Zuihitsu-Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux

JUDO RON 71- Myths and Realities about JUDO Warm-up
Within the perspective of scrutinizing years of martial arts training methods and judo documentations and practices pertaining to successful performances, some relevant patterns have emerged. It has been accepted that a good judo training sessions should consist of a worthy preparatory warm-up period, a technical segment commensurate with the levels and needs of students and which is followed by a light to extensive randori period complemented with several lighter groups of exercises used as warm-down or cooling off period. Typical judo training session covers between one to three hours and is often repeated several times per week. In many dojos, the intellectual practice of Mondo or last minutes discussions has been somewhat replaced with session’s evaluations and administrative instructions. The choreography of these practices has seldom been challenged because of the prevalent teacherstudents relations. Is this kind of program unique to judo or should we dare look at other sports performances to realize that there are several other ways out there that could be integrated and that their exist other factors which need to be taken into consideration to ensure a good training routine? Takahiko Ishikawa and Donn F Dreager, two reputed and influential judo trainers in the 1960 have said: “A study of all championship levels of judo performance shows without exception that preparatory exercises (Warm-up) are performed via countless exercises comprised of basic movements and their variations”. i Other technical publications have often claimed that warm-up exercises are essential to developing good flexibility and acquiring superior responses to efforts. Retaining extended, warm and flexible muscles groups and joints are essentials to optimal performance for they complement well the psychological and technical preparation of judoka and athletes alike. As such, the leitmotiv in high performance sports appears to be the conduct of preparatory exercises favoring increased flexibility and smooth muscle actions. In judo, when we speak about optimal physical qualities, it is not necessarily the strength that we seek to increase, but the combined abilities found in greater flexibility, proper balance, good reflexes, use of body power and superior technical abilities. It is understood that increasing flexibility has been associated with improved quality of life and sustained functional independence. There are some assertions which laud the fact that good flexibility aids in the elasticity of the muscles and provides a wider range of motion in the joints. The current thinking about judo training methods is that: through increased flexibility and use of special training drills, one can improve his or her performance and easily adapt different body movements (Tai Sabaki) to cope with most combat situations. Aim This article does not intend to render a final verdict about which method of training is preferred, but it is aimed at highlighting some of the approaches and exposes their merits. The choice of training methods must nevertheless be associated with the aims and objectives of individual training cycle. 1|P age

Zuihitsu-Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux
Pertinent Literature abstracts Subsequent to a quick review of a past studies addressing the subject of the pertinence of warm-up, we zoomed in on the article which appeared in the IDEA Fitness Journal. 4.2 (Feb 2007), which conclude that it is still very common to see judo coaches and athletes include some static stretching exercises as part of their warm-up. It infers that such a practice seemed to be more associated with providing a psychological factor of confidence than a physical necessity. The need to stay warm before, during and after an event is portrayed almost as a universal habit. On the other hand, the inclusion of static stretching before training as a mean to reduce the risk of injury has yet to be proven. There are no relevant scientific studies that proved that point other than a research paper produced by Charles Poliquin who identified that there was a very low relationship between static or dynamic flexibility and injury prevention. The general literature recognizes that most sport movements and judo activities are commonly made of series of dynamic collaboration between different body segments in order to abstract and maximize the sum total of energy in pursuit of the goals. When it comes to preparatory training, there is a general penchant to observe and support the fact that the players would be best served by incorporating dynamic movements or drills into their warm-up activities which are closely linked with their sports related activities. In other words, we should incorporate general judo drills in the warm-up which can be replicated later during specific judo activities. Types of Stretching There is some persistent habit favoring particular form of slow static stretching being performed before the opening of a judo session as an assumption that it will increase passive flexibility. Unfortunately, there are no evident and current scientific researches that show that static stretching improves the dynamic flexibility required in most of our judo movements. In the absence of contrary research, one can then deduct that static stretching does not appropriately prepare the muscles for the tasks ahead. Just what do we mean by static stretching? In static stretch, one stretches a particular muscle or group of muscles by slowly moving the body part into a selected position and then holding the stretch level for a set time. Since the static stretch begins with a relaxed muscle and then applies the stretch slowly, static stretching does not activate the stretch reflex witch causes the stretched muscle to contract. (No opposite muscle group are activated in response, only a one way action). Such stretching can be done actively or passively: Active stretching occurs when the person doing the stretch is the one holding the body part in the stretched position while passive stretching happens when a mechanical toll or someone else help in the extended movement and hold that position for a set time.

