The importance of crash mats

After hardening my arteries with the likes of goose, chocolate and whisky (I pretty much only ever have the latter two at Christmas, I am good most of the time, just don’t mention the pizza!), I was extremely glad that there was a Judo session session last night.

The majority of it was spent on pure technique on the crash mats. It has been a long time since I can remember doing as much as this, and I feel so much better for it. Continously taking turns to work on throws, but with the ability to do it with full commitment (including “going to ground”) without hurting someone.

You see, one problem I have is not completing forward throws: Making the entry, then pretty much forgetting kuzushi and wondering why nothing happens! Back in the day I could never complete Ippon Seoinage for just this reason: I’d have Uke loaded onto my back, but would be forgetting to turn to complete the throw.

Full-commitment crash mat work helps get over this mental barrier of only doing half of the throw.

Thinking about it, this is partly why I have such success with sacrifice techniques: The sacrifice element is the full commitment! And I am very comfortable with doing that. It will be golden when I get to the same place with forward techniques.

Two techniques were highlighted. One being to take a cross-sleeve grip, then just use that to attempt a forward throw (such as Tai Otoshi. For Uke, it doesn’t necessarily feel threatening so could be successful.

It reminds me a little of a version of Sasae Tsuri Komi Ashi that I do: Just take the sleeve grip and go for it! Again, very much works on the element of surprise, but even if Uke is only shocked into imbalance it is a good set-up for another throw.

The second technique was taking a dominant back grip, then as Uke attempts to rise, let them, and at the same time use your free hand to grab their leg and commit to taking them to the ground. Because of my height, I don’t tend to go for leg grabs much, but this one felt very natural so I will give it a spin. I do Sumi Gaeshi from the same grip, so it is nice to have both directions covered…

A final thing to mention is an element of the Randori afterwards. I am impressed at this club at the sheer determination of the Juniors when sparring with me (I.e. someone who is 2-3 times their weight!). They just don’t give up and try technique after technique. I need to strongly try and develop that attitude when paired with those heavier than me, or a higher grade, or both!

Leave a Reply