Friday, October 02, 2009

Early Love

Good talk with Don this morning. Don's primarily a gun guy, but does jujitsu on the side- Danzan-ryu. So we talked and it gradually degenerated into something that only a judo or jujutsu geek could follow. It really got me thinking.

Sometimes I think I've gotten entirely too serious. Pragmatism. Efficiency. There is a gear-geek thing where you are tempted to attach everything you can to a rifle. Then there is another stage where you want to take off everything that can fail and just strip it down to a tool that will do the one thing it was designed to do with absolute reliability. Sometimes I forget how much pure fun the gear geeks are having.

I loved judo. I was privileged to have world class instructors in Wolfgang Dill and Mike Moore. I loved the strategy, the feeling of flight and even the impact. I loved the work out, the exhaustion. Going to muscle failure in my hands and abs several times a night. I loved, loved, loved the sensation of finding the perfect moment and sending a bigger man through the air and I loved dominating big guys on the ground.

I dabbled in other things, but one of the things I liked about judo was that it was exactly what it was. Rokyu or godan, you were going to get on the mat and you couldn't just say you were good. You either were or you weren't and everyone knew. You couldn't lie to yourself.

There was no mysticism- my instructors didn't know mysterious secrets that I didn't know, they were simply better at what I knew. And I have seen things presented in internal martial arts as deep truths about structure that were just basics in judo- how to rest while groundfighting and how to not use muscle are big parts of effortless power and using tendon and bone instead of muscle.

Then jujutsu under Dave Sumner. He was a fantastic instructor and I loved the system- weapons to striking to grappling with a strong emphasis on infighting. It was all integrated seamlessly and it matched my experience with real violence more than any other style I've seen, before or since. And it was fun. I love infighting. Loved the plasticity, the ju of being able to work impact and imbalance and tearing and locking and throwing and pain all together or in fluid combinations. To fight from disadvantage and find the advantage within the disadvantage.

There was a little more weasel room in jujutsu than in judo because there were a few, a very few, who managed to avoid getting on the mat. But it was still a 'put up or shut up' art. And it hurt significantly worse than judo. Which I loved. That's one of the things about jujutsuka as a special breed. There is no pain-free way to learn jujutsu properly. As a consequence, the people who stick with JJ have a very special relationship with pain.

It was a good day, remembering old loves. Might be time to look for a place to play.


shugyosha said...

Oh, you _can_ lie to yourself in Judo. Had an assistant instructor, years ago, who'd always complain that a certain guy would always beat him at grading tournaments. This guy's judo was "no good" and he was better.

But he kept losing.

And yes, JJ has a certain masochistic vibe. "Ouch, that hurt! How did you do that, again?"

Best wishes. Keep well

Jay Gischer said...

"..the people who stick with JJ have a very special relationship with pain."

Ain't that the truth. I started training jujitsu at age 40. About 8 years later, I had a heart attack while on the mat early on Saturday morning. Two hours later, I had two stents placed in my right coronary artery via the usual incision in my femoral artery.

About 4 hours later in recovery my nurse checked the plug in said femoral artery, and it seems it was leaking a bit. She applied direct pressure immediately and hit the call button, gave rapid fire instructions, dealt with stuff, then turned to me.

"Are you OK?" she said, "Am I pushing too hard."

"I know what you're doing and I like it. Just keep doing what your doing." was my reply.

What I was thinking, though, was, "Are you kidding? I get worse than that every time I go on the mat. I've regularly have kids make me hurt worse than that."

I think I made a good decision to keep those thoughts to myself.

Viro said...

It has been said that one of the "hidden secrets" of jujitsu, handed down from master to favored student, is the ability to extend one's chi to locate the nearest bottle of Advil in a thirty-yard radius.

Unknown said...

"Falling Hard" great book on/about Judo. We seldom forget our first loves in anything. Even though I've pretty much worked my way around the Pacific Rim at this point, Shotokan will always have a special place in my heart. Jeez, THAT sounded mushy.