When previously presenting different aspects of judo, I have tackled the strangulation issues. (Judo-Ron 38/39)i. Now, the time has come to seek what is hidden in the joint ventures we so often take for granted as we move about the tatami or apply different arm bars and wrist locks to our opponents/partners. Most of us were taught to do a technique based upon the physical model our teacher demonstrated. We engaged in their repetition and reproduction as best we can without too much questioning. If it is effective, then, who am I to challenge the principles used by the teacher? We take it for granted that the Kuzushi (breaking of the balance) will occur without neither preparation nor timely intervention. We repeat and mimic the process without truly understanding the consequences of applying excessive torque to a body part or overextending an articulation. This article will attempt to expose some of the mechanical principles associated with the movement of our human body by exploring the functions of the joints. Our exploration is a prelude to identify what constitute our assured strength and weakness and perhaps discover similar elements of suppleness and firmness as we might find in a tree. In the next few pages, I will try to summarize the various types of cooperative formulae needed or which could be applied at various muscles/bones and joint levels to ensure we maximize the judo principle of intelligent use of energy for a greater efficiency.

/public icons The principal aim of our judo training model can be described by the word “AGASTSU”. Conquer yourself first before attempting to master the opponent. That is the goal. If we believe that the true opponent to be overcome is oneself; can we really conquer self by remaining ignorant of what we are?

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Over the years on the tatami, we tried to improve our techniques by decomposing them into basic elements that we could understand, reconstruct and join together to achieve a better performance. We became good technicians but are we really masters of our tools? Learning from the past to prepare the future We have trained for months and years and made a lot of progress because we devoted the time and endured thousands of repetitions in order to be able to develop personalized routines or specific patterns that have grown into natural reflexes which have become part of our arsenal and used in most circumstances to prove our progress. In our quest to make the best performance, we should not neglect to study the theory that resides behind each movement and try to understand what can and cannot be further upgraded. Armed with such knowledge, we can better address our priorities and quickly apply some of the better improvement prescriptions we will identify. Two senior judo researchers, Jiichi Watanabe and Lindy Avakian, invited us to spend more time trying to understand the deeper mechanical principles of judo techniques rather than trying to enlarge our portfolio with the random execution of techniques we are yet to master. They said: “The beginning judoist should realize that it is better to learn the basic techniques and principles well than to oversaturate the mind with hundreds of subsidiary techniques that cannot possibly be mastered in one lifetime”ii Additional Learning from the Kata Most of us have followed the prescribed learning cycle. After acquiring the skills for protecting our falls, we learned how we can jettison back on our feet, thereafter; we acquired other abilities associated with a better posture (Shisei), improved upon our locomotion (Shintai) and synchronized our body movement (Tai-Sabaki) to better manage developing situations. With a greater perception and understanding of what is the Kuzushi, we learned different waza and proceeded to apply the diverse techniques while standing and/or performing ground work activities. When we reached the more advanced level, we undertook the dynamic routines involved with numerous repetitions of techniques via the Uchi komi, the mobile Nage-waza, the Butsukari and Randori. With all these activities behind us, we now find ourselves at the center of the judo play. We must realize that we are at its summit but do we know why? Are we still capable of improving even more? Time is quickly running out for our search of deeper meaning. In our haste to score, to be recognized as champions or masters, we have yet to understand the grammar that governs the rules of our efficiency.
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It is my view that we can still learn if we seek the truth in the deeper spheres of judo. Such reality is found through our study and performance of the different Kata. It is by diligently observing, analysing and practicing different kata that we are better able to identify the mechanisms and the interplays between our various body parts and joints and how useful they are in maintaining our mobility and securing the right advantages. Judo movements done in solo or with a partner need to be understood and that brings us to tackle a bit of anatomy and kinesiology. Yes, everyone knows that we have 206 bones, thousands of muscles and more that 200 joints. Yet, most do not carry the same significance in our daily judo practice. Let us try to understand why it is so. The Kata to the rescue As we develop a better comprehension of each kata, we get closer to visualize the cooperative unions existing between muscle, bones and joints. These three elements are governed by our brain in our constant quest to seek maximum efficiency. When we are performing offensive techniques or using them as part of our defensive realm, we are bound to come across the physical domain of their joint ventures. The Nage no kata introduces us to proper posturing and balance, the forms of Shintai or effective displacement, the turning power of the trunk, the different levers engaged in making the Kuzushi and the necessity to have an ideal and sequential coordination between different limbs to produce an effective throwing technique. The regular Katame no kata exposes the vulnerability of the prone position, the efficiency of short range levers and weight distribution, the gravitational differences, the effectiveness of elongation and the strength in grouping of limbs. The vulnerability of the neck region is emphasized with the various strangulations modes. The shoulder and elbow joints show their vulnerability whenever we perform the kansetsu-waza or arm bars: ude garami, ude hishigi juji gatame, ude hishigi ude gatame, ude hishigi hiza gatame, and ashi- garami. Meanwhile, the Kime no kata, offers us a chance to distinguish between the power of a wakigatame, the clout of a mune-gatame, and the supremacy of a hara- gatame. We get to practice the bifurcation of upper limbs to eradicate a threat. The precision of delivering a correct strike to the plexus or to the eyes emphasize the need to understand our vulnerability and the need for managing distances. All those techniques are part of our arsenal of powerful weapons to exercise control over an opponent’s joints.

