Posts Tagged ‘Judo’

The Rule of Specificity

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Nothing like a bit of a fight to remind you that it is a good idea to include some hard randori (sparring) and attend your given sport’s training sessions before you compete.

The rule, or rather the principle, of specificity states that sports training should be relevant and appropriate to the sport for which you are training in order to produce a training effect. Simply put, do judo to get better at judo. Now there’s more to it than that and there are many training adaptations which will accelerate and compliment doing judo; however, it remains true that it’s a good idea to practice the sport you want to improve in.

My work schedule has been hectic of late, and though I can always get in some lifting, running, *insert the individual activity here*, I can’t always attend class. In fact, in the last two months I went to judo three times. Not good.

I was pleased this weekend to get to the finals of the granite city open, and I gave it my best shot in the final. I was absolutely gutted to take silver; however, it may be the best thing that could of happened to me as I’ve caught the judobug again and will be prioritising getting to judo class and working on a better work-life balance.

I’m very much looking forward to getting my movement more fluid and ultimately becoming a better fighter with a few more competitions on the horizon. Needless to say, I was pretty happy to successfully land a big throw during my first match (pictured) – that’s one way to settle the fight nerves.


Client Progress | Upper Strength (chins)

Friday, June 9th, 2017

It’s great to see a client smashing their physical preparation goals. This is Stephen knocking out eight reps of chins with a 20kg plate around his waist at the end of a session.  We were not testing this today; however, I am known for throwing a few curveballs at my clients from time to time…

Pre Training Testing | 10reps @ Bodyweight

End of Block 1 Testing | 10reps @ Bodyweight + 10kg

Midway through Block 2 (today) | 8reps @ Bodyweight + 20kg

We’re definitely tracking to smash Stephen’s upper strength goal (10reps @ bodyweight +20kg), which is only one ambition of many!

Refinement | Nailing the Basics

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

In judo you spend a lot of time practising the basics. Repetition, repetition repetition. That’s what it takes to learn the language. I’ve been doing judo for a fair few years now and there’s still plenty to work-on with the basic movements and principles which will make me more effective at having conversations :-) .

Whether it’s the fitness industry or the business world, there is often a desire to discover the next big thing‘What should we add to make a big change and get ahead of the competition?’.

Sometimes the biggest bang for your buck is refinement in what you’re doing and focusing on becoming a master of the basics.

Below is some footage of my second session on Thursday, repeating the entry of a throw. My body really didn’t want to be there after a high-volume squat session in the afternoon, but my future opponents don’t care about that, and so neither shall I.

Whether it’s nutrition, lifting weights or whatever else; if you can perfect the basic principles you may find yourself more successful than if you chase the smoke and mirrors.

Client Progress – A Landmark

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

When I reopened my books to new clients in early January I was pleased to see a fellow judoka wanted help in developing his athleticism to aid his performance on the tatami.

Prior to our training sessions, we followed the usual process of a thorough needs analysis before setting some clear goals. Through movement screening, fitness testing and an in-depth look into the requirements of judo, alongside a comparison to the standards of elite judoka, we determined that the ‘biggest bang for our buck’ would be to focus on closing the gap in strength and power for our first block of training.

While the results in the table below are outstanding and a testament to how hard Stephen worked, I think the most impressive thing was seeing him power clean 90kg (3 kilos over his body weight at the time) considering two months ago he had never cleaned. A bodyweight power clean represents an important landmark in the training journey and it’s always nice to see – much like a double bodyweight squat.

Exercise 20th January 20th March
Broad Jump 2.21 2.38
Back Squat 100 3RM 130kg 2RM
Bench Press 90kg 4RM 100kg 4RM
Chins 10reps at BW 10 Reps with 10kg around waist
Cleans Needed to learn Technique 90kg 1RM (bw)

We used the reverse chain method and progressed it over the course of eight weeks to ensure Stephen’s goal of being able to power clean his bodyweight was realised. While his technique can be refined, and optimised further, it’s certainly safe and effective. All in all, great results for a guy who has trained hard. We are continuing to push on with strength and align him to the edge of his weight category (u90) before turning our focus to conditioning (which is pretty good at the moment and being maintained).

My Training Update | Judo & Controlling the Controllable

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

2017 is the year of getting back on the tatami and trying to develop my competitive judo. Though the past few years I’ve been as consistent as ever with general training and able to develop my athleticism, I’ve been unable to build momentum in my chosen sport. Being a S&C coach means that sometimes (a lot of the time) when judo practice is on, I am working with my rugby players. That said, I’m now boxing clever and getting in my mat time towards the end of the week and weekends which gives me consistency. I’m looking forward to building on that.

