Selecting a great judo teacher
“when you are ready to learn, a teacher will appear.”
When seeking out an instructor, you need to do your due diligence and weigh out the various factors that make a great mentor. Here are some categories I believe the teacher needs to excel in in order to be a great leader of the dojo. Of course this isn’t perfect and subject to many a criticism… In my defense, I am writing this during a 45 minute break while my first graders sing and dance in a push-in music class.
Here is a chart so you can visualize it, followed by a written description and some questions you should be asking yourself about your mentor.
1. Competition record
a. Are they a competitor?
b. How far did they go? How far can they take you?
a. Do they know how to differentiate instruction for your skill and style?
b. Are their methodologies current, relevant and on point?
c. Are they innovative with their drills?
d. Can they connect with the students?
a. Are they an academic?
b. Are they educated? Martial arts is about education after all…
4. Real World success
a. Are they successful in other areas of their lives?
b. Do they live their life by the moral code they preach?
c. Can they be role models for you off the mat as well?
5. Fitness level
a. Are they in shape?
I put together a chart here for your reference. Of course every instructor will be different. I hope when you seek out your teacher you try to put together a chart like this one so you can make an informed decision. If you are already involved at a dojo somewhere, how does your sensei measure up on this chart? I would hope they rank high. That’s what being a black belt is all about.
Please click the link below which directs you to my blog in order to read My reasons and tips on waking up early!
Waking up early
What a long week. I put in close to 60 hours in total work hours this week (my field work for my Masters degree, running a dojo and teaching private lessons). On top of that, I have been waking up everyday at 5am to get my own personal work out in. I love this time. It’s me and the world. No text message notifications, no interruptions, just me and my time to grow (not only around my biceps, but as a contributing member of society from a collectivist and individualist perspective both). But, I digress…
So I had a long week and I am winding down on Saturday night. As I procrastinate on fulfilling my social obligations, I perused youtube then I came across this. A video on how Korean Judokas are bred through elementary and middle school! Quite incredible. So I decided to share with you all. Naturally, it invoked many responses within me since I am a competitive athlete myself. Maybe it will have the same effect on you?
Challenging Judo Norms
1. Osoto gari is the first move to be taught. Osoto is simple to teach beginners because it doesn’t take much coordination to forge the basic form. The beginners also feel like they learned something. But it is highly ineffective at the early stages. Even in a beginner vs beginner situation, the two will most likely not be able to execute this throw because of the natural way they fight in defensive posture (hips disengaged). Why not teach them something they can use off the bat? Here is a thought. Uchimata against defensive position…
2. Uchikomi is not efficient. In Japan, where the practices are 4 hours long, doing 30 minutes of uchikomi may be highly beneficial. However, if you look at the instructional landscape in most American Judo schools (time is limited), uchikomi takes too big of a fraction of the class. Uchikomi should be focused and quick. No more than 5 minutes. More time spent on 3 person drills, throws, shark bait drills and situation fighting I feel is a much better use of limited mat time.
3. Randori is overrated for the beginners. Yes, Randori is the essence of judo but it is simply too hard. The twisted fingers and toes that get caught up in the gis can be very discouraging for a beginner only a few weeks into their judo journey. I feel if we were to hold off randori until the 6 month mark where the students have invested in developing good basics, the students might be more likely to endure the pain and work through it. Even though we don’t do this at the KBI , I would like to implement this in the future.
What an incredible video on Judo in Japan.
Check out this lovely set of Haikus written by one of our own. Michael lives and trains Judo in New York City. He is originally from Boston and he is a Harvard grad.
Here is the link to NYC Haikus
Judo is a way of life. My father who started KBI as a branch of Kokushikan university 50 years ago is 75 years old. He is in excellent shape. He taught me that Judo is forever. Why? Let me tell you…
The merits of the sport are apparent. Not only does it promote growth in physical aspects (strength, speed, etc), but it also helps the mind flourish. Jigoro Kano developed judo as an education system that encompasses all areas of life. Many sports has the sole mission to build the athlete to acquire a certain skill set and to excel within the realm of the sport itself. However, Judo helps you to become a better citizen of the world.
I believe humans are supposed to reach out and grab someone. To fight, grapple and play. Throw, trip and wrestle. The fight or flight is the most primitive of human responses and I believe Judo training caters to this human need. In the modern tech age, we spend most of our days staring into a glowing rectangle, hunched over our artificial communication centers. Couped up in our 9-5’s. Even the food we eat is processed to a point where there aren’t any remnants of what nature originally intended for us to consume.
In a world like this, no wonder people fall into the depths of dark psychological abyss. Although I know I am biased through the childhood indoctrination, I believe judo is the Panacea to this pandemic. Throw a gi on, reach out, Grab someone and fight them! But not JUST fight… BUT The way Jigoro kano meant for it to be… In congruence with an education system that develops the mind, body and soul.
Here is a thread about Judo and longevity. Enjoy.
Is judo harsh on the body?