Archive for July, 2007

Buy a patch

Monday, July 30th, 2007

Oishi Judo patch

Sensei still has plenty of Oishi Judo patches. They are 3 inches in diameter and look great on the chest or shoulder of your judogi jacket. You can click the image on the right to see a closeup.

Five bucks each — a small price for looking sharp.

I've had three patches for weeks, and recently bought a fourth for my gym bag, but haven't gotten around to sewing any of them on. I should probably get my dry cleaner to do it instead of procrastinating on a job I'll probably botch anyway.

If you do try to sew a patch yourself, you might want to prewash it. I read somewhere this makes it easier to thread and also reduces shrinkage problems. I think I'll prewash mine even if I outsource the sewing.

Little known fact: last October, Nina brought a lemon tart for us to enjoy after the East Coast tournament. She made a decoration for it out of white and dark chocolate, based on the same Oishi logo that is on the patch:

chocolate decoration

Judo for fun and judo for blood

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Last week's article in Downtown Express reminded me of a book called Chess For Fun and Chess For Blood, written by Edward Lasker and published in 1942. The book is a classic among chess players not only for its technical analysis, but for Lasker's lighthearted way of discussing the human side of the game: how chess players are wired and how they interact.

The most famous of Lasker's observations is of course the one in the title of the book. "Chess for fun" players are casual, recreational players. They may try a cute combination, even if it is technically unsound, just because it amuses them. They may try to crush each other on the board, but win or lose, they will have a good time. "Chess for blood" players, on the other hand, are deadly serious about winning their next tournament. Their preparations, not to mention the matches themselves, put them through intense psychological stress. Defeat is excruciating. Risking a match on something "cute" is the farthest thing from their minds.

I think judo players — and judo clubs — can probably be classified along similar lines. And what comes through in the Downtown Express article is that our club is above all a "judo for fun" club. I've taken hundreds of classes at Oishi Judo, and not one was without laughter. We get thrown, and we get up with a smile, though perhaps not as big a smile as the person who threw us has.

Sure, there are serious competitors among us, and people eager to earn their next promotion, and we all play judo partly to get strong and fit. But the overwhelming reason for us all to be there is the pure pleasure of it. We're there to play each other, not fight each other. No pressure, only encouragement.

I mentioned Lasker's book to Jeff the other night, and he reminded me that one of Sensei's signature phrases, "happy face," expresses perfectly what "judo for fun" is all about.

Wonderful article in Downtown Express

Friday, July 13th, 2007

At the dojo-warming party, someone — I forget who — said the relocation of Oishi Judo would make a great news story, and that he was going to try to get someone to print it. I wonder if this article was due to his efforts.

Oishi did indeed fit the description of “a big kid” during a recent Monday afternoon class as he bounced around his new dojo. The students were men who devotedly use their lunch breaks to get thrown on the ground instead of eat. Oishi was right in the fray, stopping the group from sparring to demonstrate the proper way to do a certain throw. As his foil, a student decades younger and inches taller than Oishi crashed to the mat, his class of grown men beamed like children at his flawless technique.

I know that feeling, the "beaming like a child." A few days ago, Sensei stopped what we were doing to say a few words — literally, just a few words. He reached over to a black belt standing next to him and effortlessly slammed him to the mat without any footwork or, it seemed, much of a grip — just a deep understanding of balance and the efficient use of force. "Tai-otoshi means 'body drop,'" he explained.

I try not to be too awed by Sensei, because I know he doesn't care for over-the-top admiration, and I think that's a healthy thing. But at that moment I think my eyes got as big as saucers.

“Judo is educational,” Oishi said. “It’s repetition, it’s practice. You learn safety. You get strong, but you’re not trying to hurt anybody.”

Around him, men wrapped their hands around each other’s necks and tripped each other to the floor, but nobody got up angry or screamed in pain. In fact, they would hop up smiling through their sweat, and bow to each other, happy to have taken the spill.

Also noticeable in the group of 15 loyal students, many whom had already earned their brown or black belts, was the diversity that an activity like judo allows. Some were young and fit, others paunchy, others over 60. They were a mishmash of sizes, athletic abilities, income brackets and ethnicities, each grappling with his classmates and getting his daily workout.

