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    Helping beginners relax about falls

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    Allen

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    Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Allen on Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:02 am

    When you are teaching newer Judoka (especially older newer Judoka) and lets say the take their first hard fall by another whitebelt, they tense, they get the wind knocked out of them, they reinforce their fear!

    What are some strategies people have found effective to quickly move someone from that "OH GOD I'M FALLING <TENSE> OW!" mindset to the "ohh he got me <grin on face> <tiny impact> <get back up and go again>"

    It's all in staying loose and relaxed, but I don't know how best to help people get quickly to that point and avoid as much of the tense/hard falls as possible before they get it.
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    JudoSensei

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by JudoSensei on Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:37 am

    If it's possible, I like to have an experienced instructor throw the student at first so that they can learn to relax with easy throws before they face a random white belt. Repeated ukemi practice, a variety of falling drills, and falling on a crash pad can improve confidence and help students relax.

    Ultimately it's up to the student to overcome this challenge that's unique to judo -- one of the first of many to come.
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    Stacey

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Stacey on Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:12 am

    repeat ukemi practice is key, as is having the new student work with experienced students who know enough to allow a new student the opportunity to practice his/her ukemi. Nage komi, movint nage komi, give and take drills and randori - all can be used to gradually bring a tensing white belt up to speed.

    Do not underestimate the power of positive reinforcement, especially with older students. Let them know what they are doing right, and only give them one thing to work on at a time - don't overwhelm any student with criticism of their ukemi.

    Do explain that it's natural to tense and that everybody, every single judoka on the planet, has to overcome that tendency to tense up. If possible, demonstrate with the student from a lower degree difficulty ukemi drill. I like to have them switch sides while on the mat, kipping to a side fall - one side to the other. They can feel the difference between intentionally tensing up, and intentionally relaxing.

    Sometimes, you do have to take a step or two back, especially when the tendency to tense up creeps up into every fall.

    Oh, and do emphasize that randori is all about falling - if everybody isn't falling during randori, they aren't doing it right. Sometimes tensing is about not wanting to fall, e.g. not wanting to "lose", instead of a fear of falling. Sometimes, I don't think we emphasize enough that randori is about developing both PARTNERS, and not a contest to be won or lost. You can see that the first time a white belt gets partnered with a black belt, and that person and other novice students think that the novice is just going to get repeatedly buried - that's a win/lose mentality. It's why white belts naturally try to pair up with white belts instead of black belts when they should be looking first to the most experienced partners they can instead of the least experienced. So, keep in mind, sometimes, especially if it's only in randori, it's more a matter of the win/lose mindset.
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    Tai-Jutsu

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Tai-Jutsu on Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:40 am

    I use analogies a lot in teaching in general and if I have a relavent or semi releavent story I will tell it.


    So to help them get the idea to relax under pressure when faling and how much what they are learning can become like instinct t them I have 2.

    1- I make the point of how many times, drunk drivers walk away from accidents that kills the other drivers and how one of the reasons for this is that they do not see it coming and there fore do not tighten up, there fore the shock gets displaced and absorbed better than if they tense up. It also helps keep them from bouncing around as much sometimes as we all know that if yu get tight you are easier to move but loose you are like an 80 # bag of animal feed or like a big sandbag. You still can be flung (next example bares that out.) My mother telling me this years ago has helped me a few times when I saw the accident about to happen and I go limp and sink.

    2- Back when I was in TKD as a teen, I had a mentor with a Judo, Ju Jutsu and Aikido background and therefore he taught me a lot of techniques from those arts (and why I sought out Ju Jutsu later.) and he taught me some ukemi.

    Well 2 days after my 16th birthday in 1989 I was in the passenger seat of my friend's car as we were coming back from a Circle Jerks (Punk band) show in Miami headed back to Delray beach, at 2am. So it was a longish, 3 county drive.

    Well it was a long day where we ditched school, helped his brother in the band Saigon Kick move to a new rehearsal space, went to Miami, got chased by cops on foot (Because we came upon them beating a punker kid like a dog and yelled at them to stop.) and then went to a hardcore show where I Moshed and Skank Danced for 3 hours strait, so I was a tired boy.

    So I stupidly took my seat belt off and put the seat back and went out.

    Wel, no one told my buddy to fall asleep but he did and when he awoke we were headed strait for a bridge column, on the shoulder of I-95, so he jerked the wheel and the car hit the uneven surface at about 60mph and basically it did Auto Judo and the door flung open and I flew out.

    There are bits and peices I remember but it was talking to a witness later that brings about the relavent point here.

    She said that I flew out feet first and that my feet hit the ground, facing forward and I bounced back up in the air and she mimicked that I put my arm forward and attempted to tuck my head and turn into a ball (like a forward roll in Aikido, which is the type of ukemi I was drilled in the most then)

    But the velocity was so fast that I slammed my face into the ground.

    I remeber the sensation of flying, things spining and the smack and then comming too a minutes later (and not feeling hurt at all, in fact I got up and ran for my busddies car that was on it's side, to go help him. This huge State Trooper comes out of no where, puts his hand on my chest and I forced forward untill he grabbed me up like a babby, put me in the back of his car, said my friend was alrigh and I would be too.

    I had a crushed right cheek bone, a fractured left one, my nose was busted flat and my 4 front teeth were pushed into my sinus cavitties but I was alive, no spinal injury, my knee was a bit sore but that was it. I was awake and singing in the ER when my Mom came. No pain meds at all, the whole dam time other than Ibuprhen and I refused morphine after the operation a week later because I was affraid I'd get hooked.

    The point that this makes to them is that, even though my Ukemi training was just a crosstraining thing, I had built up enough muscle memory that when my body sensed I was beeing thrown forward from bounciong off my feet, like one does when being thrown, I attempted to roll out of it. It's just velocity and not being fully awake makes a differnce. But also odds are is that my body was relaxed because I had been relaxing in stressfull events since I was a little boy after my Mom told me how drunks survive crashes. I really should have had my neck or back broken and I beleive that if I was tight, I would have and I would be dead or wish I was.

    So, it tells them that relaxartion is key and to trust themselves and us when they get thrown and that with practice, this will become an automatic thing.

    Ukemi and triggered relaxation has saved me bad injury so many times since. Fying over bike handlebars, slipping on black ice while carrying 2 70# Kettlebells, getting body slammed, thrown and taken down in real fights, and on and on.

    I tell my son that this right now is the most important element of his Ju Jutsu training now and to never neglect it as he gets more advanced. "You might never get in a serious fight, but I can bet he will will trip, slip and fall a bunch of time in life and many people have had their lives drastically changed for the worse because of simple falls." Ukemi will give him odds in his favour for that. Just as I teach him Ju Jutsu to put odds in his favour if he has to take a stand against a violent person.

    But you all know that.
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    Allen

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Allen on Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:27 am

    I am not religious, but that sounds more like divine intervention to me than good ukemi. But since I'm not religious, I'll keep working the ukemi! Great story!
    (Could also be a bit of the 'young people bounce' theory)

    Hanon

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Hanon on Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:20 am

    JudoSensei wrote:...................and falling on a crash pad can improve confidence and help students relax................
    Can you elaborate on this concept please. To me its like giving valuim to a person with brain cancer. Its just masks the reality of the situation and resolves nothing.

    The tatami IS the living room for judoka and its the place that judoka need to make their best friend. One cannot teach swimming without getting into that water and to me its the same with ukemi. If you use a crash mat with beginners it just prevents the eventual reality of landing on a tatami.

