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Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux Judo-Ron 65: Exploiting the Vortex Energy. This small

Judo-Ron 65: Exploiting the Vortex Energy.

This small essay is intended to complement the instructional lesson given recently pertaining to the use of lateral techniques such as: O Guruma, Yama Arashi and Yoko Wakare.

The London Olympics judo matches analysis revealed once again that the most popular techniques used to score are: Morote Seoi, Uchi Mata, Harai Goshi, Yoko Tomoe and Ippon Seoi Nage. These techniques highly surpass the numerous others because they are from a group of twenty or so competitive techniques introduced in Shobu Ho (combat efficiency) for their relative high level of success in Shiai and their somewhat easiness to become skilled at them. They were reinforced over the years by sensei’s concentration and experimentation with the frontal/medial approach which was accompanied by securing the minimum paths of displacement.

The Judo technical compendium comprises many more effective techniques that must be perfected and which can be used in all directions and which are not limited to the frontal approach. To make the most of your potentials, you will need to discover and experiment with these somewhat overlooked techniques.

Furthermore, you will need to address the way you prepare and manage the kinetic energy of your body before you can think of striking at your opponent with your powerful Tokui Waza. These additional tasks include the discovery of your strengths and weaknesses and their accurate uses against selected targets or opponents. (With elegance and timings)

During your previous training sessions, you have learned that to be effective, you need to find the right opportunity to launch your attack, place yourself at the right spot or in the most suitable angle in order to take maximum advantage of your opponent’s broken posture and make accurate use of levers/fulcrums. (Kuzushi, Tsukuri and Kake)

Those principles do not change with experience; on the contrary, within your pursuit for technical excellence, you will understand that every technique needs to be scrutinized under the light of the first fundamental standard of judo: intelligent use of energy or maximum efficiency for minimum effort. Three questions should always guide your analysis: what are the causes, under what conditions and what results are to be expected? Remember the acronym “D.I.M.” discover, import and master.


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux In his Souvenirs de judo 1 , Sensei

In his Souvenirs de judo 1 , Sensei Abe 10 th dan, mentioned that: “To improve our techniques, we must practice it often and with determination. Thereafter we must meditate on it, review its principles and start anew without hesitation, never be discourage by the length it takes to understand and apply it correctly. It is in our interest to try to comprehend all the difficulties in applying the principles. We will make progress and approach the truth but we seldom have the pleasure to reach it totally.”

Whether we are talking about cultivating self-discovery, understanding techniques or gaining more intelligence about the opponent, it seems that our quest is never satisfied. The strategist Sun Tzu 2 wrote thousands of years ago that ;”Knowing the enemy enables you to take the offensive, knowing yourself enables you to stand on the defensive and that attack is the secret of defense while defense is the planning for attack.

Such words of wisdom were conveyed over generations of good fighters and we still find them expressed, yet differently, in 1964 thru the saying of Sensei Oshima 3 : “If you don’t understand yourself, you will lose 100% of the time; if you understand yourself, you will win 50% and if you know both yourself and the opponent, you will win 100%.”

Although I believe that the more knowledge you gain about different techniques will help you correct some combat deficiencies and add variety to your self-management. You have to understand that the efficiency of the techniques I have chosen as examples in the next few paragraphs will depend on the skilful execution of all components and details in order to cumulate into what I call the rhythmic bodily coordination resulting from the unity between your mind (What you want to to) and your body. (What you actually do).

As I discuss these principles, you will note that there are no secrets hidden in them. Open your mind and imagine the sequences you will make. They simply make greater use of the angular energy or Vortex to destabilize the opponent and throw him down.

“Men and women without feeling or imagination are justly called brutes”.

Plato, The Republic, page 613

1 Abe Ichiro, Souvenirs de Judo, Edition Judo Toulouse, R Lasserre, Éditeur. 1953, Page 94

2 Sun Tzu, The Art of War, James Clavell, Delacorte Publishing, New York, 1971 page 163

3 Oshima Tsutomu, Shotokan Dojo, Waseda University , Address on Martial A rts, 1964


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux Before I express those principles, let us remind

Before I express those principles, let us remind ourselves of words of wisdom from another ancient judoka. Sensei Sakujiro Yokohama wrote about the judo Principles in his book 4 that: “There were no secrets, yet to describe and explain everything in judo is beyond the power of the pen since judo contains much more and brings out so many human facets.” He went on page 57 to describe the task of finding the truth as follow:

“Secrets are just like your eyebrows, though they are near you, you cannot see them. When you understand a secret, you will find that it was quite near you and very simple.”

