Saturday, 1 June 2013

On the Mat Day 377: Yoshida Sensei

Who are you practising deep half with today?
I've had such a busy week doing freelance translation work at home as well as my full time job that I could not go to class on the usual Wednesday. Still that gave me time to heal up a bit so that I felt really great last night at class. The only thing is I have tweaked my lower back muscles and every time I bend over to touch my toes it cramps. I feel like an old man lol. When I'm properly warmed up I'm good to go though.

Since K-sensei is in the US for the 2013 Mundials and F-sensei was off in Handa teaching his usual Friday night, Yoshida taught the class. I think this is the 2nd time he has taught. This time, being influenced by his trip to Brazil, he taught it in their style. The one they use at the Barbosa academy. He mentioned that the academy usually has about 40-50 guys training at the same time in a space twice the size of our dojo. Sparring is only short rounds and people usually do about 3-4 then take off. He said they are very relaxed compared to the Japanese. He mentioned at the end of the class that he asked a lot of the top players what is the most important thing to improve BJJ. They all said drilling but this is not the drilling that Japanese think of. Repetition for the sake of just doing it as many times as possible. It's drilling on position, thinking about it, discussing it with a partner and working through it, stopping talking, testing and perfecting their favourite techniques.

The class format was as follows:
  • Walk around the room and chat a little (I see this building team rapport)
  • Usual warmup of shrimps up and down room etc
  • Deep half techniques with lots of commentary and self-experience of what works during sparring and competitions (I liked how he went through a couple of scenarios, talking about the importance of disturbing their balance, how the opponent will probably try to pass your guard and then what you should do to stop it, and finally troubleshooting)
  • 10 minutes we all lined up for king of the hill, 1 guy plays guard, guys who line up have to pass his guard. If you pass his guard, you get to play bottom until passed. Yoshida told me to put my hands in my belt against a young kid (12 years old or so). That was hard.
  • Sparring at 3 minutes per round
  • Finish at 9.30
  • Do whatever we like, go home, build muscle, practice techniques (I chose to recap the deep half stuff with Yanai-san)

I think Yoshida will make a great teacher and I look forward to him teaching his own dojo in the future so I can attend. He brought both a relaxed feel to the session yet at the same time a rigid, structured feel. He gave deep thoughtful explanations about the techniques and he used strong commands to prompt us as seen in many traditional martial arts such as "Gather around everyone", "Feet together....bow". It was a good mix of soft and hard. It really made me think "Could I teach a class with such in depth knowledge?" I doubt it. I don't give as much thought as him into positions and movements and this gave me food for thought.

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