Last week I was back on my travels over in Europe, this time Saarbrucken in Germany, for the German Open and a 3 day training camp directly after the tournament. My training for the past few months has been purely mat based, a typical day consisting of Judo technical training in the morning and randori (sparring) in the evening. I decided to give the strength and conditioning work a rest for a while for a few reasons; I wanted a period of time where skill acquisition became my main focus again, I wanted to see if there would be any drastically negative effects on my physical performance. Also we were given a break period after the end of the Olympic qualification and where most people took some time away or went on holiday etc, I decided to continue training as well, I love doing Judo (have done since I was 4 years old). I cut a lot of weight during the 18 month Rio qualification period (around 120kg altogether) so not having to step on the scales every morning, weigh every meal or calorie count also made the day to day training more enjoyable. Lastly, in hindsight, I can see I was probably working out some of the frustration I had inside of myself at not being able go on to compete and challenge for a medal in the Rio Olympics.
So my competition preparation was pretty much non existent for the German Open, I was doing lots of technical work and staying very open in randori (sparring). I decided to use it as a practice event to trial some of the things I’d been working on and I was going out there for the training camp, so why the hell not. I fought at the higher weight of -81kg, my actual body weight being 79kg which is lighter than i’ve been for some time. I always eat clean, but had been trialling some intermittent fasting which has helped me stay lean whilst not calorie counting. I lost my first fight to the eventual silver medalist from Germany, I was caught with a nice foot sweep for ippon in the last minute after leading by a couple of penalties, and dominating nearly every exchange of the fight. I arm locked a strong Swiss lad in the first fight in the repechage, and lost a very close affair to the Belgian to finish my day. I’m passionate about fighting so although disappointed to not come away with a medal, I did get chance to try some new things out and I feel with the obvious required strength and muscle building training, then I could be competitive internationally at the higher weight category should I ever decide to make the decision to switch.
The training camp went well, I was hunting out left handed fighters to really test a few specific scenarios and attacks I’ve been drilling to death back home in Camberley, and I’m pleased to be able to say they are all coming along nicely. I really feel that my system of fighting is not far off from being as full as I’d like it to be for the time being (however I feel if you think that a system can ever be complete you really don’t unstained Judo or fighting). I feel that I’m at a point where I have the majority of the attacks, gripping sequences, transitional scenarios in all the directions I will need, now it’s just a case of drilling them and practicing them enough that I can score most of them on anyone in the world. For this reason (although slightly off topic) I feel I can never retire, because knowledge and progression never ends, as does the queue of people ready to fight. A number of people are announcing their retirements now, as always around Olympic time, and I don’t agree with it. I understand that they are saying that they will cease to compete in tournaments anymore, and the point I’m trying to get across is probably just my slightly naive warped opinion, but for me this is why we are a martial art and not a sport; fighting can and should never stop. I love watching coaches go on and practice during sessions if they fancy it or players ask them for a randori, to me this really is the ultimate example that this is a lifetime thing and not just a ‘career’ that you do for a number of years through your teens and twenties. It never stops.
Thanks for reading.