Current training practices favour the use of good frontal kumi kata for controlling the distances (Ma-ai) between players thus restricting the opponent’s capacity to move freely while favoring the maximum approaches to place your Tokui Waza. The regular practice is to concentrate on the Kumi kata favouring the face to face approach, the side to side, the double sided grip, the limited angle obtained from Jigo-Tai or the over the collar hold.

Value added

The use of lateral/transversal attacks from distanced positions although considered worthy assets to make better use of normal human balance weaknesses, have often been evaluated by key trainers as demonstrating too many risks to be employed during high level competition.

I assume that because of lack of time to prepare the athletes and the degree of mastery required to perfect the lateral/transversal techniques, predominance has been awarded to the quick and direct Ippon techniques along the medial and sagittal plans.

It is unfortunate that the judoka is somewhat penalized by the lack of opportunity to experiment with those techniques considered “at risk” yet they are technically making greater use of body mass and extended levers through angular approaches, body torque, rotation, vortex energy and maximum concentration of the trunk muscles.

In the following graphics about angles of motion, you will note all the possibilities being offered and the importance of Kuzushi to make the throws more efficient.

4 Yokohama Sakujiro et Eisuke Oshima, Judo Kyohan, Judo, Manuel de JiuJitsu de l’école Kano à Tokyo, Edition Berger Levrault, Paris 1911, (reprint 1914, 1915), page 57


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux Angles of Motion and Happo Kuzushi Drawings collage

Angles of Motion and Happo Kuzushi

by Ronald Désormeaux Angles of Motion and Happo Kuzushi Drawings collage from the book “Judo Pratique”

Drawings collage from the book “Judo Pratique” by T. Inogai –R. Habersetzer, 2002


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux Risk taking Do not be afraid of the

Risk taking

Do not be afraid of the potential danger or risk to be taken to make the lateral techniques valuable assets in your repertoire. There is a constant need to improve these techniques and adapt them to your personality. I have often mentioned that you need to retain your freedom of action even in the worst of combat situation. Be ready to change your mentality and your training habits.

As mentioned often, seek alternative ways to learn and practice. One successful method is to study how you can enhanced the use of your body mass and different levers to better retain your flexibility and understanding what segments are involved, you can then apply better sequences which will enhance greater coordination in the kinetic chain.

will enhance greater coordination in the kinetic chain. The Vortex with Centrifugal and Centripetal forces (Public

The Vortex with Centrifugal and Centripetal forces (Public image)

Be patient, the synopsis of the techniques I have chosen to present are forthcoming. I would prefer that you not be in a hurry to try to launch into lateral techniques in your next Randori practices before you understand what is at play, for you will likely miss the right opportunity.

First, let us review the mechanical principles and general dynamics of the human body in order to understand where we can best apply them in a combat situation. In the next paragraphs, I will generally refer to the Vortex energy, as the dynamic force being applied to the opponent’s body by both your proximity to it and by the lateral and angular displacements or rotation you will make which will cause the opponent to be engulfed into an orbit like displacement (spinning) around the axis you will have constructed.

We all understand that human motion can be either linear (translatory) that is: the body move in a straight line with all its parts moving in the same direction at the same speed.


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux We also are capable of performing angular motion,

We also are capable of performing angular motion, that is: some of our joints or parts (e.g. shoulders, legs etc.) can move on their own and separately from the main axis. This is because our body is made up of different joint systems that can perform independently or in unison. It can perform both linear and angular motion simultaneously and in the same direction. This is where harmony and coordination are important to maximize angular energy.

Laws of mechanics

We know that any motion is subject to the application of the laws of mechanics. When we study the mechanics of body movement, we must therefore refresh our thinking with the three Newton’s laws of motion:

1. Inertia: A body continues in its primary state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled by another force to change that original state.

2. Acceleration: The displacement along an axis will change its momentum (speed) proportionally with the impressed force, and the actual change will take place in the direction in which the supplementary force acts.

3. Opposing forces: For every force acting anywhere, there is always equal force acting in an opposite direction. There is no such thing as force acting by itself or upon an environment in which there is no reaction.

Practical Application

When undertaking to throw an opponent, we must first find the right opportunity to apply the right Kuzushi or breaking the balance. You will note that it is more difficult to start the opponent’s body moving because we have to combat his or hers internal muscular actions, deal with the forces of inertia, gravity and friction with the ground. These factors are minimized when the body has already begun its motion in a given direction.

