Tuesday, September 17, 2013

To Psych or not to Psych

I have often been asked if when I was competing I tried getting a psychological advantage over my opponent on hindsight I guess I must have done.

Nearly every tournament I entered I would try and talk to my opponent and tell them how fit and strong I was, I would then do the Old Mohammed Ali bit telling them how long it would take me to beat them. This prediction never came true but it was useful to unnerve them. Yet in training with my pupils I would say I am about to throw with such and such a throw and it nearly always worked but just could not do that it competitions, which was a shame. Something I never realised   I did, until my wife told me was that I would pace up and down the mat just before I went on starring at my opponent. And giving them the evil eye another trick was limp over to your opponent wait to see the gleam in their eyes and then start to do a little jig.

Psyching yourself up was important, but I would spend a week doing this before a major comp, this was bad because it stressed me to much and the day of the comp my nerves were getting the better of me until I had my first match then I was OK Sometimes you can Psych yourself to lose this happened to me just once when I met the Dutchman and a previous European Judo Champion, he was about 7ft tall. I just looked at him and froze he threw me for Ippon some years later I had a big argument with him of the mat which ended in a physical altercation (that’s a polite word for a fight) I threw him with a Haria Goshi held him on the ground and squeezed his head till he said he had enough. Afterwards we had a drink and became friends but I thought why couldn’t do that on the mat where it mattered. Another time I was training at the French National Sports Centre for a week this always followed the Paris Tournament an event I competed in for GB and it was the hardest weeks training I have ever done, it was organised by the European Judo Union and had players from all over the world trained together. At this event the Japanese Team were present and amongst their team was a massive Yugoslavian who dressed and talked like the Japanese. For some reason I was awe struck with him and he gave me a good hiding, this infuriated GB 100k player Paul Radburn and the great Belgium fighter Robert Van De-Walle who used such terminology as you are a Big Sack. They went on to smash him all over the place, lesson learned to not take people at face value. I redeemed myself later on in the week, the French Team turned up on the last day, when everybody was tired and injured. They proceeded to dump everyone with exception of yours truly who gave a more then better account of himself. I remember the famous Dutch Judo Coach/Competitor Peter Snijders, who was the senior Coach for the week “Well done Englishman”

I am the small one

Both these occasion were a learning curve for me at 27 and +100k player I was far from my prime, I won medals and lost medals but I would never be psyched out again. My knowledge of psyching helped me  win a Gold medal in the 2001 World Masters Judo Championship. For this event I had trained hard on getting maximum Strength as past injuries especially my knee were effecting my skill level and speed, so for a year most of my training was on weights. This paid dividends as the first fight was against the previous years champion who was considered the favourite to win. As we took hold I put my hand around his neck and pull it down, he looked up with dismay and I could see in his eyes that he had lost. My beating him psyched the rest of the field out and in the final I threw my opponent with a Maki Komi Winding Throw for Ippon. 

One of only  2 times that I made Victorious gesture, as he hit the ground and the referee shouted the score I looked up at my wife and raised my arm, the other time I done this was when I threw my main rival Arthur Mapp with Uchi Mata in the 1978 All England Championship I went on to win the finals beating Errol Carnique

The other two memorable fights were two that I lost the first was against the Famous Dutch Fighter Chris Dolman a world Class Judoka, Wrestler and Samboist. I fought him in the final of the World Games in 1985, I had thrown him and I thought I was getting the better of him but we ended on the ground and he leg locked me.  The final of the World Sambo Championships i1986 saw me in the finals pitted against several times World Champions Vladimir Shaklov; he also represented the USSR in Judo and only lost to the greatest Judoka ever Yamashita on a Koka. So my chances were nil and the audiences thought this as well with little or no interest shown. The match started we battled for grips and he threw me for 4 pts as expected but I came back with power and speed and caught him with a rear throw for 4 pts. Now the audience woke up shouting for me to win sadly that did not happen I battled on at one point dislocating my finger, just before the final whistle he caught me other throw and I lost by 12 pts. Yet after losing I was congratulated it seems no one had scored on him for years. From then on I earned the knick named “The Man Who Threw The Russian”

I hoped you did not mind me reminiscing because when I returned from the World Master n 2001 I did not realise that it was to be my last competition and the last time I would do any Fighting. My knee got to the point where I had to walk with a stick and the pain was excoriating and I had to wait for nearly 5 years before I could get a knee replacement and a year later a hip replacement. Thankfully I can now walk and occasionally teach but once you have been a fighter that longing is always with you, they say real fighter never retire they die. It a pity I could not have stayed long enough to fulfil that saying. To all those who say you to old to fight tell them rubbish you keep going as long as possible age is just a number

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