Category Archives: Article

Happy New Year Ojukan!

Happy New Year!

The staff at Ojukan hope you have had a great 2017 and are happy and healthy and looking forward to all of the great possibilities that lie ahead for 2018.

And what better way to get the year off to a fresh start than by dropping in to the dojo for Judo practice!

1st practice of 2018
Ojukan returns to our normal practice schedule tomorrow, Tuesday night, January 2nd. Wash your gi. Come on in. Work off some of those holiday desserts! And get a start on your 2018 Judo goals and practice.

New Pricing for 2018
Our expenses are going going up. We need to adjust our rates to accommodate. Fortunately, our dues are only going up $5/month and are still the best martial arts bargain in town. Moving forward the monthly rate will be $45, and if you pay for 3 months, the price = $120 (a $15 discount).

Recent Promotions
Last month we held testing, and two of our students were promoted:

~Riccardo Morescalchi was promoted to yonkyu (blue belt)
~Phong Ly was promoted to sankyu (3rd-degree brown belt)

Congratulations, Riccardo and Phong, much deserved promotions. Keep it up. We all want to see black belts around your waist in the future. You’ve made great progress.

Help Promote Ojukan
Online marketing on the Internet is an interesting process. Right now Ojukan judo comes up on Google searches, but its not always near the top of the search results, so the public doesn’t necessarily see our club when they go looking for places to practice on the west side. So one thing each of you can do to help out, and it wont cost you a single penny, is to submit a review of Ojukan in Yelp! Yep, Yelp reviews bump businesses up higher in Google’s search results.

Follow the link below and give us a good word:

Training Goals for 2018
Do you have your training goals written down for 2018? Do you have goals? If not, you’re in luck because its a new year, time for thinking ahead, thinking about the kind of life and lifestyle you want for yourself. January is a great time to review where you’ve been and where you plan to go. Please feel free to talk it over with the Ojukan staff. That’s why we’re here! Some of you want to start competing, some of you want to earn a gold medal, some of you want to earn a promotion in rank, others want to get in better condition, lose weight, improve flexibility, some of you want to work on shaping and perfecting their favorite (or not so favorite!) techniques!

And the staff wants to improve how we teach. Always.

It’s all good.

2018 IJF Rule Changes – What’s Old Is New Again

1. Waza-Ari-Awasatte-Ippon is being reinstated. That means two waza-ari equals ippon. Yuko has not been reinstated. That means what was formerly yuko is considered waza-ari.

2. Under previous rules when uke rolls over his back, a waza-ari would be given. Under the new rules it seems there is such a thing as a rolling ippon provided “there is no break during the landing”.

3. Landing on the elbow or hands is counted as waza-ari.

4. Bridging (on the back) by uke has long resulted in ippon. But in the past year, referees having been giving hansoku-make for uke landing on the front of his head. I guess you could call this a front bridge. Now it’s official: front-bridging is hansoku-make However, just because uke’s head hits the mat doesn’t mean it’s automatically hansoku-make for uke. For throws like drop seoi-nage, drop sode and drop koshi-guruma, sometimes uke’s head just hits the mat whether he likes it or not. In such cases, it’s not hansoku-make

5. There is a type of osaekomi ocassionally seen whereby tori has both legs underneath uke. This used to be recognized as a legitimate hold-down. Not anymore. This is not osaekomi anymore.

6. Golden score can only be won by a technical score (waza-ari or ippon) or hansoku-make

This one is a bit vague but it seems that shido cannot win during Golden Score anymore. Only waza-ari, ippon and hansoku-make can decide a contest. If this interpretation is correct it means that during Golden Score, assuming both players have no scores and no shido, the match doesn’t end even if someone gets one or two shidos. Only scores and hansoku-make count.

7. Not taking a classic grip will be penalised by shido if there is not an immediate attack

When the rules were revised after the 2016 Rio Olympics, it was initially decided that the refs would give more time for unconventional grips (e.g. cross grip) compared to before that where there needed to an immediate attack. Now, it seems to have reverted back to immediate attack for any grip that is deemed unconventional. The following trips all require “immediate” attack other shido will be given.

8. Leg grabs will be given shido each time.

When leg grabs were first banned, it resulted in immediate hansoku-make. After the 2016 Rio Olympics, the first leg grab is given shido and the second hansoku-make. Now, a leg grab is considered a normal shido infringement so you could theoretically infringe the no-leg-grab rule twice and still survive. The third time of course results in hansoku-make.

9. Strangles are often done with tori holding onto one of uke’s legs. If that leg is stretched straight, a matte will be called. A situation where tori could previously injure the legs and muscles of uke.

10. Just because uke is on both knees doesn’t mean it’s newaza. If tori has grip control and attacks immediately, he can score. However, if there is a break in action, matte will be called.