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Similarly, in the Goshin Jutsu no kata, we can appreciate the efficiency of the additional use of wrist twisting such as kote gaeshi and kote-hineri while perfecting ways to exercise continual pressure at the shoulder, wrist and elbow levels. We take care to elevate and twist the threatening legs or fist in our quest for security. In the Ju no kata, we rise to understand the efficiency of levers as we practice the extension and rotation of body segments through perfecting the Kuzushi. We gain control over an opponent by measuring distances and angles while still maintaining our own balance. In the Koshiki no kata we can visualize the little efforts needed to displace larger/heavier opponents while perfecting the use of levers and circular movements. We have to take note of the sensibility and fragility of the upper limb when we are asked to execute Shikoro- gaeshi or the head twist. We master the braking of falls (ukemi) in order to protect our spine and head and lower limbs.
In the Itsutsu no kata we seek to understand the larger principles of judo by recognizing the different types of power produced by the moving body either as a single entity or as part of a continuum and harmonious engagement between two beings. This is an immense battle with an opponent where both players will win the dignity and respect for having displayed their best use of energy.

Looking at our own blue print We need not be a guru of physiology nor anatomy to pursue our judo learning or development. It is sufficient to take some time to understand what we are made of. We are an agglomerate of skin, bones, muscles, water and lots of chemicals. Our architecture comprises a complex system of bones, associated cartilages and joints. When complementing each other during various functions or activities, these structures and components ensure both our equilibrium and maneuverability. The judo scientist Attilo Sacripanti in the introduction of his research compendium mentioned:iii ”Mystic understands judo roots, but don’t understand his branches; Scientist understands judo branches but not his roots. Science doesn’t need Mysticism and Mysticism doesn’t need Science, but perfect judoka needs both.”

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A short exposé of key principles In our judo practices, we adopt different postures, perform mixed gestures, and make use of different limbs for multi purposes. We engage in a constant struggle to master the opponent motions and turn them to our advantage. To obtain a minimum deployment of energy and get the maximum results, we need to appreciate how these elements cooperate amongst themselves and how vulnerable they can be. To attain a certain level of Judo mastery, we need to be able to execute techniques with spontaneities and savoir faire. We know that superior techniques stem from the combination of intelligent use of our energy in compliance with the principles of assorted mechanical laws. It is therefore important to know how joints operate and how much freedom or restriction they can inflict upon our “free” movement.

Words of a Connoisseur An overall description of the tandem application can be found in an earlier text produced by Sensei Koizumi Gunji, one of the first Kodokan Judo representatives in England, when in a 1945 address, he stated: iv “The most effective application of the body mechanism naturally is governed by the dynamic law or the principles of leverage and balance.

