Judo newb

So I started taking Judo at a local school here. I say "local school," but it turns out that it, along with San Jose University, is one of the biggest centers of Judo in the world, with some of the toughest competitors being produced here.

Competition doesn't interest me so much these days (getting old!), but top-flight instruction is something I'll never turn away from. It's been an interesting process, since the class has well over 100 people in it at any given time. I'm used to small class sizes, so being in a huge building with a fair number of instructors spread out amongst 100 practitioners ranging from ages 5 to 90 has been an interesting experience. There's definitely less one-on-one, let's check your stuff kind of instruction, but Judo is difficult to practice unless you have a living partner anyway, except for certain drills.

One thing that is killing me though are the elbows. I've been trained pretty much my whole martial arts career not to raise my elbows for various reasons. In Judo, however, there are plenty of times when you're asked to raise your elbows as high and wide as you can for certain throws and techniques. While it certainly works, it just runs counter to a long-standing belief that I've had drilled into me.

Thankfully, good footwork seems to be a parallel that I can use no matter what I'm studying. All those years of stance training and walking the circle are super handy when practicing the standing stuff. Surprisingly, flexibility is a huge asset when doing groundwork. I was surprised how inflexible most of the high-level practitioners are (relatively speaking), but it doesn't seem that Judo emphasizes the need for low stancework or high kicks, so this is understandable. However, most of the high levels tend to be built like bricks, no doubt from all the throwing, falling, and mat drills that seem designed mainly to maul the upper body into something roughly comparable to a steel wall.

Looking forward to continuing the training, and it's a huge relief to actually get in some hands-on time with live people. Now if I can just convince some of them to go for some no-rules sparring matches, I'd be set.

Oh yes, and as always, I'm surprised that, no matter how in shape you think you are, starting something new will still kick your ass. Keeps us humble.
  • Current Mood
    awake awake

Here we are

Sat morning, around 5:30am. Super cloudy, dawn is just starting to hit, so the sky is an orange/grey frothy mix. Lightning storm going on at the same time, so you can see electricity arc across the horizon while the unusual color mix is up there.

Sometimes it pays to get up super early to train. I think I got a crick in my neck from staring up at the horizon the whole time I was running.

On a random note, read a few articles about minorities in the U.S. this morning. All of them lumped minorities as black and Hispanic. I left a comment in all of them: Blacks and Hispanics are not the only minorities in the U.S. They are certainly not the only minorities with issues.

Travel good, knee bad

Frank Rivera and Bruce Liu, respective teachers of Hung Gar and Chu Gar, each ran a seminar in Ventura, CA two Saturdays ago. Of course, I had to drag myself down there to join in on the fun, especially since I often lament the fact that I don't have a secure training buddy or two where I currently live.

The particular batch of students that showed up for these seminars was, for once, largely receptive to what was being taught. Often times you tend to get a mix of people, some there to learn, others there to reassure themselves that they are awesome and no one can teach them anything they don't already know. At least their money's good, even if their attitudes are questionable.

Frank always impresses me with his ideas about martial arts. He tends to de-emphasize systems and rote techniques in favor of out-of-the-box thinking and practicality. His emphasis is always on the common ground that pretty much every martial system stands on, and tends to downplay the whole 'my system is better than yours' byplay that is almost inevitable whenever students from multiple schools get thrown into the same room for a few hours. You may not come out of a Frank-taught class with a whole lot of techniques, but your mind will be hitting directions and areas it never knew existed, which I think is more critical to truly mastering one's art, rather than learning a new way to hit someone in the spine or whatever.

Of course, everyone still likes a little action. Thankfully, Bruce's seminar was more than enough hands-on work. Lots of hitting, blocking, grabbing, joint locking, takedowns, etc. Good overall practice and a great way to get to know a bunch of strangers.

Of course, I take all this back with me to San Jose, train like mad, and promptly screw up my left knee. Hooray! Now I just have to force myself not to use it for a few days. Torture.
  • Current Mood
    aggravated aggravated

Bike rider #2

Another fine morning of running, except for yet another guy riding his bike on the sidewalk. I decided not to go for the flying knee this time and just stepped off the sidewalk into incoming traffic. And of course, the guy riding the bike glares at me as if I were the one at fault.

