Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Judo for the rest of us

Amber was quite a natural!

It's not often a supermodel visits your judo club but Amber Chia dropped by KL Judo earlier this year to give judo a try. She was a real good sport about it and did all the exercises and drills just like the other members of the club. At the end of the session she even took part in some sparring.

The feedback she gave us was really instructive. She liked the training because it really made her sweat. She found the session intense but satisfying. Overall, she felt it was a really good workout.

When I was brainstorming with Wenisa about designing a fitness program based on judo, one approach I took was to think: What kind of program would someone like Amber enjoy?

Ultimately, what non-competitive judokas want out of a judo session is a good workout. And with that in mind we came up with Judo Fitness which is basically judo without the brutality. To borrow a phrase from Steve Jobs, it's judo "for the rest of us".

Below are highlights from Amber's first judo session:

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Growing club membership

Judo is a niche sport in Malaysia. It's not easy recruiting members but thankfully, we already have a critical mass of players in our club so we are in a good position to grow.

It's important to have a critical mass because when newcomers check out the club for the first time, they'd get turned off if they see only three or four player on the mat.

There are a few ways we plan to attract new members:

1. Social media is something we've utilized from the start and it is a key differentiating factor. Most judo clubs around here hardly have any online presence. No website, no social media pages, no blog. We have all three. So this is a differentiating factor for us. Through our online presence people can get to know more about our training philosophy and they can also get a sense about what our club culture is like. We will continue to create more online content.

2. Starting in January, Activ Studio will be running Judo Fitness classes, which are fitness training classes based on judo moves and techniques. These won't be judo classes per se but exercise programs for people who want to build strength, fitness and agility. Will some of these participants migrate to judo proper? Maybe a few. But even if it's just a few, it's good.

3. There's not a lot of judo in schools right now. Although I don't have ambitions to go into a lot of different schools, if some schools were to have a interest in having a judo program, that's something I'd like to help out with. The students from school programs might want to take their judo to a different level and when they do, KL Judo Centre will be there for them.

4. It helps that we are located in KL, the capital city of Malaysia. Lots of foreigners come to KL to work. Some of them might have a judo background. Lots of students from other states (and indeed other countries) also come to KL to further their education. If they have some judo background, KL Judo Centre is the ideal place for them to continue their training.

Grand Re-Opening (Dec 16)

After a two-and-a-half-month hiatus KL Judo Centre is almost ready to re-open. We're just waiting for the mats to arrive from China. Actually, they should be arriving by today but it will take a few days to clear the customs and get them delivered to the studio where our club will be housed.

If all goes well, we can have a soft re-opening on Friday just to try out the mats. It'll be a chance for our players to get their judo feet wet again. Then on Sunday, Dec 16, we'll have our proper first session.

I'm delighted to say that most of our "legacy" members have decided to follow us to the new location and we've also had a few new members who have decided to give our new club a try. Together, it's a really good mix.

We will have classes three times a week, twice on weekdays (Tues & Fri) and once on the weekend (Sun).

The plan is for Sundays to be very much a group training situation where everyone works on the same thing. Sundays usually see the biggest crowds so I'll design activities that the whole group can do.

Weekdays will be when players can focus more on what they want to achieve. For example, some might want to focus more on belt grading techniques while others might want to focus on competitions. We can have small groups working on different things. So, weekday trainings are a little more personalized.

That's the plan anyway. We'll adjust and adapt as we go along.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Ev'rything You Want Is Here

If you're looking for bluebird, look in a tree
If you're looking for an oyster, look in the sea
If you're looking for a pebble, take a walk on the beach
Ev'rything you want is here and all within reach

~ "Ev'rything You Want Is Here" by Michael Feinstein

Everything you want in a judo club is here and it's all within reach!

Imminent move (get ready for KL Judo 3.0)

KL 1.0 in Cheras. We've come a long way since then.

If all goes well, our first session at our new location in Activ Studio (Bangsar) will be on Dec 9. All of this depends on whether our mats arrive on time. We had ordered some roll-out mats from China which are on their way to Port Klang at the time of writing. They should arrive early this week. But then there's the paperwork and customs clearance, which may take some time. Hopefully, we will get them delivered to Activ Studio in time for Dec 9.

