Archive for March, 2014

A Judo Essay

Hollywood Judo Dojo

Preparation for our Competitors.

by Philippe Morotti

Preparing for a competition is physically and psychologically complex. Every competitor has his own strengths and weaknesses and you need to understand your own. Here are some guidelines that I found through online research and combined with my own personal experiences:

Many young athletes often ask the question, How do you become a champion? Let’s try to find the answer. We can divide this answer into 3 chapters:




PREPARATION – The desire to win is worth very little without the daily commitment to do what it takes to prepare to win. This means that you have to train hard and you have to train smart. Training is a large part of your lifestyle and the way you do anything is the way you do everything.

You cannot perform less in practice and expect to produce a winning effort at competition. Successful athletes have an attitude to make things happen during training. They apply the same focus and intensity in training as they do in competition. As a result at competition day, they can relax, feel confident and let things happen.

Train as you would compete. That being said, there is the learning process of correct and powerful techniques which is a step-by-step progression. You learn a technique first slowly, then you speed it up and finally add force and momentum. Always aim towards perfection!

Judo is a combat art. We don’t just play, we fight. Your judo training on the tatami always comes first. It is the most important of all and there’s no substitute for it. Judo also requires enormous physical efforts on a top competitive level. Therefore, the priority in supplemental training for judo is based in strength and conditioning. The more fit you are, the more confident you are. You can then concentrate on your judo tactics and not be worried about “running out of gas”! There’s a reason why the top Judokas are amongst the most fit athletes in the world!

Short and long-term planning. Life is full of surprises.

Because of the extreme intensity of judo, injuries are common and they can set you back from time to time. Short-term planning with adjustments along the way is preferable. Instead of focusing on winning medals, you want you to set the following goals for yourself:

1. Perfection of your judo techniques

2. Aim to beat certain opponents

3. Improve your physical ability

4. Improve your psychological strength

5. Always have the attitude to do the best within your current circumstance

The rest will then follow. As your coach, I can help you with a plan and a schedule. This plan should be changed frequently according to your strengths and weaknesses and according to your progress. To get stuck and refuse to adapt only causes regression.

TALENT is very relevant for most everything that you attempt in life. You must have a way of picking up and absorbing what is taught to you. Remember that the learning process is long. You must be patient. There are over 100 techniques in judo, plus variations and combinations. You will not master all of them, but you should be aware that they exist. Even if you don’t end up using some, they can be used against you.

In the first couple of years of training, students often ask me about which their favorite technique should be. The way the process works, you should try to learn them all in the beginning. What happens is that a few of these techniques will come very naturally to you. Those are the ones that become your best weapon. All you have to do is to keep training and your favorite technique will find you.

So does this mean that the judoka with the most talent wins?

Far from always. The variables are endless. A super technical judoka who is physically unfit may lose to a lesser judoka who is physically superior. With two Judokas that seem equal, maybe the one less nervous wins. Or the one who gets lucky wins. You can also make a mistake or have a bad referee. There’s a lot that can happen. All you can do is to prepare the best that you possibly can. Then put your mind at rest.

OPPORTUNITY is in its own a complex word.

It can mean getting the chance to afford to travel to certain competitions. It means being free from injuries when you need to compete. Opportunity also means that you missed that fragment of a second when you should have countered your opponent’s clumsy UchiMata attempt.

When you are standing on the competition mat, all your preparation efforts have to pay off and the level off stress is high. Therefore, it is equally important to prepare our mindset before and during a competition.

Many athletes are nervous the day of competition. 90% of stress comes from not doing things when they were supposed to be done. Maybe you didn’t prepare like you should have? Maybe you fear your opponent?

Managing stress is not eliminating stress. Some degree of stress is necessary for optimal performance. Adrenaline causes healthy stress up to a point. If your stress turns into anger, you risk making a mistake. If it turns into fear, you will doubt your ability.

In order to cope with your stress, you need to address the issue long before a competition. The day of the tournament, we have very limited control. As your coach I can advise you on strategy, but deeper issues have to be resolved before and after competing.

You can either confront the issue that is stressing you or choose to avoid it. You can seek outside help or you can practice self-control.

Deep breathing as a form of meditation which can help. Also in the middle of a class, between Randoris, you can train to breathe and get your heart rate down. Deep breathing clears your mind.

The day and evening before you compete it is best to distract yourself, clearing your mind of all judo. Try not to lay awake thinking about tomorrow. You need to be rested!

The morning of the competition you must warm up. This is a key factor for your performance throughout the day. As your heart rate goes up in an intense morning warm up, you already basically have done your first match (the most nervous one).

This is a very important stress elimination, making your first tournament match a more prepared one. The morning warm up should therefore be almost as intense as a match, with intense NeWaza and explosive Uchikomi, some jogging and stretching.

Then dress warm. Even if your first match is hours away, this will have prepared you.

All athletes are different in their behavior at a tournament while waiting to compete. Some stay in a corner by themselves, others are asleep in a car outside or listen to music or chat with team members. Through competing often, you will find what works best for you. Let your coach know what you do and where you are in case that he needs to find you.

Remember that in order to be a successful competitor you have to be motivated to win and motivated not to lose. You need to practice emotion regulation, so that you can think clearly about what is in front of you. So that you can rise to the occasion and have all your preparations pay off. You need to be able to exhibit your talent.

You are representing yourself and you are representing our Hollywood Judo Dojo. Always be cordial and respectful to other senseis, referees and competitors. A one-time bad behavior has negative consequences for our dojo. We don’t want that. Also be clear that your opponent is not your friend before and during the match. He is an obstacle that need to be defeated.

After the competition is over, you can be as friendly as you want to. And remember that after each competition, no matter how important, no matter the outcome, you always reset the clock to zero and start over again.

Good Luck!

Sensei Philippe


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Visit from Sweden

My friend for 30 years, judo master Rikard Almlof, came to Hollywood Judo for 10 days to help me train our fighters. We made him Honorary Sensei.Image

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