Judo is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there

I spent the last two Saturdays as a volunteer with the Cornhusker State Games. Last week I was in charge of the scoring tables at the Karate tournament, and yesterday I helped time the matches for Judo. I was so busy during Karate that I didn’t get to see half of what was going on, but yesterday I could watch the matches while I timed, and I had one of the best seats in the house, so it was a little more fun. I’ve been helping out with the CSG every year for the past eight years, and it’s always a good time!

Photos by Clark Kent

There was no Jiu-Jitsu State Games this year, and yesterday several people told me I should’ve signed up to compete in Judo instead. I responded that if I had entered, I probably would’ve ended up getting hansoku make (disqualified) for accidentally breaking the rules, because I’m too much of a Jiu-Jitsu fighter! There were a few BJJ guys competing at the Judo tournament, and they were pretty easy to pick out, because they were wearing loaner gis (since their BJJ gis didn’t meet Judo regulations), and they kept getting penalized for infractions, like illegal entry into mat work, and grabbing with both hands on the same side (which I didn’t even know was illegal!).

I like watching Judo more than actually doing it, because it’s cooler to witness an awesome ippon than to be on the receiving end of it (but I have to admit that landing one yourself does feel pretty great!). There were a lot of nice throws at the tournament yesterday, and it did kind of make me want to do more Judo. When my husband and I were discussing the tournament after we got home, he told me he thinks he will be testing for his green belt in Judo next week, and I said that although I’ve only been to a handful of “official” Judo classes, I’m pretty sure I could pass the yellow belt test. This is the conversation that followed…

Joe- “What are the three parts of a throw?

Me- “Fit in, kuzushi, completion.”

Joe- “All in the same language, please.”

Me- “Fit in, off-balance, completion.”

Joe- “In Japanese, please.”

Me- “I don’t remember, kuzushi, I don’t remember.”

Joe- “Fail!”

(The answer is kuzushi (off-balancing), tsukuri (fitting in), and kake (completing), and I bet I won’t forget it again!)

Other than that, Joe agreed that I probably would be able to pass the test for yellow belt, but it would require me to actually go to Judo class (and not just Throwing Sunday), which is unlikely to happen. If I did, it would probably help me get over my persistent fear of being thrown, but Judo just has too many rules for my taste, and to me the fight doesn’t really get good until after I hit the ground. I may dabble in a little Judo (to improve my Jiu-Jitsu), but at this point I’m not really interested in belting or competing in it. I’m just BJJ all the way!

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2 comments on “Judo is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there

  1. BJJ was and is Judo. Mitsoyu Maeda was a Kodokan Judo player who left Japan and went to America and then Europe in 1904. He was a newaza Judo proponent (ground techniques). He gave seminars to American military and used newaza to eventually gas out and submit the big American soldiers. When Maeda went to Europe, his seminars morphed into “challenge matches” where Maeda, again fought the European fighters using newaza Judo. In 1914, Maeda went to Brazil. Gasteo Gracie was was in the circus business in Brasil. In 1916 Gasteo’s son, Carlos, watched Maeda perform his Judo at the Italian-Argentine Circus. Afterward, Carlos Gracie approached Maeda, and asked if he would teach him Judo. Carlos Gracie was accepted as a Judo student, and trained with Maeda for 2 or 3 years (some contention on this time period). Carlos passed on his Judo knowledge to his younger brothers–especially Helio Gracie. Helio “retooled” the newaza Judo taught to his older brother, and created what became Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Although the Gracie family is identified with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Maeda had other Brazilian students who were senior to Gracie, including Luiz Franc and Oswaldo Fadda. I think there was actually some legal battles surrounding who is the “legal” creator of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Considering all that, BJJ, as different from Judo as it appears to many, is entirely rooted and based in Kodokan Judo. Kind of interesting: Dr. Kano goes around to a bunch of Jujutsu schools in Japan and forms Judo. Then the Brazilians learn Judo, and convert it back to Jujutsu, or as they would Romanize the word: Jiu Jitsu.

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