Zuihitsu-Random Notes About Judo by Ronald Desormeaux

Judo-Ron- 84- Dynamics of judo practices
A necessary evolution
Judo was meant to be an effective discipline for the development, integration and intelligent use of all
our energy sources being the combination of physical and mental power.
This kind of discipline and way of life originally found in the old Japanese Bujutsu or martial arts of the
middle age was re-introduced and transformed by Dr Jigoro Kano in 1882 to respond to the demands of
a new area promoted by the Meiji restoration.
The period where samurai fought for their Lords and needed to offer their life during every combat was
coming to an end. In the decade that followed, the best of martial techniques and procedures were
either absorbed in the new military or found their ways into the administrative systems. The new Kano
Ju-Jutsu system analysed some of those combat techniques and modified them to exclude the eternal
risks of receiving extreme injuries or demanding constant fighting for the samurai survival. With an
optimum and meticulous selection, Dr Kano incorporated them into a pedagogical syllabus of the newly
formed school, the Kodokan. As an ensemble, they represented a new moral and a social venture that
could be thought and practiced by the general Japanese society.
The new approach was promulgated as a cultural phenomenon comprising several dimensions: a return
to the best practices of the old Ju- Jutsu without the danger of injuries, the provision of an effective
system of self- defense and a mode of physical education. Dr Kano hoped that the followers of his
system would strengthen their physical and mental powers that could later be of services to better serve
the society.
Challenges are met.
In its early years of development, as with any new product, Dr Kano and his follow judoka had to test the
vitality and usefulness of their system against rival schools who still practiced some effective jujutsu
techniques and who also wanted to carve a piece of the educational niche with the blessing of the
Imperial House. Dr Kano authorised his peers to accept the challenges and endorsed the rivalcompetitions and after establishing some preliminary rules he even supervised some of the
tournaments. The early success of the Kano-Kodokan-judo lead to its national recognition as well as the
beginning of the new era for judo: judo became known as a sport. It was soon followed with organized
competitions between geographical areas, districts, inter-schools etc.
As a consequence of judo’s entry as a new and challenging sport, the training abilities and means to
engage into Shiai were somewhat transformed. New goals and accents appeared in the Randori and
Shiai preparations to support the immediate purpose of obtaining superiority and fame. That new
approach caught on and became a major pedagogical dimension of the Kodokan training systems. Judo
was no longer regarded as a pure self-defence discipline but included offensive and defensive tactics to
overcome opponents.

Zuihitsu-Random Notes About Judo by Ronald Desormeaux
The new emphasis towards Shiai promoted new technical skills and promoted greater pride in both the
individual and the Kodokan School since both entities potentially gained more personal respect and
even the odd moments of glory. It was soon evident that all these new dimensions had to come with a
price to pay of some sort or compromise: On the positive side, more students-combatants with greater
skills with a definite concentration towards the individual performance and self-development and on the
less positive side, there was a potential weakening of the second principle exposed by Dr Kano as the
one where the new acquired skills were to be at the service of bettering the society. That component of
the doctrine became more and more difficult to visualize.
Dr Kano was first very apprehensive to retain those new dimensions and as a corrective measure, he
insisted on the regular practices of Kata and Randori as the core of his Kodokan doctrine and curriculum.
In all the technical drills and instructions, he was insistent on making full use of principles of Kuzushi,
Tsukuri (tai-sabaki) and Kake as they were the corner stones used to apprehend and master every
opportunity contained in any given match. He favored the use of the body- movements and leverages
one in order to make maximum profit from the natural posture and always encouraged the right usage
of all the coordinated energies (mental and physical) in securing a throw at the right time and with the
most appropriate technique. His Go-Kyo syllabus was revised several times to ensure that the
complementary techniques would remain faithful to these principles and easily followed during the
initiation preparation for all students of his system.
After his death in 1938, judo as a sport became very popular and gained the international reputation
that we know today. With the change of competition rules over the years, some of training aspects or
formulae were diluted or replaced by other forms of active training cycles associated with the
consequences of the proximity of combatants. Different choreography of actions – reaction took place
in the barycenter of the two opponents. Breaking balance or Kuzushi with a misalignment of the trunk
became more of a vertical novelty demanding additional stamina and physical endurance. The need to
affect large movements to entice and control the opponent became less visible and therefore used less
frequently. Before the successes obtained with this new approach, it soon took over as a training
Commensurate with this approach favoring faster results, the tradition has moved on in many quarters
and stables and even today, numerous teachers and coaches are favoring this approach in order to have
their student gain victory with every one of their appearances. In their rush to obtain results, some have
lost sight of the importance to maintain equilibrium between the new approaches and the teaching of
the older aspects of harmony, distance management, dynamic movements for evasion, use of
subterfuge, extension of positioning to gain from the addition or diversion of the lines of force etc.
There is a constant pressure to produce champions and the pool of potential candidates is very limited.
Judoka who aspire to become champions need to be identified early and groomed for the future.
Unfortunately, the basic and comprehensive training associate to the mastery of all technical skills
remains a long adventure. To jump too early in the championship arena has its consequences and
amongst them we well identify an incomplete judoka. A winner he or she may become, but seldom a
master of a discipline.