This past weekend I had a team tournament which was both great fun and a learning experience. A true wake up call to where I currently am. It has fostered a greater desire to improve and further refine my schedule where possible to allow for more judo. Before I go any further, here was the result from the weekend:

Fight 1| Won (Ippon throw)
Fight 2 | Lost (Osaekomi waza – pinned)

This post could easily turn into a breakdown and full analysis of every second on the mat; however, I think it more valuable to share a message with you that I often discuss with my athletes: control the controllable. You see, my first fight almost went the distance. It was a long battle. I was very pleased to win with a throw that scored ippon right at the end, but it was in that moment I realised how gassed I was. There was a short turn around in Fight 2, and I failed to recovery in time. We landed in a non-scoring position and ultimately I got caught in a pin that I failed to get out from. I didn’t recovery between bouts and though there were lots of ‘judo work-ons’ with regards to technique and tactics, I knew straight away I had a new focus in my training: fitness and improved body composition.

The rule of specificity means I need more judo to improve. More high level judo would not only improve my fitness but most importantly my skills. Guys my size with good skill throwing me every Tuesday and Thursday night in randori would help massively. Unfortunately, based in Aberdeen I’m somewhat of an outlier and, as I’ve alluded to, often work clashes with judo practice. While I’m looking forward (I think) to getting to Edinburgh for national randori/ sparring when my work has me down that way, I must focus on what I can fully control, measure and improve on. Fitness and improved body comp is an easy one to get a handle on! Though nothing will replace a good scrap at national randori, I will use the 2k row to assess improvements in my aerobic capacity which I can compare to the GB Judo Team’s standards. And for body composition it’s a case of using the eight-site calliper test and bring the weight slowly down. Strength and power are on the back-burner though I would expect to maintain or certainly only decline by 5% in my core lifts in terms of absolute strength, while my relative strength will increase.

Below is me shooting for an o-uchi-gari after battling for ‘my grips’. A reminder to get in better shape so that I can express my judo on the tatami whether it’s fight 1 or fight 8!

Testimonial | Positive Feedback | Scott Malone MMA Fighter

Monday, January 16th, 2017

“To get better at fighting you have to fight. If you want to win judo fights you have to practice judo. If you want to win MMA fights then you better be practising everything – striking, wrestling, judo, BJJ, the whole lot! Developing your skills and strategies is one thing, but you also have to be in the best physical condition possible!

I followed FMT programming and did private coaching with Fraser from 2011-13 and I’ve never felt stronger than when I was training with him. I really enjoyed it. He also has great tips on perfecting techniques with gym movements that carry over to the tatami and the cage!”

- Scott Malone, Commonwealth Medalist (Judo) & Professional MMA fighter.


Power Clean Clusters from Blocks

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Admittedly, I’ve become somewhat of a weekend warrior. As I’m often coaching in the evening I’ve found it difficult to get any consistency and therefore momentum with Judo in the last couple of years. Sure, I can do conditioning or lifting most days and slot it around my schedule, but I can’t slot Judo class around MY schedule. The truth is, the hardest grapple I’ve had these last two years is finding a regular training slot for Judo practice.

To that end, I’ve looked at the weekends as a way to try and get some momentum back on the tatami and this past weekend reflected that. I enjoyed some Saturday conditioning followed by two newaza/ bjj sessions on Sunday.  I went to sleep last night fully prepared to wake up with the aches and pains that every Judoka is familiar with; the cut feet that stings in the shower, the staved finger from an over eager grip and the stiff knees from ‘basing out’ on those grafty butterfly sweeps. What I wasn’t prepared for was the pain when I breathed in/out or coughed. I’m no medical professional, but something certainly wasn’t (and isn’t at time of this post) right with my ribs.

Anyways, there was still training to be done! I was a bit beaten up and sore, but in the grand scheme of things – who cares?! I have a regular Monday lifting session which is purposeful/ planned and part of a bigger vision, so there is no way I wanted to miss it. I simply took a little longer on my warm up, then ramped up to my ‘working sets’ on my exercises with the mindset that I will listen to my body, yet will be aggressive with the lifts and give them my best shot. To my surprise, once I got going I was able to achieve the planned numbers for the day despite being sore during my bracing phase of the lift.

Mondays are currently clusters on the power clean from blocks. Specifically, today was 120kg singles (3 x 3 with 10-20s rest/ 3mins).

The takeaway message: you’re not always going to arrive at a training session fresh and feeling fantastic. Sometimes you’ve got to talk yourself into achieving the goal of the day and gauge how you feel and how your body is responding after an aggressive warm up.

Obviously if you’re unwell or injured you should seek a medical professional prior to exercise as per disclaimer. The advice I follow and give to my athletes when they are not 100% (but not injured) is: “warm up, ramp up to your working sets, then we’ll talk”.