    Fear of being thrown is one of the biggest challenges facing all teachers. That fear is completely 'normal'. We are expecting people to get thrown about and not be afraid? Now introduce that comfort zone, the crash mat, the valium, what do we have, we then have pupils who rather that learn and practice ukemi while learning appropriate throws with appropriate supervision and EDUCATION, they learn to throw into a comfort zone. One day that bubble will break.

    Crash mats for beginners are a false, quick fix. They lie to the pupil and give a totally false sense of security. IF the teacher teaches ukemi well and ensures that every lesson all practice ukemi then teaches appropriate throws such as ogoshi, both the uke and tori build a natural respect for the tatami and never leaves them taking ukemi for granted as one learns with a crash mat. Crash mats become comfort zones that some never move out of.

    Proper instruction in ukemi is the key followed by proper teaching in appropriate nage waza with the education of judo. Crash mats simply postpone the inevitable and can do an awful lot more damage than good.


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    JudoSensei

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by JudoSensei on Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:53 am

    Hanon wrote:
    JudoSensei wrote:...................and falling on a crash pad can improve confidence and help students relax................
    Can you elaborate on this concept please. To me its like giving valuim to a person with brain cancer. Its just masks the reality of the situation and resolves nothing.

    The tatami IS the living room for judoka and its the place that judoka need to make their best friend. One cannot teach swimming without getting into that water and to me its the same with ukemi. If you use a crash mat with beginners it just prevents the eventual reality of landing on a tatami.

    Fear of being thrown is one of the biggest challenges facing all teachers. That fear is completely 'normal'. We are expecting people to get thrown about and not be afraid? Now introduce that comfort zone, the crash mat, the valium, what do we have, we then have pupils who rather that learn and practice ukemi while learning appropriate throws with appropriate supervision and EDUCATION, they learn to throw into a comfort zone. One day that bubble will break.

    Crash mats for beginners are a false, quick fix. They lie to the pupil and give a totally false sense of security. IF the teacher teaches ukemi well and ensures that every lesson all practice ukemi then teaches appropriate throws such as ogoshi, both the uke and tori build a natural respect for the tatami and never leaves them taking ukemi for granted as one learns with a crash mat. Crash mats become comfort zones that some never move out of.

    Proper instruction in ukemi is the key followed by proper teaching in appropriate nage waza with the education of judo.  Crash mats simply postpone the inevitable and can do an awful lot more damage than good.
    I agree with your emphasis on proper instruction followed by appropriate nage waza. There is no substitute for learning ukemi and becoming comfortable with falling on tatami. However, I disagree with the presumption that proper ukemi cannot be practiced with a crash pad. A crash pad does not inhibit one's ability to fall properly.

    A crash pad is just a training aid, not a substitute for falling on tatami. If a student is apprehensive and has difficulty falling without being tense, a crash pad can give them the comfort zone they need to overcome this fear, at least enough to allow for repetitive practice, similar to the way we do uchikomi to allow students to get the basics without having to take so many falls. Older adults who are beginning judo, especially those who are not athletic, will often not want anyone to throw them, but with a crash pad they are willing to give it a try. It helps with student retention, makes repetitive practice more comfortable and fun, and shows fearful students that it is possible to be thrown safely.

    I find that some students advance quicker when they have practiced falling with a crash pad -- they resist less and learn to go with the throw. It helps them make the transition to regular nagekomi and relaxed randori. Students also enjoy the crash pad practice, both for tori and uke. It adds an element of safety when beginners are throwing beginners, particularly when they are of dissimilar sizes.

    All tatami are aids for falling. Some tatami are very soft, some are spring loaded (like the Kodokan) or built on soft foam blocks. Think of a crash pad as just another form of tatami designed for the beginner to bridge the gap between falling on your own and being thrown by someone else. A crash pad has the same objective as other tatami (or knee pads and other protective gear) -- to make judo more enjoyable and less painful and permit training that might otherwise be too difficult for the student.

    A crash pad certainly isn't necessary, and most students learn to fall without a crash pad. We generally don't use a crash pad. However, it is an idea to consider in the context of the original question which was how to help a student relax when falling.

    Hanon

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Hanon on Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:09 am

    Forgive me JS but I have never seen randori nor shiai take part on a crash mat. Your hypothesis that a crash mat can give a pupil confidence is unwise. Sooner or later all judo pupils who practice judo have to take falls. One cannot learn ukemi on a crash mat I think that is a certainty.

    Its odd because the hardest throws we have in the judo canon cannot be used on a crash mat such as yoko gake. I know yoko gake is very much a high grade waza and not for the beginner but even seasoned dan ranks get the woopsie knocked out of them in Yoko gake.

    If a pupil, though injury, cannot make ukemi on a tatami then perhaps judo is not appropriate for them at all? We simply have to accept that some people cannot make use of judo due to some physical or psychological problem. For those with such challenges a crash mat is not going to improve their situation just postpose the inevitable.

    I am so far from being a gung-ho teacher, I do not advocate championships until adults are at least green belts with, I would suggest, in general 12 months of relaxed, no pressure, practice.

    Crash mats do give a false sense of security, after all if they didn't what is the point of their use??????? The idea of a crash mat is to make a fall more acceptable, this to me indicates the teacher is teaching inappropriate judo waza with inappropriate speed to a pupil. IF a lesson plan is followed, tried and tested even the most nervous pupil will and do learn ukemi.

    Judo is not about placing pupils in comfort zones is part about getting the pupil to push themselves into new areas where they can develop inner confidence and this cant be rushed. If a pupil cannot receive an ogoshi performed slowly and just placed on the tatami giving them time to ukemi then the use of a crash mat simply has to compound this inability and, as I have written, will simply postpone the inevitable.

    Judo is not for 100% of the population as much as we miss quote Kano shihan. Judo is a full contact martial education that must be taught with care and patience with understanding of all pupils needs. Life has become far to comfortable in the first place and on times it is good for the character to be placed into a situation where we feel nervous as this is how we develop and grow. A hero is not a person who is fearless, a hero is a person that acts selflessly while being afraid. I have no idea what that last sentence has to do with this topic?

    Please don't think for a second I am preaching how you should or not teach in your dojo. I merely question your point of using a crash mat.

    I can say this though they are very rare in Europe and I never saw one while on my visits to Japan.


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    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge" S Hawking.
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    Stacey

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Stacey on Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:45 am

    When working nage no kata, I prefer to take kata garuma on a crash mat. It's one thing when we're doing it once, and I have to land on each side. It's quite another when my tori is trying to perfect the technique, and I have to fall over and over. This is especially true when my partner is making me take a fall from a sky scrapper.

    Hooray! Another milestone! The crash pad/no crash pad debate has begun!
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    JudoSensei

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by JudoSensei on Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:19 pm

    When I was a student we practiced ukemi off the tatami on the tile floor. At our club now, we practice ukemi on tatami placed directly on a concrete floor. No one can say our students are softies. However, I still think it is okay to occasionally utilize a softer mat for the sake of comfortable repeated practice, especially to give a student an opportunity to practice a very important element of ukemi: relaxation.

    I can't understand how spring-loaded mats at the Kodokan are acceptable, but occasionally using a softer mat in our class is not. Of course, no one is arguing that all practice should be on crash pads, but for specific purposes they can be helpful. I'd rather utilize a crash pad for learning ukemi than tell a nervous student that they just aren't cut out for judo, or that they don't need any assistance since they will just become dependent on it.

