Judo Blog: Lucid Dreaming

Judo Blog: Lucid Dreaming
My friend and colleague Cheryl Hari recently wrote me that judo classes tend to revolve around learning a new technique, practicing the old ones and most of all getting a good workout. Conditioning, drills, repetition, strength training are all familiar ways athletes try to improve.

As every coach and athlete knows, the quest for "that extra edge" over the competition is a continual part of competitive sports. We are discovering that although we have barely touched the practice, the benefits of mental training can be invaluable to the athletes’ performance at all levels.

For most athletes, their quest to improve their performance is limited to the time they can dedicate to physical practice. Some dedicated athletes limit sleep to fit more workouts into their wakeful hours. Yet, the hours an athlete spends asleep can be just as effective to improving performance, and not just because they are giving their body a rest.

\u200bCheryl Hari

Cheryl Hari throughout the years (picture in the middle with her dad)

Active or Lucid Dreaming

If you have ever gone to bed and can’t stop thinking, even in your sleep. You may know you are dreaming, you can manipulate the dream, and sometimes you even wake up with a solution. You have experienced spontaneous Lucid Dreaming or Active Dreaming. Did you know that you can train to use this seldom used method to produce an amazing performance improvement for yourself and your athletes?

Research is showing us that the practice of Active or Lucid dreaming can be far superior to wakeful visualization techniques and at times superior to actual physical practice. Those who practice lucid dreaming are showing significant performance improvements.

While initial studies of the Lucid dream state focused on the ability to face our fears, overcome nightmares, wish fulfillment and healing. Athletes benefit, not only from the training to overcome performance anxiety and fears. Lucid dream training has a much broader application.

In a lucid dream state, we practice our responses without facing the “danger” directly. You can practice your strategies and get a feel for what would work and what wont. You are aware that the events rushing through your brain aren’t really happening, and you can rehearse how it may unfold, somewhat as if you were directing a movie in your sleep. You can replay the scenario over and over, until you discover the desired results.

Research shows that the sense of control and the repetitive practice you feel during a lucid dream stays with you when you are awake and encounter similar events and helps you respond as you practiced in your dreams.

Because lucid dreaming is an "altered state of consciousness" that differs from ordinary dreaming where the dreamer is capable of judgment and reflection, and repetition. They are able to utilize more awareness than during ordinary dreaming. Lucid dreaming occurs during REM sleep...

During REM sleep, the brain remains highly active even though certain motor neurons in the brain stem are suppressed to paralyze the sleeper's body .

The combination of an active brain and inactive body distinguishes lucid dreaming from wakeful imagery or visualization. Although the body's muscles are actively inhibited in REM sleep, the neural messages sent to them in dreams are just as strong as when the body is awake. This means that activity in lucid dreams can be as effective at perfecting physical skills as activity in waking life can be. In addition, while normal dreams are often forgotten, the memory of lucid dreams appears to be equal to memories retained while we are awake. This allows the athlete to apply their dream experiences to the waking world easily.

How to do it

With practice, triggering lucid dream training can be fairly easy.

You can train yourself to shift into a lucid dream state with pre-sleep autosuggestion Go to bed each night with the intention to become lucid during your dreams. Before you fall asleep, run the scenario you want to work on through your mind using a wakeful visualization technique. Once you reach the REM sleep state, your mind takes over.

It helps to work on your dream recall. Having a strong dream recall increases your chances of becoming cognizant and remembering your practice. Don’t worry about always remembering though, the neural pathways for your response and techniques are still being built.

Another way to initiate lucid dreams is to use a portable device that induces the lucid dream state. They are in the form of a sleep mask or headband that produce noises, flashing lights, vibrations and other cues that act as auditory, visual, or tactile stimulation

It takes practice to master your dreams, but with repetition the skill becomes easier, and with strategies and effort anyone can do it.


Research is determining that lucid dream training has a lot to offer judo athletes. Coaches and athletes know that mental practice can be half the game. Being able to rehearse performance, leads to a better response to the situation.

As the connection between how the mind and body interact to affect athletic performance, there is strong evidence that dreaming about performing a complex action is as effective as actually practicing it. In multiple studies, there were no significant advantage for those who physically practiced the technique compared to those who practiced in lucid dreaming state. The practice improves motor skills by strengthening the neural pathways used to elicit the patterns of movement that are required.

Improvements in new skills are evident even before they are attempted while awake, positive changes appear within one dream to the next. The implications of this are amazing. Lucid dreaming can help an athlete practice movement before their bodies are physically ready to perform. They can start developing the neural pathways, so they are ready to perform when their muscles are ready. Injured athletes can also benefit from lucid dream practice. Helping them maintain their techniques while healing.

Lucid dream practice can provide an athlete with that "extra edge," both physically and mentally. The sensory-motor work and mental strengthening that occurs during sleep is incredibly beneficial. The ‘edge’ of being able to train in your sleep and waking life gives the athlete time to devote a significantly greater number of hours his sport than any of his competition who do not harness the skill of lucid dreaming.


Here’s a report from Tom Gustin on the Tohkon Classic 25 & GKJN Cup last weekend in Chicago

Starting Friday June 3 to 5, 2022, was the start of the Tohkon Tournament, Sensei Gary Takemoto presented an update on the new Judo Rules. After the presentation, the referees got a firsthand update on the new CARE System. Henry Hummel and Marc Barbaccia (Wisconsin) were involved with the new system. They explained the system and will be on hand Saturday during competition.

Saturday at the Rosemont Dome on Jenny Finch Way, the day started with kata competition. When the competition was ready, all lined up, Sensei Tono had an in with the traffic control tower, during the singing of the National Anthem, there was a fly over during the song. The Dome is by one of the O’Hare Airport’s runway. So it was difficult hearing anything over the PA System.

Competition involved over 450 competitors. There were 30 referees, at least one testing for the N1 slot and passed. One IJF referee was from Mongolia, other referees came from: California, Colorado, Missouri, Indiana, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Sunday, Marti Malloy and Megumi Ishikawa, hosted a clinic with many competitors and referees participating. At noon Referees were treated to a Japanese lunch. At 1:00 pm the Global Kids Judo Network Team Competition started. There were at approximately 8 teams. This event was exciting and interesting. Everything was completed before 4:00 pm.

Marti with me in 2019

OLYMP Fight Club

Congratulations to OLYMP Fight Club on their Promotion Ceremony last weekend

June - 2022
July - 2022
December - 2022

2nd Friday to 4th Sunday - Grassroots Judo Winter Nationals & Clinics, Azusa. CA

I'm always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to gary@garygoltz.com, thanks.

Gary Goltz

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