Systema expert Val Riazanov asks the tough question: At this point in your martial arts career, why should you consider changing the way you strike? What's wrong with conventional methods? Plenty, says the systema instructor, who's certified under Mikhail Ryabko. In this exclusive in-studio video, Riazanov discusses the psychological advantage of ballistic striking and how that translates, ultimately, into physical superiority.
Two-Time Black Belt Hall of Famer Hayward Nishioka has been campaigning for judo in the United States to harvest more shodans (1st degree black belts) Shodan literally means student. It's analogous to being a freshman in college. It's not the end but the beginning according to Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo.
A very dear friend and sensei of mine the late Allen Johnson, may he rest in peace made a home at Emerald City Judo. In Redmond, Washington.
The late Allen Johnson receiving his Rokudan with Greg Dean, Mike Hyatt, me, and Nelson Salazar of Emerald City Judo in Redmond, WA - Greater Seattle.
Sensei Allen Johnson’s Legacy and Impact on Emerald City Judo Club’s Journey
Allen Johnson in Viet Nam
Allen's crash landing story and US Masters (2012 )Winter Nationals (2013)
Allen was an American Hero, a decorated veteran who passed away on April 4, 2018 (Video Tribute 1 & Video Tribute 2). Allen as mentor played an instrumental in helping this dojo codify, understand the promotion process and optimize their impact on their community.
The leaders of Emerald City Judo submitted their own written account of how they develop students at their dojo to understand accountabilities through the kyu stages and preparing them for what's needed to earn their shodan.
Emerald City Judo Club’s Essay on Learnings Along the Way of the promotion process
Senseis Greg Dean and Nelson Salazar presenting Amanda Rasolmoff her shodan promotion certificate.
The road to earning one's shodan in judo is one of the most rewarding things anyone can pursue. Many will find it challenging, life changing and full of its own ups and downs. You must be able to persevere throughout its journey just to achieve it. So how does a dojo help its students get there?
We at Emerald City Judo have experienced our fair share of awarding many students over our 22+ years through many kyu ranks, and for those that have persevered, their shodan.
While it's not an easy road to get students from white belt all the way through to their shodan, it is a rewarding experience for both the student and the sensei's.
We learned early on that to continue to grow and maintain a solid student body across all age groups, we had to start with the young kids. We needed to establish and grow our kids' program which helped in getting new adults, i.e., parents onto the mats and joining in with their kids. By helping cultivate our youth program we began establishing ourselves in the early days as an up-and-coming judo program serving the surrounding communities next to Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, WA.
For a time in the first half of our existence, we'd seen many students come and go. It was great to see the growing number of students we had in our classes, broken out across all levels and kids in the first hour and non-beginners in the second. We grew what we called a very long tail of students, i.e., lots of beginner belts with few higher belts, i.e., brown, and black.
Image above: Features the village that supported the journey of both Amanda and Leah Hiatt
Image above: Amanda earned her shodan after starting judo at 5 years of age.
Image above: Many of the older kids in this picture have persevered and earned their shodan and the others are still on their journey, all supported by the village around them of Sensei's, family, and friends.
Image above: Leah earning her shodan after having started at 4 years of age.
Key Learnings Over the Years
Like many dojos out there, we brainstormed on what was needed to get our students from white to shodan, and there were several things we realized were necessary to establish in order to get it done!
1.Retention of our student base was paramount.
2.Optimized and disciplined promotion process where students knew what they were accountable for to earn their promotions.
3.Increased number of similar aged student groups to ensure more like-for-like training partners.
4.Ensure beginners, especially kids, were engaged, having fun, and enjoying their experiences.
5.Establishing the notion of young leaders that act as mentors and student coaches for youngsters, as well as adults and young adults.
6.More social events to increase camaraderie with families and students.
7.Encourage students to compete and establish a competition team which for us, has been very successful and rewarding
8.Encourage those that don't want to compete to serve judo in other ways; help at tournaments, be good training partners for competitors, work ibn katas, help clean the dojo, etc.
9.Develop a platform for students to aspire to reach and achieve bigger things in their journey.
10.Cultivate potential candidates (juniors and adults) for refereeing as another means to serve the greater judo community; i.e. community outreach to high schools and middle schools to share judo and hopefully attract new students. As an example, our dojo has a been a great source for high school wrestling programs in our community, both women and men's programs.
The list continues but ideas that I'm sure many of you have encountered and have implemented as well. This helped ensure our long tail base of students in the kyu ranks continued to grow. Our challenge however was one of retaining those many kyu ranks to stay on their journey long enough.
The one thing that helped was retaining a core group of families and their kids from the very youngest of ages from the beginning as well as adults passionate about learning the art and deeper meaning of judo.
We were fortunate to carry many of these kids through to their shodan. We were able to carry many older adults, most being parents, through to their shodan as well (see image below). Also, we now have a healthy group of new brown belts (sankyu to ikkyu) getting closer to their shodan too.