I'm really starting to hate bike riders. Unfair, I know, but so far I'm having nothing but bad experiences with them. Particularly in light of their "treat us as vehicles" campaign. The sidewalk is for pedestrians, not vehicles.
  • Current Mood
    angry angry

Old Chinese superpeople

Believe it or not, there's a different crowd that wanders around my neighborhood park at 5am than at 6am. It's made up of old Chinese people that not only ignore my presence (as opposed to glaring at me like I have come to expect), but are there to WORK. This park has various exercise stations placed around its perimeter, such as pullup bars, balance beams, and so on. I don't use any of it myself, but the 5am crowd takes full advantage of it. I saw an old guy with an incredibly weathered face wearing nothing but a wifebeater, shorts, and sandals doing pullups at one station, an old woman who looked to be about 100 years old doing leg swings that were hitting head level, and most of the others actually jogging around the park, as opposed to the measured shuffling I usually see from the 6am-9pm crowd.

I guess the hardcore crowd comes out at 5am, and everyone else comes out when the sun is fully up at 6am. I also noticed that the 5am crowd started clearing out about that time too. Maybe they get glared at as well. Anyway, it was cool to see, and I hope I'm still at least as active as these folks if I ever make it to their age bracket.
  • Current Mood
    happy happy


I accidentally bumped into a rather large individual walking with whom I assume was his wife while running laps around the park a while back. I apologized, though honestly they were taking up pretty much the entire sidewalk, and went on my merry way. Didn't think much of it, but ever since then, subsequent encounters have seen him trying to stare me down and so forth. I just ignored him during those times.

This Wed, he actually called me over. He confessed that he had been trying to intimidate me into changing my running hours or whatever so that we wouldn't bump into each other anymore (around 9:30-10:30pm). He felt kind of bad about it, apparently, since his wife noted that his reason for doing so was that he felt uncomfortable that we kept running into each other after "The Incident."

He apologized for that, which I thought was decent, but he was curious as to why I wasn't intimidated by his obviously large size advantage. Luckily, I have an ingrained response to such queries.

"Were you trying to kill me?"
"No, of course not."
"There you go, then."

I think he gave "The Incident" a lot more thought than I ever did. Accidents happen. I understand that one's manly pride can be touched off during such incidents, especially when one's woman is around. Caveman instinct or whatever. But for me, stuff like that is trivial compared to, say, facing death.
  • Current Mood
    amused amused

Night running

Ate a late dinner last night and drank way too much tea, so I was pretty wired. I also just felt like I needed to get out of the house, so I threw on my running shoes and hit the streets at around 1:30am.

I live in a neighborhood full of old people and families, so the park where I run laps at (dirt path is way easier on my knees than the sidewalks) is typically swarming with people. I'm not really a fan of crowds, so having the park all to myself in the dead of night was an awesome experience. I didn't have to dodge around anyone or shrug off the usual disapproving looks old people seem to love to throw at me for being a runner. Sprinklers were going full-tilt, and it was fun dodging around/running through them. Plus, it was just super quiet. I could hear my own heartbeat, breathing, the crunching of my footsteps on wet sand/dirt, and the sprinklers hitting the vegetation.

Maybe I just hate people, but that was some of the best running I've ever done. If I thought I could manage it, I'd choose to go running during the midnight hours all the time.
  • Current Mood
    okay okay

My brain hurts

I've been dealing with a sprained right wrist for the past 2 weeks. It's not horrible enough to stop me from doing anything, but it is noticeable enough to where I pretty much just let my right arm hang loose during my training sessions.

I was of the mind that my training wouldn't be as strenuous while forgetting about my arm, as I would only be using the left arm, which you would think would in turn see me expending less energy or whatever. Interestingly enough, the opposite seems to be happening - training has actually become more difficult. Being right handed, I have to focus/think a lot more when exclusively using my left arm, and in turn it's made training more interesting.

Pretty amazing how taxing it is when you're forced to use your offhand. I may try incorporating this discovery into my future stuff, even once my stupid wrist finally heals. My left arm has certainly been pretty tired lately with all the attention it's been getting. Even tried eating with my left hand for a while, but it was super awkward, especially with chopsticks.

No wonder those Hung Fut guys train their offhands so assiduously. There really is something to that.
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative