What does it take?

To all: What has it taken you to get where you are in Judo / Sambo / MMA / wrestling?

Per week...
Hours in the dojo:
Hours in the gym:
Hours of cardio training:
Hours of mental training:

What did you sacrifice? and how many years of training did you dedicate to achieving your goals?

Where did you get? State Champ? National Roster? Placed at Nationals? Placed in International competition (which ones)?

Did you set specific goals for yourself? How did you keep yourself on track?

Good question. Ron, I'm an old recreational player* so I have no real training goals or tight schedule. Personally, I feel if anyone wants to get decent at a thing like this from a recreational or non-competitive standpoint he/she should do it two to three times a week in the dojo with supplemental callisthenics/weights/swimming. That's not saying you won't compete, you should, just that you'll be competing on an amateur level.

*judo isn't even my main thing, I'm a kendo man who does judo "on the side." Wish I had more time for it.

I've been doing Judo since 1981.

It took me 5 years to get to shodan, practicing a minimum of 3 days per weeek x 2hrs. I practiced in general more like 4-5 days per week x2 hrs, travelled 2 hrs. one way for 1-2 of those practices, depending on the time of year. I competed several times per year, won Texas state champ 2x, 2x state collegiate champ, 1 third place in Ladder Tournament. I competed in lots of state and regional tournies.

It was another 4-5 years to nidan, 3-4x week x2 hours/week. I competed less frequently, and was teaching/coaching more whilein grad school.

For Sandan, it was another 3 or 4 years, still practicing 3-4 times per week, 1.5-2 hours at a time. Less comps, more coaching, running a club, and refereeing up to national level, plus USA Judo coach conferences, and activity in Judo politics at state and national level (service stuff). I did pace 2-3 times at nationals in master's divisions (age and weight categories).

Of course, I road my bike,did yoga, and other outside exercise to supplement my Judo training.

That plus ACL recon!

Ben R.

Well, I have been in martial arts for the majority of my life (started 28 years ago)...not always Combat Sambo.  During those years all roads have lead to Combat Sambo so to speak.  Each time I shifted my training, I went on increasingly practical, less sport oriented paths. Shotokan as a kid, Tae Kwon Do, San Shou/submission wrestling, and finally Combat Sambo.  I was never interested in boasting about wins or competitions...just a guy who loved what I did, loved the training and fighting - whatever the rules were.  I have lost as many matches as I have won.

I fought TKD and NASKA in the early days; later I fought amateur MMA (called freestyle at that time), San Shou and grappling. I guess my "claim to fame" was my finalist finish at the 1997 San Shou United Worlds.  Some of my most memorable matches were against guests at my school, training down at Gleason's, or visiting other schools - not public or sporty stuff.  When I was fighting, I trained 2x a day, six days a week (this went on for several years).  I did sacrifice much over those years.  Any high level committment requires that.  Now running an organization, promoting events, and running a school are my new challenges.  I have been at it since April 03 when my teacher went back to Russia.  I love the experience, it has gone great, and I get such joy watching it all happen.  Again, some sacrifice, but worth it - it does not even feel like a sacrifice.  Having quit my day job, it will soon enter a new level. I have dreamed about the day that I could make my living solely doing martial arts.

To be honest, what turned me on to Combat Sambo was the need to step up my training as well as the particular teacher I trained with. By the time I came to Combat Sambo in 1999, I had a strong foundation standing, throwing, and on the ground.  Competition was not a prioroty for me any more and I had already started coaching and cornering fighters (I still trained almost daily, always did, and still do).  I still love to spar and roll...I just do it for my own joy...not medals. Along the same lines, my teacher did not stress competition either. He was all about practicality and self-defense.

What has kept me on track?  Simple. I love Martial Arts and Combat Sambo more than any other thing I do.  