    Within the context I proposed, a crash pad might postpone the inevitable, just like other ukemi practice where the student is preparing for full throws, but in my experience it usually speeds up the process of learning ukemi and permits students to feel more relaxed taking falls. This helps students to push themselves and develop inner confidence by being able to participate fully in class as soon as possible.

    Maybe other forum members have experience with crash pads that they can share.

    DougNZ

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by DougNZ on Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:24 pm

    JudoSensei wrote:Maybe other forum members have experience with crash pads that they can share.
    I have found a crash mat to be a fantastic tool with kids, so much so that they mostly teach themselves to ukemi and we then just tidy things up. That said, during the early stages, some young kids do the craziest things; I'd much rather they landed a dive roll on their head on the crash mat than straight on the tatami. The greatest benefit is that it is another tool for kids to have fun, just like the judo games we play, the soft balls we throw at them or the jo we have them breakfall over.

    Let me be clear that I see a crash mat as a tool ... an aid. Used thoughtfully it can build basic movements and confidence quickly and allow those things to transition to the tatami. For one of our kids' tests, they can choose to do a continuous minute of rolls and breakfalls on tatami or one of each sort on the concrete. 95% choose the concrete! I have not found using a crash mat diminishes their ability to ukemi well.

    Hanon

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Hanon on Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:02 pm

    I had to laugh when I read that when you learned ukemi you also practiced on the floor without tatami. Appears our sensei must have been related:twisted: No responsible teacher would dream of such a thing today, thank heavens.

    JS we were both taught to do things in the past neither of us would teach today. Some of the neck exercises we did are positively dangerous and VERY harmful to the body. My own osteopath, who is a budoka himself, has said to me that my body is in a terrible state and a lot of that has had to do with poor practice when I was young and growing? Can only be judo as all I ever did was judo.

    I certainly don't suggest for a second that your pupils or any other pupils who use a crash mat are 'softies'. A pupil will do what they are instructed and asked to do by the teacher.

    I think comparing a crash mat to the sprung floor of the kodokan is truly a stretch of the imagination. Shocked 

    If one uses a crash mat to learn a technique I suggest that technique being taught is perhaps too much for the uke and therefore inappropriate teaching? WE can both agree that judo is very much a progressive practice and the early stages are paramount to the development of the judoka.

    "Comfortable repeated practice". I understand your point but I think we shall just have to agree to disagree with this point. Ukemi need as much repetition as do the throws. There is as much character growth, if not more, from taking a throw than executing a throw.

    Could we use an analogy that may mean something to Stacey? Swimming. A swimming pool is a swimming pool, if we desire to learn to swim we have to get in the water, the shallow end and start. We cant avoid the water. No matter how many pre lecture classes we may attend eventually, no matter how nervous we are, we have to get wet. The point is for both swimming and judo is that introduction to the water needs to be taught in a well planned progressive stage that does not put the fear of God into the pupil BUT rather builds self confidence. I do not now, nor have ever, agreed with the old school of 'throw the pupil in the deep end'. That was also the uneducated philosophy in my day hence my immense respect for water today.Cool 

    JS please don't take my approach to the use of a crash mat as a slur on how you teach, it is not. If you achieve the same goals other clubs achieve who do not use a crash mat then your approach needs respect. This is not the point. My point is as much about the psyche of the pupil as much as physical protection. I can see zero point in teaching a pupil how to use a crash mat then wean them off it.

    Uchikomi of ukemi are a core learning skill in judo and all my sensei be they Japanese, European, pre WW11-Butokuka or kodokan have always taught and began the lesson with a warm up, stretching then ukemi without exception.

    I don't think we can ever soften the effect of an udekansetsu waza or shime waza, The only correct approach to teaching those waza is appropriate timing, correct instruction and supervision. I would see in MY dojo, if I needed to use a crash mat, a failing in the progression of my own teaching.

    Ukemi need to be practiced just as much as the throws and ne waza. BTW the vast majority of dojo world wide do not have sprung floors and I have never housed my own dojo in a hall that has not had a concrete floor.

    Mike


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    WARNING. I write as a pupil of judo. what I write should be researched by the reader and not accepted as in any way factual or correct.

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    Hanon

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Hanon on Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:06 pm

    DougNZ wrote:
    JudoSensei wrote:Maybe other forum members have experience with crash pads that they can share.
    I have found a crash mat to be a fantastic tool with kids, so much so that they mostly teach themselves to ukemi and we then just tidy things up.  That said, during the early stages, some young kids do the craziest things; I'd much rather they landed a dive roll on their head on the crash mat than straight on the tatami.  The greatest benefit is that it is another tool for kids to have fun, just like the judo games we play, the soft balls we throw at them or the jo we have them breakfall over.

    Let me be clear that I see a crash mat as a tool ... an aid.  Used thoughtfully it can build basic movements and confidence quickly and allow those things to transition to the tatami.  For one of our kids' tests, they can choose to do a continuous minute of rolls and breakfalls on tatami or one of each sort on the concrete.  95% choose the concrete!  I have not found using a crash mat diminishes their ability to ukemi well.
    After reading your very kind comments on my missive regarding Koshi guruma I don't want to upset you by replying to your above post.Sad 

    Mike


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    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge" S Hawking.
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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:56 pm

    Perhaps it is opportune to point out that the initial question was not specifically about children; on the contrary, as the original poster was primarily interested in older beginners.

    I personally side with Hanon and am not in favor for crashmats at all. Indeed they are a crutch, but I would go one step further than Hanon in providing arguments as to why precisely they are a crutch. They are not just a crutch just for ukemi skills but often also for incompetence of the instructor. Before one gets offended, I am not saying or suggesting that everyone who even dares to mention crashmats therefore is incompetent. That's not what I said. When I write things you have to put care into looking for nuances. What I am saying is that SOME instructors do not have sufficient competency and motor transferring skills to avoid the use of crashmats. Let me elaborate.

    The issue lack of ukemi skills and understanding reminds me of the fear I sometimes see on passenger's faces who travel by air and are being subjected to turbulence. Like ukemi, turbulence in some extreme cases can be lethally dangerous, but in most cases it isn't at all. Nevertheless, some people get hysterical, even are literally afraid of flying. The 'incompetent' instructor ready to help, will then say "you shouldn't be afraid because I am not afraid and it is not dangerous". That is exactly what I mean. It is sheer incompetence. How on earth would someone not be afraid because someone else is not afraid, and how on earth do you expect a serious mental issue to go away by a simple wordly statement that it isn't true ?  Many judo instructors exhibit similar incompetency. You don't remove fear of ukemi by saying you shouldn't be afraid, nor by demonstrating that you can do it. There is about zero help there in facilitating skill transfer.

    Mental issues in that sense can be resolved by increasing understanding, and if the instructor was competent what he would have said and done would have increased such understanding. That exactly is the point and the failure of the incompetent instructor. When we move back to the irrational fear for air turbulence, the truth is that most people who attempt to take away this fear in others, simply do not have the competency to convincingly elaborate and exactly explain in detail and sufficiently visually and plastically why precisely air turbulence usually is not dangerous and their fear is irrational. An extreme example of the contrary, and how one would be able in most cases to help taking away that fear, would be to ask the passenger to get up, take him or her to the flight deck, have him or hear seated in the left seat, tell him or her to take the yoke in his/her hands and tell him or her "your plane". At that moment, the mere abstract and idiotic statement "you shouldn't be afraid because I am not and it isn't dangerous" is translated into something that is visual, something one can sense, something about which one can establish control. A major problem is that obviously in most cases the given example lacks realism in a sense that legal and other common sense issues prevent this example from being brought in practice. However, it also is not totally impossible to realize. In fact, nothing prevents a person with serious fear of flying to privately go take flight lessons. You will see that amazingly this is one of the most effective ways to really take away someone's fear of flying, which if you think about it, really think about it, only makes sense.

