We are in strange times at the moment.
I see so many people doing their weekly or daily training sessions and one thing I do see an awful lot of is people doing a lot of technique incorrectly, and I know your heart is in the right place, but wouldn't you enjoy it more knowing you were doing something in the proper way?
And so, this article is going to be focused on how you can adapt your Judo training at home, to ensure you are not only training, but training in the most technical and efficient manner possible.
Because when this lockdown ends, you want your Judo to improve and not regress.
Let’s dive in.
The Importance Of Finding Space
I think it's important to find enough space.
If you haven't got a mat, then you're going to have to do Uchi Komi without a mat, which means no nage komi, but, it doesn't mean that we can't do the Uchi Komi properly.
And if you are able to have a training partner, we need to find enough space to move and throw, or alter our training to fit the space (which I will discuss later in this article)
But for now, the first thing is to find a good space that you can train in.
Find A Cooperative Partner
The second important thing is that you find a cooperative partner.
The uke is always one of the most important parts for me and I spent a lot of time training my uke, training my partner. And that means talking to my partner about what I want them to do and how I want them to react because if they react in the wrong way, then they can pull you out of shape.
And also if they don't react in the right way you have to come back to the same start position, then it is very difficult to do repetition work.
So, it is really important to train your uke and to get a rapport between yourselves and them, training your partner to react in the right way.
It is one of the most important things when it comes to uchikomi and repetition work.
Repetition, of course, makes it absolutely permanent, it doesn't make it perfect, so we need to get it as right as we can.
And I'd say that probably 90%, 95% of all the stuff that I'm seeing at the moment on the internet is technically incorrect, which is ingraining bad technique. Not only that, but if you’re teaching others, this is being passed on to future judokas. We need to get it right, and right, right now. It is essential to the integrity of our sport and yes, I know, a massive responsibility on us.
Just by setting your stall out and by preparing in the right way can save your technique and can also mean that you are getting a lot more out of your technical training.
I see a lot of people doing their technical training as part of their circuit. So they're doing uchikomi at speed and they're doing running and sprints, back then to uchikomi, uchi komi that are only half a technique in the name of gaining quantity, not quality.
So, I see some people doing 300 or so repetitions … but ask yourself, 300 what?
300 incorrect repetitions means that it's being ingrained incorrectly and muscle memory that will not be effective for you once you are back to randori.
It's something I have a real deep feeling about,if you haven’t noticed yet, that you have to be very, very careful when you're doing uchikomi to speed.
For me it's the speed of entry as opposed to how many I can do in 30 seconds because it's how many correct techniques I can do in 30 seconds.
Repetition makes permanent, not perfect, so that's a really big thing. Quality of quantity matters.
Seek Out Good Examples
Seek out good examples. So, if you are going to set a program out, get good examples, good people and good examples off the internet, as opposed to bad examples. Learn from the best examples. There are many well known names and online programmes delivering. And I believe the saying is true: you get what you pay for. Be vigilant in your choices.
Set Out Your Program
Make sure that you've got a clear idea so that you're not just going in there to say you’ve done it. It’s your time. It’s precious. Let’s make those minutes and hours count!
So look at what your why is. Why are you there? What are looking to achieve and HOW are you going to do it? What needs work? Do I have a throw to the other side? Do I need more pull on my Tai -O? Am I truly breaking balance on my Osoto?
If you are lucky to have a mat, whatever we're going to do on the ground, whether it's 10 on the right with the juji or 10 turnovers or 10 turns into the osaekomi. Maybe it’s 10 escapes?
Try and make a program and set the program out, have an idea in your head exactly what you're going to do. And like I say, stick to the quality, as opposed to quantity over quality. I’m thinking it will be more impressive back at the club scoring ippon on someone you hadn’t before, rather than stating ‘I did 100 uchi komis in a minute’. Let the technique and your attention to detail do the talking!
