PAN AM Judo Footwork

pan am judo       Judo combatants fight one on one, barefoot. Each martial artist tries to throw his opponent off-balance by pushing and pulling.  This technique sets up a final backward or forward throw-over onto the mat. While fighting, martial artists maintain an attitude of ‘mutual prosperity’. This is one of Judo’s principles; the other is the ‘maximum yet efficient use of energy’.

Judo footwork involves holistic control: carriage of head above hips, unreadable eyes, calm breath, flexible torso and complex hand movements that synchronize with feet.  The martial artist’s footwork begins simply in the ‘natural position’. Whether advancing or retreating, swinging, sweeping, clipping or hooking his feet, the fighter’s posture and way of walking are integral to his movement and state of mind. Integral and intriguing.

Natural Position

Enduring the pushing or pulling of judo is possible with solid balance. The fighter keeps his feet shoulder-width apart, pointing outwards at about 45°.  His weight naturally projects over his big toes, always equally on both feet. His knees and hips are relaxed and slightly bent.

Judo Walking Method

The fighter’s legs, hips and feet all move forward or backward at the same time in the natural position.  Weight continues to be evenly distributed on both feet. He would never put one foot forward and ‘leave his other foot behind’.  Rather, he would take a step forward on his right foot and bring his left foot forward far enough while remaining in the natural position.  The left one more or less follows the right.  The Japanese name tsugi-ashi  literally means ‘following feet’. **   He walks with his hips. His feet do not move too far apart or too close together, his body—head, shoulders, hips—rise and fall. He walks with a smooth sliding gait.

[Usually humans walk by putting their weight on one foot and advancing the other, then shifting their weight to the advanced foot as soon as it touches the floor and advancing the other foot. If we walk backwards the process is the same, only in the opposite direction. Forwards or backwards, this walking method always leaves your weight on one foot for an interval during which your body itself remains back with that support foot.] (1)

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Resources: (1)

[** Note the name of this blog.]

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.   1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)



PAN AM Mountain Biking Footwork

pan am cycling mountain bike       Mountain bikers cycle off-road trails. They face steep ascents and descents, switchbacks and surprises en route. Adrenaline pumps as feet pump pedals up and over rocks, mud and drop-offs.  The experience is as technically challenging as the lingo is colourful: “riding switch-foot, involuntary dismount, bomb holes and gonzo hills, aquaplaning over camel bumps, carving corners, and riding stumps and roots like they are eggshells.”

Footwork Tips:

Pedaling – Plant foot on pedal platform; line up pedal axle just behind ball of foot.  Push downward on pedal in a circular stroke as though ‘trying to wipe mud off the bottom of your shoe’.

Cornering – Stop pedaling in a corner, let heel of outer foot drop to increase traction in the turn. Swing inside knee into the corner. Keep weight on outer pedal, while taking inside foot off pedal. Shift hips laterally over bike seat.

Uphill –   Lean into handle bars, sit forward on the seat to keep front wheel down and give back wheel traction. Pedal powerfully and smoothly.  No standing or stomping on pedals which only increases heart rate and decreases balance.

Downhill – Point knees down track and then stand on pedals.  Place dominant foot forward and tilted slightly up. Roll with heels down when standing up. Weight is on both pedals and a little further back on the bike.

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Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.   1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)


Sneakers: The Primer before the Polish


1. A Brief History of Sneaker Brands

Check out the link for a gallery of thirteen great pictures.  Here’s a cheat sheet:

  • 1916 – U.S. Rubber, Keds, original sneaker
  • 1917 – Converse Rubber Shoe Company, All Star, high-top basketball shoes
  • 1920 – ‘Adi’ Dassler, shoemaker for Jesse Owens (1936); founds Adidas (1948)
  • 1937 – PF Flyers (for Posture Foundation), distributes weight evenly
  • 1958 – Reebok is founded
  • 1960 – New Balance, the Trackster, in multiple widths
  • 1970 (circa) – Nike co-founder creates treads with kitchen waffle iron
  • 1991 – Reebok, the Pump, custom cushioning
  • 2004 – Nike, the Free, original minimal shoe
  • 2005 – Vibram, the FiveFingers, sections for each toe
  • 2006 – Nike, the Air Max 360, foamless midsole
  • 2006 – Nike, the Air Zoom, ‘talks’ to Apple’s iPod nano
  • 2011 – Brooks, the PureProject, for a natural stride.

Article by Dave McGinn, The Globe and Mail, May 12, 2012.


 2.  He Says “Sneakers” and… She Says “Tennis Shoes”

Josh Katz, graphics editor at the New York Times and PhD student – did an online questionnaire on specific word choices across the USA. This map shows the concentration of the use of “sneakers” as a vocabulary item.


Source for map:      

and more about this study:


This week’s blog will explore how sneakers have a wedge position in the sub-cultures of fashion and athletics.  Are we quietly trading our rubber soles, by another name?