Of course, the body as a malleable structure will have different forms of reaction to the stress imposed by your attempt to break the balance. Besides exercising immediate muscular adjustments, we can anticipate several likely scenarios in reaction to the application of an outside force causing downward pressure, a straight pulling force or a twisting action, a force causing the body to bend along its axis or a force being applied to attempt to make it slide in a given direction. The human body offers different ways to respond to outside pressure or stress and its reaction or counter- action will be influenced by its making and by its past experience dealing with similar danger.


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux “For equilibrium sake, force must be met with

“For equilibrium sake, force must be met with force. As structures evolved so did the forces of balancing”. 5 So, you will likely see the body absorb the force, oppose it, of through displacements avoid it completely.

When displacement of the opponent has begun, we need to deliver more momentum by keeping the original forces at play in a continued displacement (applying the force in the right axis of application). We have to keep in mind that since the momentum is related to the speed of the body and its mass (body size); we can add upward or forward velocity by applying more forces that can be addressed either separately or jointly thus give it the additional impact or magnitude. The pushing-pulling actions done with the arms and hands can be combined and directed toward the axis to produce an extra torsion or twist to the opponent’s body and therefore weakening his stance even more.

When we want to twist the opponent around his axis, we have to be careful not to induce his reaction of bending forward thus changing the angle of the axis and modifying his base of support. This will result in the uneven distribution of his weight towards the front and prevent him from rotating around the fulcrum.

To better control the path of the opponent’s fall, you should not release your grip but guide it to maintain the contact on the opponent as you rotate about your own axis and you should pursue the application of the complementary force (push-pull) in the same direction as not to break contact. If the contact is broken, the opponent’s stability will be recovered.

When performing lateral techniques, it is not necessary to “go through” or “under” the opponent’s centre of gravity to produce a given linear acceleration because the force being applied will create the same linear acceleration whether or not it is directed to the centre. You will also experience that should the force not pass through the centre of gravity, that point will change speed in the direction parallel to the direction of the force you are applying while simultaneously, the opponent’s body will begin to rotate about an axis passing through its own centre of gravity.

Geoffrey Dyson, a former chief national coach in the USA wrote: 6 For best results, blending the linear and the rotational motion should be considered. The rotational movement of the body can be coordinated to impart linear motion to the missile. (Here the missile is the opponent’s body)

5 Mabel E Todd, The Thinking Body, Princeton Book, Edition 1968, page 8

6 Geoffrey HG Dyson, The Mechanics of Athletics, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1975, chap 1


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux We are now in a better position to

We are now in a better position to comprehend the concept of rotational energy also known as vortex or angular kinetic energy produced by the rotation of the body or object around an axis.

Sample lateral techniques

Here under is a quick schematic look at some of the selected techniques. Observe the axis of rotation and the contact areas with Uke. Then, assess their variations based upon the mechanical principles I exposed earlier. You will note that three of the four techniques make use of the one leg support to effect the rotation around the axis while the side separation Yoko Wakare makes a different use of the hip rotation using a different contact point with the ground.

rotation using a different contact point with the ground. Techniques drawings from J Gailhat, Ma Methode

Techniques drawings from J Gailhat, Ma Methode de Judo Kawaishi, 1950


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux The previous schematic model at the bottom symbolizes

The previous schematic model at the bottom symbolizes the various actions produced by twisting about a vertical axis. The weight factor is represented by the rectangular blocks. A stable condition is achieved temporarily and the axis of rotation passes through the centre of Gravity in (a) and (b). Looking at (c) we have an unstable condition necessitating a change in the support base to restore the balance.

The instantaneous power of an angular acceleration of the body is in the quantity of torque or rotation we can produce in a given time frame when we fill up the empty space existing beside the opponent. It also applies to the upper pull we make on Uke as the continual force to destabilize him. Once you began, keep rotating as the greater the mass we can accumulate and the faster we can move it, the more difficult it will be for the opponent to slow it down or stop it.

When we understand the potential effects of centripetal and centrifugal forces at play here, we realize the need to shorten the radius of our rotational technique by starting as much as possible with an outside crunch position and by tucking in our limbs closer to the centre of our body as soon as possible.

In the three examples given, keeping contact with the ground with one support leg we can then start executing the spinning or rotational action in the clockwise or anti clockwise directions (attacking on the left or right lateral side) by rotating the other leg in the direction of the opponent while making contact with the opponent at the hip region (approaching the two centres of gravity). This circular movement around the opponent and around our own axis will pass through its centre of mass and enslave it into the induced rotating action or spin.

With our continuous pulling actions of the hands and the twisting action on the opponent’s body via a fast rotation, we obtain a whirlpool spin effect. You will note that the pulling phenomenon is greater than the resisting force when the turns are produced closer and faster against the opponent. You will also observe that the rotational movement produce a pushing away force when the opponent is positioned at the extended range of our grasp.

