United States Judo Federation

National Coach Certification Program

Resistance Training


Kim, a sho dan, was a light middleweight working out with a recent newcomer, Frank, who had first seen judo from his area, the weight training room at the local YMCA, and thought he would give it a try. Frank, who was fairly new to randori practice moved about gingerly at first not knowing what he should be doing against a black belt.  Kim sensing the hesitation slammed into the 5’10”, 220-pound pulsating ball of muscle.  He wanted to make sure that he could establish dominance early on.  Frank didn’t know what hit him as he was lifted over Kim’s left shoulder and un-ceremonially dumped on the hard mat. “Wow, what was that all about? I can’t let that happen again by this skinny runt” thought Frank. Although still reeling mentally Frank’s muscles tightened and Kim could feel the difference instantly.  Kim now strained to just look halfway composed but actually felt confused as he sensed he would not be able to get past Frank’s iron bar arms again with his favorite throw, and he was right as he attempted throw after throw but to no result.

It had become a stalemate as Frank stiffened up and although he could not get into a throwing position himself, he had enough strength and mass to defend against Kim’s attempts to up end him. Naturally in a tournament Frank would eventually lose by non-combativity penalties, but this was a randori practice. A dent had been placed in Kim’s confidence amour.  Kim had thrown other beginners with ease, no matter what their size, but Frank was a different story.  What was the difference with this beginner?

For one thing, Frank was not just bigger he was stronger.  The years of weight training and bodybuilding had turned him into an athlete. He was well aware of his strength and size and he knew he was a cut above the normal. He had formed an ego; one that would not let him roll over and play dead at the first sign of adversity. The physical muscles he had built up changed him mentally. It was somewhat of an equalizing force to Kim’s throwing technique. Had Kim been equally as strong the outcome might have been different. Had Frank not had the equalizing strength Kim would most likely not had a problem. Most probably, had Frank had the strength and some technique the tables could have been reversed? The message here: Muscles make a difference.

How do muscles work?
How does the nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems articulate?
Which muscles do judoka need to develop?
What do we need to do to develop the right muscles?
How can we track our progress?

There are basically two types of muscles in the human body.  They are either smooth, as in those found in our intestines or striated commonly found connected to bones.  The heart also falls within the striated group but it is highly specialized, and even when cut away from the body can independently contract for a while. It is not connected to bones.  Here we will largely be talking about skeletal muscles.  Those muscles responsible for moving our framework of bony levers called the skeleton.

Muscles consist of filaments of specialized proteins formed into various shapes, of which there are about six distinct kinds. The basic make up a of muscle is that they are filaments (actin and myosin) that lay close to one another and ratchet/slide against each other in opposite directions shortening the length of the filaments (contraction). These filaments are bundled together by a thin sheath of membrane an endomysium.  When a number of these endomysium-encased fibers are grouped together they are further surrounded by the inner membrane called the perimysium and an outer sarcolemma and epimysium.  It is the epimysium that at the terminal ends taper and thicken to become the tendons.  Tendons are those translucent, slightly elastic, but very strong distal parts that connect the muscles to the bones.  Sometimes when chewing a steak, which is muscle, we come across some gristle, which is hard to break down. That’s usually a tendon.  These muscles are attached usually to two or more bones and when they shorten or contract they cause the bones to move through space.

Hayward Nishioka, 8th Degree Black Belt

Judo, HEART and SOUL

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