Tag Archives: judo

Ojukan Judo’s New Location

5749 NW Cornelius Pass Road, Hillsboro, OR 97124

Angel’s Boot Camp – Location of Ojukan Judo

2021 Update: Angel’s Boot Camp has moved on, and this business no longer owns the space. However OJUKAN JUDO is still here! Still the same address, still using the same cool sprung floor for awesome ukemi practice + we have excellent Dollamur mats on top of the sprung floor (https://dollamur.com/ma-mma-roll-mats).

Sensei Joan Miller, Awarded International B Judo Referee

Joan Ploem Miller
20 mins near La Asunción, Costa Rica

Very happy to have been award an International B (Continental) Judo referee along with 3 other Northwest Referee, Julie Koyama, Samuel William (Suyehira) and Patrick Lo along with other friends Diane Samia, David David J. Ellis, Bill Graves, Angela de Bye and Diane Manganero

Posted 4/19/2018

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:

Ojukan Celebrates 50th Anniversary, Sunday August 27th!

50th Anniversary BBQ

Sunday August 27th, 1PM – 5PM

13213 SW Kleier Drive
Hillsboro OR 97123

Celebrate with our Dojo family.  If you would like, bring a side dish, dessert, or beverages to share.  Dojo will provide burgers and hotdogs + cake and soda.  There’s a swimming pool as well.

PLEASE RSVP TO: flugenblar@gmail.com

Ojukan-50th-Picnic-Invite-Rev2  (download the flyer)


Ojukan Policy & Snow Days

Some of you may have noticed the possibility of snow early next week in the local weather forecasts. So now is a good time to share Ojukan Judo’s bad weather policy.
If the Hillsboro school district closes down schools due to snow or bad weather, Ojukan will close practice that night.
You don’t have to call people, rush to find the right web page, or figure out anything the hard way. Just watch the news – we honor the same closure decisions as the Hillsboro school district.
In the mean-time, Keep On Throwing!

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.’

What Every Athlete Can Learn From Judokas


What Every Athlete Can Learn From Judokas

While judo athletes (judokas) don’t receive much, if any, national attention, there is a lot to be learned from this intense sport and the athletes that compete at its highest level. With the exception of the Olympic games and some martial arts circles, most judokas go unknown throughout their career. The sport of judo places extreme demands on an athlete’s body and mind. Having worked with judokas for the past three-and-a-half years, I believe there are some things every athlete can learn from judo.

As a quick background, I was first exposed to judo when I met two judokas—now my good friends—on the national team at the Olympic Training Center. Several months later, I landed an internship at the Training Center, working with their teammates. I have learned a lot from working with judo athletes—in fact, I cannot think of any other athletes I would enjoy working with more than the handful of judokas I currently train.


There is something about this sport that is mesmerizing to watch. I go to practices whenever possible to watch my athletes in action, and I’ve traveled with them to tournaments. Honestly, judo is the only sport that has ever made me want to literally jump into the middle of a live event and participate. I was invited to participate in a practice and, while I had no idea what I was doing, I had a great time learning. Why? Because the athletes working with me had the patience and integrity not to snap at me for making mistakes.

Judo is a sport built on culture, on tradition, and seems to have honor built into every action. The judokas begin and end each match by bowing to the referee and each other, as a sign of mutual respect. Even if the athletes want to rip each other apart, they are still honorable and respectful as they compete. What happens during the match does not affect who the athletes are at their core. The judokas do not allow the heat of competition to change them for the worse.

There is something to be said about actions like this in our current culture, especially in today’s sport culture, where dishonorable actions are more and more common. I cannot think of a better sport to help teach life lessons to young athletes.

Tradition and Culture

All sports have tradition. I was a baseball player—and there was tradition in how I played, and how I conducted myself outside of the sport as well. Judo is no different…well, actually, it’s very different! We’re talking about a sport that was developed by the Japanese samurai many, many, many years ago. This sport is steeped in tradition and driven by the culture that created it.