No gi tai otoshi (from 50/50 clinch)

Having recently practiced no-gi Judo, I’m reminded that no-gi Judo can be used to sharpen a judoka’s technique, because without a gi to grip and pull on, focus becomes much more intense on good positioning, good kuzushi, good movement.  Everybody should have no-gi in their curriculum.  So, having said that, here’s a no-gi tai otoshi, taught by Rick Hawn:

USJF online membership renewal app (instructions)

It’s a little funky but USJF assures me they are working on improving their site.  So be patient.  However, here are the patented steps for using the USJF online membership renewal app:


Administrative Manager
Dear Mr. Engel,

We are working on getting all of the site in working order. To sign up online, please do the following.

1. Go to
2. Click on Store. Do not click on the link underneath Store.
3. Scroll down to Primary membership.
4. Click on Add To Cart.
5. A box will pop up calle Cart. Click on Proceed to Checkout.
6. An Agreement Policy page will come up. Number 1 & 2 needs to be checked Yes. There is a signature box also. Sign with your mouse if you do not have a touch screen and then click Proceed.
7. The next screen you will be able make sure the fee and type of membership is correct. If so, enter the billing information for your credit card. You will add the actual credit card number on a different page.
8. The next page is your membership information. Enter your information and then click next.
9. The next page is Term of Service. Click the box and then click next.
10. The next page Payment Method. Enter the information for your credit card.

After you are finished you should receive an email saying everything went through.

Have you ever tried hard to relax?

(reprinted from link above)

“A spider met a centipede while hurrying down the street,
”How do you move at such a speed, with all so many feet?”
”I do not have to contemplate to keep them all in line,
But if I start to concentrate they’re tangled all the time!

— Katherine Craster
Photo credit: Airbear Photography

Photo credit: Airbear Photography

Sanjay Kabir Bavikatte

Have you ever tried hard to relax? The very idea of relaxation seems antithetical to effort. I used to believe that relaxation, like love, fun and laughter has to be spontaneous and any conscious effort makes it contrived and therefore fake…. until this happened.

I view myself as an easy-going person and generally cool under pressure. But of late, I’ve had occasion to doubt myself. In nearly every training session at the Judo dojo I frequented, I was told to relax. And this was usually in the middle of intense sparring or when practicing techniques with a partner. Just when I thought I was getting a handle on things and I would hear a voice from the corner of the dojo yell: ‘RELAX!!’ Which of course had the opposite effect.

The founder of Judo, Jigoro Kano used to say that the cornerstone of judo is seiryoku zen’yō (maximum efficiency, minimum effort). He would illustrate this with the concept of jū yoku gō o seisu (suppleness overcomes stiffness). Good Judo according to Kano is about balance, speed and technique rather than brute strength. The hallmark of a great judoka was his or her ability to use the laws of Nature or physics, to one’s advantage.

This is a lot harder than it sounds, because paradoxically it takes hundreds of hours of training and unlearning for the body to behave naturally. A keen sense of balance, leverage and timing is what enables a judoka to take advantage of the opponent’s strength and embody the principle of ‘maximum efficiency, minimum effort.’ But at the heart of this is the principle of ‘suppleness overcomes stiffness’ that in a nutshell means ‘RELAX.’

Relaxation in Judo is the ‘springy bamboo’ variety rather than the ‘lie on the hammock and nap’ variety. In fact relaxing in judo is so important that it is the one thing that will prevent the body from breaking down. Judo is after all a high impact sport, and stiffness and overt use of strength leads to exhaustion and all kinds of debilitating injuries in the long run. I constantly witnessed judokas well into their sixties and seventies throwing strapping youth effortlessly, without breaking a sweat. The young bucks on the other hand would gasp for air and collapse from muscular exhaustion.

In my own case, it took me months of training to notice the slight tensing of my shoulders every time I performed a technique. Even when I managed to throw my opponent, the sensei would say that the technique was effective, but it was still poor Judo. He would add that I was only able to throw my opponent because of my strength and if he were stronger and heavier my technique wouldn’t work.

This insight didn’t stop me from tensing up. Even while my mind understood what it meant to relax, my body seemed programmed to tense up. It took several more months for my body to slowly begin overriding its bracing instinct. I still remember the day it began to happen. One of evening after a particularly humiliating performance where a fifteen-year-old had wiped the tatami mat with me, one of the senior teachers called me aside. He looked at me earnestly and said: ‘You must trust your Judo.’

The penny finally dropped when I heard this piece of advise. It reminded me of what the great Judo technician Kyuzo Mifune used to say: ‘the aim of judo is to demonstrate the living laws of motion.’ I didn’t go on to win an Olympic gold after this. I am still a middling judoka who occasionally tenses up. But I relax more than I tense up. I figured that I needed to get out of my own way. To truly ‘relax’ in Judo speak, is to not only get the technique right, but to override the impulse to use force and trust that the laws of Nature will do the rest.

There is a lesson here for life. To truly relax is to do what is necessary and let things work out the way they should. Judo in its essence, shorn of all the competition and medals, isn’t about winning or losing but displaying beauty as a form of truth. The old Judo masters constantly speak of ‘beautiful Judo’ and disdain the ‘winning at all costs’ approach. For these teachers, Judo is a method to transform the judoka’s life into a work of art. As the Zen saying goes: ‘pay great attention to the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.’ And I would add: ‘don’t forget to RELAX.’