Knocked Down but Not Knocked Out.

Leaning into the fall instead of fighting it

A Descriptive Essay

Judo has got to be one of my favorite combat sports of all time, if not the favorite. I wouldn’t call myself an expert though. I’d honestly say I have limited knowledge on it, especially compared to a lot of practitioners out there. Heck, I don’t even practice. I want to, but I just haven’t gotten around to doing it properly. Judo, to me, is one of the martial arts that people don’t seem to appreciate as much as the others. In it, you don’t see as much flare or spectacle as you would in, say, Karate or Taekwondo. For this reason, people usually aren’t as eager to get involved. To them I always used to say, “don’t knock ‘til you try it.”  Just because you don’t see any fancy kicks, spins, or head-turning moves doesn’t mean it isn’t as fun. To me, and to many out there, it is as effective and an equally painful a combat sport as any–which adds to its fun factor.

The reason I am very interested in it is because I have friends who used to be competitive Judo athletes. It was very impressive to see them execute some of their moves. The first ever time I saw my friends train for competition was quite frightening. I saw them flinging each other towards the floor and it literally looked like they were full-on trying to hurt each other. But it was surprising how quickly they recover after being thrown or after being put into submission, I guess that’s what hours of practice and years’ worth of sport knowledge comes in handy. These friends of mine were even kind enough to spend some time to teach me some basic moves. They taught me some grabs, holds, and basic sport philosophies. I even learned how to throw an opponent and how to anticipate being thrown. I’m telling you, the feeling of being thrown without expecting it has got to be one of the most jarring feelings ever. That’s why learning to be thrown, learning to fall and leaning into the fall are some of the most important things you need to learn, if not the most important. Also, a misjudged fall is a painful fall or worse, an injury causing one.

Trust me, if you’ve never been thrown before, you’re in for quite the ride when you try Judo. I remember the very first time i got thrown, it took me a couple of minutes before I could regain my composure. That first time I got thrown was the first time I believed that there really is such a thing as knocking the air out of someone. If you aren’t ready for the impact it quite literally sucks the air out of your lungs making it hard to breathe normally for like a minute or more. It’s like your entire midsection seizes up and you momentarily lose control over your lungs and your core muscles. All you could really do at that point is try not to curl up in the pain.

With any martial art really, you need to be familiar with pain. It’s called a combat sport for a reason. That’s when things like the Gi serves its purpose. The official uniform in Japanese martial arts like Judo is called the Gi. In Judo, it’s called a Judogi; in Karate its called the Karategi. The Judogi comes in three pieces, the top, the belt, and the pants. The fabric of a Judogi isn’t the same as your usual karate uniform, though. It is thick, the fabric is at least twice the thickness of your regular cotton t-shirt. The knitting of the fabric is usually very tight and very dense, this is so the opponents can grab you by your Gi instead of your bare skin, which I imagine would be painful.

Judo players, or more formally referred to as Judoka’s, adopt a very sensible philosophy when practicing in the sport. In Judo, there is a saying that one must achieve maximum efficiency with minimal effort. For this reason, spectacle or exhibition is not given the priority, unlike other more famous martial arts. In Judo, one must put emphasis on using your opponents energy to your advantage. Redirecting the energy they use to attack you to in turn attack them. This shift in one’s way of thinking is advantageous not only in the sport, but also in life in general. That’s what I appreciate the most about this sport. Not only does this sport teach you combat skills, but it also instills in you a certain outlook in life. The only way I can think of wording it is “if life tries to knock you down, you use that same energy to bounce back up.”

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