    The judo instructor faces similar challenges. Indeed some of the arguments IN FAVOR of crashpads are true too. Yes, you can come closer to mimicking the real skill through actually doing it. So, to some extent if the judo instructor argues, well by using crashmats I am doing something similar to what you describe in your aviation example, then he is right. However, the problem is that while the crashmats have this advantage, they also come with important disadvantages, which the aviation example does not have. The disadvantages are very much like what Hanon points out. So, it isn't a matter of the advantages not being true, but a matter of the disadvantages being prominently present and posing a serious risk for outweighing the advantages and this with lasting effect.

    What precisely is ukemi, how exactly does it do what it is supposed to do ?  Have you used video analysis ?  Have you used audiovisual means ?  Have you videotaped your student during his/her ukemi and have shown this so he or she can compare what he or she is doing with what others are doing ?  Maybe you find this extreme, but what I am doing is simply to make a point mentioning many other 'alternative' ways of skill transfer which the instructor can use and which do not have major disadvantages. If you videotape your student he or she surely won't be demanding to have everything they do being videotaped. The videotaping of ukemi will also not hamper their other judo skills. Judo instructors are too much people who are considered as having 'arrived' instead of being equally people 'on the way' who still have a long way to go, and who should be exploring and traveling along that way.

    In this case though, the blame is not solely on the judo instructor, so much I admit. Indeed, judo is supposed to be practised in a dôjô with tatami on a floating floor. But how many people here still have such a dôjô with tatami on a floor with steel springs like the Kôdôkan ?  I haven't seen too many in the US. Fukuda's dôjô in San Francisco does, the Seattle Jûdô Dôjô does, but how many others do ?  Mine did, and was built in the early 1960s on instructions provided by Abe Ichirô, not by me, but by my sensei. But when we moved dôjô some years ago, the floor did not move with, and even though I moved heaven and earth I collided with idiots in the city council who did not fully understand the difference between putting a tatami on concrete or on a floating floor. I could not in person spend months disassembling the old floor all by myself, and pay out of my own pocket for moving trucks and additional materials to position and rebuild it in the new dôjô, and the city which was responsible for it only thinks in terms of budget, even though in reality the budget to buy new nonsensical materials is far more expensive than transferring the old floor. Of course, no one in the city actually does jûdô, so is it all really a surprise ? The real problem was that people don't like loose ends. If the city bought some additional rubber pads to put under the tatami, then no matter who nonsensical, the person responsible for it after X-number of weeks could tick off the box as "completed", and make a case to her boss during an eventual job review what she had accomplished. The other alternative, moving the old floor, would have been a project that would have to be spread over more than a year, with volunteers working on it during vacation, the end point not clearly in view, and the possibility existing of volunteers dropping out, and part of the new dôjô not being open for use for a considerable point of time. A city council likes publicity so it likes to show case pictures of a new dôjô in news papers, because it 'looks' nice to the unaccomplished eye and reader who will not know anything about how much better the dôjô could have really been ...  But, as often is the case in jûdô people are not willing to admit how little they know, which oftentimes is very much the case, despite the well-spread myth that divine wisdom and knowledge would magically arrive with the height of the dan-rank. So, when you are facing people who honestly think that putting a couple pieces of polyurethane under tatami think is the same as a true floating floor, it's the end of the story. They are clueless of the mathematical, biomechanical and physical parameters such as density and many others, and instead. If they would, they would also understand that the differences between both are huge. There is some decent literature on floating floors, mostly in gymnastics. There exists written material too in judo, but once again, as common in judo, people are too lazy to read, so even the material that exists usually isn't referenced and is a more an expression of personal opinions than a well-documented and referenced meta-analysis. And yet the material is available. But that's just the way judo is organized and if you make effort to put the facts on the table you will find that people instead of embracing that someone has done the work and they are provided with an additional opportunity to learn, they will attempt to neutralize you because you are putting the spotlight on their incompetency, which usually is not appreciated.

    But back, to the learning of ukemi in beginners. There is little doubt that the absence of true judo floors in most dôjô is not to be underestimated. Therefore, in all fairness, there is some mitigation that may explain why some instructors rely on crash mats. I still don't and won't, and I am sure Hanon-sensei doesn't and won't either, but some thus do. Because of the reasons explained above, the choice has a diversified cause which I wish would be different, but which I can understand it is not.

    So rather than just blaming the instructors, I would suggest that instructors  --for their own sake and for the sake of their students--  keep exploring additional didactic means such as video, and learn to understand the importance of a true floating floor. Going into the scientific details would be interesting but take us too far, and since we know that judoka won't read anyhow, I am refraining from doing so. Nevertheless, putting it in layman's terms, one of the major differences between judo tatami on a floating floor and crashmats, is that a crashmat has a small area (not much larger than the colliding body of the judoka) that gives way a lot upon impact. A tatami on floating judo floor has two components, the tatami and the floor. The tatami has low compressibility, and very short reaction time, much shorter than a crashmat. The floating floor has a very large surface that dissipates that moves. Crashmats are therefore very unsuited for judo. If you would, everywhere you put your foot, you would get a large indentation. For that reasons crashmats aren't really used to do judo on, but just as a surface on which one judoka is being thrown. Because the judoka's colliding body goes much deeper into the tatami and because its reaction time is totally different, and so is the distance between the hands that hit the tatami and the end surface reached by the body, it really is a different activity from a motor point of view. It is doubtful that the skills translate very well in a beginner. An experienced judoka obviously can do both. In traditional koryu jujutsu classes in Japan, we did not even have tatami, and ours and other schools still take ukemi on bare wooden floor. It's possible. Shorinji kenpô also does not use tatami. Their beginning students not only do not use crashmats, but not even tatami.



    Obviously there is a philosophical issue there too. If you learn ukemi on a bare floor, you do start wondering what kind of weenies we are truly dealing with in judo that  --God help me-- the poor kids can't even learn ukemi on tatami because they are too hard for their soft baby skin !  But yes, I understand that this is not helpful in a context of education. The term 'education' is important here. Judo was intended as an education, Shôrinji kenpô wasn't. So, in an educational system, it isn't wrong I think, to explore other means if they can enhance the educational experience. While I personally reject crashmats, I have used other means besides scientific analysis and video camera's depending on the target group.

    --I am now moving away from elaborating on the issue of crashmats towards providing suggestions in response to the intial questions--

    One such way, which I have used in children is one of those large fitness ball. I don't use them in the clubs I teach, but I have used them during judo initiation clinics where I have to work with a large group of children who have never done judo. I don't use them on all kids but on specific kids with specific problems. Sometimes kids struggle with putting their body in proper curved position, or stretch their body too soon, or fail to properly roll over their shoulder, and either do an barrel roll sideways, or roll over their head instead of over their shoulder. I then place them over the large fitness ball and tell them to grab on, and I roll the ball slowly in the exact direction and angle they need to roll. They think it is fun, since it resembles "playing with a ball", and it does help. This may sound a bit strange because in general I ban balls from a dôjô since I think they don't belong there, so no football and other nonsense in my dôjô. However, if as an educational tool the ball can be used in a manner that is directly related to jûdô and able to accomplish something to which an alternative fails, then I don't object.