Image above: Kaleb center in blue, earning his Shodan after having started at 7 years of age.
Image above: Adults beginning their journey with their kyu promotions.
Image above: Adult parent Eduardo earning his shodan, having started with his children.
Image above: Help them achieve their goals – Leah at 2018 European Cadet Championships.
Image above: Emerald City students and Sensei's giving service to judo as referees. The two youngsters are now shodans.
Images above: Developing young leaders and ensuring kids have fun.
Image above: Emerald City Judo kids having fun!
Image above: the late Allen-Sensei addressing our students and conveying wisdom.
Image above: Allen-Sensei always leaning in and helping our kids and coaches during tournaments.
Image above: Lucky group of students learning from Sensei's Gary and Allen (Red White obi's). Amada is the girl in blue belt (first row, 2nd from right) who persevered, stayed on her journey and is a shodan.
Allen-Sensei was an inspiration and role model for the three of us owners and instructors of Emerald City Judo Club – Thank you Sensei Gary Goltz for bringing Allen-Sensei into our lives! His presence continues to be missed.
For someone well into his seventies, he continued to inspire our members by continuing to compete at senior master's level. He helped us organize our students (adults and young adults) who were willing to serve at tournaments (rather than compete) to manage mat tables, be runners, manage athletes, etc. He was a great mentor who helped instill in us and our students, that our combined service to judo and its community would benefit everyone involved…that key tenet of Kano-Sensei, Jita Kyoei - Mutual welfare and Benefit is more than just words, it truly applies!
By focusing on our service to both judo and our community, we've been privileged to help guide many of our early students through their journey in kyu ranks and on to receiving their shodans (as you see in the images throughout). We've been fortunate to experience and guide two main groups of youth and adults in our 23+ years of our dojo's journey. The most recent being the images at the beginning of this essay.
Many of the students in these images we've helped from their earliest beginning by stepping on the mats at four to seven years of age, and those that have stepped on the mats with their children, through their competition experiences, refereeing pursuits, broader service to judo, then on to university and into the work force. It's been great making a positive impact to the lives of so many students through judo.
Our world has changed now, and despite this new age of Covid these past 18+ months, with pandemic shutdowns and great uncertainty for many of us who own and run our schools, we must persevere for our communities, and continue to keep the dreams alive for all our students, young and old.
The pandemic has taught everyone to rethink their priorities, with health and learning new things being top of mind. It's been scary for sure, but it's also helped our dojo and community be rejuvenated with new students where we as a community will continue what we've learned and help them through their journey to shodan.
I'm always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to email@example.com,
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ONE Championship’s NextGen series concluded on Friday, November 26, with the previously recorded ONE: NextGen III. The six-bout card featured matches across three sports and delivered a night of quality martial arts action.
In the main event, Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks made a successful ONE debut with a dominant victory over Lito Adiwang. The charismatic American was elated with the performance and put the rest of the strawweight world on notice.
What else happened inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium? Find out with a recap of ONE: NextGen III.
Main Event: Lito Adiwang vs. Jarred Brooks
Lito Adiwang vs. Jarred Brooks
Brooks Winner by Submission
Round 2 - 3:07
Welcome to ONE, Mr. Brooks!
Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks made his organizational debut in the main event opposite #5-ranked Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang and officially put ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio on notice with a second-round arm-triangle finish.
Brooks recognized the power of Adiwang and used his superior grappling to get the action to the mat. Once there, he was in full control of his opponent and stayed active from top. Adiwang showed himself well, but the American was simply too much.
The emphatic performance cemented Brooks’ standing in the division. He entered the company as one of the hottest commodities in the strawweight division and confirmed he is a top contender for the gold.
Alaverdi Ramazanov vs. Pongsiri PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym
Ramazanov Winner by KO
Alex Silva vs. Rene Catalan
Silva Winner by Submission
Panpayak Jitmuangnon vs. Daniel Puertas
Panpayak Winner by Unanimous Decision
Pieter Buist vs. Ruslan Emilbek Uulu
Uulu Winner by Unanimous Decision
Felipe Lobo vs. Rodlek PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym
Lobo Winner by Unanimous Decision
Former ONE Bantamweight Kickboxing World Champion Alaverdi “Babyface Killer” Ramazanov was on point with his rangy striking, and he flustered Pongsiri in the opening round. As the frustrated Thai star marched forward, Ramazanov uncorked a beautiful uppercut down the center for the KO. The win put the Russian back in the win column, and he asserted himself in the Muay Thai title picture right away.
Former Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva showed he is not ready to go away from the title scene himself. The first-round submission moved him one step closer to another title shot, but the Brazilian may still have work to do. Regardless, his swift submission showcased his grappling prowess once again.
Panpayak Jitmuangnon and Daniel Puertas went the full three rounds in their flyweight kickboxing battle, and it was the Thai star who got his hand raised by unanimous decision. It was a solid performance by Panpayak, who affirmed his #3 spot in the official ONE athlete rankings.