If not, Dec 9, then it would be Dec 11 that will be our first day. But of course Dec 9 is better because it's a Sunday and more people are able to attend on a weekend. So, fingers crossed. Let's hope the mats get here on time. For our grand re-opening, it would be nice to get as many of our members together as possible.

The first iteration of KL Judo, based in Cheras, came about more than three years ago. We started really small and at one point, our membership consisted of three or four students only. The fact that we focused on training working adults made it pretty hard to grow the club. No other judo club in Malaysia has managed to build their membership based on that demographic. All the other clubs are aimed at juniors, not seniors.

But just because something is hard doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Sometimes, you do it because it is hard. So, we stuck to our guns and pursued our vision of building a judo club where adults could come together and enjoy training judo with each other.

Over time, through hard work, perseverance and a bit of luck, we did manage to build up a critical mass of players, mainly working adults but also a few teens who are happy to train with grown-ups. In order to take KL Judo to the next level, we felt we need to collaborate with a partner that could offer us more value and who supported our vision for the club.

KL 2.0 was when we moved into Muayfit in Damansara Perdana. The cost was higher but the benefits were good. Below the dojo was a gym with exercise equipment that our players could use (the fees included use of the gym equipment). The mat area was big and they had nice roll-out mats that provided good cushioning. They were very flexible and accommodating when it came to scheduling and use of the mats. They also expressed a lot of interesting in helping us grow the judo club. Although they didn't end up promoting judo all that much, we were generally happy with the location and facilities. Our membership grew, a bunch of our beginners got their belt promotions and training was good.

We thought we'd be there for a long time. Then, out of the blue, the gym closed down and relocated to another place where the facilities were just not suitable for judo. With a higher rent and unsuitable facilities, we really had no choice but to move yet again.

I'm not one who believes in fate. I don't believe in the notion that "things happen for a reason". But I do believe in the notion that sometimes, not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck. Being forced to look for another venue led to our partnership with Activ Studio, which will be KL Judo 3.0.

How will it be different? Our core mission of building up a judo club for grown-ups is still the same. Our values and club culture will of course still be the same. The training program will also be pretty much the same, although training methods are always a work in progress. I am constantly fine-tuning the training modules so our members can learn effectively and have fun in the process. What will be different is that we will have a Judo Fitness program that will run in parallel with the regular KL Judo Centre's competitive judo training. In a nutshell, it is an exercise program based on judo movements and techniques but is not judo training per se. The objective is fitness not fighting.

The thinking is that this approach will make judo more accessible to the general public. Of course we do hope that those who try this will become intrigued with judo and will over time, decide to try out judo proper. This is something completely new and we don't know if it'll work but our partner in this effort, Activ Studio is keen to give it a try. And so are we.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Judo for strength & conditioning


Strength and Conditioning Journal

December 2011 (Vol. 33, pp 60-63)

Judo training is an intermittent metabolically demanding activity that has historically been connected to physical education and development. The health impact of practicing this Olympic sport and martial art highlights the benefits of combat sports. Various physiological improvements, including those in the areas of body composition, strength, and endurance, as well as enhanced cognitive performance and life satisfaction have shown to result from participation in judo.

Judo has fundamental ties to strength and conditioning. The founder of judo, Jigoro Kano, was an educator by trade and coupled the education of knowledge and morality with that of physical education.

Judo, as a martial art, was developed from various schools of jiu-jitsu dating to an era preceding the samurai. Kano recognized that each of these forms of jiu-jitsu possessed specific strengths that could be incorporated into a combination of techniques that would provide a unique method of training.

Judo competition has been a part of the Summer Program of the Olympic Games for men since 1964 (and 1992 for women) and has become one of the most highly practiced sports worldwide. Judo has since developed into a grappling-based sport with practitioners focusing largely on the execution of dynamic throws and quick submission attempts.

Judo's seminal texts and manuals include sections devoted to strength and conditioning. Draeger and Inokuma published “Weight Training for Championship Judo” in 1966, well before the popularity of the film documentary “Pumping Iron” in the United States. With a concentration on the importance of training the mind and body, practicing judo provides numerous health benefits for people of all ages.