    I have not used it in adults, as they might think of it as too condescending, but also because adults simply have a different attitude. They don't have this playful attitude anymore, and besides trying to hold on to a ball when you weigh 95 kilos presumably will be a bit tougher than when you way only 18 kg. Even, if force is general proportional to one's size, it isn't just a matter of the judoka himself but also of the instructor. I can easily with one hand make an 18 kg kid stick to a ball and meanwhile with my other hand safely roll the ball in the angle and direction I want. I cannot do this with a 95 kg weighing adult. I am sure Anton Geesink could, and maybe Dr. Rhadi Ferguson too, but I can't. So, that's another reason as to why some educational tools work in one group but not in the other.

    In general though I rarely need more than 2 classes to teach anyone to perform zenpô kaiten. That doesn't mean everyone in my club can do it after two classes, but that is because usually it are assistants without any formal instructor training and far less experience who take care of introducing new students, but that's a different discussion. And also, even if one can perform zenpô kaiten independently, it does not mean that they are safe in every situation and ready to fall ura-nage by lesson 3. There are many other things that come into place such as experience, reaction time, and so on. People unfortunately are not born with instinctive neurological preprogrammed skills like cats are who will instinctively turn in midair and normally always land on their paws.


    Last edited by Cichorei Kano on Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:00 am; edited 4 times in total


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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:41 am

    Stacey wrote:When working nage no kata, I prefer to take kata garuma on a crash mat.  It's one thing when we're doing it once, and I have to land on each side.  It's quite another when my tori is trying to perfect the technique, and I have to fall over and over.  This is especially true when my partner is making me take a fall from a sky scrapper.

    Hooray! Another milestone! The crash pad/no crash pad debate has begun!
    It works even better when you use a crash pad while you wear biker shorts and your opponent is dressed in a blue gi. Obviously the crash pad itself needs to be either blue or canary yellow.


    _________________


    "The world is a republic of mediocrities, and always was." (Thomas Carlyle)
    "Nothing is as approved as mediocrity, the majority has established it and it fixes it fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way." (Blaise Pascal)
    "Quand on essaie, c'est difficile. Quand on n'essaie pas, c'est impossible" (Guess Who ?)
    "I am never wrong. Once I thought I was, and that was a mistake."
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    JudoSensei

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by JudoSensei on Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:26 am

    Cichorei Kano wrote:Perhaps it is opportune to point out that the initial question was not specifically about children; on the contrary, as the original poster was primarily interested in older beginners.

    ...

    --I am now moving away from elaborating on the issue of crashmats towards providing suggestions in response to the intial questions--

    One such way, which I have used in children is one of those large fitness ball. I don't use them in the clubs I teach, but I have used them during judo initiation clinics where I have to work with a large group of children who have never done judo. I don't use them on all kids but on specific kids with specific problems. Sometimes kids struggle with putting their body in proper curved position, or stretch their body too soon, or fail to properly roll over their shoulder, and either do an barrel roll sideways, or roll over their head instead of over their shoulder. I then place them over the large fitness ball and tell them to grab on, and I roll the ball slowly in the exact direction and angle they need to roll. They think it is fun, since it resembles "playing with a ball", and it does help. This may sound a bit strange because in general I ban balls from a dôjô since I think they don't belong there, so no football and other nonsense in my dôjô. However, if as an educational tool the ball can be used in a manner that is directly related to jûdô and able to accomplish something to which an alternative fails, then I don't object.

    I have not used it in adults, as they might think of it as too condescending, but also because adults simply have a different attitude. They don't have this playful attitude anymore, and besides trying to hold on to a ball when you weigh 95 kilos presumably will be a bit tougher than when you way only 18 kg.
    Hey Chich, I hope you don't mind that I cut up your response to point out that we are talking about adults and yet you acknowledge that one of the few suggestions you make to help the original poster is not applicable to adults. Do you have any suggestions for the fearful adult who has already learned ukemi but is tense when being thrown?

    One suggestion you make is the use of videotape to analyze and improve ukemi skills. Video is an important tool for assisting in complex skills, such as performance in shiai. But, like you said, we can usually teach basic falling skills in a couple of classes without video. I don't think reviewing video does anything for helping a student relax when they are fearful in spite of having learned good ukemi. To use your example, watching people fly safely does not remove fear of flying.

    The final suggestion you make is to use spring loaded mats. I agree that this would be the most preferred method of assisting a fearful adult. Yet you acknowledge that this is not practical in the sense that we don't all have that luxury. Many of us have to move mats to storage after every practice. If you can't add springs under the mats, the next best thing is to add cushioning on top. Either way the purpose and benefits are the same.

    The only disadvantage to crash mats you mention, their small size, is easily countered by the use of larger or additional mats, which come in a variety of thicknesses and densities to suit the purpose. I personally have not encountered a problem with the small size since we only use the mats for occasional practice with a specific targeted purpose for people who have already learned basic ukemi skills but need help transitioning those skills to nagekomi.

    Even when ukemi is properly taught, relaxation while being thrown is a skill that can be difficult for some adults to achieve. Videotaping and other approaches have limited applicability. I have had good results with the use of crash pads for this purpose, and I will use any kind of protective device to assist my students in learning proper skills so they can enjoy judo. Certainly it is a stretch to argue that such use is only for incompetent instructors.
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    Jihef

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Jihef on Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:35 am

    JudoSensei wrote:Even when ukemi is properly taught, relaxation while being thrown is a skill that can be difficult for some adults to achieve.
    I can only see two things to really help out here : competent and careful partners to throw the hesitant uke. Emphasis on proper ukemi. And a willingness to learn on the part of the adult beginner.

    We are now back at the point Hanon made : judo, as an activity, is not for everyone. That is a fact, and one especially true with out-of-shape, out-of-touch-with-their-body adult beginners…

    What a Face

    Hanon

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Hanon on Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:44 am

    Stacey wrote:When working nage no kata, I prefer to take kata garuma on a crash mat.  It's one thing when we're doing it once, and I have to land on each side.  It's quite another when my tori is trying to perfect the technique, and I have to fall over and over.  This is especially true when my partner is making me take a fall from a sky scrapper.

    Hooray! Another milestone! The crash pad/no crash pad debate has begun!
    Stacey love,

    Kata guruma gives Uke the best opportunity to practice ukemi. Remember good ukemi brings confident judoka. Those who are afraid of falling, and there are many of them, generally get hurt. Ukemi cannot be stressed enough.

    There is a Western school of thought that suggests teaching ukemi is foolish as it makes the judoka feel safe and therefore when in shiai said judoka will not fight to his or her maximum as they don't mind being thrown?! Plus is ukemi are not taught the judoka will fight even harder to ensure they don't get thrown?! I have never understood this notion. It is not uncommon as we may hope though!

    I don't see being thrown in kata guruma as a negative and in need of extra care, ie, a crash mat. I see kata guruma as being an medium advanced waza and by the time the student starts to learn that throw uke is very well trained in ukemi both in the physical aspects and the PSYCHOLOGICAL.

    A pair who are working on kata guruma should be well. able to take multiple falls or if this is NOT the case then they should NOT be practicing that waza. Remember throwing is only 50% of the learning process, some very senior sensei say throwing is nothing to the judoka its all about the ukemi and how we react afterward.

