Judo Chop! (*Video*)
The first day at the wrestling facility produced one good lead, University wrestling instructor Shen Zhi Kun had trained shuaijiao and was willing to meet with us before his judo seminar. Fan (my indispensable, wonderful, saintly translator) met me at the wrestling room and after a rough introduction was able to get Shen to agree to have us in the room to watch practice. Such an innocent start to the day.
Within moments my shirt had been replaced by a gi, that awful bathrobe looking jacket worn by many eastern martial artists. I was laughingly lead onto the mats to face-off with Zhang Tong Jin, a 19-year-old judo player. Zhang tips the scale at 100k+ and though he might look like 2009 NCAA Champion Dustin Fox, he was lighter on his feet than Henry Cejudo. So, in a word, I was concerned.
My only prior experience with judo had came in January when I’d donned the gi to practice with RJ Cohen the black belt instructor at Valko BJJ in Chicago. We’d tussled hard but by the end my back had taken massive abuse from being tripped, tossed, and spun about. I’d felt helpless in the gi, where it seemed every reaction I’d learned in wrestling had resulted in a high amplitude throw for RJ and snickers from bystanders. Six months later I’d had more work with the gi but was still facing a tall (read: hefty) order.
The roll with Zhang was a little better than that first with RJ. It’s hard to tell from the video whether or not he was trying, but after 20 minutes of slapping, grabbing, tripping and bleeding, I felt we ended more-or-less equal. Though I’m certain I broker every conceivable judo rule, we’d exchanged takedowns and even had time to make some jokes. Win or lose, I was able to wrestle and that was the point.
After we finished with our roll, Shen took me through several traditional shuaijiao moves, which I’ll write about in my next post. For now, it’s of to Shanghai for a weekend with my brother’s father-in-law and then a portion of the trip I hope will add some extraordinary content to the site. However, this being China, one can only hope that everything goes as planned though it almost certainly won’t. (This post was almost my psychological undoing…)