Pieter Buist and Ruslan Emilbek Uulu went toe-to-toe in a lightweight battle, which almost ended early. Although after the full three rounds ended, it was Uulu who had done enough in the judge’s eyes to pick up the victory. The closely-contested battle showed the depth of the lightweight division as Uulu inched closer to contention.In the opening contest, Brazil’s Felipe Lobo showed himself to be one of the rising stars of the bantamweight kickboxing division with a three-round unanimous decision victory over Rodlek PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym. Lobo’s speed and precision kept Rodlek guessing and earned him a signature victory to close out the year.
Lito Adiwang vs. Jarred Brooks Ended With A NASTY SUBMISSION 😬With HEATED words exchanged before they faced off in the Circle, the main event of ONE: NEXTGEN III, Filipino phenom Lito Adiwang and American debutant Jarre...
The JAW-DROPPING Knockout That Ended Ramazanov vs. Pongsiri 🤯With the #5 spot in the bantamweight Muay Thai division on the line, former ONE World Champion Alaverdi Ramazanov took on Thai striker Pongsiri PK in a KNOCK...
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Does your energy seem to fade when you need it most? Well, to have stamina like Ferguson, Poirier, and Khalib, besides training, you need to optimize your energy. These foods will help supercharge your body and prevent you hitting the wall.
First, you have to be careful of those energy drinks. They give you that instant pump, but they fade away quickly. And when they fade, you don’t just go back to normal. And that is not good going into the second or third round. So, understand food is the fuel needed for sustainable energy. Sustainability is the name of the game. Learn how to energize sustainability, rather than just energize. Know the best foods you need to eat to optimize your performance. Because, not all foods are created equal.
Water is essential for hydration. Water is so basic, yet it is the most critical and often forgotten to drink. When your body is dehydrated, it is difficult to train. Visualize it; when your car radiator has no water, it overheats and stops. Your body is the same. Without water and hydration, you will diminish your training and performance, allowing your opponent to toss you around like a rag doll or pound you like a piece of meat.
Drinking water will keep you hydrated and your body functioning to prevent fatigue and enhance your energy.
You can eat eggs how you want, but try to avoid the butter and the oils used to cook eggs. That’s the stuff that turns your energy into slow dripping molasses. Scrambled or boiled eggs are best! What is excellent about eggs is that you can eat them about an hour before your training because they are easily digested within an hour. Protein is important to have before training, and the timing as well. Eggs are loaded with amino acids, protein, leucine, iron, and zinc. Now, understand, that eggs are not used for energy. They prevent your muscles from breaking down too much during your training.
That is why carbs are essential with eggs and what optimizes your energy. If there is a hole in the gas tank, you lose fuel. Same as the body, if the muscles are not functioning well, you lose energy.
Alternative- Whey protein powder
Bananas are a perfect source of simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are essential at the beginning of training. And as they wear off, you have the complex carbs kicking on. Bananas are great before, during (of course not while you are fighting, LOL), and after your training. There is about 300-320 grams of potassium in one banana. And potassium is essential for your cells and muscles to function correctly. Much of your Potassium is lost through sweating.
Alternative- Avocado or Mango
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are another simple and complex carbohydrate, mostly complex, that have a slower sustained energy release over time. However, sweet potatoes have a lot of fiber, making you less hungry and feel full. So, instead of trying to lean in and find that sweet stop on the scale to make you lighter, eat the sweet potatoes to make you full and eat less. They are loaded with vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. Everything you need to get you into the more prolonged bouts of training and matches. If you want your muscles to adapt to training longer and harder, you need the sustainable energy to do it. Or else, it is like trying to drive your car without gas, well, I should say, strain to push it.
Alternative- Pumpkin or Squash
Nuts are a great after-training snack. They replace energy quickly, and you only need to eat a few handfuls when driving your car home from training. So, instead of stopping at Burger King, which will trash your energy and recovery, keep a bag of nuts them in your car. Nuts have a ton of fiber, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and sodium—everything you need to rebuild cells and muscles and replace energy.
Alternative- Pumpkin seeds
6. Chia Seeds
Chia is another excellent and easily digested nutrient to optimize your performance. First, it stabilizes your blood sugar. And, from sweating a lot, which I knew you all do, will help replace and stabilize potassium and magnesium lost from sweating. Chia’s powerful benefits don’t stop there. They contain antioxidants like omega-3 and quercetin that keep your immune system strong. And, they have about 5-7 grams of fiber. Chia is great! You can put them on your eggs or sweet potato, drink them in your water, eat them with your banana, or combine them with nuts. There is no excuse not to use them nor like them. There is no taste. Just condensed power.
Alternative- Flax or hemp seeds
Learn to boost your energy. Don’t fall into the fatigue factor from training hard. You can train hard; however, energy is needed to train and prepare your body to function better, longer, and more demanding. Again, do you want to drive your car or push it?
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