    If I was asked to be uke for a judoka who wished to practice kata guruma and use a crash mat I would certainly refuse as I know people in other sports have received serious injury to the neck by landing poorly on a massive deep padded crash mat. I would feel much safer being thrown on the tatami That an over confident tori me on a crash mat thinking crash mats are safe.

    Crash mats, like tatami need to be respected if injury is to be avoided. I would prefer to spend time teaching and practicing ukemi rather than spend time on how to be safe on a crash mat. Oh and BTW If you do practice proper kata GURUMA and try to use a crash mat I would, with great respect and care, suggest that is one of the least suitable waza to be thrown onto a crash mat.

    One final point. The more advanced throws that have a very hard fall such as yoko gake how exactly do you utilise a crash mat for those waza?

    I said on the old JF and I will always write it. If you guys and gals know something I don't and can educate me to help me become a better educated safer teacher, my ears and mind are yours. All I need is a logical explanation and as in the past I will certainly change my approach. Should you be able to help me understand your philosophy toward the practice of judo using a crash mat as a tool or aid. please and sincerely believe me I will purchase one.

    No I am not going to even partake in a blue gi thread:lol: Evil or Very Mad 

    Hope you are well? Nice to chat with you again. Please take care.

    Mike


    _________________
    WARNING. I write as a pupil of judo. what I write should be researched by the reader and not accepted as in any way factual or correct.

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge" S Hawking.

    Hanon

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Hanon on Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:14 am

    Jihef wrote:
    JudoSensei wrote:Even when ukemi is properly taught, relaxation while being thrown is a skill that can be difficult for some adults to achieve.
    I can only see two things to really help out here : competent and careful partners to throw the hesitant uke. Emphasis on proper ukemi. And a willingness to learn on the part of the adult beginner.

    We are now back at the point Hanon made : judo, as an activity, is not for everyone. That is a fact, and one especially true with out-of-shape, out-of-touch-with-their-body adult beginners…

    What a Face
    Hiya Jihef, how are you?

    Do you know one of the most important tools I think a teacher needs to have in his kit? To remember his or her first few months of judo as a beginner.

    I have visited so many dojo where the coach will give the daily class instruction in one technique regardless of who is present including first lesson beginners! Its true!

    NO BEGINNER in my dojo joined in the section of medium nor advanced judoka, they start in the novice group and remain their until they progress though the natural teaching and learning process. Safety is the key here. Incentive to move up a group is also a helping teaching tool;) 

    We spend the first few years of our lives trying to stand up, walk, then run and NOT to fall over. Balance is a key part to our childhood development. Now we join a judo club and some guy in his pyjamas is telling us to throw ourselves all over the floor!!!affraid  Yes, in reality it is that absurd and foreign to our mind also body. If we look at judo 'outside of the box' it is an absurd practice.

    Ukemi like kata are seen as an inconvenience, some sort of necessary evil that we have to tolerate. Kids LOVE ukemi and if they are taught how to ukemi and perform ukmei proficiently all sorts of safe 'games' can be utilised to practice ukemi. We had in my judo dojo a ukemi sequence. We had a game where each kid would perform the sequence and his mates would give marks out of ten. They try and try so hard to improve their marks (improve their ukemi;) ).

    Adults are a much greater challenge. Ukemi is much more difficult for adults to grasp and in general adults are a stiff as a poker. There is no way around this. Only time and practice practice practice can give that inner confidence that enables a judoka to freely relax when thrown. It is odd and I taught them that being stiff and resisting being thrown actually makes the fall even harder. A judoka who is afraid of being thrown is a real danger to himself and those he practices with.
    There are no short cuts to learning judo, we have to progress the way judo is designed. There is a prescribed manner and fashion that we follow that is now well tried and tested. Of course we still need to improve on what we know today.
    What I taught and thought correct 20, 15, 10 or even 5 years ago has changed.

    Ukemi, Practice. There is zero substitute. Swimming, water. etc

    Nice to chat with you,
    Hope all is well with you and yours?

    Mike


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    WARNING. I write as a pupil of judo. what I write should be researched by the reader and not accepted as in any way factual or correct.

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge" S Hawking.
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    Stacey

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Stacey on Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:42 am

    Hanon wrote:
    Stacey wrote:When working nage no kata, I prefer to take kata garuma on a crash mat.  It's one thing when we're doing it once, and I have to land on each side.  It's quite another when my tori is trying to perfect the technique, and I have to fall over and over.  This is especially true when my partner is making me take a fall from a sky scrapper.

    Hooray! Another milestone! The crash pad/no crash pad debate has begun!
    Stacey love,

    Kata guruma gives Uke the best opportunity to practice ukemi. Remember good ukemi brings confident judoka. Those who are afraid of falling, and there are many of them, generally get hurt. Ukemi cannot be stressed enough.

    There is a Western school of thought that suggests teaching ukemi is foolish as it makes the judoka feel safe and therefore when in shiai said judoka will not fight to his or her maximum as they don't mind being thrown?! Plus is ukemi are not taught the judoka will fight even harder to ensure they don't get thrown?! I have never understood this notion. It is not uncommon as we may hope though!

    I don't see being thrown in kata guruma as a negative and in need of extra care, ie, a crash mat. I see kata guruma as being an medium advanced waza and by the time the student starts to learn that throw uke is very well trained in ukemi both in the physical aspects and the PSYCHOLOGICAL.

    A pair who are working on kata guruma should be well. able to take multiple falls or if this is NOT the case then they should NOT be practicing that waza. Remember throwing is only 50% of the learning process, some very senior sensei say throwing is nothing to the judoka its all about the ukemi and how we react afterward.

    If I was asked to be uke for a judoka who wished to practice kata guruma and use a crash mat I would certainly refuse as I know people in other sports have received serious injury to the neck by landing poorly on a massive deep padded crash mat. I would feel much safer being thrown on the tatami That an over confident tori me on a crash mat thinking crash mats are safe.

    Crash mats, like tatami need to be respected if injury is to be avoided. I would prefer to spend time teaching and practicing ukemi rather than spend time on how to be safe on a crash mat. Oh and BTW If you do practice proper kata GURUMA and try to use a crash mat I would, with great respect and care, suggest that is one of the least suitable waza to be thrown onto a crash mat.

    One final point. The more advanced throws that have a very hard fall such as yoko gake how exactly do you utilise a crash mat for those waza?

    I said on the old JF and I will always write it. If you guys and gals know something I don't and can educate me to help me become a better educated safer teacher, my ears and mind are yours. All I need is a logical explanation and as in the past I will certainly change my approach. Should you be able to help me understand your philosophy toward the practice of judo using a crash mat as a tool or aid. please and sincerely believe me I will purchase one.

    No I am not going to even partake in a blue gi thread:lol: Evil or Very Mad 

    Hope you are well? Nice to chat with you again. Please take care.

    Mike
    Sorry, I was thrown in the deep end to learn to swim. But then, I was competing in swimming at age 4.

    As an older adult who's worked with people on the first sets of nage no kata, taking the fall from somebody over 6' tall is a lot to ask of my body. Sure, I can do it, and do it repeatedly, but why? In my 30's taking a 100 kg + student and dumping him with ura nage was no big deal, and I'd do that to get the guy's attention (100+ kilo 19 year olds think it's fun curling me and trying to toss me like that, like you would throw a beach ball or something).

