Sunday, June 1, 2008

Beautiful Judo (Part 1) - Slugger Malone and the alley cat

I've been in the martial arts for more than a while. One thing that I used to obsess over is whether I recived the best, most technical instruction possible in that art. Now, unless your name ends with Trump, you are not likely to get the opportunity fly to Torrance to train BJJ with the Gracies nor are you likely to be able to then hop on the next flight to the Philipines to work on edged weapons with Leo Gage.

You are where you are. And most times, you train where you am as well. Granted, my grammar is horrendous there but you get the idea. Likewise, my Judo.

I learnt my Judo in small, cramped training halls from a host of instructors who ranged from absolute saints to some who should be on the show 'Cops'. (And not as the boys from Law enforcement either). One sometimes showed up a little sauced up from the bar. Other times, he didn't show up at all. Others taught me just enough to breakfall (and now in retropsect, not even that!) and one particular instructor, whom I will call 'Slugger Malone", was an absolute classic.

Slugger (not his real name obviously), was the most passionate, psychotic, toughest Judo figher I had ever seen. He was an ex-international fighter and somewhow, I think he was, and still is, fighting those matches. I learnt most of my Judo from him actually.

It was not pretty Judo. Heck, it wasn't even pretty by dragged-down, no-hold barred alley cat brawl standards. I looked like an epileptic ferret on speed during randori; but then, did I really think I was going to look like the Marquis of Queensbury learning my judo from a guy called 'Slugger'?

Nevertheless, I owe him a debt I can never really repay. He did teach me Judo though, effective European, Russian style pickups, grips and takedowns that had my Japanese instructors shaking their head in anguish and probably wondering why Professor Kano even bothered introducing his beautiful art to the cloddish oafs like me in the rest of the world.

Was I happy? Of course not. My techniques resembled nothing out of a Judo text book, unless it was called " Judo for Pachyderms". It was effective, but it was....ugly.

And then I met Sensei JAL


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