways look and a chuckle. Expect a fast pace and heavy focus on competition based techniques. While you will not learn a large amount of throws you will be very proficient at the ones you do.

There are clubs that are a combination of the two but they are few and far between. Judo clubs are not as anal as Karate clubs when it comes to bowing and formalities. You will find a good environment with down to earth people and a desire to teach you all that they know when it comes to Judo.

What should I look for in a Judo instructor (sensei)?

He or she should be a black belt in Judo. Avoid brown belt run clubs if you can, generally there is another club close by with a black belt that more than likely instructed that brown belt. I say this not as a knock to any brown belt out there teaching classes. There are very knowledgeable brown belts out there who just never tested or got feed up with the club they was attending or just moved to an area with no Judo. The point being that they may not be as knowledgeable about Judo in the long run. They will be great coaches for awhile then when you reach a certain skill level they may have very little to offer you in the form of advanced training.

Look for an instructor who is a member of the US Judo Association, US Judo Federation or US Judo Inc./USA Judo and holds certifications as a black belt and at least a coaching certificate from the organization. For people outside the United States look at the International Judo Federations website to see if the club you are looking at is part of an organization backed by the IJF. This is very important. I feel that without being part of a major organization Judo clubs and instructors can not grow and expand.

Inquire if the instructor was or is an active competitor. This is very important. Quite simply this means that they competed at a higher level and love to play Judo. If he/she is not an active competitor find out if the students compete regularly. Did the coach have someone compete or place in the higher level events such as Senior Nationals or the Ladder tournament? Look around the gym and if you see several people with a big USA patch on the back of their uniform (judogi) you are in a good competitive gym with a competent coach.

Should I ask about the instructor’s lineage?

Yes and no. It’s OK to ask them who their instructor was in Judo, just don’t be surprised that they can’t trace it back to Kano Jigaro Sensei himself. Many people had a cadre of instructors that influenced their Judo and made them into the Judoka they are today. Many competitive Judoka had several coaches and trained at several different clubs.

The most important thing to look for is a certificate from one of the three national governing bodies. More important is that they hold a coaching certificate not just a black belt certificate. The coaching certificate will at least let you know that they have undergone some additional training from an NGB. This will not guarantee a good coach but at least you have one dedicated to becoming better as a coach.

How do I act properly for the first few weeks/months? (Ie, general unspoken etiquette on talking to seniors, how hard to randori or roll, how not to be a dick, etc)

When in doubt just say sensei (teacher) if they have a black belt. Anyone else you can just call them by their first name. This will vary from club to club but for the most part even the black belts don’t mind you addressing them by their first name.

Author’s opinion in the following not to be confused with normal protocol Personally I do not like to be addressed as sensei. I reserve that term for older well respected instructors. This is not the case in many recreational clubs that believe that a black belt entitles them to being called sensei. To place this in perspective for many people who will disagree with the statement, I have addressed several former Olympians and Olympic team coaches by sensei and been told to call them by their first name. So be respectful first then wait for them to lower the formality. Always address Gene Lebell as mister though.

Which National Governing Body (NGB) should I join?

This will depend on your club. Many clubs are very loyal to a particular NGB. This will depend on the area you are in as well as the level of competition you are willing to participate. In the beginning its fine to be USJA, USJI or USJF it will not affect you one way or another. Only when you get to compete at the really big tournaments will you need to be a USJI member. I do not know about foreign countries NGB.


This article was first published here by forum member 1Point2 and has simply been formatted to fit the wiki, not other changes have been made.