Discussion and investigation into selected judo topics by Ronald Desormeaux

Judo Ron 18: Profile of great judoka
Can we really draw a photo-robot of great judoka? For the past hundreds of years they came in all size and colours, each one displaying its own personality and characteristics. Kano sensei was a short and fragile man with great intellect, courage and determination. Yokohama sensei was known to be a strong and powerful judoka while Mifune sensei was almost weightless and displayed with great stamina, flexibility and creativeness. Of thousands of others we can describe their physical appearance or what deed they have accomplished. There is no one profile available to sum up what a great judoka is or ought to be. There are vast amounts of profiles which contain the technical, the physical and mental attributes that made them unique in nature. Trying to identify one dominant profile in the martial arts literature is next to impossible. The general picture given in the different writings is that of great warriors or exponents had extraordinary goals and great minds that guided their actions. It sums up the description of great fighters as the true warrior prevailing without unsheathing their weapons. In judo we have a similar difficulty in determining what constitute the true judoka. Can we assess the judoka by only what we see on the tatami or are there more to it? We surely and easily can recognize the physical dimensions of the competitor, the students or the master-sensei. Do we make sufficient effort to discover their mental strengths and character which render them a model for others to emulate? I believe that the method chosen to capture this dimension is through the study of Shin Gi Tai. The technical mastery (Gi) can not be achieved without the other two elements that are Shin (mental) and Tai (physical health). In my view, this triumvirate is the key by which great judoka are revealed and which should crown who they are. “There are no extraordinary men, only ordinary men in extraordinary situations”

Discussion and investigation into selected judo topics by Ronald Desormeaux

It is my understanding that several judoka of renown have achieved the inner harmony of these three factors and have realised both peace and control of their strength at different times in their career. Some have achieved their mastery early in their exposure to judo while others have taken years of hard practices to reach their supreme goal. I need not list some names for fear of missing a lot of great judoka, but I recognized that within every one of them, there was a commitment and dedication to become a better person. Likewise, our self-improvement journey is made of a thousand miles and that every single step we accomplish leads towards our final goal. Tai or physical health can be summarized by our overall strength. There are two kinds of strength, the outer and the inner. The outer strength is linked with good nutrition, flexibility, muscle coordination and stamina. It follows a cycle; it grows with practice and exercises and becomes more visible at our peak period yet, with times, will fade away. The inner strength is more linked to the strong character building, the courage to address difficult situations and the mental control being exercised before a commitment is made. It is unnoticeable and hidden from view; yet, it is there inside and stand at the ready for when called upon. When we refer to Gi, we encompass all the techniques, Waza, movements, tactics and strategies associated towards the development of the fighting abilities and the learning to use both offensive and defensive skills in proper space and time to surprise and overcome the opponent. Shin relates to the superior talents and attributes of the intelligence. It is made of the capacity to observe, to feel, to assimilate, to assess, to judge and react in due course to overcome or master a situation. Kano sensei refers to it as the intelligent use of energy for the greater welfare of others. Having attained a high level of experience, many judoka develop an ability to further exploit their potentials through visualisation, meditation and sensory acuity. There are also, ancient Yoga exercises that can be practiced to improve one's mental and physical balance. The cumulative effects of such practices improve the general conditioning and well being of the judoka who can pursue his developmental goals even longer. Ancient masters such as Ueshiba and Mifune sensei were able develop an infinite ability by which they could to assess and direct their inner strength as desired. Serious meditation and mental exercises alone can not render you a super judoka. Nevertheless, it is possible to learn and acquire better ways to observe and capture the external signs which normally accompany a displacement or a forthcoming action by an opponent. Sen No Sen is the expression we used when describing how one can anticipate the movement of others and act first to nullify, distract or used that movement to advantage.

Discussion and investigation into selected judo topics by Ronald Desormeaux

To further develop the Sen No Sen abilities, we need to exercise our ability to observe, detect, seek, memorize and learn new things. Likewise, we need to employ our energies with greater intelligence. We need to curtail our movements that have no or little effect and make better use of our displacement to maximise its impact. Our capacity to observe and react in proper time might benefit from our recollection of natural principles. 1. Equilibrium or balance. There is no isolated event in the universe. All things are complementary to one another. One activity starts, another follows in a chain reaction dispersed in time. From death comes life. When we know a summit, we can find a low point. There are nights and days, front and back as well as action and reaction. Mystics will say that there is Yin and Yang. 2. The Extremes. A straight line tends to curve at the infinity. When two counterbalancing forces are carried to their limits, they look identical. We can be surprised or blinded by a brilliant light as effectively as by darkness. 3. Attraction. Masses and volume have some influence upon each other. All actions are interrelated and one movement may ignite or influence another. The same is true for whatever we share with others will likely come back to us in different forms. 4. Change. All living forms are in a constant state of change or mutation. These transformations are at times minute and under different circumstances can be of enormous magnitude. These mutations are appearing either within a sequential or cyclical moment. Should it stop to be animated or transformed, a reversing trend sets it and death is inevitable. When observing how some masters moved about the tatami, one can recognize that they made greater use of Hara Gi or the abdominal strength and appeared to be able to read the mind of their opponents through their acute senses of audio, touch and sight. They seemed to be capable of establishing a special rapport with other individuals and capture a myriad of vibrations with which they were able to interpret their intentions and steal the offensive accordingly. It seems that great judoka have exercised their ability to observe, detect, seek, learn new things from their experiences and converted these experiences into practical applications. Their mental capacities were frequently developed by exercising greater attention to details of observed objects, situation or people. They patterned their behaviour to be in harmony with the laws of nature. Most lead simple, interesting, challenging life. "There is no secret except in the mind of the seeker.
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Can we learn from past great judoka and be in harmony both on the mat and in our life?