Today was the second-to-last session of this semester of my volunteer gig. Next week, we have one last session, then we gather together for a luncheon and an awards ceremony for the kids who have shown the most progress since October. We had two classes, one class of girls aged eight and under (the youngest kids are typically four, usually the younger siblings of other program participants), and one class of girls aged nine and ten. The younger group was large, about twenty kids, while the older group only had five participants (we have a lot of attrition to school and municipal athletic programs, which is a good thing).
One thing I always stress to the kids is that if something feels "weird", it's not correct. Gripping an opponent's gi is fundamental to the sport, and occasionally I'll see a kid torquing their arm and gripping their oppponent's gi with their thumb facing down. I'll invariably comment, "Feels weird, no? If it's not comfortable, it's not judo." Similarly, when doing forward rolls, there's no need for an exaggerated "lunge". A normal step prefaces the not-so-normal-roll that we try to drill into our students so it becomes so natural they can execute it even if, say, they fall off of their bicycle while commuting home from the office, so they can dust themselves off and continue the ride home.
After the "official" program is over, we stay in the dojo so really motivated kids can spend an hour, from noon to 1AM, for more intensive instruction. Today, we had two students stay after, a girl of seven and a boy of nine. For me, the ideal class is eight to ten kids with a decent range of ages and sizes. Because of the size disparity, I decided to teach the kids some great "sneaky" techniques that are useful for dealing with larger opponents. Sasae tsuri-komi ashi is tailor made for a situation like this- as one's opponent circles around, you block the leading ankle so the top of their body continues to move while the bottom of their body is stopped. I also went over okuri ashi harai with them, because it's fun to practice- it looks like a dance.
After teaching these two new throws, I decided that I would devise a sinister plan- I would make the kids practice using a left handed grip. It's important to develop both sides of your body in the interest of symmetry and, to be perfectly honest, to make yourself a better fighter. I had the kids practice o soto gari, which is the first throw almost every judoka on the planet learns, switching from a right-handed stance to a left-handed stance, with the necessary changes in grip and a shift from stepping in with the left foot and "reaping" with the right leg to stepping with the right and "reaping" with the left. I told them, "Nice and slow, shift your grips and merely 'tap' your opponent's leg, then switch to the other side."
The boy, trying out the left-handed grip, told me, "But this feels weird!" I quipped, "It does for you, but it feels natural to me... that's why I'm making you practice it. If you feel comfortable but your opponent feels weird, you already have an advantage."
I'm a lucky bastard, one of my early sensei's was a lefty.
UPDATE: How could I be so remiss as to forget one of the greatest scenes in cinema?
I should have thought of embedding that video earlier, as I am aware of all tropes (warning, link is a major time-sink, click at your peril).