Day three started quietly and our first session of the day was a technical session carried out by our own coaches. This gave us some time to discuss how the Japanese fight differently to us and what tactics and techniques we could use to counter balance. As I say the session was very low key but at the same time most useful.
Without going into too much depth the basic difference was in the way the Japanese judokaâ€™s grip and perhaps more importantly the way they commit to throwing for an Ippon score every time they attack. These are lessons I need to learn also the Japanese fight at full blast every session, no taking it easy because the opponent is smaller, lighter or less experienced. They do tend to generate towards heavier and more experienced players however, for them to gain the experience and strength they wish to acquire themselves.
After the session we went into town for a spot of shopping and exploring, one of the coaches neglected to bring a winter coat with him, I think he thought we were going to the Caribbean but itâ€™s actually snowing at this moment!! The highlight of the day so far was watching Max Stewart, the doors over here are so low that Max has to duck to enter most of the shops. I know itâ€™s silly but it amused us!
The rest of the day was quite leisurely until 4:45pm when it was time for our next lesson. Tonight there were at least 80+ Dan grades on the mat, the local high school visited and some female players from another university in Tokyo also came along. There wese that many people on the mat the head coach Mr Masuchi had to split it into 3 groups.
The structure tonight was, warm up, Uchi Komi, Speed Uchi Komi, Nage Komi and tonightâ€™s special randori was 15 × 5 minute randori. We are really starting to get to grips now with the intensity of the randori and also managed to throw a few of the high school students. There is no need to travel to any other places for judo as they all come to Tsukuba so there is so much variation itâ€™s unreal, left handerâ€™s, right handerâ€™s, tall, small, fat, thin, you name it thereâ€™s some on the mat.
I also noticed last night that the top players are trying to kill each other, there are no prisoners on the mat tonight, everyone is getting smashed and there is no sympathy if you are struggling, they just lift you back on your feet off the floor and throw you again. The top players also never hardly practice with the same weight category as themselves, they always train with bigger opponents, so the 73kg player was fighting 90kg players most of the night and really testing themselves.
There are a couple of players on the mat that are super special, Nishiyama, 19 year old 73kg player, Tanaka who I think is 66kg and Fukomi the 48kg female, they destroy people and never take a rest all night. There was also the +78 kg female world champion who was destroying the heavyweight males; she basically fights like a man.
They are also the only ones who get to do the Nage Komi, everyone else is there for them so they can throw you all round the mat, they do this for around 20 minutes and its throw, after throw, after throw and every throw is identical and perfectly performed. We now understand how hard you have to train if you want to make it to the top level in Judo, itâ€™s an eye opener for sure. This such hard work but daft as it may seem it is so rewarding and enjoyable, we must be mad!!
That night we were left to our own devices as the coaches went for a traditional Japanese meal with Mr Masuchi. It was also the night I experienced my first exposure to an earthquake. In the early hours of the morning I heard the doors rattling, I got out of bed to look thinking that someone had missed the curfew and were locked out. When I went into the corridor to investigate I saw the external doors shaking and rattling. Not knowing what was going on I thought the building was haunted so being the fearless fighter that I am I quickly went back to bed!! It wasnâ€™t until the next day someone mentioned that there had been an earthquake that night, what a relief.
Yesterday I mentioned about having to make our own entertainment, so how much fun can you have with a toilet roll? See the above picture.