Students must be courteous at all times, refraining from profanity. This is part of your mental and physical discipline. Practice cooperatively. Competition breaks down our family atmosphere. To improve at falling, take falls. Respect uki by helping break the fall, as uki is not disposable.
- Bow when entering and leaving the mat and before practice.
- Judogi must be clean; with close body contact, hygiene is important.
- Do not execute techniques you have not been taught in this dojo until cleared by Sensei. Avoid martial arts learned from TV.
- Watch your space. Be aware of others.
- Minimize TALK-E-WAZA and practice techniques as much as possible to develop muscle memory. Speak softly in the dojo.
- Horseplay is not conducive to dojo atmosphere.
- If late, do not enter the mat without approval of Sensei.
- If not on the mat, don’t distract those who are.
General Training Tips:
- It takes time to become good at a technique. Perform new techniques slowly to understand and better control them. Rushing can lead to frustration. Rank comes, but don’t be overly concerned with it.
- Don’t torture uki; release when he or she says “matte” or slaps.
- Kicks take time to develop, as do all Jujitsu techniques. If you stretch too much too fast, you may injure yourself.
- Have fun. Take it easy. Trying too hard makes you stiff and leads to frustration.
- Starting with a relaxed arm, tensing the hand about four inches before contact. Never extend the arm all the way, as this injures the elbow and can lead to a broken arm in a self-defense application.
- In your mind extend the punch inside the target.
- Learn to make a fist and hit correctly, or you can injure your own hand.
- The head and mouth are not targets for the fist, because teeth penetrate hands and skulls break hands. You must not disable your weapons.
- The heel of your palm is one of your best weapons.
- Speed generates punching power. Hips provide power and increase the energy of the punch. Good punches use the hip.
- Focusing on the punch helps deliver maximum power. Focus is an unconscious reflex developed after thousands of punches.
- Penetrate the punch into the target — a tap on the epidermis will not stop an attack. Delivering the punch from a stable stance increases power. Wrist weights are all right, but don’t punch rapidly. To develop powerful punching, put a deflated bike inner tube behind your back and hold it as you punch. It is one thing to punch air; but for the feel of actual application, do one-step sparring with uki. Later on you can spar slowly.
- Protective gear is good. Delivering slight force to a moving target develops strikes. Hitting bricks, wood, and other hard objects is not good training and could injure your hands. Instead, strike plastic or rubber a little softer than a mat.
- An effective kick is only as high as you can raise your leg without effort. Effective kicking for self-defense is no higher than the ribs. Don’t kick ribs unless holding your opponent’s hand. If your opponent thus cannot block your kick or grab your leg, your kick can have a trip hammer effect. Developing kicks takes time. Many attempt power-kicking through a defense, not a good practice. Kick when you have an opening. Use the correct technique at the right time.
- Power in most martial arts techniques generates from the hips. The hips are the first part of the leg when you kick. Kicking without the hip behind it is less powerful or opens you to counterattack after you tap your opponent. Weights work, but don’t kick quickly. Use the bike inner tube method to rapidly develop kicks. Groin kicks don’t automatically stop opponents. Breaking a knee is effective. Kicking a heavy bag helps develop kicks. We perform kicking drills to develop kicks against a moving target. Later we wear body armor for moderate contact.
- An unpleasant surprise is being thrown without any idea of what’s happening. Not only does this give you the psychological edge and expose your opponent for a follow-up, but a good throw can cause serious injuries. You will be thrown many times to the mat. Think how cement would feel.
- Throws consist of breaking balance, moving into the throwing position, and executing the throw, all equally important. Partial throws won’t work.
- Throws work by breaking balance and using momentum, timing or redirecting uki’s force. Throws require much practice and must become instinctive to be effective. You must perform the right throw at the right time. Different throws work for different body sizes, so practice with all sorts of partners.
- A small person can throw a large person with a good throw. Practicing with those you have trouble throwing helps develop your throws.
- After static practice to learn basics, practice while moving is more practical. Always keep uki’s safety in mind. If the throw doesn’t feel right, stop. Be aware of proximity so you don’t throw them someone off the mat or into someone.
- Bending your legs makes a throw work better. Keep your back close to uki, leaning forward. If your bodies separate, uki easily can block the throw. Most throws work with both bodies moving in the direction of the throw. As a general rule the body moves in the direction of the head. Combining this torque with leverage gives throws devastating power. Bending the hips also is important. Relax when you throw. Learn to throw with proper technique, not power. Speed comes with time.
A well executed joint lock either will control an opponent by pain or injure a joint, sometimes to breaking. As in all Jujitsu techniques, joint locks must be done in a fast, fluid manner. If a technique doesn’t work, don’t force it. Switch to another lock; add atemi waza, a strike; throw; or quit. Don’t allow your opponent time to counter you.
Most of us are apprehensive about falling. We build confidence by starting from the ground, then roll from the knees and work up to standing falls. Falling skills take time, and you must relax and not hold your breath.
Slap with fingers together to avoid injury. Kiai means to shout by tightening your abdomen and vigorously exhaling. When throwing, remember to pull up on your partner’s arm to cushion the fall. You will appreciate the same consideration when uki throws you.
Samurai were taught to not fear death. We conquer fears of pain, falling, faring poorly, and losing. During practice you must relax, performing the right technique at the right time. To respond well, you must be relaxed. Techniques come in time.
Repetition is the key to perfecting technique. After forty years with some techniques I still am improving them. One of Jujitsu’s pleasures is becoming friends with techniques, enjoying performing them and feeling them work.
Pain and Injury:
Practice may lead to pain. The purpose of many techniques is to deliver pain and/or injury. We work hard not to injure practice partners, focusing on safety. Serious injuries are rare. (We have much lower accident rates than do football, baseball, and basketball.) Bumps, bruises, and sore joints may occur. Continued practice is part of your mental conditioning in the application of Jujitsu.
(David Parritt, rokudan in both judo and jujitsu, runs Samurai Judo and Jujitsu, in Melbourne, Florida. He has taught both arts and started clubs in the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Panama, Germany, and Puerto Rico.)