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Zuihitsu-Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux
Other stretching modes There are other kinds of stretching exercises known as: proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) and ballistic. PNF stretching is a stretching technique in which a fully contracted muscle is stretched by moving a limb through the entire joint’s range of motion. After moving through the complete range of motion, the muscle is relaxed and rested before resuming the procedure several times. In this case, the combination of muscle contraction and stretching serves to relax the muscles used to maintain muscle tone. In so far as Ballistic stretching, it uses muscle contractions to force muscle elongation through bobbing movements where there is no pause at any point in the movement. (E.g. repeated squats, pushups, sit-ups or jumps) Another kind of stretching mode better known as dynamic stretching refers to the stretching that occurs naturally while performing sport-specific movements. In a sense, dynamic stretching looks similar to ballistic stretching in that both method use moderate to fast body movements to cause the selected muscle to stretch, but dynamic stretching does not employ bouncing or bobbing. The dynamic stretching employs only the muscle actions specific to a selected technique. (E.g. for Ne- waza: turning, crawling, rolling, bridging; for Tachi-waza: Tai sabaki, translation displacements, twists and turns etc. Practically speaking, dynamic stretching is similar to performing a decomposition of a forthcoming technique into segments and developing the kinesthetic awareness associated with it. (With the combined and complementary drills performed at lower intensity, one can later reassemble and reproduce the entire technique but at a higher intensity level.) Accident prevention As for the idea of doing the various forms of stretching exercises during warm-up for the sole purpose of preventing accident, it is interesting to note that recent studies have shown no relationship between static stretching prior to strenuous exercises and the reduction in the number of injuries sustained. In fact, documented accident reports relevant to judo injuries seem to show that inefficient movements and unorthodox applications of techniques (throwing, choking, applying locks or falling) are the major contributors to injuries and not the lack or restriction in flexibility. According to the public research document by Angela Calder of the Australian Institute of Sport, it was recommended that we should look at increasing functional flexibility for the purpose of developing efficient movement patterns applicable to a given sport rather than emphasizing flexibility for the purpose of injury prevention. This finding may account for the fact that the Eastern European countries have not included static stretching as part of their warm-up since 1976 followed by the Australians who did the same since 1989.

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Zuihitsu-Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux
Research references pertaining to injuries prevention There are some results of limited scientific research papers which identified four random clinical trials/ RCTsii that concluded that static stretching was ineffective in reducing the incidence of exercise-related injury. Only one of the three controlled clinical trials/CCTs concluded that static stretching did reduce the incidence of exercise-related injury. Three out of the seven other studies noted significant reductions in musculo-tendinous and ligament injuries following a static stretching protocol despite non-significant reductions in the all-injury risk. The conclusion is: There is moderate to strong evidence that routine application of static stretching does not reduce overall injury rates. There is preliminary evidence, however, showing that static stretching may reduce muscular tendinous injuries. The European College of Sports tends to confirm these findings in its 2007 report iii It is interesting to note that the warm- up period is a widely accepted practice preceding nearly every major athletic event. However, while warm- up is considered essential for optimum performance by many coaches and athletes, there is surprisingly little scientific evidence supporting its total effectiveness. One can assume that it is business as usual until proven the contrary. There are lots of literature extracts pertaining to the ways to conduct proper warm-up drills. Meanwhile, the scientific findings about their value or appropriateness are somewhat restricted due to the investigative techniques employed, the number of persons tested, the control conditions under which the verification were done, and not discounting the expected difficulty of capturing the variety of physiological and psychological responses to warm- up. Those attributes are difficult to compile and reproduce outside laboratories.