If you can't do Nage komi due to location or a lack of equipment, I think it's important that with the uchikomi that we go through goes past the sticking point and by that I mean the points of balance.
It's important that you've got a cooperative uke that can go past those points of balance. Make sure you're not bolt upright at the end of your technique and when you're rotating 180 degrees in, for a seoi nage, for example, then you break their balance every time.
And, of course, this is where your cooperative uke comes into play. Make sure you communicate. Talk to each other. Tell each other your goals. For example, if you're changing from forwards to back to ashi waza, you need a cooperative partner that's going to react in the right way. If you're doing any kind of ashi waza, you need somebody that's gonna go with the flow or there are going to be a lot of unnecessary bruised ankles and shins!
I know that we're restricted with the amount of space that you've got, but what you can do is one or two steps, rotate around and get your partner moving.
If you can move, then let’s make it more than static uchikomi. Let’s get it moving.
Uchikomi Using Bands
If you're using bands, make sure that they're not too strong or they’ll pull you off-balance. A lot of people I know say "Oh, yes, I've got inner tubes," for me this is like hearing bad swear words. Please, please, PLEEEEEEEASE leave the bike inner tubes on the bikes!
If they are too short or too strong. They pull you off-balance and pull you out of shape.
They're cheap, but they're wrong.
Whatever bands you are using need to be of the right length, they need to be of the right resistance so that they're not pulling you back and off balance; back past your own balance point.
Which is why I recommend our Uchikomi Bands, because they were designed for Uchikomi.
When you anchor your bands you want them to be around about shoulder/chest height. When you think of it, they are an extension of your arms, so I don’t advise them anchored to the floor or above your head.
You need to be able to anchor them at about shoulder height. If you can just wrap them around a tree or you can get special adapters, such as door anchors, which are on the internet.
They close into a doorframe, then you can put the bands through anchoring them.
And also if you can't do that, then just get your mum, brother or anybody to hold them at around about chest to shoulder height.
Keep In Contact With Your Coach
The next thing is keep in contact with your coach, keep them in the loop. Let them know what you're doing and, and get their advice and obviously, listen to your coach.
It is very important that you stay in contact with your club at all times because they will need to know what you're doing for when you go back into the club situation, then everybody will be in the loop.
There is a great online coaching tool called Athlete Analyzer which keeps coaches and athletes together no matter where they are in the world. It’s a great communication tool. Here’s the link:
Tell them I sent you.
If you've got enough space to be able to do a bit of randori, even, let's say, if you haven't got a mat, then you can do grip work and stuff like that. But make sure it's grip work with a positive intention and then an attack off it, not just grip fighting for the sake of breaking grips. This will not help you in your next competitions.
So what we want is people to understand the difference between the two: positive v negative gripping. So when it comes to grip fighting, it's grip and attack off it. And then what you can do is turn that into 60% resistance, but with an attack off it.
And let’s explore that…60% resistance.
I used to do a lot of 60% randori with a purpose at the end of it. So, both of you know that one of you is going to attack at the end and be able to succeed in the end.
Certainly for youngsters who are developing, it gives them a purpose for their randori situations, whether it be in tachi waza and newaza.
Some of you will have a mat that you can do a little bit of Newaza.
Make sure that whatever newaza that you're doing is progressive so that you have a plan A, B, C, D and E so that you're moving from one position to another and also that at the end of it, like I say, you're achieving your goal.
Set a goal and make sure that you achieve your goal at the end of it.
So there you have it. And I may have been harsh in places, I know.
Each of us have very different circumstances right now. Some of you will only be able to use Uchikomi bands and shadow work.
Others will have siblings or maybe even live with their training partner. Just because we are not in our club dojos, does it mean that we can’t study the technical aspects of our technique. You may feel my passion here, and I hope so as I really want you to succeed and be better coming out of this than going into it. We all have the power to be more.
Just remember that Judo is within us all and we can keep it going even during these times.
Thanks for reading
Neil Adams MBE