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Police and Military Judo

Back in the early 1980s I decided that I wanted to learn a martial art. It wasn’t for fitness reasons, I was already fit playing badminton, it wasn’t for something to do, I already had a healthy social life. It wasn’t either a simply desire to learn something new. I wanted to be able to defend myself if the need ever arose. The choice of Judo above the others wasn’t a difficult one for me. Kung Fu had been popularised by the television series of that name and karate clubs abounded where I lived, but my research told me two […]

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Eternal Truth of Judo

I was fortunate enough, many years ago to stand in front of the aikido legend John Waite, who graded me in Tomiki Aikido in a drafty hall somewhere near Clapham Common.  I’d heard of John Waite. I knew that he used to be a judo practitioner. His home dojo had been the much-vaunted South London Judo Society and he had learnt his judo under Kenshiro Abbe, amongst others. Waite had attained the grade of 5th Dan in Judo before devoting his time to aikido, rising up the ranks of that art also. There are only so many days in the […]

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Traditional Judo: What it is Not

My Last Judo blog, while being generally well received did take some criticism from certain quarters, who seemed to be wilfully misinterpreting my point. One individual who went online to attack something I did not say even admitted that he had not read the entire blog – such is the sectarian attitude of some Judoka. The blog had been about the race to gain spectators for Judo, something that I feel has a negative impact on our activity, but along the way it had been turned into a one-way war of words about ‘traditional’ Judo. The Aunt Sally that I […]

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Judo as a Pedagogy: Part 2

In my last blog I briefly mentioned a person who wanted to criticise grades that had been given to young people that he felt were not worthy of the belts they wore. Such criticisms are rife in martial arts, but they show a lack of understanding of exactly what grades and the grading structure is about and what it achieves. The individual I alluded to seemed to think that everywhere, across all grades, there should be a standard and that standard should, inevitably be established by the organisation that he was a member of: it should be rigidly observed. It’s […]

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Martial Arts Best Kept Secret

IT was Neil Adams, as I recall, who described Judo as being martial arts best kept secret. Such a description is hardly surprising to those of us that study the deeper and wider aspects of what for many is simply a combat sport. It is highly fashionable to look at Mixed Martial Artist, Brazillian Jujutsu and other grappling arts and suggest that Judo is an out-dated system that bears no relationship to genuine conflict. In my youth, incidentally, it was Kung Fu and Karate that were considered to be the ‘real’ deal when it came to how or what one […]

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MAI-AI Fighting Style

MAI-AI, or fighting distance in English is an essential aspect of all martial arts. And for each martial art that fighting distance is different; indeed in truth it is different for each individual. In normal Judo practice we take this rather for granted, but a study of it, an understanding of it, can produce a more thoughtful style of Judo: it can also make the difference between success and failure in live situations. A closer look at the subject reveals that what is really being spoken of when mai-ai is mentioned is the relationship between time and space.  Time and […]

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The importance and power of breath in Judo

It took me about three years of training at Judo before I realised that the most important thing I had learnt thus far was not any single technique, not even how to perform Judo on any generic level: what Judo had taught me more than anything else was the importance of breathing. Breathing is obviously a very natural thing to do. In psychological terms it is controlled by the autonomic nervous system: it is something that we do not have to consciously think about. However, in terms of martial arts it is worthy of study and understanding for a number […]

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Striking in Judo

When I first took up Judo I did so on the basis that I wished to learn a fighting art. My preference for Judo above any of the striking arts was partially because I was more interested in learning a defensive art, rather than an attacking one. I saw karate, kung fu and similar activities as being aggressive in that the primary aim is to strike, rather than avoid being struck. I was also, by-the-way, influenced by the number of real fights that I had witnessed where people of varying builds were capable of receiving incoming from fists, glass and […]

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Judo as a Fighting Art

To many Judo is perhaps the ultimate combat sport. With its wide range of throws, its thirty second hold down rule and the use of locks and chokes, the art takes years to master, uses massive amounts of energy and is a very punishing work out. But if you were to come at Judo from a different point of view, you will find, hidden too deeply perhaps, the complete unarmed combat system. We are not talking sport here, but a means of self-defence, restraint and total physical domination over another human being. Since 1964, when Judo became an Olympic entity […]

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