Thread: Okano's thoughts on Judo
3/21/2011 12:11pm, #1
Okano's thoughts on Judo
“Looseness” in the fit of judogi
For some time, I have felt there is something wrong with today’s judogi. It is because when you get into them, you don’t get a feeling of “looseness” or “roominess.” To give one example, when I’m giving lessons on Seoinage, I can’t even maneuver my wrist grabbing my opponent’s collar because there isn’t enough room, and that shouldn’t be. If things go on this way, we’ll no longer be able to use this most basic of judo techniques, and it will be impossible to practice real judo. The difference between combative sports like sambo, sumo and Iran’s wrestling as compared with judo comes in what you wear. The outfits make a big difference in what kind of techniques you can use.
Judogi had their origins in the Japanese kimono, and because kimono are loose-fitting, this made it possible to execute a wide range of techniques, and that led to judo’s distinctive “Sho yoku dai wo seisu (small can conquer large)” character. The outfit formerly used in jujitsu was relatively close fitting, but modern-day judo brought in judogi with a fuller, looser fit.
When judogi don’t have the necessary looseness, it kills the unique nature of judo, and judo begins looking like other combative sports, one result being that you lose the interest and attraction of open-weight matches. Speaking of matches, one thing we need is to have pre-match checks, inserting the hand to see whether the athletes’ judogi are loose enough.
Ban on use of the hand in direct attacks below the obi
I myself haven’t gone to see many international tournaments so don’t have an accurate grasp of how the new rules banning hand attacks below the obi are actually being applied. But when I heard of these new rules, I felt concerned that they would make it difficult to use “Go no sen (to make a delayed offensive move taking advantage of the opponent’s attack)” and would reduce the interest of open-weight matches.
There are two main approaches to taking “Go no sen.” One is to use your opponent’s technique and turn it on himself. The other is to absorb it and turn to applying one of the techniques you yourself are good at. I got the impression that under the new rules, we’d no longer be able to use techniques like the Sutemi Kouchigari, Kataguruma, or Ouchigari with a hold on the leg, and that it would be hard to execute Sukuinage or techniques where you hold your opponent around the waist and throw. In that case, it would put an end to “small can conquer large” open-weight category matches. I thought that at the very least, there must be a way to designate just a bare minimum of techniques to be banned.
Only, later on, when I went to the United States and watched practice and matches there, I noticed that under the new rules, a good number of judoka were not aiming for the legs but instead working harder to master fundamental judo techniques like the Uchimata, Taiotoshi and Seoinage. It was good to see judo becoming more authentic, but in another way, I felt there were fewer techniques showing originality and that offensive and defensive interactions had become simple and less interesting.
I want to keep a close watch on how these new rules develop.
Newaza are essential to judo. Gaining skill in Newaza depends on how you use your legs and requires hard training in using all four limbs, both arms and both legs. Many of today’s judo athletes don’t know of these fundamentals.
When you watch Newaza in matches these days, you find a tendency to lie face down on the mat waiting for the referee to help you out with a “Mate” call. With tactics like this, Newaza are as good as dead. Turning your back on your opponent means getting attacked from behind, and that kind of tactic has no place in the martial arts. You have to lie face up and spar. Shouldn’t they be considering laying penalties on athletes so passive as to lie face down waiting for help from the referee? That would be one way to get Newaza back to the position it deserves.
There are also problems with the referees. Referees don’t know enough about the process of Newaza, so they have a strong tendency to make the two opponents return prematurely to their feet. If they had a good knowledge of the unfolding process involved in attacking and defending in Newaza, they would know whether it’s coming to a standstill or not. There are all too many referees who don’t know much about it, or who have only shallow experience. There’s a need to stop giving refereeing positions to people like that. While on referees, to make another point, it’s really regrettable how many times in international matches you find techniques unqualified as Ippon being declared, nevertheless, as Ippon. There is a clear need for the training and drilling of referees.
3/21/2011 12:54pm, #2
i find it hard to disagree with anything he said. i hope that his opinion carries the sort of weight that it should."Face punches are an essential character building part of a martial art. You don't truly love your children unless you allow them to get punched in the face." - chi-conspiricy
"When I was a little boy, I had a sailor suit, but it didn't mean I was in the Navy." - Mtripp on the subject of a 5 year old karate black belt
"Without actual qualifications to be a Zen teacher, your instructor is just another roundeye raping Asian culture for a buck." - Errant108
"Seriously, who gives a **** what you or Errant think? You're Asian males, everyone just ignores you, unless you're in a krotty movie." - new2bjj
3/21/2011 12:59pm, #3
Unfortunately no one will listen to him.
After the debacle of a Judo tournament this weekend I am going on a personal campaign to take Judo back from referees and tournament officials. I am appalled by the conduct and demeanor of the people who assume responsibility at these events. The coaches are regularly dismissed or chastised for standing up for their athletes. This has got to change. I have tried everything from civil discussion to yelling and no one seems to care. I wish we could throw a red flag during a match like in the NFL to question a call.Judo is only gentle for the guy on top.
3/21/2011 2:03pm, #4
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
I think it's absurd that Isao Okano is still a rokudan.
3/21/2011 2:27pm, #5
All true, but I think no one has informed him of the direction the IJF is trying to take Judo. The shame is, there are a lot of people in Judo who feel the same way he does,more or less.
Regarding Josh's post, the sad part is that the sort of behavior he is talking about drives people away from Judo. Poor refereeing, haughty/dismissive referees, etc., turn people off of Judo.
3/21/2011 2:50pm, #6
- Join Date
- Sep 2006
From the Judo information site: http://judoinfo.com/humor6.htm
Tommy's dad brought him to his first Judo competition. Noting that the organizers seemed a little shorthanded he approached the table.
"Good morning," he said to the Director, "you look a little shorthanded. Anything I can do to help?"
"Well it just so happens we're short a fighter for the under 90 kg division," the director replied
"Sorry," Tommy's dad said, "I don't know a thing about Judo."
"That's OK" said the director. "We need referees too."
3/21/2011 4:22pm, #7
True in some cases, but not usually. Refereeing has become and has been for some time viewed as some sort of elite cadre of Judo, in the US at least. And I can speak from direct experience with the process of being trained and going through the process up to national referee level.
Some of the best, most dedicated judoka I've known were referees, and some of the most arrogant (either judo knowledgeable or judo ignorant) I've ever known were referees.
3/21/2011 4:28pm, #8
I don't follow how a tighter gi makes open weight matches less interesting.
3/21/2011 4:33pm, #9
Part of Judo is how to use the jacket to apply control and leverage. This is especially useful against a larger opponent. A tight jacket makes it harder to apply control and leverage.
3/21/2011 4:41pm, #10