Preston Gardom
Atlanta Gi Yu Dojo

“Getting Rid of an Old Crutch”
September 18, 2009

I have been told for quite some time now from my teacher to move slower.  To me, this really made no sense.  After all, my speed has always helped me move ahead of my opponent’s movements.  Plus, I thought my speed helped me with my overall taijitsu, as far as my timing and distancing.

So, at this last seminar I figured I would put his idea to the test.  At the Gi Yu Honbu annual seminar we worked on free response.  This is called Randori and it is a type of controlled sparring with our training partners.  We sparred with Fukoro Shinai and practiced sword versus sword.  My slower movement made me focus on my kamae, which is a fighting posture.  This seemed to give me a solid foundation from the beginning.  As my opponent would come in to attack, I could watch their movement and respond more appropriately, which resulted in a better outcome.  This also allowed me to better measure my opponent’s distance and I got a greater understanding of their movements.

After sparring with the bamboo swords, Sensei Sandhu had us move on to controlled sparring where the object was to throw the opponent to the ground with some sort of jujutsu throw.  This is much harder than it seems. It is one thing when the uke is allowing you to practice your throw statically, but it is a completely new challenge when both people are working to execute the technique.  Each person is countering the other’s throw attempts and the movement is very dynamic.  You really must understand his balance, your balance and when you can enter to throw him to the ground.

The final phase of the sparring at the annual seminar was Ne Waza Jujutsu, or ground fighting or “rolling” on the ground.  When you are on the ground, you really have to pay attention to your opponent’s position and movements.  By doing this slower movement, I could predict my opponent’s next move.   In the past, my faster movements seemed to get me into the same predicaments.
Then after each day of training and sparring, we all watched ourselves in the free response exercises.  Sensei Sandhu had video taped each session, so we could see ourselves and find our weaknesses and see our strengths.  To my amazement, I didn’t look like a fool I thought that I would have.   Instead my movements looked very strong and focused, not indecisive at all.  When my opponent’s tried to fool me I kept my patience, slowed down, and was able to move in the correct manner to avoid being hit or unbalanced and thrown.  This enabled me to hold my ground and not be easily defeated as had happened in the past.

In conclusion, since this experience I have learned to observe my opponent’s movements by slowing down my movements.  This slower movement is teaching me to rely on something other than my old crutch, speed.  I have noticed that when I slow my movement that it is easier to see my opponent’s movement clearer.  I find it to be beneficial to train with people of different skill levels, sizes and techniques.  Training with someone with a higher skill level increases my knowledge and performance.  It helps me discover my deficiencies with my own taijitsu.  Since I started training in the Gi Yu dojo, I have taken my training to the next level.  This growth process is one that I thoroughly enjoy.