Friday, November 30, 2012

Ways and Whys of Warm-Ups

Dsimon, in the comments on this blog one day remarked that he does not do warm up exercises, that he thinks that doing push-ups during practice is a waste of time and he would rather have the kids practice a technique, even if they do it slowly.

I thought about his remark because I used to get irritated at some clubs where I would train when they would spend 30 minutes or more on exercises - jump rope, running sprints, push ups, sit-ups, squats, you name it.

Here are my thoughts on warm-ups.

If you are spending 20% or more of your practice on warm-ups it's a waste of time. Judo class is not gym. Let them get in shape at home.

For beginning students, spending 10-15% of the practice on warm-ups is not a bad idea, for two reasons.  One, most new students are not in very good condition. Very few schools have daily physical education classes and your students are a lot more likely to spend their after school hours playing video games than playing soccer. So, warm-ups are good to gradually get them in condition. Two, they don't really know anything yet, so it's not as if you can have them spend the whole time doing throws and pins if they only know one throw and one pin. That's going to get boring pretty fast.

You can use warm-up exercises even with advanced students to break up the monotony. No matter how dedicated they are, some days it's going to be hard for your players to get motivated. I remember one day at the West Coast Training Center, Coach Tony Comfort (the guy throwing there) was running the morning practice and took all of the team to the park and had them play football for over half an hour. I thought that was really odd and I asked him why he did that. He explained that, first of all ,it was a beautiful summer day after several days of rain, and he could tell how much people wanted to be outside. Secondly, we had been training very hard for a long time and he thought mentally, people just needed a break. And, finally, running to the park, running sprints after the football in the park, and running back was no, well, um walk in the park.

Your warm-ups shouldn't be one more bit of monotony. Some people don't mind push-ups, sit-ups and other calisthenics. Some hate those exercises. I try to mix up what we do for warm ups.

Warm-ups (and every game you play) should be targeted toward judo. I do push-ups and sit-ups because they build muscles you use in judo. We don't have ladders to do ladder drills, but we put belts on the mat, and they work just as well. (In case you don't know what ladder drills are, you can see a few examples here. I'll try to remember to video some tomorrow that have even more applicability to judo.)

There are judo alternatives to jumping jacks, suicides, etc. For example, you can have one player at each end of the mat and have a third player in the middle running back and forth and doing uchikomi. Yes, I have heard people say that doing uchikomi is bad and teaches you how to not follow through on a throw. I know plenty of people who have won world championship medals (including two in this family) who do uchikomi so I don't buy that it necessarily hampers your judo.

My whole point is that warm-ups should not take away time from judo instruction but rather lead into and supplement it.

3 comments:

plam said...

Me, I hate playing that ball game at the beginning of practice every time. It's OK occasionally. Perhaps in pre-practice time it may be OK, but it's not really the thing to use 10 minutes at the beginning of practice.

dsimon3387 said...

I think part of the issue for me is how "games and warm ups" segway into how some teachers think of a child's ability to learn martial arts. I have seen great teachers patronize kids, assuming that they need games like "Simon says" instead of demanding some performance.

It is tough....I mean I have to yell and scream a bit to keep up with my kid's class (which I teach at my son's Middle School). These nine year olds would probably prefer games but I just can't do it haha.

What I get though is quite remarkable. I once demonstrated to a principal when I was teaching High School that if you gave kids responsability and demanded performance in a respecful way many problem kids would suprise people. I wanted to make the point that self fufilling prophecies are generally not good for kids who are marked "trouble."

When I gave the kids sticks the principal made a sound like a tuba under water but those kids put on a beautiful exhibition, no injuries a lot of smiles. Nobody could believe it actually.

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