Judo – Chapter 1: Introductions

by Dan Walsh

There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.

-Bruce Lee

I’ve been practicing Judo now for almost 2 years. That sounds impressive, until factoring in my 12 month hiatus in 2010, and that on average I miss at least 4 of the available 8 classes per month. All in, I’d say I have about 30 hours under my belt – which isn’t all that much.

I usually catch on quickly whenever I start learning a new skill, but then just as quickly plateau. I get frustrated, I get bored, and then I lose interest. Judo has been no exception. During instruction I can almost always perform the moves – which nets me praise from my sensei  - but I can never remember the moves, and I’m practically useless during sparring matches. My skills don’t build on each other, which means I never improve.

I am determined to use this opportunity as a means of getting past my own personal plateaus, and given what I find to be a general lack of in-depth Judo resources on the web, perhaps my forthcoming thoughts, experiments, and approaches will be useful to others new to the sport as well.

Assessing Common Assumptions

Almost every endeavor of merit is steeped in dogmatic assumptions that are blindly accepted. Judo has been around since 1882, so it’s no exception to this rule. The following are a few common assumptions that I’ve observed.

  1. It takes years and years of dedicated practice to become a black belt.
  2. It can take hundreds of hours to perfect a given throw.
  3. A high level of strength and cardiovascular endurance are required to be a competitive Judoka.
  4. A large repertoire of throws is required to be successful.
  5. An iron grip is a necessity for performing throws.
  6. Practicing with a partner is the most effective way to learn.

I will test these assumptions over the forthcoming months to see which hold up, and post what I discover.