Shirindo Jujutsu: With the start of the week feeling as though it was going by slowly (due to the drudgery of the 9-5), Thursdays Jujutsu session came by very suddenly! With the Jujutsukas present (and The Urban Sumo on time) Sensei Bert took us through the usual Ukemi-Waza and warm up; analogous to Tuesdays session, some technical drills were incorporated in to the warm up. Tonight, we practiced Tai Otoshi and Ude Osae, executing the technique 20 times each on our Uke, stopping at the pivotal moment and resetting before the Uke met the tatami. This was a good exercise in warming up and practicing Kazushi and control; additionally, as I mentioned in Tuesdays blog post, this also allowed greater focus on the important subtleties of the techniques, as it does not allow for ‘muscling’ the Uke to the tatami with bad technique… Not that I do that, honest!

The striking drills continued with the recent Thursday theme of incorporating grappling in to the upper body strikes; for the initial drill, the Tori obtained an under-hook on their Tori, throwing an uppercut with the empty hand, then swimming that hand in to an under-hook, the Tori released the opposite side, throwing an uppercut. This was executed in a ‘flow drill’, which was analogous to what in MMA is referred to as a pummelling drill, with the added uppercut. For the Next striking drill, the Tori held their Uke in a head clinch, moving their Uke about and maintaining control; the Tori would then periodically find an opening to throw an uppercut. I was working on this drill with the Lovely Eve, who has rather long, thick blonde hair, which would get very messy and very tangled; unfortunately, bald would not be a good look for her!

As with Shirindo tradition, the class moved on to the Newaza. For tonight’s class, Sensei Bert demonstrated some techniques obtained from an Uke sitting low in the Tori’s guard. The emphasis of this drill was keeping control of the Uke using the under-hook, putting pressure on the shoulder and elbow, to then use hip movements to either execute a Kimura lock, Omoplata, or a sweep in to mount. Between this drill, and an analogous one I went through earlier in the week at Code MMA, I feel as though I am building an arsenal of submissions and sweeps that can be executed from one key position/grip; hopefully, as I build on this over time, I will have several ‘failsafe’ techniques which can be utilised on opponents with good defence.

I get the feeling Sensei Bert is gearing some of us up for our first grading, although nothing has been explicitly said about dates etc, there has been a recent focus on a few techniques I know I will need to demonstrate for my first belt promotion. That said, we started the ‘standing’ Waza with Tai Otoshi, this time fully executing the technique by sending the Uke down to the tatami. Initially, it took me a few attempts to realise that was brining my hip too far across my Uke, as Tai Otoshi is more of a trip than a throw, this was not the correct execution. Additionally, I was failing to correctly consider my Uke’s Kuzushi; it was then explained to me by Sensei Bert, that by utilising my grips on the Uke’s arm correctly I would be taking them off balance, which is the main part of the technique, the use of my foot for the trip is secondary to this. I practiced Tai Otoshi starting from several positions/grips, including double grips on my Uke’s right arm, grips on the right arm and left lapel, and grips on right arm and left under-hook. I decided to walk before I can run and favoured the double grips on the Uke’s arm.

Following Tai Otoshi, Sensei Bert selected two techniques that required the Tori to take considerable care to consider Kuzushi. Firstly, we were shown Kata Guruma, which we were instructed to drill by obtaining the necessary grips and then shooting to a knelt position against the Uke; this was primarily to allow those dropped by taller Tori’s to be able to drill this technique more often! Interestingly, this did give Kata Guruma a Sutemi-Waza feel to it. Until now, I had been training with The Lovely Eve, who as a lighter individual is a delight to throw about; however, looking over to the other side of the tatami, I noticed that one of my fellow Jujutsukas, (Dan, a similar height to Eve) was having some difficulty executing Kata Guruma on ‘The Urban Sumo’ (TUS). It was here I decided to swap Uke’s, giving Dan (a fellow white belt) the opportunity to try the technique on someone his own stature; in turn, this provided both myself and TUS an interesting challenge due to the disparity in height and weight. The stature of TUS disallowed me the opportunity to ‘cheat’ by using strength; therefore, forcing me to find the sweet spot of the damned Kuzishi. In addition to this, TUS discovered that due to the height difference, he struggled to execute the technique from a knelt position, naturally finding himself in the correct position from standing! This is the interesting thing about Jujutsu, it is a Martial Art with techniques used across various disciplines, Judo, Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, Sambo, and yet, it will nearly always be a personal experience to the individual.

The last technique of the evening was Ude Makikomi, this technique is quickly becoming a favourite of mine. The execution of Ude Makikomi involved me obtaining a grip on my Uke’s right wrist/gi sleeve with my left hand, then I used my right hand/arm to grip/wrap the Uke’s right arm, pressing my right shoulder in to theirs. Then, I sent my Uke (TUS) to the tatami by rolling his shoulder back, and stepping in to the empty space behind/to the side of him. There was something I wasn’t quite getting right when practicing the technique after being initially shown it, allowing my Uke to easily resit my attempts. Due to the diligent assistance of Sensei Bert and TUS, it was explained to me that I was failing to notice two core principles. Firstly, when stepping in to the technique for the take-down, I was directing the momentum in to my Uke, towards their mass, as opposed to the empty space next to them. This was the road of least resistance.  Additionally, I was failing to utilise the grips I had on my Uke’s arm; it was explained to me that I could improve my execution by putting weight/force down through the Uke’s arm, towards the tatami in front of them, causing the Uke to plant their foot for balance, then when I roll my shoulder and step in to the empty space behind them for the throw, the Uke would not be able to easily step backwards to resist. By using these two core principles I found two things. 1: my technique worked much better, and 2: the importance of listening to sound advice.

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