Jacini et al showed that judo athletes with more than 10 years of judo experience possessed higher grey matter volume in various regions of the brain associated with motor learning, planning, and execution, as well as memory and cognitive processes when compared with healthy controls. The authors hypothesized that these adaptations were the result of the complex motor skills required during judo training. Male individuals with judo experience have also shown to have superior postural control when compared with ballet dancers in instances when visual cues are removed or instability is instituted.

Judo is an intermittent physically demanding activity that requires both power and flexibility. Basic judo training begins with learning break-falls as a means of practicing safely. These particular techniques involve rolling to one's back when being thrown to the ground to distribute the force of the impact and has shown to be effective across the lifespan, including in the elderly.

Judo technique progresses to include all muscle actions from isometric holds during grip fighting and groundwork to plyometric movements using the stretch-shortening cycle while engaging in throwing techniques. Repetitive movements during judo training include unloaded body weight exercise and loaded partner exercise.

Classifying judo as a high-intensity weight-bearing sport, Andreoli et al showed that judo athletes exhibited higher appendicular muscle mass than normative controls and greater bone mineral density values than karate athletes, water polo athletes, and a control group.

Experienced judo competitors have enhanced upper body strength and have been shown to be superior in trunk extension, trunk flexion, rotational isokinetic torque, and power when compared with elite cyclists.

With respect to lower body strength, Fagerlund and Hakkinen reported greater strength-velocity curves during squat jumping exercise in high-level judo competitors. In addition to possessing greater aerobic and anaerobic power than healthy controls, elite male and female judo athletes have shown to possess left ventricular hypertrophy, increased stroke volume, and decreased resting heart rate. As a result of these findings and in contrast to being classified as strength-power athletes, Laskowski et al noted that cardiac adaptations to long-term judo training are similar to those exhibited by endurance athletes.

Benefits of judo for children & adolescents

Strength and Conditioning Journal

December 2011 (Vol. 33, pp 60-63)

Judo founder Jigoro Kano understood the potential physical and health benefits of judo and, therefore, worked to have it included as part of Japan's physical education system.
Judo has recently become part of the national curriculum in Japan, as outlined by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science, and Technology.

In support, judo is a safe contact sport for children, and the scientific literature has demonstrated that the practice of judo can improve cognitive performance, enhance motor learning, and increase the sense of well-being and life satisfaction among youth participants. Furthermore, research has shown increased cardiovascular fitness, anaerobic capacity, flexibility, strength, power, and improved body composition with judo training.

Judo has been mentioned as one of the safest contact sports for children. Matsumoto and Konno reported a positive correlation between judo participation and both life satisfaction and quality of life in U.S. adolescent judo players. Furthermore, the well-being and life satisfaction scores from the young judo players in this study were higher than comparative non-judo participant norms.

Aerobic capacity in junior judo athletes has been shown to be greater than non-athletes, as well as soccer players and gymnasts. This adaptation may manifest itself in the previously described cardiac changes displayed by older judo athletes and would be of benefit during training and competition by maintenance of high-intensity activity, delayed fatigue, and enhanced recovery.

The rate of motor development in young judo players has shown to be steadier than healthy controls during the ages of 11–17 years and may be at its peak during the ages of 11 to 12 and 14 to 15 years. During this same timeframe, young judo athletes exhibit greater handgrip strength and pull-up performance than age-matched non-judo athletes. Jagiello et al hypothesized these differences, and the linear strength increases specific to the upper body are the result of the “directed loads applied in the process of the athletes' training.”

Participation in judo has also shown to be beneficial in an even younger population. Studies by Sekulic et al and Krstulovic et al showed that nine months of judo training in 7-year-old boys (B) and girls (G) improved shuttle run performance (B: 10%; G: 13%), sit-up endurance (B: 30%; G: 46%), sit and reach (flexibility) (B: 34%; G: 45%), and flexed arm hang (B: 72%; G: 76%) to a greater degree when compared with children engaged in recreational sporting games. Both conditions were shown to similarly augment coordination, shoulder flexibility, speed, and cardiovascular endurance.

In a follow-up publication, Krstulovic et al noted that 7-year-old male judo participants gained more weight, increased flexibility, and improved both sit-up and flexed arm hang performance more than soccer and track and field participants over the course of nine months of training. The authors determined that judo training improves specific indices of fitness in children.