I know that conditioning and strength training is important to be as good as you can be. I know that it’s important to be as good as I can be, and I did a lot when I was competing regularly. But I really don’t like doing a lot of outside conditioning. I just don’t. For me, conditioning sucks.
As a friend recently reminded me, there are three elements of a competitive Judoka or BJJ competitor; technical ability, fighting spirit and athletic ability/conditioning. It takes all three to be as good as you can be.
I was always pretty strong at the fighting spirit leg of the trinity. I love competing and enjoy the physicality and test of hard training and competition. In many ways the training is why I love these sports so much. Even when I’m not getting ready to compete or preparing myself to compete, I love the fighting. win or lose, that’s what makes Judo and BJJ the most fun thing I’ve ever done. You can do things to work on your competitiveness and spirit. But, while fighting spirit can be improved and addressed, often, you are who you are.
I loved randori and matwork from the first time I did it, even though I was terrible at it. The real first step is technical improvement. You can make the jump from terrible to pretty good with hard work on the technical aspect. The drilling and class work involved clearly is a life long endeavor, but you begin to see rewards fairly quickly. In my current crop of up and coming Judoka, I have seen some marvelous improvement of their technical skills. I think that technical skill should always be the first leg of the trio to get your focus.
When I was a brown belt, Art and Mike Ancona, began to push Ronnie and myself to begin outside of class conditioning. we were very resistant. Our plan was to out train everyone with our class work and overcome any shortfalls of our strength and conditioning with our fighting spirit and technical ability. This approach met mixed results. We had pretty good results by working hard and improving our skills and fighting our asses off in competition. it took us to Black Belt in judo and helped us get our BJJ blue belts in just a few months of training. Then reality and Steve Maxwell arrived.
I LOVE practicing Judo and BJJ. I can go to class every day, take class, teach class, drill, throw or best of all train. Doing Randori and rolling sets of BJJ are by far the most important components of improving your technical ability and success. It has the added bonus of being physically challenging and is a great work out. it can even help you learn to be more competitive. Training will leave you drenched in sweat and exhausted, so the conditioning element is a big part of the benefit of training, it has the added bonus of being fun so you get the work out without trying to get it.
But, and it’s an important but, the training isn’t focused or consistent enough to meet all of the conditioning requirements of a serious competitor. This is even more true as you get older. Art and Steve finally made us realize this as we aspired to take our competition to the next level. We were having decent success, but, we had to finally accept that to get to another level, we needed to attack the third component, physical conditioning. We began doing Steve’s first Kettlebell classes as well as training with him one on one.
I freely admit that I hate working out, in fact I loathe it. I love what’s fun; training, rolling, the competitiveness and challenge of beating someone, the joy of throwing or submitting an opponent. That’s what I love. I never understood the joy of picking something up and putting it down, over and over and over again. It’s just not what I love. When Steve put us in the Kettlebell classes it was the best thing for me. I could get three KB classes per week and get the conditioning I needed. More would be better, but, the hardcore classes fitness classes Steve inflicted upon us, plus the multiple daily classes was finally enough.
When I was at my best before Multiple surgeries, I was doing the three KB classes per week, multiple classes per day and dieting appropriately. now I get the classes, if not always as much training as I should. Teaching takes away some of the training, but my diet sucks. I’m just getting back to the conditioning aspect. I get by now on technical proficiency and fighting spirit. My conditioning, even for my advancing years, I would only call a C+ and my diet a C-. I know what needs to be done. Now the challenge is to do it.
I wish I had the drive and love of weight training and conditioning my wife has. She could go to the gym for hours every day and love it. I don’t need (or have time) for hours a day but, I need to get back at least to a little kettlebells
For me like everyone, I need to honestly ask myself how good do I want to be. If I want to reach whatever potential I have left, it’s time to get back to work. You can’t just do what you enjoy, you need to aggressively improve your weakness. So I have to get back to work. it’s not enough to do what you the fun stuff, often the difference in who wins is who is willing to do the work they hate. My conditioning sucks, but it doesn’t have to. Time to get back to work.