When accomplishing your own body roll or rotating around your support leg you need to accomplish the displacement in a smooth and effortless manner as to avoid any breaking in the momentum.


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux Such a displacement imparts considerable linear velocity to

Such a displacement imparts considerable linear velocity to your own mass and transfers it to your lower abdomen. Once reaching the extension leg used as a fulcrum around the waist of Uke the linear speed will slow down and the rotation/torque of Uke’s body will take over. All your key parts need to participate in the concerted action. (Head, shoulders, torso, hips). You will then be capable to lengthen your body stretch by using your larger muscles and core groups for maximum power and subsequently transfer that power to the leg being used as the fulcrum.

Finally, you will need to raise the body as you swing your fulcrum leg around thus lifting your own weight towards your centre of gravity to maximize your rotation. In this instance, you can profit of the moment to rise on your toes to give you the best leverage power while still maintaining your own equilibrium.

I recommend that you first learn to manage your lateral displacements at different

speeds while performing the rotation of your body with shorter radius before concentrating on the action of the lever leg (fulcrum). In this small article, space prevents me to discuss in details every step of each technique.

I prefer to see you practice them. I have chosen instead to summarize the gist of them through the general comments made by Sensei T. Daigo 10 Th dan of the Kodokan Institute. 7

O Guruma: “Tori maneuvers with body control to the left of his opponent, from there he straightens one leg across the opponent’s lower abdomen and by twisting his body, rotates his leg quickly in a rolling motion. At that moment, he maintains the Uke’s body upward and sweep firmly upwards in a long motion from the front with his leg. He throws Uke forward, rotating him around the fulcrum of his leg.” “This technique was created by Sensei K Mifune and Shihan Jigoro Kano gave it the name and included it in the Gokyo in accordance with the principle that the inside force controls the outside force”.

Yama Arashi: is a technique also known as Yama Otoshi and made famous by Shiro Saigo as a decisive Shiai technique when the Kodokan competed against other schools for the Tokyo Police Academy tournament. There are several variations existing and an eccentric variety is to accomplish it with a body roll or rotation. The orthodox way is described as follow:” Tori grips Uke’s right collar and sleeve on the same side. He lifts Uke to his side front corner, breaking his balance and sweep up Uke’s leg to throw him down.”

7 T. Daigo, Kodokan Judo Throwing Techniques, Kodansha Intl, Tokyo, 2005


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux Ashi Guruma: It has its origin in the

Ashi Guruma: It has its origin in the Tenjin Shinyo School and we know of several ways to make it a formidable technique. “Tori lift Uke and break his balance forward or to the right front corner. He puts the lower end of his right leg on the front of Uke’s right knee cap and pressing down, uses it as a fulcrum to throw forward in a rotating motion”

Yoko Wakare: This is a dropping down rotation to the side of Uke which requires good timing and concerted rolling. Beautiful application of it can be seen in the Itsutsu no kata. “Tori lift Uke to the right front corner or straight forward, breaks his balance, steps with both feet in on the side of Uke’s right foot, turns to his side and drops down onto his back and throws Uke.”

Common points

The key point s to remember when practicing the above rotational techniques are:

1. Maintain the Kuzushi during the displacement

2. Manage the distance between the players (ma-ai)

3. Maximize the use of the support leg with a recoiling spring action

4. Ensure your head is part of the rotational movement

5. Do not bend Uke’s body forward

6. Make greater use of the pelvic region and the abdominal muscles

7. Uke must rotate around the fulcrum created by either your leg or trunk

8. Do not sweep the Uke’s leg or the hip but enroll it around the fulcrum

Practice time

All this theory may first appear complicated when you first read it. Take it in strides, read a paragraph and try to digest the gist of it. In practice, follow the steps in your mind and try to associate each phase of the Kuzushi, Tsukuri and Kake with the mechanical principles to be applied. Do not be afraid of making mistakes, try to adapt to the new ways of shifting and displacing your body. There is no singular way of performing the technique, what is common to all is their applied principles.


Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

Zuihitsu- Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux Remember that you are in a learning environment,

Remember that you are in a learning environment, so, keeping your student’s attitude; observing, asking questions, being inquisitive, evaluating, synthetizing, being logical and acting boldly is a must.

When using the lateral techniques in the future, you will be rewarded by the facility with which your body can quickly adapt and how you are able to transform various displacements into crucial energy.

Have a good training session.

Ronald Désormeaux

Judo teacher,

Hart House, University of Toronto

February 2013


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