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Here are the general principles that apply to judo. Balance. I have already described the general conditions how to keep the balance of the body. However, in applying a throw, you have to risk weakening the balance and stand on one leg, so that you can free one side of your body which is chiefly used in performing the act of throwing. This stance may vary according to the nature of the action, but in the main it consists of bending the ankle and knee so as to increase the "base" and lower the center of gravity. Then the balance is retained, through the changing conditions in the stages of action, by subtle co-ordination of the ankle, knee and hip joints. Unity of Action. The side of the body freed for action should be used as a solid lever. Merely stiffening the joints is not sufficient; there must be co-ordination of all muscles. This coordination is more possible if your mind is concentrated on the abdominal action. When your mind is occupied with the action of the hands or feet the lever will disintegrate; so will the effectiveness of it. Abdominal Power. The abdomen does not assume any importance in the Western conception of physical education, but in the East it is regarded as the center and basis of all physical and spiritual power. Indeed, in judo abdominal power is the foundation of all actions and movements. Therefore to cultivate fullness at the abdomen (not strained contraction or enlargement) and firmness of the small of the back is a very important item in judo training. Body-Lever. As our common experience demonstrates, the most effective way of using a lever or stick to pull or push an object is to use it lengthwise. However, the contact and stance of our body related to the opponent is such that the only way to conform to the above principle is to curve our body from the finger tips to the toes and use the body-lever in the line of that curve. This applies to the local use of arms, wrists or fingers. Another way of using the body-lever is as if it were connected to the hip joint of the leg on which you are standing with a swiveling hinge. Two Wheels. If you assume that you have made a contact with your opponent in the usual manner and you have adopted the curved posture, you will find that you have formed with the opponent roughly two rings or wheels: one with the arms, another with the two bodies. To follow the principle of using the body-lever as described above, the way is to move the wheels as if they were rotated on an axis. According to the purpose of the action the angle of the axis may change, but the forms of the wheels must be retained from the beginning of the action to the end of a throw. “

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Practice will make perfect The above suggestions provided a glimpse of the technical principles we all need to understand and practice if we desire to be efficient in our judo. Of course we need to observe and develop the right opportunities to engage the opponent and be able to select the proper time and in the correct direction in order to maximize upon the identified weaknesses. The incorporation of these principles into our daily practice is both a mental test and a physical challenge. Addressing joints ventures characteristics What physical phenomenon is behind our efficiency? In general, we can state that our body movements and displacements depend in part on the coordinated joints mechanisms. The joints are very important because they link the hard and rigid bones components and provide the abilities to produce different types of movements at different locations. At times they facilitate the sliding of bones over each other, in other instances; they permit additional rotation and angular movements. (Extension, abduction, adduction and circumduction). The joint motions are produced by the synergy of various muscular contractions and if we were without joints, no movement would be possible. Let us quickly review the terms we will use in the following paragraphs: bones, associated cartilages and joints: Bones: They are essentially a collection of tough and rigid form of connective tissue made of calcium salts. They are used to support our weight and protect key organs. In doing so, they give the strength to the body to carry its own weight and even more. Cartilages: They are the strong connective tissue with various degree of elasticity linking different bones. Joints: Are the connecting structures between two or more bones which hold them together to allow various types of movements. A joint can exist between two bones, between a cartilage and a bone or between two cartilages. We recognize three types: Skull type: They are the joints of the skull and are immovable. Vertebral type: They are the joints of vertebral column and are slightly moveable. Limb type: They are the joints of upper and lower limbs and are freely moveable.

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Divisions of Human Skeleton:

As I stated earlier, we cannot address the study of human movement without the minimum understanding of its mechanical components and of key elements that are at play. As such, the human skeleton can be divided into two large entities: Axial and Appendicular. Axial: establishes the axis of human body. It consists of the skull, vertebral column and thoracic cage. The skull forms the bony framework of the head. It consists of 22 different bones that are divided into two groups: bones of the cranium and bones of the face. We include in this group, the vertebral column connecting the trunk, the skull and the appendages. It is composed of 33 vertebrae which are divided into 5 regions: Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, Sacral, and Coccygeal. In the thoracic region, we have the rib cage consisting of a bony enclosure for our vital organs and formed by the sternum and ribs. We have 12 pairs of ribs that are divided into three groups: true ribs, false ribs, and floating ribs. Appendicular: The components define our silhouette, size and contour. It consists of the shoulder girdle, the upper limbs, the pelvic girdle and the lower limbs. Shoulder Girdle: It attaches the upper limb to body trunk and is formed by two bones: clavicle and scapula. Clavicle is a modified long bone while scapula is a pear shaped flat bone that contains the cavity for the shoulder joint. The Upper limbs: There are 30 bones. These are: Humerus, Ulna, Radius, Carpals (8), Metacarpals (5), and Phalanges (14). Pelvic Girdle: There are two pelvic girdles (one for each lower limb) jointed together in the sacral region. The Lower limbs: Each lower limb consists of 30 bones. The bones are; Femur, Tibia, Patella, Tarsals (7), Metatarsals (5), and Phalanges (14).