Strength & Conditioning for Rugby

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Today was another day of seminars, only this time through my day job. It was fantastic to pull all the S&C coaches in my region together and have a ‘meeting of the minds’ to share best practice and ultimately better support our athletes. Good S&C coaches make good rugby athletes, and while I’m eager to discover how Scotland perform in the up and coming six nations, I am already excited with anticipation of the next generation of players to come through the system and put their stamp on the blue jersey.

Sometimes I wish my athletes moved as well as my coaches! There was great enthusiasm coupled with some admittedly agile and impressive movement in our ‘Judo for Rugby’ workshop today.




Scottish Martial Arts Centre Seminars

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

The Scottish Martial Arts Centre has a track record of success in both domestic and international competition so it was a real pleasure to be asked in to present on a few topics, both for the fight team and recreational gym members.

Seminar: Nutrition 101
In the first seminar I was debunking misconceptions with regards to healthy eating and eating for performance. Learning simple principles that can be applied consistently really make the difference with nutrition, and this seminar gave me the platform to share with members what habits I use with my clients and athletes to achieve success.

Workshop: S&C for Martial Arts
This was a gym based workshop where I discussed the concept of understanding the needs of both the individual and the requirements of the sport.  In this workshop we covered key exercises that should be included in a martial artist’s regime as well as progressions/ regressions on useful accessory exercises.


Strength & Conditioning for Judo: Part 2

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

The Olympic Lifts 

 In part 1 of this series the physiological profile of a Judo athlete was broken down and it was clear what physical attributes a competitive judoka needs to be successful. As discussed, power is one physical characteristic that is essential for a competitive Judoka. Indeed, an ippon will only be awarded if there is ‘sufficient force’ coupled with technique (2). A successful Olympic lift is much like an ippon, not only in body mechanics, but in the fact that sufficient force is required to move a loaded barbell overhead. The ‘clean & jerk’ and the ‘snatch’ are velocity dependant and the inclusion of these movements and their variations are essential for long term power development (1); however, some coaches shy away from them due to the technical complexity. Fortunately for judoka’s the Olympic lifts aren’t dissimilar to some high-percentage judo throws. The table below summarises the different phases for both a judo throw and Olympic lift.

       Judo Throw Phase                  Olympic Lift Comparison
Stance and Grip (Kumi Kata): Deciding on a preferred grip and stance is essential before a throw can be successfully executed.  The Start Position: Requires a stance and grip that is specific to the person’s preferences and body type. The similarities are: straight back while the upper body remains relatively relaxed and tension is expressed in the legs.
Balance Breaking (Kuzushi): Bring the Uke into a position where their centre of mass is not directly between both feet. First Pull, Transition & Second Pull:Much like a  judo throw the barbell must be moving in the correct direction before dropping under. The mechanics of the initial phases of the lift mimic that of a judo throw: the shoulder rotates from an internal to external position while the trunk stays stiff and the hips, knees and ankles fully extend before they flex. 
Throwing Preparation (Tsukuri): Tori’sbody has moved into the correct position.  Third Pull: With the barbell moving, it is now essential that the athlete moves around the barbell much like moving around Uki.
Throw Execution (Kake): Toricompletes throw by using the generated momentum/ energy and powers through to a standing position.  The Catch & Recovery: The athlete receives the bar in a squat position much like a seoi nage position and uses the momentum of the barbell and the stretch reflex within the legs to power up to a standing position.
The Fall (Nage): Arguably the throw is over and Tori guides and controls Uki to the floor. Dropping the Bar: In the standing position the athlete has a responsibility to control the weight and bring it down whether they are in the clean, jerk or snatch position. Athlete relaxes the shoulder and keeps the hands on the barbell until it passes the shoulders and then releases. Much like the final phase in a judo throw where the Barbell/ Ukiis controlled in a relaxed manner to promote safety. 


The video below demonstrates an Olympic lift (clean and jerk). It is worth noting that this is a reasonably good clean and jerk technique; however, it is by no means a perfect model as I wasn’t using a ‘demo loading’ in this video.


There are a multitude of benefits to including the Olympic lifts into a strength and conditioning programme for judo athletes. The above table highlights that the body uses similar muscles, mechanics and speed during a typical judo throw and Olympic lift. Other accessory exercises are necessary to include a fully developed Judoka; however, if the Olympic lifts are being neglected then power development will suffer in the long term. Please feel free to use the contact section of the website if you have any queries regarding how to structure a session and be sure to stay tuned for instalment 3 of the series.



  1. Fleck, S., and W. Kraemer. 1997. Designing Resistance Training Programs. pp.88–91. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. P 88 – 91.
  2. Ohlenkamp, N. 2006. The Black Belt of Judo. London: New Holland Publishers Ltd. P 45-57.