Zuihitsu-Random Notes About Judo by Ronald Desormeaux

Early style off fighting depicted on roman walls.

Temporary use of Jigo Tai

Shiai training under scrutiny
When observing judo shai nowadays, and in accordance with new International rules (exception to
selected Osae-komi during Ne- Waza) we seldom hear references pertaining to techniques of developing
awareness for the environment, properly assessing the opponent and how to make a more superstitious
use of the Tokui Waza. Absent from the current vocabulary we also note the references to neutralizing
the opponent’s preliminary attacks and centralization the combined energies (mental and physical) at
the point of least resistance.
On the other hand, new fighters have made substantial improvements and modifications to ways and
means to affect selected, popular and close-range techniques with more emphasis placed upon actionreaction, kuzushi with the upper body, and bending the opponent to force the upper body to fall outside
the line of stability normally found in a natural posture. Those pressured-entrapments are very popular
to solicit quick responses and are demanding a lesser need for movements.
With thousands of repetitions and drills performed with different partners and opponents involving
those limited technical selections, (seoi-nage, uchi- mata,tai -otoshi o uchi- gari, harai-goshi, seoi -otoshi
etc.),elite judoka have perfected their skills over the years. The will to win and score have become the
leitmotiv. The new-comers will often observe these champions with awe and try to imitate them
without due preparation. Both groups have to remember that be and remain a champion, the judoka
must face, solve and master all the psychological, physiological and the technical aspects of every mach.
It is a reality that success speaks for itself. Gold medalists rejoice and savour their fame, while the less
fortunate who came in second place feel a certain blame for not having been at their best. They are
forced to re-assess their outputs and adjust their courses of action. Some will take on the new challenge,
while others will slowly disappear from the international scene unless motivated by some other
incentives. With the numbers of Shiai found internationally, contestants are always in preparation for
their next challenge. It is unfortunate that the new champions are for most too busy in preparing for
their upcoming challenges that they seldom have sufficient time to devote towards returning to learn
and practice the other dimensions contained in the judo world.
Judo will be developed infinitely and there cannot be any limit whatever for the perfection of any feat.
(technique). K. Mifune

Zuihitsu-Random Notes About Judo by Ronald Desormeaux
Judo under the International rules
Let us examine the general conditions imposed by the internal rules to engage into combat nowadays
Let us try to determine the theory of potential offensive and defensive manoeuvres.
We all realize that in either situation, there is a process of mental preparation and decision making
made from an appreciation or awareness of the situation that authorize us to engage or defend against
the opponent. We note the notion of engagement is no longer associated with life and death and
pertains more to overcoming a known opponent. To win and to score still need the adequate or mental
appreciation that will precede the physical action of the body who moves into position and which is
followed by a selection and implementation the appropriate technique. Whatever decision made, there
must be a united and fluid process that ensure the intelligent and maximum use of energy. We
therefore have an agglomerate of mental and physical processes that need to work in coordinationunison to be functional efficient. Otherwise we will encounter some time gaps of different proportions
and even hesitations that can be taken advantage of by the opponent.
Opportunities and limitations
Combat strategies and tactics have changed. The foreseen and anticipated situation for engagement is
no longer a surprise. Subterfuge and choice of venue to engage into favorable conditions for the combat
supremacy have been eliminated. There are no more war mask, armour, and weapon and protection
gear. New rules must prevail.