Usefulness of warm-up Despite limited scientific evidence supporting their true effectiveness, warm-up routines prior to sportrelated activities are well-accepted practices in the judo milieu. The majority of the positive effects of warm- up have been attributed to our temperature-related mechanisms : e.g.: decreased stiffness, increased nerve-conduction rate, altered force-velocity relationship, increased anaerobic energy provision and increased thermo-regulatory pressure. (To elevate the body temperature by a few degrees with the view to establish a more stable platform as needed for continuous and more strenuous performances.) It has been observed that passive warm-up for a few minutes do increase the muscle temperature and the core temperature by less than two degrees. This is similar to the heating levels gained by the active warm- up where we frequently note the loss of some energy levels when the exercise unit is prolonged and the duration of the exercises increased. Passive warm- up, although being found not practical for most athletic high performance, are still practiced as a quick mean to rise the muscle/body temperatures when time restraints have to be considered before a match. 4|P age

Zuihitsu-Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux
Some other benefits to proper warm-up have been attached to non-temperature related mechanisms such as the changes in the acidity levels and the elevation of baseline oxygen consumption (VO2). It has also been hypothesized that warm- up may have a number of psychological effects related to our mind set and psychological preparation. More research is needed to ascertain the true impact. Warm-up techniques As far as warm-up techniques are concerned, there are numerous books that describe the how and when. Such reference can be found in the “Stretching Anatomy” by Nelson and Kokonen iv who broadly classified the types into two major categories: passive warm- up and active warm- up. Passive warm- up being the raising muscle or core temperature by some external means, (Blanket, sweater, hot water etc.) while active warm-up makes maximum use of dynamic stretching exercises. One must take into consideration some external factors which may limit the capacity to undertake proper warm-up procedures. Such impediments can be: restriction in the physical venue, the types of and restrictions caused by the ambient temperature, the location, the elevation, the clothing or equipment used and not discounting: the gender, age, past and current injuries, sickness, individual elasticity of tendons and ligaments or other physical impediments. Judo relations Quickly embarking into the process of trying to achieve proper temperature setting for what we are about to do, we seldom remind ourselves of the main features of judo which are the application of the principles of non-resistance (JU) and taking advantage of the opponent loss of equilibrium and making intelligent use of energy, thus avoiding unnecessary expenditure of strength. These principles should guide us in the selection as to the types of exercises or drills we intend to practice. Warm-up general program In judo, there is warm- up drills for different purposes. They are called “JUNBI UNDO” and they vary to suit your needs whether you have reached the high performance levels, are entering the competitive preparation, just starting judo in a recreational setting or returning to judo after an injury or a long absence. Those warm-up exercises are meant to provide the suitable physiological stimulations to all parts of the body in order to prepare the body responses for more severe exertions. Many coaches divide the general warm- up into several parts which integrate preparatory exercises with supplementary found in solo calisthenics or with partners or even perform as a group or class. Here under is a summary of the general character attached to warm-up divisions: -First segment consisting of Stretching /movement/dynamic activities in Tandoku or Sotai Renshu. -Second portion made principally of Joint rotations for enticing an advanced scenario of what is to come in the total practice session. Such divisions ultimately lead to better familiarization and understanding of the main activity proposed in the session program. The Uchi Komi and Butsukari as complementary exercises, will of course, need to be tempered with appropriate timing and level of intensity commensurate with the individual goals and abilities. 5|P age

