Newbie Season on the Mat

It’s October. I last wrote in August. My bad, been busy. September was a good month on the whole though 😀

I’ve been training and at the uni Jujutsu club a bunch of new recruits have turned up with the start of the new term. Lots of people dislike this part of the training season since there is a lot of time spent easing the beginners into the flow of being on the mat, breakfalling, rolling, hitting each other with some semblance of intent etc. etc. Admittedly there are moments where I lose enthusiasm for it too, but on the whole it is actually one of my favourite parts of the Jujutsu year.

The reason for that is because this is probably the only time at which I get to train with an almost unstaunchable influx of people who know basically nothing about how to take ukemi. Therefore I consider this perhaps the best time to test the effectiveness of technique in real time with an untrained body.

Much as I love training with excellent uke who know how to move, how to test your technique and expose its flaws and how to take a wonderful fall when you get your timings and movements right, being tested by someone who knows none of that has a great deal of merit, I feel. To my mind an ideal technique should never be outside of the tori’s control (since tori steps in time with the universe and harmonises their ki with the flow of their partner’s movement if you like) and thus I, as tori should be able to produce the same kind of fall in an untrained uke as in one who already knows what’s about to happen. Trying to get the kind of subtle movement and soft training out of a partner who doesn’t understand how to reciprocate it is what motivates me about training with people fresh to the mat and is an exercise which, at times, I find considerably more difficult than working with experienced uke. (Which is not to say that one kind of training is ever better than another, they just have to be used for learning different things.)

The alteration of rhythm which inexperience brings (or lack of rhythm whatsoever) is a great reminder, I feel, to not fall into the humdrum style of training which makes familiar techniques routine and stagnates technical and martial progress on the mat. And furthermore, I believe that taking newbies seriously in terms of how you train with them, throwing and pinning and striking them with some conviction, is a great way to illustrate what it is the dojo is about and the investment and mutual respect that everyone embodies in training. I think it would probably be more disrespectful to go easy on someone on the mat than give them all you have, new or not. Though undoubtedly that approach may scare off some, I think the sincerity that is personified by that kind or practice is what they have to get used to quickest.

Anyway, just a short one to let everyone know I am still around.

I hope to be updating more regularly soon.

Thankyou all for reading!