Well the wife and I recently started training judo. It's a ton of fun, and the club trains out of a gymnastics gym so the mats are probably the best possible mats for that type of thing. My question is this, my wife does not like being thrown. She knows how to breakfall, she can do all the forward, reverse, rolls, etc, but is having difficulty doing it during an actual throw. I think she's tensing in mid air and it's causing her difficulty (as well as, discomfort). Talked to one of the coaches about it and I think he's correct as he observed her tensing up, and not slapping the mat properly.
Any advice on how to help her relax? We both enjoy it, and she's been enjoying tossing me around to be sure, but this issue is rather... important. You can't really train judo if you fear the throw. At least that's my noob take on it. I don't think the issue is one of mechanics, she understands the technique, and can do it over and over when not being thrown. I think it's mental. Advice? Is this a common issue?
As a Judo noob myself (although I spent some time in Aikido, FWIW), I think it comes down to old fashioned stagefright.
It's easy to breakfall when it's part of a warm-up drill. It's solo...you know your own body. You control everything. However, when you add the human component, everything changes. Tori determines how uke falls. This freaks out a lot of people because you have no control. The person executing the technique has the control. That's scary if you do not know nor trust your training partner, or if you're not confident in your ukemi.
Does she really enjoy it? Not trying to be an ass here. Is she doing Judo just for you?
My advice: do ukemi/breakfall drills together outside of class. It's easy to throw yourself around on a mat...it's entirely different when someone actually throws you. She needs to build her confidence up. She can do that with you, since she (presumably) trusts you.
She's toughing it out for now, but there's gotta be some way for her to relax. Otherwise we risk me injuring her, which is probably not the best thing that could happen... Is this just something she needs to get used to? If so, is there a way to start off small, and build up so to speak?
She's definitely not doing it for me. These days she trains more than I do (jits), though the judo is 1 day a week and we've both been attending regularly. Jits is 3 days a week for now, and I generally make 1 these days, whereas she's there twice a week minimum.
She's also the one who found the judo club.
I'm far lazier than she, so that's definitely not it, and I agree, it's mental, stage fright, so to speak.
Wish I had an easier way to suggest. But I don't. One just has to learn how to breakfall from a competant instructor. It takes time and dedication on the student's part. It's not easy. It'll hurt. No easy way around it.
Hopefully, some others on this forum have some tips/hints.
The fear of falling is very powerful. It is a most primal fear.
does your judo dojo have a crash pad? taking falls on those is a lot nicer than on standard tatami, and can help a lot with getting comfortable with getting thrown.
Maybe taking a bunch of throws from a competent person she can trust would help?
Yeah, that's a tough one. Keep drilling the breakfalls so her body starts to be able to react without thinking about it. Only working with people she trusts to have plenty of control and not blast her into the mat is a good idea. Personally, if I catch myself starting to tense up before a throw, I make a point of breathing out. Forcefully. It gives you something to do besides just stand there and freak out, it relaxes you, and it gets the air out of your lungs for when you land.
Good luck. Give it time. Taking falls is not something that comes naturally. It's a whole lot of fun though! I love taking falls from people who throw well. Major adrenaline rush!
We don't have a crash pad that I know of, though we're not using standard grappling mats. We work out of a gymnastics gym so we use their super springy set up. Think I'll suggest she drill with one of our coaches, maybe working with them will help her be able to relax. Other than that the only thing I can think is drilling sweeps with her and have her practice break falls that way. I don't think she generally applies a break fall during jits as she's not falling nearly as far, maybe that will help her work up to the judo throws too. And I'll ask if we do have a crash pad as well. Thanks for the responses, any more advice would be appreciated.
Just more practice with a competent partner. High reps with a partner like this can help as well. After being thrown 50 times in a row, it gets a little less scary. She might want to talk to the instructor about it as well.