Zuihitsu-Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux
The reasoning behind the first portion is the intension to raise the core body temperature and gets the blood flowing. It is important to stretch all the muscle groups that will be called into action in the forthcoming work session. The ultimate goal is to increase the blood flow that will in turn increase the cardiovascular output. It appears particularly important that muscles not be allowed to cool below to their normal physiological range before commencing short-term and more intense exercises. From five to 15 minutes should suffice to accomplish those tasks. The second element is the joint rotation through dynamic stretching which is intended to initiate several psychomotor skills leading to smooth the eventual use of the limb/joint and gain sufficient bodyresponse or know-how to facilitate a better performance when times come for the real technique to be used. Training drills and educational routines should contribute to mental and physiological readiness towards the full techniques. Towards the end of this phase, there should be some time reserved for performing the real movements via Uchi komi and Nage Komi. It is to be remembered that the warmup is not to be the actual strenuous activity and that the real work still lies ahead. As we noted before, one may also consider using passive warm- up as a mean to rise the body temperature. This practice involves raising muscle or core temperature by some external means. Various methods including hot showers or baths, saunas, diathermy and heating pads have been used in the past and still common. Passive heating allows one to obtain the increase temperature without depleting energy levels. Although not practical in certain instances and certainly not cherished by most athletes as an alternative, passive warm- up does allow the testing of the hypothesis that many of the performance changes associated with active warm-up are the results of our natural temperature-related mechanisms. The ruling celebrating the usefulness of the active warm- up has been made in several studies in which it was highlighted to induce the greatest metabolic and cardiovascular changes. (Typical examples of active warm- up which made good impressions include Nage komi without falls, jogging, calisthenics, pair gymnastic and Taiso). This kind of verdict has been rendered several years past. One has to refer to the study of Asmussen and Boje (1945) which concluded that “…a higher temperature in the working organism facilitates the performance of work”. This older statement has influenced others and more modern studies pertaining to the effects of warmup have been initiated. Most have emphasized the link between warm-up and the rising of temperature through natural temperature-related mechanisms. It specifically led to the proposal that an increase in temperature may improve performance via a decrease in the viscous resistance of muscles, a speeding of rate-limiting oxidative reactions and/or an increase in oxygen delivery to muscles, (In short: Accomplishing an activity at a maintained level and for a constant or specific duration can lead to best performance notwithstanding the lesser amount of stiffness and an increase range of motion). Optimal performance levels are thus attained during short duration tasks such as a five minute Shiai because it facilitates an increased rate of force development and an upsurge in power.

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Zuihitsu-Random Notes about Judo by Ronald Désormeaux
Conclusion The goals and objectives of each warm-up period must coincide with the special needs of both the students and the teacher’s program. It must be understood that this period is to prepare the student for the next phase of his or her training purposes and it is not intended to be a period where they must show off their degree of endurance, tenacity or courage. Placing excessive stress and undue strain on the joints is not recommended. Warm-up periods must be fashioned to provide a variety of exercises conducive to stimulate the mental and physical desire to improve while the employment of drills and exercises must be tempered as not to produce premature fatigue. The amount of time spent on warm-up depends on the individual or class requirements and should be undertaken only after proper analysis of the course content and the students’ abilities. It is to be remembered that Judo activities are to be educational and profitable to both the players and the peers group. Have a good session. Ronald Désormeaux Judo teacher, Hart House Dojo, university of Toronto, June 2013


Takashiko Ishikawa, Donn. F. Draeger, Judo Training Methods, Charles Tuttle, Tokyo, 1962, page 147


Small, Katie , Mc Naughton, Lars and Matthews, Martin ( 2008) 'A Systematic Review into the Efficacy of Static Stretching as Part of a Warm-Up for the Prevention of Exercise-Related Injury', Research in Sports Medicine, 16: 3, 213 — 231

Magnusson, Peter and Renström, Per , The role of stretching exercises in sports ,'The European College of Sports Sciences Position Statement: ', European Journal of Sport Science, 6:2, 87 – 91

Arnold G Nelson, Joukop Kokonen, Stretching Anatomy, Human Kinetics Books pub, 1953

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