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Levers and mechanical advantages Now that we have refreshed our basic understanding, let us turn our attention to the joints. Most of our joints are defined as simple machines and frequently referred to as levers. The study of human levers was well documented throughout the years. In the third century BC, Archimedes had declared that if he had been given a place to stand on, he would have moved the entire earth with a lever. Many scientists have since followed his tracks. Several studies pertaining to judo efficiency have demonstrated that the human structure must be warmed up to produce maximum effectiveness. Warm up is not only a good practice to loosen up the articulations and joints, but it also offers direct release of adrenaline, increases the heart rate, enables oxygen to flow in blood vessels and increases the temperature of muscles and their nerve impulse conduction. It was also demonstrated that by adopting the proper Shizen-Tai or natural posture, the judoka has 3.5 times better mechanical advantages while using half of the muscle strength to stay in balance. Further observation tells us that when changing from Shizen-Tai to Jigo-Tai positions, we can displace the location of our center of gravity by as much as 40-45%. When we are assembling the key elements to break the opponent’s posture or constructing the Kuzushi, we make use of different levers. (Each lever is identified by four parts: lever arm, pivot or fulcrum, effort and load). When parts of our body are properly aligned, they constitute a rigid rod or an extended arc capable of rotating about some fixed point that we call fulcrum. We then apply selected muscle strength along those rods to create a moment of force which will assist in displacing a certain amount of resistance or load at some defined point along the axis. We can say that we are in a situation of action-reaction as the contraction of our muscles forms the “action” and the “reaction” part is the load that we want to move with the aid of levers. That load is either within us or located outside of us. Thus, we can visualize a combination of lever actions creating a mechanical advantage to either increase our strength or improve the management of space (speed). Experience tells us that when an improper use of muscles and levers occur this can result in muscle fatigue, unnecessary strains, dehydration and mental exhaustion which will slow down our mobile chain of reaction or disruption the linkage between the various segments involved in our action. The end results are likely to be the loss of balance and lack of efficiency.

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Identification of Types of Levers A cursory look at the interactions between muscles cartilages and bones will identify three types of levers. Class 1: Skull and Neck

The pivot is the place where our skull meets the top of our spine. Our skull is the lever arm and the neck muscles at the back of the skull provide the force (effort) to lift our head up against the weight of the head (load). The load and the resistance being at equal distance to the fulcrum will have a tendency to stabilize. As a consequence, when the neck muscles relax, or when the forces are greater to the load, there is a reaction: our head nods forward. In this kind of lever, the pivot lies between the effort and load. When in full balance and resting comfortably on the shoulders, the head should feel like as if we were suspended in the air by an imaginary sky hook. In such a position, the flow of energy is left undisturbed and we benefit of more mental acuity. When we tilt the head down during a fight, we not only displace 40-45 pounds that we need to cope with, but we also obstruct our reaction time. As with most other animal’s movements, we should try to use the head as a prolongation of our spine and let it guide the direction of our body. This kind of lever is also used as a combined moment of force, when the two opponents hold each other and we witness two directions of movement linked by the single contact point on each other( as in O-Uchi Gari when pushing away the upper limb and drawing forward the lower limb) Class 2 lever: Standing on tip toes

The pivot is at our toe joints and our foot acts as a lever arm. Our calf muscles and Achilles tendon provide the effort when the calf muscle contracts. The load is our body weight and is lifted by the effort (muscle contraction).
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The load is between the pivot and the effort (like a wheelbarrow). The effort force needed is less than the load force, so there is a mechanical advantage. This muscular movement at the back of our legs allows us to move our whole body over a small distance. By taking advantage of the muscles groups located around the waist and abdominal region, we can maximize the tilting capabilities of the upper body and reinforce the displacement actions produced by the lower extremities (Hip-leg-foot-toes). Class 3 lever – Bending our arm

