Sensei Ed Melaugh
One of the reasons that I love Small Circle Jujitsu is that it gives me motivation and great reason to cross-train. Cross-training involves doing other activities or exercises with the goal of helping you train for your primary pursuit, such as Small Circle Jujitsu. I have always tried to train as rigorously as possible in jujitsu class in order to get the most out of my limited time in class. I never get enough time in class though. Over the years, I have had to come up with other ways to try to stay in good enough shape to be as effective as possible in Small Circle Jujitsu and to give myself the best chance at self-defense. I am motivated to do other things – to cross-train – because I know that this will help improve my Small Circle Jujitsu. Knowing that every little bit helps, it makes these other activities much more fun and meaningful.
So what else do I do? First, I try to walk as much as possible. Instead of taking the subway to my office in Boston, I make the conscious decision to walk the mile or so to my office when I get off the commuter rail. I also try to take the stairs whenever possible to work on my legs instead of riding the escalator. There are lots of everyday situations like this that can help you become more fit which will help your jujitsu training.
I also try to get to the gym during the week where I usually do some warm-up cardio and then hit the weights. In order to help my Small Circle Jujitsu, I do certain routines to help strengthen those muscles that I always seem to need in class. Specifically, I’ll do the reclining bench press and standing military press because those exercises build the muscles that help you escape from being held down in a cross-body position. I’ll also lay on the floor and use the tri-cep pull machine (using the rowing handle attachment) in order to simulate choking someone who may have ended up in my guard position. Although technique is important to accurately choke someone, having a little extra brawn in your proper application tends to help. I also use the cable pull down machine to strengthen my upper back, bicep and tri-cep muscles which help improve my stand-up throwing and grappling moves. Between every weight training exercise, I do sit-ups on the declined sit-up bench. I prop the bench up on the edge of another bench to make the sit-ups as vertical as possible. Vertical sit-ups are a great core-building exercise. Finally, I use the squat hack machine to work on my quad and calf muscles while keeping my feet in the same position for final execution of a hip throw. Weight training is a lot more satisfying when you feel like you are doing it for a specific purpose like Small Circle Jujitsu.
Over the years, I haven't been able to train in class as much as I would like since I coach youth sports. When I coach though, I don’t just throw a few balls out onto the field and yell at my players from the sideline. I lead my practice sessions like I lead a Small Circle Jujitsu class. I participate in all the running and other drills. I lead the team in stretching exercises and calisthenics which are very similar to our Small Circle Jujitsu warm-ups. I teach the team to “explode” to the ball in ways that look very similar to our closing and startle drills. I teach the team to read the motion of the other players so that they can react more quickly. I have found that even while playing other sports, I can find ways to cross-train for Small Circle Jujitsu.
This brings me to my last point. The best traditional sport that I have found (other than wrestling) for cross-training for Small Circle Jujitsu is half-court basketball!! Playing one-on-one or two-on-two half-court basketball involves a lot of the principles that we focus on in Small Circle Jujitsu. Guarding your man in basketball really teaches you to read motion and not be fooled by the deceptive moves of your opponent. Constantly moving your feet on defense and keeping your hips open to your opponent is great practice for our self-defense training. While on offense, explosive moves to the basket while exploiting the foot and body position of your defending opponent really help with our closing and shutdown moves in Small Circle Jujitsu. Also, no other sport seems to simulate quite as well the stop and start nature of self-defense and grappling. Needless to say, half-court basketball, with its constant action and variety of body movements, is great for building your wind. As we know, our ability to defend ourselves tends to decrease as we get tired and winded.
Even if you can’t get to class as often as you might like, Small Circle Jujitsu helps give greater meaning to the other activities in your life. Try to take and make every opportunity for exercise a form of cross-training for Small Circle Jujitsu. See you in class!!