Archive for January, 2012

A Grapplers Beginning

Monday, January 30th, 2012

  As I alluded to in my last post; I’ve been taking on more grapplers than rugby players recently and I have to say it’s a different kind of animal. Principles and science remain the same; however, the psyche of a grappler is unparalleled which means the way in which I deliver sessions are slightly different. This is the art of strength and conditioning. Beyond the psychological make-up is a unique physiological challenge – fighters seem to bend differently. Maybe it’s all those ‘triangles’ and hip popping ‘arm bars’, one thing is for sure: it makes for interesting exercise selection. Again, part of the art of strength and conditioning.

For those of you interested there will be a series which breaks down the science (and art) of training grapplers in future months, which will of course include profiling. For now, I thought I’d show you some of the things I’ve been doing with two new recruits; a wrestler and a judoka.

My training update: the pursuit of a black belt

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Forgive me readers for I have sinned, it has been too long since my last post. The truth is I’ve been busy with a few things: taking on more training clients (the grappling population), continued education (degree) and my own athletic development. Unfortunate circumstances have cleared time in my schedule to get back in front of the keyboard, so I hope you’re ready for some cool new training tips/ideas and motivation for 2012.

Before I discovered judo I was in the post-rugby era, where I was training four or five times per week which equated to around six hours. This was mainly based around lifting to increase relative strength and I’d throw in some form of anaerobic conditioning once a week. Then, in the 2011 summer I decided to go full throttle at judo (without worrying about my shoulder history as a limiting factor) and my training time per week doubled. Here’s what a typical week looked like:

  Am Pm
Sunday Instruct Spin Class Speed Upper
Monday Heavy Lower Submission Wrestling or Edinburgh Judo
Tuesday Off Tayside Judo
Wednesday Heavy Upper Tayside Judo
Thursday Off Speed Lower
Friday Off Off
Saturday Instruct Spin Class Off

The aim was (and still is) to fight my way to a  black belt while developing my own athleticism until I have reached my genetic potential. The above split was designed to help me achieve both of these goals and keep me in-shape for my weight class of -100kg.


By the end of summer time I made the grade of 5th Kyu (YELLOW belt) and was looking forward to sitting my orange belt grading sometime in the winter. Looking forward is a bit of an understatement actually, I admit it: I had the judo bug. I was obsessed and ambitious. My thinking was (and still is): if you want to be the best then you’ve got to put yourself in situations where you’re going to be challenged, where you’re going to learn, adapt and overcome. I wanted to fight. Most 5th Kyu’s don’t enter into ‘Open’ tournaments for good reasons; their movement isn’t necessarily fluent, they don’t always achieve kuzushi before a throw, they might not necessarily have ‘throw combos’ and they might not be able to read an opponent due to lack of experience. I was no different – but thought I’d give it a go anyway…

As you might have figured out, the results were not good. That said, I could not have performed any better than what I did. I used the skills that I had at the time and put in 100% effort.

Fight 1: Beaten by a ‘second dan’ black belt after 1min 28secs due to ‘ippon’ throw.
Fight 2: Beaten by Jamie (see above).
Fight 3: Beaten by a black belt on points.
Before my fourth fight I was sick three times…Going five minutes with a black belt is one of the most physically demanding tasks I have ever done.
Fight 4: Beaten by pin hold down (unsure of the opponent’s grade).

I wasn’t discouraged, in fact it was quite the opposite. My obsession grew: I was ready to sit my 4th Kyu grading. By the time the next tournament rolled around I wanted to be regularly throwing higher grades in ‘randori’ (sparing) and have an answer if I was to fight a black belt again. That’s when the Tonbridge Camp caught my eye: an international judo camp that was just for ‘randori’. After emailing the organizer to discover if someone of my grading could attend, I learned that the camp would be full of mainly black belts who compete internationally or have international ambitions, yet it was open to any grade that was willing (or stupid enough?) to ‘randori’ for two hours per session. Though my ‘sensei’ did warn me that I would be rag-dolled for the majority of the camp, my thinking was that I would become better from the experience. Don’t confuse this as naive or disrespectful – I was fully aware of my ability and the level of judokas that I would be facing; however, the aim of ‘randori’ is to throw a person, hone previously learned skills and think on your feet if the text book stuff doesn’t work. The aim is not to injury your opponent or cause harm. Needless to say, I wouldn’t have attended the camp if there was a situation where I had to fight.

Two hour sessions, three times a day. I may have been thrown over 200 times in the space of four days. That said, going to the camp was one of the best decisions I have made regarding judo and I definitely learned from the experience while having FUN. You read that correctly, thrown over 200 times…but it was fun! I managed to get in some throws on higher grades too, after all, that was the aim.

My next fight was going to be in February and I was feeling confident because my judo improved leaps and bounds since my last tournament. Unfortunately, I suffered a shoulder subluxation on my left side during a ‘ne-waza randori’ with my regular training partner at Tayside Judo and I’m now out of action for a while. A subluxation is also known as a partial dislocation: the humerus slips out and is back in within seconds. My history of shoulder instability means I have to take this injury seriously and return to judo stronger/more stable than I was. That said, if my scan shows that I have excessive internal damage then I may need to stop the sport forever.

Of course this is a blow to my judo and athletic development; however, you’ve got to make hay while the sun shines which means I’ll be able to get infront of the keyboard and post some new training blogs that will help others develop. Just because I’m out of action doesn’t mean you readers are!