Between you and me, my eyes kind of misted over when I read the article. It's a great story of our dojo's survival against difficult odds, and the author clearly "gets" the spirit of Oishi Judo. I am so proud to belong to a club where our camaraderie, "happy face," and love for the sport come across so clearly to an outsider.

Also, I was very impressed with Sensei's impeccable English.

Many thanks to Sonam for passing this along. It made my day. Sonam came across it from a link somebody posted at

Another benefit of learning judo

Friday, July 13th, 2007

You can catch people trying to rip you off:

Pham walked into Azia, the upscale Asian-fusion eatery he owns at 2550 Nicollet Av. S., and found the pair finishing off some expensive drinks after a hearty second dinner that included a rack of lamb.

"I thought, 'Oh my God, I can't believe my wishes are so powerful,' " Pham said.

When they tried to flee, Pham, a former judo instructor, chased Reginald Wilder into an alley, forced him to the ground and held him until police arrived. Lance Burrow was arrested a half block away.

I wonder what technique he used.

Lesser-Known Benefits of the Practice of Judo

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Jeff writes:

Following up on our discussion of last night as to why we do judo, I am setting forth below a list which I and others compiled a while ago (2000). I alone am not so creative. For example, I remember David Soto suggesting number 16.

I love it. Here's the list, with only one minor edit:

  1. As years pass, you can still wear the same clothing, having sweated off the excess weight.
  2. Free chiropractic through getame waza.
  3. Free exfoliation through getame waza.
  4. No need to go to a doctor; you know why you’re in pain.
  5. Old judogi pants stylish and comfortable (if tattered) drawstring pants.
  6. Ukemi useful when you slip on ice.
  7. Mat burns are cheaper than tattoos.
  8. Bruises and abrasions impress co-workers and family.
  9. Judo headaches cover hangovers well.
  10. Judo replaces psychological stress with physical stress.
  11. Judo makes food taste better.
  12. Judo gives you get full value for your medical insurance premiums.
  13. Judogi jacket helps give slenderizing tapered appearance.
  14. Judo ukemi useful in other sports such as rugby and skiing.
  15. Judo prepares you for a career in the World Wrestling Federation (especially with the advent of Blue Judogi).
  16. A clean choke is a good fix for a dirty neck.
  17. Judo teaches you the value of a good sleep at night.
  18. Believed by practitioners to promote charisma.
  19. Judo may give you more humility than you ever wanted to get.
  20. Judo heightens appreciation of Martial Arts movies.
  21. Blue judogi are a foray into fashion.
  22. Judo is more macho than yoga, but demands about the same flexibility.
  23. Judo gives you energy, especially on the days you don’t go to practice.
  24. Sweeping the mat after class is good training to become a Zamboni operator.
  25. More clothing than sumo.
  26. Implicit weight training in carrying blue and white judogi to tournaments.
  27. Fewer splinters and brick chips than karate.
  28. Judo politics put national politics in perspective.
  29. Judo provides a socially sanctioned opportunity to pummel others.
  30. Judo teaches you the subtleties of anatomy through injury.
  31. Knowing those who practice Judo gives one a new perspective on mental illness.
  32. Judo is a good cover for a tatami fixation.
  33. Judo is a good cover for broken English.
  34. Dojo locker rooms make other health clubs look opulent.
  35. Blue judogi good training for wearing dark suits for formal occasions.
  36. Judo makes all parts of your body hurt equally.
  37. Easier to carry judo equipment than skiing equipment (even with blue and white judogi needed).
  38. Less muddy than rugby.
  39. The same flexibility as yoga, but no incense or tights.
  40. Beer practically mandatory for senior training.
  41. Strong muscles hold weak joints together.
  42. Provides the chance to scare oneself to death on a regular basis.
  43. Nothing else to do.
  44. Trains the most delicate organ of the body – the ego.

2007 NY Open video

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Thanks to Bob for this link to a site with video of the New York Open. Nice video quality and I liked the commentary by Rusty Kanokogi and Carrie Chandler, but unfortunately I could only get it to work on Windows, and only in Internet Explorer.

For my fellow Mac users, there's always the home videos of the tournament on YouTube.