Taking on any new project can be overwhelming at times. Stress associated with painting a home, starting a new job, starting a new semester at school is inevitable. The same applies to an individual who is beginning his or her judo education. All the techniques, competition rules, kata, and the overall physical strain of doing judo can be truly intimidating.
Reflecting back on my international competitive career, I have compiled three training staples that have worked for me in my 25 years in judo and that I believe will benefit other judokas.
First, the best way a beginner (not just in judo) can speed up his or her development is by forming a solid foundation. It’s natural to want to emulate Koga’s seoinage, or Inoue’s uchimata. Similarly, skateboarders want to hit jumps like Tony Hawk, basketball players want to shoot as well as Lebron James. The list goes on and on. Specifically for judo, a solid base means proper posture, positioning (of hands, hips, & shoulders), smooth movements, and balance. Once developed, these building blocks act as a catalyst for further advancement. Focusing on the basics will pay off as you learn more advanced strategies and techniques.
Second, create a PLAN to get the most out of your training . Have a goal for each training session, each month, and each year. Tailor your plan to meet your individual needs, and make it specific. Saying “I want to be “Spider-Man” and going around town wearing red spandex and slinging imaginary webs will not make me Spider-Man. (A bit of an extreme example, I know. It’s an inside joke we have at my dojo in New York.) A more practical short-term example is “I want to win this randori session”. Longer term goals could include “I want to increase my strength”, “I want to be a National Champion”, or even, “I want to be an Olympian”. Ask yourself, “HOW will I achieve my goal and WHAT INDIVIDUAL STEPS will I need to take to reach it?” Develop your plan carefully and thoughtfully to get the most out of your judo.
Lastly, (and I know this has been vastly overused but here it is again because it’s true) have fun and be – amiable. Simply put, it’s easier to learn when you enjoy the material. If you’re having fun with judo you soak up more from training with much less effort. As a beginner, developing a solid foundation/base, coming up with a specific plan, and having fun will help you get the most out of your time spent on the mat.
Nicholas Kossor, who has been competitive in Judo since age 5 and fights in the under 60kg weight division. He represents the United States in many international competitions including the World Cup-Tiblisi, the French Open, San Salvador and Isla Margarita in 2010 alone. In the past, he has competed in various European competitions in Poland, Finland, Sweden, Korea, Germany, Great Britain and the French Open. In the United States, Kossor has medaled over 20 times in the last 6 years.
Follow Nick on his Road to Rio at his facebook Page HERE: