Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Silver bullets

Log onto or or any other martial arts related forum where Judo techniques are discussed on any given day and you will see at least one thread where someone is asking a variation on these:

‘Which technique should I use to beat a black belt?’

‘I’m Xft tall and Ykgs what throw should I use against someone Zft tall and Wkgs?’

‘My opponent keeps stiff arming and bending over what throw should I use to beat him?’

I think you see a pattern emerging by now.

It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst beginners that the solution to their problems with Judo or any other grappling art lies in the ‘silver bullet’. The one solution, the one technique, the one secret that will elevate them from beginner status to master. You could probably make some wider sociological or philosophical point about modern culture and the ‘now, now, now’ mentality, but I’m not going to go there.

What is important, however, is that as a beginner or perhaps even as an intermediate that you realise that there are no silver bullets in Judo. There is no technique to overcome problem X  or beat person Y or resolve situation Z.

The solutions to all a beginners problems lie in understanding and gaining a competency in the fundamentals. The core skills of movement, coordination, awareness of moment of opportunity, control, gripping etc...

These can only be gained through hard work, hours on the mat, patience and most of all repeated failure. I started the fundamentals series because I too had once been looking for the silver bullet, but eventually realised I needed to just work on certain fundamental principles and actions.

A common issue in silver bullet hunting is seizing on things that are essentially running before you can walk. Usually picking a Judo celebrity’s technique or highly advanced solution to their problem. Defeating a opponent in a kenka yotsu situation by trying to perform Inoue’s oikomi Uchi mata when you’re an orange belt is going to get you nowhere. Changing sides and trying to throw left handed when you’re naturally right handed and have never learnt throw to the left or all the associated movement patterns and coordination skills is equally pointless.

You need to return to and look at the basics.

Many Judo coaches and ‘sensei’ will talk about the basics and the fundamentals, but they won’t or aren’t able to really break them down to a level where a beginner can truly appreciate not only their significance, but also their relevance.

One of my friends an accomplished Thai Boxer once said that when it comes to martial arts you simply have to ‘put the years in’. This is absolutely true, but not only do you have to do your time you also have to train correctly and smartly during those years. Otherwise all you’re doing is putting years into internalising errors. Building your church on sand rather than rock.

So as a beginner whenever you’re struggling with something always think to yourself is my problem really mono-causal or are there multiple factors at play that I need to be working on to help me overcome my problem.

Always look to master the basics rather than the complex and always look for the multiple causes to a problem and consequent multiple necessary solutions not the one cause and the one silver bullet solution.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much. I'm a white belt around 6 months at a somewhat intense for today's standards club, and this really helps me out. I get down on myself sometimes because I'm getting thrown around by the blackbelts during randori and for some reason in my mind I want to be better. I think this is very humbling. As well, i stumbled onto this site because I was looking for some solutions to myself being very stiff without even realizing it. But I will just be putting in the time to overcome these hardships and trying not to look to far past my next step. Thanks again!