Friday, 25 April 2008

Blindfolded Grappling

One time at a Judo competition I just finished one fight and was preparing for my next. While I was sipping on my water I watched a few fights that where happening and noticed a fight where one of the fighters was blind. The ref guided the blind person to his opponent and they started the fight already holding each other. My initial reaction was that the blind person was going to get easily beaten.

It turned out that the blind person won the fight via an armbar and went on to do quite well. I was shocked, and after the tournament when most of the fighters where chatting, I went up to him, congratulated him on his success and naively asked how he trained because of his blindness.

He went on to explain that because he can not see, he has been forced to use his other senses. He told me that he relies on hearing and sensitivity.

Eager to understand what he meant, next time a went to Judo training, I told my teacher about it. He told me that many times he used to train with a blindfold on and encouraged us to also do it from time to time.

When we did train with a blindfold on, we learnt that you become extra aware of your,
Hearing - By listening to your opponents breathing pattern to try and determine when he is about to attempt a technique,
Your opponent’s grip - By becoming aware of how your opponent is gripping you (behind the head, holding near your shoulder etc) you think about what techniques can be attempted and what can not.
Your opponent’s movements – Your sensitivity to your opponent’s movements become clearer and you learn to react to your opponent’s movements appropriately.

With time, and by combining all of the above you are able to feel which attacks and counters you should apply, and also when to apply them. It is very easy to relay heavily on the eyes and forget about our other senses. It is something that everyone does, but sometimes are eyes miss things that could have been captured by our other senses, and for this reason blindfolded grappling is highly advised from time to time.


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