Sunday, May 22, 2011

Making Movies

There was a slight delay in putting up this blog post; I am still getting the hang of multi-media and how to add more creative things to the blog. Today, we’re experimenting with adding videos…

The program for international students at the Kokusai Budo Daigaku consists in a series of classes devoted to your major—Judo or Kendo—as well as the opportunity to take an introductory class in the martial art you are not focusing on. I realize that I have yet to explain the classes in detail, due partly to the fact we have only recently begun the regular semester.

Judoka have three “kata”--or judo form--classes in which we study set routines such as throws or pins intended to demonstrate principals of the art. Apart from these kata, which I will talk about in greater detail as the course continues, we have one basic technique class and, finally, the class I am going to talk about today: a movie making class.

Yes, that’s right, a movie making class. Our first period on Thursdays is devoted to filming an instructional video. Each student has ten minutes to teach two or three of his or her favorite waza. We can choose between tachiwaza [standing techniques] or newaza [ground techniques] or demonstrate various interpretations on one single throw.

The purpose of making a demonstrational video for Judo is two-fold. Firstly, one tends to think about a technique differently when teaching. Breaking the technique down to its principal pieces helps to deepen understanding and is especially useful for finding out where one’s weaknesses lie. Its often much easier to commit yourself to a throw and quickly execute it… but when you slow things down you find the little errors—bad posture, incorrect hand position, unbalance—that may cost you a match.
The point that Kashiwazaki Sensei stressed above all, however, was the importance of keeping a record of one’s development. Sensei explained that this video will be something we take with us: a reminder of this year and the place we are in both mentally and physically. Having a record of your current level of skill or strength provides encouragement to improve. It sets a mark in stone—or film, as the case may be—that may then be surpassed.

The clip I have uploaded is a quick demonstration of Haraigoshi [sweeping hip throw]. While preparing to film this clip, I worked with a man much shorter than myself. I realized that a traditional Haraigoshi throw was very difficult for me as I have trouble lowering my hips far enough to get below my opponent's center. In this video, however, I am doing a slight variation of Haraigoshi in which I step to the right and then quickly twist my hips inside:

I approached Kashiwazaki Sensei to ask him his advice on my two throws. I explained that, with shorter opponents, I have difficulties performing the traditional style of this throw. Therefore, I do a slight variation. With taller opponents, however, I stick with the variation of Haraigoshi more typically taught.

Kashiwazaki Sensei’s reply was, “That is exactly what we’re looking for; this video is for You to explain Your technique. What works for you and what doesn’t. If one variation works on a short opponent while another variation works on a tall opponent, teach it. That is what this video is for.”

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