The medieval samurai present at the KODOKAN JUDO INSTITUTE in Tokyo

Zuihitsu-Random Notes About Judo by Ronald Desormeaux

IJF rules
Some articles of the IJF rules now prescribe the dimension, length and composition of the costume.
There is a protocol to follow when entering, during and after each match; the fighting space is limited,
the duration of the combat is restricted to four or five minutes; each contest begins with a standing
natural posture and a standard kumikata or grip; engaging in ground work or Newaza must be
continuous and follow a good attempt at standing throws; there are over 25 cases of infringements to
the rules to be considered and some are more severe than others but all counting against the defaulter.
Is there still room to manoeuvre under those conditions? Yes , providing we understand the restrictions
imposed by a deliberate avoidance of taking the kumikata, the use of extra defensive positions, the
making false attack without breaking the opponent balance, the use of abnormal gips of the sleeve such
as the pistol or pocket grip or that trying to hug the opponent with two hands are forbidden. Judoka
need to understand and work to take advantage of the imposed rules. Let us try to discern some
Judo combat: Mere winning by dint of physical strenght or trick is said to be an immature stage of judo.

K. Mifune, Cannon of Judo, Kodansha Press, 1963
Awareness and identification of the opponent.
Before each match, intelligence about the opponent is essential. The background, the success story, the
reputation, the judo school frequented, the immediate support team, the number of matches lost or
gain against whom, the favorite techniques, the number of injuries and the principal tactics used to
unbalance the other are readily available. You can even go as far as estimate what is their disposition if
they wear the white or blue judogi. Much of the information can be obtained from training films,
training camps, training partners or adversaries which can tell a story.
Awareness of the environment during the first minute.
When the opponent approach the combat area, what can you read from the posture, stride, the steps
forward, the facial expressions and the energy level displayed. Is there any visible injury or impediment
that can influence his comportment. How preoccupied is the athlete with the coach signals and last
minute instructions or the presence of the foreign or supportive public.

Zuihitsu-Random Notes About Judo by Ronald Desormeaux
Discovering the first kumikata
There are many forms of kumikata and some statistics revealed that 65% have been made from the right
posture. Look out for the placement of the hands on the sleeve and lapel; a strong grip at the back of
the neck may reveal the intentions to suppress you by forcing you to bend down and thus limiting your
field of vision, restricting your moves and tactical manoeuvres. The sleeve grip at the elbow may give
away the intention to perform the kuzushi from the side and not directly facing you. The forward lapel
grip is a sign of more flexibility and may be used to lift, push, and pull at will. It is quite natural to apply a
technique the moment the opponent reveals a broken form (kuzushi) but is more important to read,
while breaking down, the opponent’s intention quickly and apply a technique the moment just before
his broken form is revealed. It is most important that you assume vigilance and control during that first
moment of contact.
Taking the initiative or lead
In judo, like in all athletic sports, one must, in order to gain victory, surpass the opponent in mental
power, technical skills and physical stamina. Such mastery is brought about through being in harmony
with the environment and not fighting the elements head on. The judoka must ride with the tides and
with appropriate composure take the initiative and quickly set his sails to gain the maximum input from
these outside sources. One has to be prepared to read or understand the conditions, under which the
fight is taking place, review his tools or technical baggage’s and be ready to deploy all his energies at the
suitable time to set proper sail.
Take the lead and you will have command of the others. Japanese proverb
Respecting the form of gentleness (Ju-No-Ri)
When in the standing position, you must not act against the force of the other but should try to follow it
or use it in extension by an adroit modification or movement of your body (tai-sabaki) so that you do not
feel the whole strength of the push or pull coming at you or being applied. In short, the principle is to
pull in response to a push and to push in response to a pull and use your movement to place the other
opponent in a disadvantaged situation.
Ancient texts of Ju- Jutsu often referred to this form of gentleness a the WA or accord where opponents
would perform effective natural movements and technical skills to permeate or blend with each other
while assuming some control over the deployment of each other’s strength. The late Sensei K. Tomiki
professor of judo at the Waseda University and member of the Kodokan Special Direction Committee
wrote in 1956, in his book JUDO with Appendix Aikido that the ancient records of the Ryuko-No- Maki
illustrated the meaning of this ACCORD in the following words:
If the enemy turns upon us, we meet him; if he leaves, we let him leave. Facing the enemy, we
accord with him. Five and five are ten. Two and eight are ten. One and nine are ten. Etc. All this shows accord.