    I'm still not going to take a ton of kata garuma. I have to work in the morning and have nothing to prove to anybody about my ukemi skills. I do not have to take multiple falls from kata garuma, especially from somebody who's consistently dropping me from their shoulders. They want to work on the throw, I'm making that work comfortable for me. I don't have to take a Kentucky Flop, or drop from such heights onto a tatami, sprung or not, repeatedly to work my ukemi skills. Sorry you think less of me. I'll keep taking such falls on a crash mat.

    It's one thing to take a fall. It's another to take a ton of falls.

    Hanon

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Hanon on Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:44 am

    JS wrote.....". Do you have any suggestions for the fearful adult who has already learned ukemi but is tense when being thrown?"

    May I give one answer? The person who remains stiff while being thrown has NOT learned Ukemi. Ukemi is NOT just a physical exercise its also psychological. Fear of being thrown is a normal reaction! To overcome that fear we have to give physical tools PLUS have the pupil achieve a state of mind where that fear becomes respect and is controlled.

    Saying to a nervous pupil "Relax" is a much use as saying to a patient who is suffering a panic attack to "Pull yourself together". Both need and deserve time, professional support and education.

    Mike


    _________________
    WARNING. I write as a pupil of judo. what I write should be researched by the reader and not accepted as in any way factual or correct.

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge" S Hawking.

    Hanon

    Posts : 537
    Join date : 2012-12-31

    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Hanon on Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:54 am

    Stacey wrote:
    Hanon wrote:
    Stacey wrote:When working nage no kata, I prefer to take kata garuma on a crash mat.  It's one thing when we're doing it once, and I have to land on each side.  It's quite another when my tori is trying to perfect the technique, and I have to fall over and over.  This is especially true when my partner is making me take a fall from a sky scrapper.

    Hooray! Another milestone! The crash pad/no crash pad debate has begun!
    Stacey love,

    Kata guruma gives Uke the best opportunity to practice ukemi. Remember good ukemi brings confident judoka. Those who are afraid of falling, and there are many of them, generally get hurt. Ukemi cannot be stressed enough.

    There is a Western school of thought that suggests teaching ukemi is foolish as it makes the judoka feel safe and therefore when in shiai said judoka will not fight to his or her maximum as they don't mind being thrown?! Plus is ukemi are not taught the judoka will fight even harder to ensure they don't get thrown?! I have never understood this notion. It is not uncommon as we may hope though!

    I don't see being thrown in kata guruma as a negative and in need of extra care, ie, a crash mat. I see kata guruma as being an medium advanced waza and by the time the student starts to learn that throw uke is very well trained in ukemi both in the physical aspects and the PSYCHOLOGICAL.

    A pair who are working on kata guruma should be well. able to take multiple falls or if this is NOT the case then they should NOT be practicing that waza. Remember throwing is only 50% of the learning process, some very senior sensei say throwing is nothing to the judoka its all about the ukemi and how we react afterward.

    If I was asked to be uke for a judoka who wished to practice kata guruma and use a crash mat I would certainly refuse as I know people in other sports have received serious injury to the neck by landing poorly on a massive deep padded crash mat. I would feel much safer being thrown on the tatami That an over confident tori me on a crash mat thinking crash mats are safe.

    Crash mats, like tatami need to be respected if injury is to be avoided. I would prefer to spend time teaching and practicing ukemi rather than spend time on how to be safe on a crash mat. Oh and BTW If you do practice proper kata GURUMA and try to use a crash mat I would, with great respect and care, suggest that is one of the least suitable waza to be thrown onto a crash mat.

    One final point. The more advanced throws that have a very hard fall such as yoko gake how exactly do you utilise a crash mat for those waza?

    I said on the old JF and I will always write it. If you guys and gals know something I don't and can educate me to help me become a better educated safer teacher, my ears and mind are yours. All I need is a logical explanation and as in the past I will certainly change my approach. Should you be able to help me understand your philosophy toward the practice of judo using a crash mat as a tool or aid. please and sincerely believe me I will purchase one.

    No I am not going to even partake in a blue gi thread:lol: Evil or Very Mad 

    Hope you are well? Nice to chat with you again. Please take care.

    Mike
    Sorry, I was thrown in the deep end to learn to swim.  But then, I was competing in swimming at age 4.

    As an older adult who's worked with people on the first sets of nage no kata, taking the fall from somebody over 6' tall is a lot to ask of my body.  Sure, I can do it, and do it repeatedly, but why?  In my 30's taking a 100 kg + student and dumping him with ura nage was no big deal, and I'd do that to get the guy's attention (100+ kilo 19 year olds think it's fun curling me and trying to toss me like that, like you would throw a beach ball or something).

    I'm still not going to take a ton of kata garuma. I have to work in the morning and have nothing to prove to anybody about my ukemi skills.  I do not have to take multiple falls from kata garuma, especially from somebody who's consistently dropping me from their shoulders.  They want to work on the throw, I'm making that work comfortable for me.  I don't have to take a Kentucky Flop, or drop from such heights onto a tatami, sprung or not, repeatedly to work my ukemi skills.  Sorry you think less of me.  I'll keep taking such falls on a crash mat.  

    It's one thing to take a fall.  It's another to take a ton of falls.  
    I certainly do NOT "Think less of you" For taking numerous falls on a crash mat. I respect you as you well know.

    I do question your reasoning for taking any falls from a partner that size either on or off a crash mat with your health issues? Youth should be working with youth and of what value are you to your student when being thrown as you cannot see what they are doing? All you can asses them on is the fact you began standing facing them and ended looking up their cycle shorts!affraid 

    I have not placed myself in such conditions for many years.

    Mike


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    Cichorei Kano

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Cichorei Kano on Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:38 am

    JudoSensei wrote:
    Hey Chich, I hope you don't mind that I cut up your response to point out that we are talking about adults and yet you acknowledge that one of the few suggestions you make to help the original poster is not applicable to adults. Do you have any suggestions for the fearful adult who has already learned ukemi but is tense when being thrown?

    One suggestion you make is the use of videotape to analyze and improve ukemi skills. Video is an important tool for assisting in complex skills, such as performance in shiai. But, like you said, we can usually teach basic falling skills in a couple of classes without video. I don't think reviewing video does anything for helping a student relax when they are fearful in spite of having learned good ukemi. To use your example, watching people fly safely does not remove fear of flying.

    The final suggestion you make is to use spring loaded mats. I agree that this would be the most preferred method of assisting a fearful adult. Yet you acknowledge that this is not practical in the sense that we don't all have that luxury. Many of us have to move mats to storage after every practice. If you can't add springs under the mats, the next best thing is to add cushioning on top. Either way the purpose and benefits are the same.

    The only disadvantage to crash mats you mention, their small size, is easily countered by the use of larger or additional mats, which come in a variety of thicknesses and densities to suit the purpose. I personally have not encountered a problem with the small size since we only use the mats for occasional practice with a specific targeted purpose for people who have already learned basic ukemi skills but need help transitioning those skills to nagekomi.

    Even when ukemi is properly taught, relaxation while being thrown is a skill that can be difficult for some adults to achieve. Videotaping and other approaches have limited applicability. I have had good results with the use of crash pads for this purpose, and I will use any kind of protective device to assist my students in learning proper skills so they can enjoy judo. Certainly it is a stretch to argue that such use is only for incompetent instructors.
    Sorry I was being only moderately helpful !

