Thursday, July 7, 2011

Further Training with the Ladies

A friend of mine put it this way:
"Well, you can come over here with the girls and train for three hours… or you can go over there with the guys and watch for two."

If you harbor any doubts to the value of a man training in the women’s dojo, allow me to share with you the results of the recent Judo ZenNihon Gakusei Taikai [柔道 全二本 学生 大会] or All Japan University Judo Championship. The Budo Daigaku’s women’s team took third place… the men failed to place within the top ten. I wonder why that is. Could it be the fact that the women judoka train harder? Could it be the influence of a training session that includes technique drills, conditioning exercises as well as the normal randori? Maybe they’re just better.

I believe the breakthrough from “visiting guest” to “more or less regular member” of the women’s judo club came a couple weeks ago on a particularly hot afternoon. During two hours of training, I was never short a partner. AS soon as the whistle blew, someone was waiting to grab me.

When a welsh friend of mine—a man who also trains regularly with the girls—finally had the opportunity to spar with me, he said, "Well, I see we’re feeling patriotic today; I’ll have to throw you extra hard for that."
"What?" I asked, not following his logic.
"Ahem; I can see the stars and stripes of your boxers through your pants."

Allow me to reiterate: I am somewhat lacking in the sight department. How was I supposed to know my American flag boxers would show right through my wet dogi? But I’ll say: I never lacked for a partner that day. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise.

Training is almost comical, now, for the sheer efficiency with which the girls include me in their drills and exercises. As I step back from one drill, one of the girls is waiting to push me into the next line where a second girl pulls me along. You can almost hear the clockwork precision of their movements:
"This is Cheri, you ready Aya?"
"Aya here, we’re waiting,"
"Here he is---"
"Ready in five… four…. Three… two… one… go go go!"

It’s a little awkward being pushed and pulled around. Under normal circumstances it would probably bother me, but the girls are man-handling me with the intent of including me. When it comes time to train, though, they fight me every bit as hard as they would another dojo member.

I train with the girls twice a week; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I still practice at the men’s dojo. This gives me a nice balance of technical and physical training. The boys are stronger, physically, and this gives me the opportunity to try the techniques I’ve drilled with the girls against a different type of opponent. In the end, it’s just nice to feel welcome at the dojo, men or women.

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