October at Ishin Ryu’s most northerly Ju Jitsu club has been full on, as the students delve deeper into their yellow belt syllabus and constantly revise their white, in order that they can understand how the two fit together.
As a modern and progressive martial art, our school mixes punches and kicks with throws, locks, and chokes, and we always seek to push ourselves a little further and harder in order to forge a better understanding not only of the art, but also of ourselves. In addition to our usual rigorous warm up, we have gone back to basics and looked at our breakfalls – the art of falling without getting hurt. The most rudimentary technique is the front rolling breakfall which imagines a push to the back and then moves into a forward roll to create distance to allow for a threat assessment. Over the last few months we have been building on this, starting in the kneeling position before moving into standing, and then onto rolling over a single student. However this month we have upped the ante, by attempting a front rolling breakfall over two students. This has been great fun to learn, and in particular Morgan Macsween has shown exceptional aptitude by completely committing to the technique.
In the middle of October, students from both the Stornoway and Lionel Dojos came together to celebrate twelve months of Ishin Ryu Ju Jitsu on the Isle of Lewis – it really is incredible to think how much all the students have accomplished in such a short amount of time. The evening was filled with great food courtesy of the wonderful staff at the Decca, followed by a special screening of the original Karate Kid. For most, it was their first time viewing this 80’s classic and it was great to see the smiles on their faces when dedication and technique won over brute strength.
Back on the mat, we have been getting ever more technical with our throws as we transition from the basic hip throw, to the fearsome speed of the body-drop, and on to major outer reap. One student who has really stood out is Charley Gilroy who, in addition to becoming a great striker, is really developing some excellent throws.
Being completionists, we have also started to increase the complexity of our striking combinations, moving between strike-shields, and Big Bertha – our resident punch bag. The students have taken to this so well that a number have even gone out and bought their own bags to train on at home. Of note, Lewis O’Connor is developing a great knee strike, and Kathy Matheson’s turning kicks are becoming works of art in their own right.
Lewis with a great knee
Kathy demonstrates an ace turning kick
By combining strikes with throws, the students have been transitioning their opponents to the ground, and it is here that they apply a variety of locks, chokes and holds to gain a submission. Much of the yellow belt syllabus takes the ideas of its predecessor, but demonstrates how similar principles can be applied from a variety of different angles and positions.
Finally, a note on our Friday class; this is reserved exclusively for those wish to take ju jitsu from being a hobby to a way of life. The session is deliberately kept small so as to maximise one-to-one time and really deconstruct the technical elements of our syllabus. As part of this all of the senior grades have been learning the basics of sword and sword cuts, which form the basis of many of our throws. For the last six months the students have been focussing on three fundamental cuts, and in October we moved on to the fourth cut, and the first technique which is known as “Ippon Me Mae”.
It is difficult to describe to those who do not practice sword arts just how impressive this group of young adults has become. Not only are they wholly dedicating themselves to a different culture, but they are embracing concepts and ideas at a staggering rate. The techniques are incredibly intricate, combining subtle movements with breathing to create blistering counter-attacks. In particular, Eilidh Ferguson’s sword cuts are most impressive, and she has expertly grasped the principles of “Mokso” – a form of combat meditation.
A final note is a date for your diary; students of Lionel and Stornoway Dojos will be taking part in the North Lewis 5k run on 5th December, and this will be followed by our annual Christmas dinner which will be open to extended family and friends.
Until next month,