Yesterday Oakland Judo participated in a different kind of tournament – the Cenco Cup Team Tournament, held at San Jose State University. Rather than individual pools, our four team members competed as a team and moved through the brackets as a team. If you’re familiar with the world of wrestling, it was basically a dual meet tournament.
Our team consisted of two men and two women – Kokou, Ernesto, Bella, and Melisa. During each team match, they fought against someone at a similar weight. In our first match, Oakland Judo faced a team from UC Santa Cruz, and in the second round, we faced off against Nakano Judo Academy. We lost both times, but had some good individual matches in there and a great learning experience overall.
Congratulations to all our competitors and thank you to Sensei Mark for coaching. It takes guts to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Learning and growing are not always experiences that feel great or are reassuring – they will make you question yourself. But if you never question yourself, guess what, you’ll never get answers.
As a coach and observer yesterday, I learned that we need to focus a bit more on gripping tactics (also called gripfighting or kumikata). Gripping is the very first thing you do when trying to throw a person in a judo match, and the ideal grip for each throw is always covered. But in a tournament, no one will just let you get the grip you want. You have to fight for it! And if you can’t get the grip you want, you’ll never get past step one, and will never even get to attempt your throws. We lost a few matches yesterday by being out-gripped, and it’s my job to make sure that next time, we have better kumikata skills.