Saturday, October 18, 2008

Judo: Hayward Nishioka Sensei by John Owen Ong

(Note: This article is reprinted with the permission from the author, John Owen Ong, a family man, martial artist and a businessman. Oct 1, '08 9:14 PM)

I had the privilege of learning Judo under the instruction of Hayward Nishioka Sensei. It was in the mid 80's, 84-85. I took it as a Physical Education class at the Los Angeles City College. Nishioka Sensei was patient and articulate. He took time to explain the details of the techniques and showed his love of the art. I thought Judo was going to be easy. It is after all the Gentle Way. I was wrong. It was hard work. It worked everything. At the end of the one hour class, I was completely wiped out. Then I had to tackle Chemistry. The class was 3 units and met for one hour three times a week.

The classroom was the dojo. It had pads on the walls in addition to the floor. The throwing techniques were not too strenuous, but the groundwork was killer. The stand up worked the lower body mostly and the groundwork the upper body. Nishioka Sensei taught in a technical way, which appealed to me. Techniques were broken down into steps. Placement of the feet, body relationship between uke and tori, grip etc. were clearly shown. This made the techniques easy to learn for me. The hard part was timing and feeling. I used to supplement my training by going to the park and practice on the trees. I took my belt and wrapped it around a good sized pine tree, trunk size was about my body width. This served as uke's arms or lapel, depending on the technique being practiced. Then I would do one technique twenty times. Slow at first, feeling my base and trying to lift or trip the tree. I built up speed gradually. This really helped me a lot.

One day Sensei used me as a dummy to demonstrate a technique. I was reluctant because I thought I would miss the details of the technique. How can I learn if I can't see, right? It turned out I was wrong. Being the uke gave me a different perspective on the technique. It allowed me to feel the technique as executed by a master. I felt how he entered all the way to the follow through. It was actually very enriching. this allowed me to kind of reverse engineer the technique. It worked better than I thought. Being thrown, pinned or choked by Sensei became enjoyable. With pain came knowledge.

I left Sensei after I transferred to University and relocated. It was a very memorable time of my life.

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