In this case, the pivot is at the elbow and the forearm acts as the lever arm. The biceps muscle provides the effort (force) and bends the forearm against the weight of the forearm and any weight that the hand might be holding is now moved. This kind of lever is more evident when we perform ground work where the arm of the moment of force is shorter. In order to extend the arm of force, one must hold the opponent by adding the weight of the abdomen and even extending the legs outward. When applying Kuzushi, if our hands pull the opponent horizontally, they are likely to serve as shackles that tightly bond his body to ours. Another consideration is to push him back, in this instance, they will serve as rigid rods that will make him turn in the direction of the push and displace his weight about the axis when the force of gravity will have a greater effect. Extend of freedom of joint movement Joints are also subjected to some stress when we try to over reach in selected direction or when undue pressure is being applied at their intersection. You may also have noticed in your practice, that when trying to rotate your body in Tai Sabaki, there is a marked difference in the easiness of the movement if your arms are extended to the front as compared to experiencing a faster move when your arms are more tucked in (flexed) and closer to the body. You may even have shown favoritism towards a turn to the right side or the left. Favoring one side to the other is often seen as a flaw that must be quickly corrected if you are to maximize your flexibility by profiting from the interaction of antagonistic muscles groups contained in the girdle area.

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It is normally expected that the joints flexibility will attain their limits depending upon the structure of the joints. For hyperextension it is estimated the limits of freedom will be attain at about certain degrees: ankle 20 degree, knee 15, hip 30, phalanges 50, wrist 70, elbow15, shoulder 45, spine 30 and neck 55. Limits of flexion through bending and compressing will occur: ankle 45, knee 130, phalanges 30110, wrist 80-90, spine 75, neck 70-90. In the case of supination or rotation inside the joint we normally estimate the limits to be: ankle 0, knee 40, hip 45, phalanges 25, wrist 90, shoulder 70 and spine 70.

What could happen when we overdo it? When we extensively displace some of the elements making the joint connections we are asking for troubles with consequences: 1. We may dislocate it. This is a condition in which the articular surfaces of the joint are abnormally displaced so that one surface loses its contact completely with the other. When a partial contact is still retained, it is better called subluxation. 2. We may cause a sprain: It is the severe pain in the joint caused by ligamentous tear, but without any associated dislocation or fracture. The tear leads to effusion into the ligament and joint causing great pain. What happens when we feel the effect of cold? With the cooling of the joint caused by inaction or cold weather, the viscosity of the synovial fluid increases and stiffness is felt. If the joint is left immobile, the rigidity will persist. It is thus important to move and exercise the joints during the warm up period to facilitate their lubrication.
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Closing remarks We have to remember the important characteristics of the three components that organize the joints: muscles, ligaments and bones; 1. Muscles: The tone of different groups of muscles acting on the joint is the most important and indispensable factor in maintaining the stability. Without muscles, the knee and shoulder would have been unstable and the arches of foot would have collapsed. 2. Ligaments: These are important in preventing any over movement and in guarding against sudden accidental stresses. However they do not help against a continuous strain because once stretched, they tend to remain elongated. 3. Bones: They help in maintaining the stability; they provide the spaces and linkages to the other elements. I can go on and describe the various physical characteristics of the most significant joints used in judo practices, but this essay is not meant to be a bio-mechanical analysis or exposé. Its main purpose is to attract your attention towards the importance of the joints and their potential use for leverage. If you so desire, you can pursue your research about the mechanical functions of the human body with the reading of scholarly books or professional presentations by martial arts specialists and judo teachers. I encourage you to diversify your teaching methods and enrich your presentation-discussion with additional elements of mental preparation and bio-mechanical aspects. We should all take the time to survey our student’s needs and guide them in the direction of excellence. Ronald Désormeaux, Judo Teacher, University of Toronto, Hart House Dojo October 2013 Note: This document contains © copyrights and is registered with the Electronic Data Bank of the National Archives of Canada. Reproduction for non-commercial use is permitted. For additional information please contact: Ronalddesormeaux@Gmail.com

Ronald Désormeaux, Zuihitsu, Random notes about judo No 38-39 “ www.Scribd.com, 2008 Watanabe Jiichi and Avakian Lindy, The Secrets of Judo, Charles E Tuttle, Tokyo, 1960, page 18 iii Attilo Sacripanti, Advances in Judo Biomechanics Research, VDM Vewrlag/Muller, Germany, 2010 iv Koizumi Gunji, Budokwai Quarterly Bulletin, April 1945 republished January 1946, pp. 20-21. .

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