The other day I was watching the NCAA Wresting Championships and I started noticing more similarities to Judo than differences. I was also reminded about some things that I have heard from Sensei and Shinan Carl Cestari. Basically, there is nothing really new in Hand-to-Hand Combat or Martial Arts. With all the fads in Martial Arts over the years, from Kung Fu to Ninjas and Mixed Martial Arts, the reality still remains that there are only so many ways to punch, kick, stomp, break, gouge, throw, or choke the human body. NEWS FLASH: It’s all been done before and not just in Japan or China. For example, the west has a long history of Martial Arts including Bare Knuckle Boxing, Wrestling and various other forms of Hand to Hand Combat. Martial Arts isn’t necessarily synonymous with Asia. You don’t have to look any further than the people who train at Zen Shin. Sensei was a state champion in wrestling, Sensei Roger Jones was a competitive wrestler at the college level, and Jim Kleinfelder has a background in Boxing (notice how hard he hits for edge of hand blows and chin jabs). The list goes on to include Sal Guardascione, and Matt Smith whose Judo training helps him tremendously as he currently competes as a high school wrestler. The more you train the more you start to see that what works is simple and direct and you notice it in areas outside of Judo and Jujitsu.
For example, spend some time watching wrestling and you can’t help but notice Judo techniques. You’ll see that techniques like the double leg takedown is called Morote-Gari in Judo, the fireman’s carry or Kata-Guruma, the inside leg trip or Ouchi-Gari, various hip throws etc. The list goes on and on. There are many ways to take a man off his feet and on to his back. Does it really matter what you call it?
Also, there are no secret techniques protected by a cultural history or tradition. Can you imagine for one second, a boxing trainer telling one of his students, “I’m going to teach you a secret punch that very few people know that will make you champion of the world.” Or do you really believe that Dan Gable became the world’s most successful wrestler because he knew techniques that others didn’t. (By the way, if you don’t know who Dan Gable is then your homework assignment is to find out ASAP.) Or ask Yoshisada Yonezuka, 9th Dan in Judo, about Martial Arts and listen to what he has to say about what is really important. Listen, the point is not to get lost in the origin, system or culture of the techniques you are training. These things have their place but don’t put too much importance in it. The main ingredient underneath all these things reveals itself to the people who put in the time, sweat, blood and tears. That ingredient is hard work. All of the BS gets boiled off in the furnace of hard work. This is a fact. People who know the difference have done the work. The individual packaging, whether it’s Judo, Wrestling, Karate, Boxing or whatever no longer matters. There are WAY too many “Couch Kung Fu” experts to go around. Don’t you dare be one of them! See you on the Mat!