Judo The Gentle Way


 

Sensei Okada, a legendary Newaza or ground fighting teacher. I had the honor of studying from him.

The lessons in Judo are much more than fighting. Kodokan Judo is the only Judo, and learning Kodokan Judo requires the student to learn the Japanese terms and protocol of the art. These requirements allow for the student to learn the discipline, respect and honor of the art, society and humanity, which is missing in the corrupted Brazilian Juijitsu dojos.For example, in BJJ  the Japanese name of techniques are not used nor is any of the protocol of dojo discipline required. The ignoring of learning the Japanese teachings of protocol and the failure to learn the Japanese terms of technique strips away much of the lesson or “way”. This is a lazy mans method. Yes one will learn to fight well, however the “way” of honor  will be lost.  I humbly present you with one of many stories of my lessons in the Gentle Way.

In competition Judo the USJA, USAJ & USJF are the sanctioning bodies and the quickest way to the coveted Black Belt (Shodan) is competition, points are awarded for entries in tournements as well as victories, with the most points awarded to 1st place victories.  During my competition Judo career, I had the honor of competing at the original Ogden Judo dojo in Long Beach California. Sensei Ogden was very frail in a wheel chair and was soon to pass on. I was very aware I was in the presence of a great Judoka ( Judo player) and in a very respected and old Judo dojo.

As I was eager to build points to earn my Black Belt, I entered as many tournaments as time and money allowed. Often I would be the only member from my club at the tournament, traveling far and wide. I was always sure to represent my dojo well.

At this particular tournament, I had fought three times winning each fight to advance to the winners bracket. Bowing in at the center of the mat, I knew if I won this match I would get 5 points, almost enough to qualify for my Shodan! “Hajime” (begin in English) the ref shouted!  My opponent an Armenian from rival Hyastan dojo, a strong fellow immediately had me on the defense, we gripped and countered each other in a great dual, attempting a hip throw , I missed and we went down to the mat, he landed on top of me and held me fast in a Kesagateme or shoulder hold.Struggling to the edge of the mat to get out of bounds, my left arm became exposed and he seized hold of it applying the arm bar. I was right on the edge of the out of bounds yet the pain on my arm was to great and I tapped out of the match. However the ref did not see me tap out.My opponent knew. The ref stood us up and sent us to the center of the mat, to start again.

Reaching the center of the mat, I signaled to the ref that I had tapped out. To this day I see my old opponent at Judo tournaments or other Judo functions. We always shake hands and he always says, “You and your dojo have much honor.” in that thick Armenian accent. Honor is a not always victory but rather integrity.

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