I’ve met some judokas who are second- or even third-generation athletes. The pressure to perform well is so palpable that, at times, I feel it too, as their strength coach. I want nothing more than for my athletes to do well—and my athletes want nothing more than to avoid letting their families down. Judo families care so deeply for the sport, and for their children’s or grandchildren’s success. Even just today I heard stories of when some of my judokas were younger, having to perfect certain judo techniques before they were allowed to eat dinner. Right or wrong, this kind of familial dedication is seen as part of the judo culture. The discipline that is instilled in this sport, by most of its athletes that I’ve seen, is at paramount levels compared to traditional sports.

Discipline and Determination

Why is discipline such an important trait to possess? An athlete without discipline has virtually no chance to progress to higher levels of competition. Discipline is an absolute must for keeping athletes on track for continued progress. I see athletes who will struggle at a task or movement a few times and then give up. You will not likely see this from a judoka. I’ve seen joint dislocations, separated ribs, broken toes and fingers—and they just keep going! They go back to the mat, determined to be better than their last match.

This discipline and determination almost always carries over to the athlete’s personal life, which leads to success in personal relationships and careers. For example, I have a few good friends who attribute their success in their personal lives to what they learned through competing on the national judo team. They are still involved in the sport, giving back to the new, younger generation of judokas. While you may see some former athletes giving back in more traditional American sports like baseball, football, and basketball, you don’t see it very often. If more athletes shared the same level of discipline and determination judokas do, I believe we would see more athlete success off the field, after they are done competing.


Yes, most athletes tend to be hard workers. However, I have never seen athletes push themselves through as much pain as I have judokas. It is surprising how much pain and injury is dealt in a martial art sport like judo, where any kind of striking in absent. The pain tolerance that I see on a daily basis still amazes me. These athletes would rather lose an appendage than miss a tournament! Oh, and by the way, there is no “off-season” in judo. Judokas compete year-round and, if they compete at a high enough level, travel all over the world. In fact, two of my judokas just left for the Pan American Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I think many athletes in other sports can learn a lot about how to grind through tough training from judo athletes.

Analysis and Critical Thinking

There is a level of critical thinking that is required in every sport but, in judo, we see a greater level. Judokas always have to be one step ahead of their opponent in order to be successful. They must know what choice their opponent will make next, and how to execute counters and attacks with precision, in order to stay ahead. So it is a necessity for judokas to analyze not only their own movements to become better, but also the movements and strategies of their opponents. Once they know the type of fighter they are up against, they can better strategize for the match. Again, athletes from other sports can take a page out of the judoka’s playbook here. I believe that the more critical thinking is involved in anything, the more that individual will succeed. So, every athlete should be analyzing their movements and thinking about what to anticipate from their opponents.

No Price, Sacrifice

Athletes play a sport because they love the game. If you haven’t seen the movie For Love of the Game starring Kevin Costner, please do so…now. It’s been years since I’ve watched it, but I can still remember how it made me feel as a very obsessed, former baseball player. I played because I loved the sport, but there is a certain level you can play to as an athlete before it starts becoming a job. Currently we see baseball, football, and basketball players signing million-dollar contracts to play the game they used to play hard, or harder, for free. What is it they say about competitors? Something like, “Those that are at the bottom of the hill are more hungry than those at the top.” This means that we sometimes see athletes actually playing harder before they break into the professional ranks, rather than after.

There are no true professional ranks in judo because it is an Olympic sport. These athletes are not paid and, if they make it to that highest, Olympic level, they can accrue a great amount of debt from all the competition travel required. This is a huge lesson in personal sacrifice, one that can be taught to many athletes of our younger generation: you often have to make sacrifices to reach your ultimate goals in life.

What Now?

If you have no idea what judo is, or have never seen it played, I urge you to search for a local judo tournament or club. At the very least, look up some matches on YouTube. I truly believe athletes of other sports can learn a great deal from observing, participating, and just being around judokas. Judo is a sport unlike most other mainstream sports—and we have a lot to learn from it, if we pay attention.

Doug Berninger, CSCS*D, RSCC, USAW is a guest contributor to the Volt Blog. He is the Assistant Strength Coach at the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) World Headquarters Performance Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He received his master’s degree in kinesiology from Bowling Green State University. Learn more about Coach Berninger at On the Platform and Beyond.
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