Judo frustrated? let it go, let it goo!!!

Coming into Judo is hard. First, you have the lug the Judo gi all over the city throughout your commute. It takes up space in the office; it’s heavy, bulky, and inconvenient. Then you must bring it to the dojo along with your briefcase. After all that, you get slammed, fingers contorted, toes bent, leaving contused and confused. Now, with an even heavier gi (sweat infused) you must limp home….

landing on head

landing on head


I would be lying if I said Judo wasn’t hard and frustrating. The learning curve is quite steep. You can’t learn a technique and put it to use for a long time. It isn’t like taking a local kickboxing class where you learn to kick, hit the pads right away, feel good about yourself instantly and go home feeling like you’ve learned a skill you could put to immediate use.
Do you remember the first time you ever picked up a basketball? I do. It wasn’t until very shortly after, that I was able to enjoy the pleasure of the ball swooshing through the hoop (I was hooked and dreamt of the NBA for most of my teens). In judo, from the moment you grab a gi and learn your first arm throw, the time it takes where you can throw an unwilling participant takes a much longer time. Usually far longer than most people can keep interested.


Shintaro Higashi uchimata

So yes it’s frustrating. Many people quit. Therefore it isn’t a very good business to be in. Unfortunately for me, my only other option is putting my Masters degree to use by working for the NYC DOE. Screaming kids, scolding administration, bureaucracy, taking orders? No thank you!

For the many that come to Judo and have these frustrating feelings, it helps to know your purpose and set smaller goals.

Here are some purposes along with differentiated goals for your reference

Trying to be a national level competitor
1. Fight 6 rounds minimum
2. Throw Joe 3 times
3. Do 300 uchikomis
4. Beat Torazo at judo today
5. Off balance the sensei

Just want to get in shape
1. Do hard uchikomis
2. Don’t get frustrated on the outcome of the rounds (you’re there for a workout after all)
3. Stay diligent with the conditioning after class
4. Do extra calisthenics at the end of class
5. Stay persistent
6. Ask the guys who are in the best shape about their diet

Want to learn Judo marathon style, no need to compete
1. Your focus should be on self-aware metacognitive drilling
2. Ask many questions
3. Stay before and after class
4. Don’t worry about live fighting so much
5. Observe and take notes
6. Befriend the black belts!!!

I want to make friends
1. Be friendly
2. Ask questions
3. Grab dinner after judo
4. Grab drinks after judo
5. Exachange phone numbers
6. Spend a lot of time on the Kokushi Budo facebook page

Everyone has a different reason why they seek out Judo instruction. Not everyone will be a National champion. If you have a clear cut purpose, it melts the frustration away since you are NOT comparing yourselves to the 10 year black belts, the World cup medalists and the Shintaro Higashis. Rather you are holding yourself accountable to the smaller goals that are set forth differentiated to your personal judo needs.

Judo frustrated? Let it go!

Start Judo by Jake

Start judo by jake

Start judo by jake

At the end of 6th grade, I was cut from the school soccer team. In retrospect, it was an insignificant event but at the time I was crushed. All my buddies were still on the team, scoring goals, going to practice and getting in shape, while I stayed home and played PS2 and ate popchips. It was a tough period, and my mom tried everything to get me out of it. “I don’t want to play any other sports, Mom!” I just couldn’t get over it. I didn’t want to play basketball, or go swimming, or run track. I considered myself “retired” from sports at the age of 12.
This dark period continued until, and I remember it to this day, I was at my Grandfather’s with my family when my Mom had a brilliant suggestion, “What about a martial art? You used to do Taekwondo!” I immediately rolled my eyes, “Mom, Taekwondo is not a serious sport, okay, you don’t even go full speed in it. Not in karate or kung fu either.” Ignoring my skepticism, however, my Mom scoured the city in search of a more “physical and intense” martial art class. After weeks of searching, she pinpointed this local dojo called, the “Kokushi-Budo Institute.”
I agreed to check it out this time, feeling a little more optimistic because of my Mom’s encouragement. Feeling too bashful, I decided to watch a class before trying it out, meanwhile my older brother jumped right into the class that very day. So I sat in the basement of a Buddhist Church, and watched a “Judo” class. What a spectacle it was. I was thrilled to see all these big guys flipping each other (I even saw my big bro toss this brown belt who later kindly introduced himself as “Andy”). I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
But what truly convinced me that this was where I belonged, was at the end of class, when all the students laughed and gave each other high-fives after an hour of battling it out on the mat. I mean, there was such a sense of camaraderie, that I couldn’t wait to get out there. And so I told my mom she was brilliant, and showed up for my first class the next week. I thought it was so awesome, I had to come back for more Judo. 4 years later, and I keep coming back. I now assist Sensei in teaching the Children’s Judo Classes, and seeing the smiles on the faces of young judo practitioners very much reminds me of the thrill I felt when I first walked into the Kokushi Budo Institute. Suffice it to say, I feel just as genuinely excited about Judo now as I did those 4 years ago, and I don’t expect that to change.

Come celebrate seoi nage month!

The great Toshihiko Koga

Kokushi Budo

Kokushi Budo will be open tonight on MLK!

Kokushi Budo Martial Arts

I want to send great thanks to two of my students Peter and Roman for helping me set up the Kokushi Budo martial arts website. Please be sure to check it out. If you like it, you can contact me and I will connect you with these incredible web developers!


Osoto Gari Instruction

Footsweep (Deashi barai) by Shintaro Higashi

Selecting a great Judo instructor

Selecting a great judo teacher

“when you are ready to learn, a teacher will appear.”

When seeking out an instructor, you need to do your due diligence and weigh out the various factors that make a great mentor. Here are some categories I believe the teacher needs to excel in in order to be a great leader of the dojo. Of course this isn’t perfect and subject to many a criticism… In my defense, I am writing this during a 45 minute break while my first graders sing and dance in a push-in music class.


Here is a chart so you can visualize it, followed by a written description and some questions you should be asking yourself about your mentor.

Judo instructor quality chart


1. Competition record
a. Are they a competitor?
b. How far did they go? How far can they take you?
2. Pedagogy
a. Do they know how to differentiate instruction for your skill and style?
b. Are their methodologies current, relevant and on point?
c. Are they innovative with their drills?
d. Can they connect with the students?
3. Education
a. Are they an academic?
b. Are they educated? Martial arts is about education after all…
4. Real World success
a. Are they successful in other areas of their lives?
b. Do they live their life by the moral code they preach?
c. Can they be role models for you off the mat as well?
5. Fitness level
a. Are they in shape?

I put together a chart here for your reference. Of course every instructor will be different. I hope when you seek out your teacher you try to put together a chart like this one so you can make an informed decision. If you are already involved at a dojo somewhere, how does your sensei measure up on this chart? I would hope they rank high. That’s what being a black belt is all about.

3 levels of seoi nage for Judo and BJJ

Funny video after Judo class Wednesday night