    What I was trying to say, is that fear is often triggered by lack of understanding, and that we can be successful reducing fear by increasing understanding. I then tried to explain that increasing someone's understanding requires quite a bit more than simply demonstrating something. I tried to illustrate this by a number of examples which somehow seem to have been removed though they were neither offensive nor in violation of any policies here, not irrelevant. Video analysis is one of the tools that contributes to this. It isn't limited to what you call "complex skills". Even so, ukemi may be basic for an experienced judoka, but it is sufficiently 'complicated' for a beginner. The video makes it possible for the beginning judoka to see what others see. Before he could see only the others, but not himself, so he may not know in how far he deviates from others. Moving from visualization to knowledge and from knowledge to practice and mastership still require time. Neurologic adaptations are required. But then again, maybe we should not be trying to crack a nut with a sledgehammer. When I make reference to video it is to use video as a teaching tool. I don't consider making someone simply watch a video 'teaching'. Even with video there is still the teacher who needs to take up his role explaining what it means, what the problems are and relate what is being seen to the individual both theoreticaly and practically. If not, we wouldn't even need teachers and we all just could do the E-Bay Black Belt in Ten Lessons course. I think that a hollistic approach offers opportunities that a narrow limited approach doesn't.

    That being said, tens of thousands of people have learnt how to do ukemi before, so do we now really suddenly require three-dimensional high-velocity biomechanical analysis. I, and all of use learnt how to ride a bike too, which is a more complex skill. We accepted that you could fall and bleed from your knees. If so, then that was so and our moms would take care of us. I cannot even imagine that someone from the 21st century would step into a time machine and come tell us half a century ago how irresponsible we were for children to ride bikes without helmets, and neither can I imagine that if you fell and had bruises or skin ripped of your knee and blood dripping down your shin, that you had to fear a parent's lawyer threatening to sue you or other litigation. All unheard of in those days. People simply lived normal lives. But then again, didn't women give birth for thousands of years all the normal way and without epidurals ? Today any male making reference to that would be considered a sexist and be at risk for being ambushed by the local feminist Shutzstaffel League. We see similar evolution in judo. There used to be no crashmat, so they were not used, there were no rashguards, so they were not used either. But from the moment something exists, you can't ignore it. We agree on the practical issues such as the absence of sprung floors, and the situation as you point out, that many have to place mats and break them up after each class. You're right. You are also right that in such case it is "relatively easy" to add cushioning on top. But is it necessary ? And why adding the cushioning on top instread of underneath, which would perhaps be more realistic with reference to a properly built dojo.

    My other suggestions --which I have not yet described-- are several exercises solo and with partner that progressively make the situation more difficult. And I think that anatomical and biomechanical comprehension and understandabe explanation helps too.

    I also don't think that having fear of falling is necessarily bad. I think it is natural. It only becomes a problem when it is abnormal in intensity or duration. There should be progression in evolution of fear, but there are going to be logical differences in intensity and duration among people. I also think that honesty can do a lot. Instead of saying as an instructor "No, no, you shouldn't be afraid, judoka are never afraid", the instructor could tell his students about how he struggled with ukemi and what fears he had. Judoka look up at the instructor. For beginners, he has a magic black belt, the ultimate, a near-God. The instructor could contribute to such demythization and make it clear that one day he was just like them full of fears and uncertainty, and look it did not prevent him from getting where he is now. I think one reaches more with student who can identify with you and for whom you post reachable goals that by being the interim-God.

    By the way, while before I alluded to the original poster asking about beginners, not specifically children, I also think he was not specifically referring to ukemi but to judo skills in general. I don't think that all fears in beginners are the resuts of fearing to take ukemi. A good deal of fear and stiff-fighting are the result of wrong goal-setting, namely an emphasis on winning, and even stronger, an emphasis on not losing. For the beginner, it's all competition, and this is almost entirely the mistake of the instructor. Even if the instructor says it's not all about winning, the beginner will loo around and see brown and black belts who are going at it as if their lives depend on it, and if the instructor joins in if his age still allows it, 9 out of 10 times he displays his superiority by winning.

    It's a bit was with dan-ranks in judo; the only ones who continuously say they are unimportant are those with either a very high dan-rank or those without. The few ones in between who are saying the same are usually lying and they know it. Same for judo, we all had fears. We feared failing our shodan (those who had to do exam at least), we feared fighting some people, we probably feared falling at one point. Don't promise to women wanting to give birth without epidural that it won't hurt; it will, a lot. So, if judo is accompanied by fear, accept it and learn to understand the fear.


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    Stacey

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by Stacey on Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:36 pm

    Hanon wrote:
    I certainly do NOT "Think less of you" For taking numerous falls on a crash mat. I respect you as you well know.

    I do question your reasoning for taking any falls from a partner that size either on or off a crash mat with your health issues? Youth should be working with youth and of what value are you to your student when being thrown as you cannot see what they are doing? All you can asses them on is the fact you began standing facing them and ended looking up their cycle shorts!affraid 

    I have not placed myself in such conditions for many years.

    Mike  
    Sometimes, you have to feel how a person is throwing - whether he's using his hands all the way through, and whether what you see is actually what he's doing. As a spectator, I can only see one side of this throw. As uke, I can experience the entire throw, from timing, through kuzishi, into tsukuri, all the way through to kake.

    Btw, you know I wear a knee pad on my ankle, right? I can't take much ashi waza, and a really swift hack will still get me sitting out if delivered to the outside of my right ankle. I figured that this was absolutely necessary during ukemi practice - since even basic ukemi caused the bone to hurt.

    I've also worked with a +78 who's throw was a makkikomi. I told her that makikomi should never be your go to throw, but we had a short time before a particular tournament, so I had her throw me numerous times with it. There wasn't another person around who I was comfortable with working with her, especially on makkikomi. After that, we did develop a number of other throws, but taking a makkikomi from a +78 - give it to me on a crash pad unless we're doing randori. Then, just don't land on me too hard.

    It's all a matter of who's doing what. If you have a class with one pair preparing for a shodan test with nage no kata, who've never even seen the kata outside of YouTube, how do you teach it? I can say, "this is what you do" or I can work with each person, being both tori and uke, so that they can feel it, not just see it or hear what's supposed to happen. As a result, I need to be able to (and yes, I can) perform kata garuma on a 100+, as well as show them what uke is supposed to do to trigger the throw, as well as how to fall.

    It's nice when you have a wide range of talents, ages, and experiences, but some of our clubs are much to small to have the instructor sit out.
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    JudoSensei

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    Re: Helping beginners relax about falls

    Post by JudoSensei on Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:25 am

    Thanks Stacey, for pointing out a couple of examples where a crash pad can help. A pad can be a nice teaching tool allowing repetitive practice that otherwise would not be possible. Some people, because of age, fear, injury, etc. can use a crash pad to make practice much more comfortable so that throwing skills can be improved quicker, as in your example.

    As I was recovering from hip replacement surgery, a crash pad was helpful for me in reducing my initial apprehension about falling again. I see the same thing with beginners who enjoy the crash pad and it gives them greater confidence so they can relax more during regular practice. In randori I see much less resistance and safer falls as a result of their increased comfort with ukemi.

    As Hanon and CK correctly point out, none of this is necessary and students can continue to learn as they have in the past. But adults have a more limited time to learn judo skills than kids, and they have more obstacles to overcome as they get older. We also have a more limited choice of practice partners today in most parts of the world. A crash pad gives us a way to help more people to learn judo and make quicker progress.

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