Judo Pratique - Tadao Inogai/Roland Habersetzer
I decidedly like to review, so I thought I'd give a little nod to the Francophones among us by reviewing a primarily French-language book.
So, Judo Pratique. I personally dislike the sub-title, reading as "from beginner to black belt" (du débutant à la ceinture noire), leaving that glimmer of hope for the uninformed that a black belt is stapled to the cover of the book should he/she manage to read to the bitter end.
This is a French language handy little book for the Judoka among us who aren't fooled by such marketing ploys and only need a book to refresh their memories on certain techniques. This reviews a good amount of the techniques one learns from total noob to shodan, as the sub-title suggests (sorry, no black belt stapled to the cover).
Overall, the book is very well done and has a quality feel that you'd expect from a book that stole 30$ from your pocket. Literally every technique is depicted, as well as every counterthrow, by drawings made by Habersetzer to supplement the text originally written by Tadao Inogai. Problem : it's in black and white and tori and uke and only differenciated by their obi and their hair color, which can get confusing.
The feel of the book is about equal in quality to my college textbooks, for which I'm paying double, on average, the price of this one.
Judo Pratique presents the majority of Judo techniques in a concise way. While it is impossible to catalog every variation that can exist to any one technique, it does a good job to cover the basics. Every throw is presented with its technical execution, both in drawing and in text, split between tsukuri/kuzushi and kake phases. It also includes a list of opportunities to pull the throw in randori or shiai, as well as a few key points to look for, like common mistakes and the like.
The counterthrows shown look logical, although a few ones I had luck with are missing. Again, the counters are not meant to be exhaustive.
It is unlikely that one will find something completely out of the ordinary while perusing this book nor is it what it's meant for. This is not the be-all-end-all of Judo, just a nice handbook to review.
It's impossible to pick apart every subtlety of a throw or technique from drawings - therefore Tadao Inogai's text does just that.
The text is, in general, quite crisp, not overly rich in details but enough so that one may understand the basic principle. The tsukuri/kuzushi explains the making and unbalancing of a given throw as well as the body movements necessary to get where kake can be initiated.
The problems with the text arise when such terms as "a little" are used (as in, "move your feet a little"). Some throws require different footwork in the tsukuri/kuzushi phase depending on uke's stature and other variables. Variations in footwork in relation to uke are normally not explained. Therefore, something that needs to be "a little" normally can become "a lot" with certain Judoka, which is something experience only will teach but that could confuse newer Judoka, and which generally lacks a deserved mention.
Another problem is that while counterthrows are explained, getting out of the numerous ne-waza techniques isn't (not even something as basic as "grab your own arm" to delay the inevitable when being juji-gatame'd). Therefore the book does seem a little one-sided in favour of nage-waza, although the vagaries of ne-waza would take a book by themselves.
Judo Pratique does a good job of introducing new Judoka to the art of softness while maintaining enough interest for more well-traveled Judoka to deserve a buy. The book starts with a non-exhaustive history of Judo, and goes to cover ukemi, rei, tying your belt, before moving to the throws, going then to pins, chokes, and joint locks, a list of counterthrows then the appendix which is generally only useful for French Judoka but does include a copy of the basic IJF rules.
Specific scenarios are not explained and the book lacks something for ne-waza similar to the list of counterthrows for nage-waza (presumabely because the author died before finishing the manuscript).
What Judo Pratique DOES include from a technical standpoint :
-throwing techniques listed under the go-kyo and/or the progression française
-pins, chokes, joint locks (elbow locks) that are shiai-legal
-a list of counterthrows
What Judo Pratique does NOT include :
-several preserved techniques (such as yama-arashi and obi-otoshi)
-a few newly accepted techniques (such as kawazu-gake)
-Ju-jutsu-style self-defense techniques necessary for belt progression under both the FFJDA and JQ (not a huge loss, it's stuff like "CATCH UKE'S MAEGIRI WITH LEFT HAND, TURN HIM, MAEGIRI UKE'S NUTS", but I digress)
-kata (covered in a separate book that I do not own)
Judo Pratique covers throws appearing under either the progression française or the go-kyo up to shodan level. It does NOT cover every Kodokan accepted technique, as demonstrated above. In fact, it does cover some kinshi-waza like kani-basami, and a few derivates of throws not recognised by the Kodokan but not illegal.
Judo Pratique is a perfect buy as a quick little handbook to verify during one's ascension to shodan-dom. It's not the be-all-end-all of Judo : perhaps this book will prove to be slightly drab to the advanced reader, especially when ne-waza is concerned. For anything underneath though, this book is quite handy.