K. Tomiki, Judo, with Appendix Aikido, Ky0do Printing, 1956, page 53

Zuihitsu-Random Notes About Judo by Ronald Desormeaux
More experiences to be discovered
These simple examples tend to support the threshold levels of our perception of both the environment
and our knowledge of the opponent. After the initial appreciation, one has to focus at the next minute
of the encounter when the opponent’s displacement or the immobility will play a considerable influence
on the actions and the outcomes of the match. A longer time frame to proceed for taking advantages of
the opportunity or follow your tactical plan will be obstructed with the arrival of exhaustion, muscle
fatigue, stress, more hesitations, slower reflexes, doubts and inactions that will give the advantage to
the opponent. Your judgement may be temporarily derailed and your choice of reaction for offensive or
defense manoeuvres may become insufficient to the deal efficiently with the situation.
More about the management of space during the judo match.
Another dimension to consider: the management of space often called Mai-ai. It is thought in many
martial arts and can be translated into the management or coordination of intervals or spaces between
two opponents during a fight. It is a complex concept, incorporating not only the distance between both
opponents, but also the time which it is necessary to cross or exceed this distance, taking into
consideration the angle and the rhythm of attack.
The opponents can be at arm’s length, far away or very near to each other. Those different distances will
require that the physical actions of the attacking or retreating body make intelligent use of the
displacement either directly traversing the distance or by using transversal manoeuvers. We generally
call this displacement the Tai-Sabaki which is an integral part of the Tsukuri phase or general approach.
Competitors and fighters need to take the time to appreciate and practice the different approaches of
Tai-Sabaki through the regular study of the basic techniques covered in the Gokyo and in formal forms
of Kata, especially the Nage- No- Kata where there are ample examples of different strides length used
during different sets such as: Uki-Otoshi, Seoi- Nage, Tsuri- Komi etc.
It is to be remembered that a good judoka should never appear to have a preconceived action plan but
proceed with an open mind to be able to foresee precisely what is happening and remain mentally and
physically flexible to exercise maximum freedom of action to intelligently and efficiently cope with
given situations.
You cannot catch the tiger’s cub unless you dare to step into its cave. (Japanese proverb)

After gaining the sufficient level of perception and proceeding with your plan of action to secure your
goal, you will need to maintain and synchronize your mental commitment or spiritual drive or attitude
with your physical attributes in order to ensure that you are in command of and in control of both the
will power and the physical and technical means to succeed. Do not be hypnotized by the reactions of
the opponent. Remain calm and do the natural thing that is required of you. Launch your technique with
drive and determination and obtain the desired success.
The superior man is compliant but not blindly yielding.


Zuihitsu-Random Notes About Judo by Ronald Desormeaux
Have a good training session and keep asking questions to discover the truth and be bold in your
Ronald Desormeaux, Rokudan, Judo teacher, University of Toronto, Hart House dojo
November 2014

Kano demonstrating the principles of the hip techniques

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