Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Impossible is Nothing

Two days ago, I threw someone with Uchimata

Those of you who do Judo will know what throw I'm talking about. To the uninitiated, it's a kind of throw where you come in from the side, throw a leg between your opponent's and lift him up in the air as though he's riding on it. No wonder that the name for a similar throw in wrestling is called the 'flying mare'

It's also one of the most beautiful and spectacular throws in Judo, and also one of the most challenging to pull off properly. It's also a throw suited to bigger guys, not smaller, shorter ones like me. And this is where the story comes in.

All through my judo years till now, every instructor has told me that as someone of diminutive size; I should concentrate on throws better suited to my height and stature. Thus, they taught me ippon seionage ( the classic shoulder throw) till I knew all the variations.

But I wasn't satisfied.

I would dream incessantly of uchimats and it's closely related cousin; harai-goshi. But each time I asked my sensei's to teach it to me properley; they gently suggested that I learn some other throws suited to my stature. So, I continued doing what I was doing until sensei Junji came along. When I asked him to teach me haraigoshi and uchi mata; he didn't brush off the request but went patiently with me and broke down the technique bit by bit.

What was refreshing was that he never once made a comment about the unsuitability of the technique for my height; he just taught it to me. And over the course of a few lessons, I felt sorry for him as my clumsiness in executing the technique must have caused him some physical pain whenever I didn't quite get my throwing leg into his inner thigh. Those of you who have received some badly executed uchi matas will know what I mean :-)

Then, one day, it came. As Matt Thornton would say - it became Alive. It had timing, energy and motion, and I was as shocked as anybody when it happened. My training partner hit the ground and I replayed that throw over and over again in my head

Sensei Junji saw it. But all he said was: "Now, let's work on that some more"

And that is the essence of this post. It's not to crow about me, but to give the biggest props possible to my judo coach, sensei Junji. What he did epitomises what a great coach should be - someone who tells his charge that impossible is nothing. Who makes him believe that it can be done. And makes them work as though the seemingly improbable is just around the corner. After that, they then show you another road and another corner to go through. It's the answer to that perenial question beloved of kids in the back of car on a journey"

" Are we there yet?"

Not yet, not yet, but we'll get there soon, says a real sensei.

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