I ramble too :o)

i loved judo from day 1-- i was 10.
stopped playing soccer soon after and just did judo. wrestled some in HS-- but i never enjoyed it nearly as much as judo.

as first it was just 2 or 3 days a week.
within a year my coach was taking us to chicago almost every weekend to train with the Cohen's and/or Doug Tono. and to other clubs in our home area the nights we didnt train at ours. there were many stretches when we did judo 6, even 7 days a week from December to August.

from the time i began fighting in big tournaments at age 11 to the time i was graduating from HS i only took 1 medal at a junior national event. i was always coming in 4th or 5th.

eventually i went to japan to train and loved it. came back and talked to some people from SJSU... moved here a few months later.

more or less, since i was 18.. ive done judo 5 days a week for 2 hours with all the running and lifting practices in the morning.

if there was a 2000 trials i would have been in it and i still fell shy of the 2004 Olympic Trials becuase i was stupid... in the end.. it was worth every sacrifice and every moment of pain, injury and surgery.


Why do you say you were stupid? I thought you had to move up in weight class and thus lost all of your points at 66. Plus you were coming off an injury if I recall correctly, got hurt at NY Open, and only had less than a year to make the points for 73?

Pete Pelter

Pete.. i was stupid in how i fought at the nationals.. it was just about the worst performance of my life. thats what i am referring to..

if anything, that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth becuase it was all my own damn fault. then again, the 2000 debacle is much more painful for me becuase i wasnt even given the chance to make the stupid decisions i did this time around..

i can live knowing that i blew it.. eventually that will fade away. fact, it fades a bit every time i see my lil girl sleepin on her mommy's chest. =)

I played for about a year when I was in junior high and then didn't step on the mat again until I was well into high school. I got pretty serious in college. We (Duke) didn't have much of a team so I played 4-5 days a week at any dojo I could find in the area. This carried me through a lot of regional and state tourneys in North Carolina.

I went to Japan for 6 months during my junior year and really improved. I got tossed a lot in the beginning but after half a year of 5-6 days a week, 2-3 hours a day I was able to hold my own with most of the guys out here (definitely not the top dogs though, they will always launch me).

Unfortunately I also did some serious damage to myself. After returning to the states, I was psyched as I was easily crushing guys that used to give me problems on the mat. My back, however, continued to get worse and worse and has ultimately stopped me from playing.

Frustrating to have a pretty serious injury just as you're coming into your own. I've been doing judo lightly (couple of days a week) and BJJ for a while now. Ne waza doesn't seem to bother my back nearly as much as throwing.

Advice from a judo career cut short: be careful about overtraining!

Great info guys, thank you! I'm hoping to get info from more of the forum members too.


arb.. i dont think you overtrained.. not even close. people train balls-out 5-6 days a week the world over, plus lifting, plus running, plus school or work or whatever.

the human body can withstand so much it is amazing. overtraining takes a lot more than youd imagine... in my entire life i think i overtrained twice, if that.

6 months in japan after doing serious local level judo is a good way to injure yourself. you could easily have gone to placeslike the OTC or SJSU or any number of topflight dojos in the USA for 6 months and most likely had pretty much the same results.

the only people who should be going to japan to train are people who are either or the national team, close to it, or have come from a club where the level of judo is extremely high. sure, anybody CAN go, but that doesnt mean its a good idea.


"the only people who should be going to japan to train are people who are either on the national team, close to it, or have come from a club where the level of judo is extremely high. sure, anybody CAN go, but that doesnt mean its a good idea."

Having never trained in Japan, but trained with high level guys from Japan visiting my school, I am not sure I agree with your opinion.  Undoubtedly, there are hard core dojos and recreational dojos in Japan, and like here inthe US, people should go where they are capable of keeping up and learning.  Anyone should go to train there if they are able, have the means, have the desire.  Why should Japan be reserved for only high level players?

Judo 2 X 2hrs/week + BJJ 2 - 3 X 2hrs/week when my dad isn't travelling. Placed 3rd at CA State after less than 1 year of Judo. Placed 1 - 3 in other regional/local tournaments after about 9 months of on/off Judo. Dad travels a lot so sometimes I don't even go to the dojo for 2 weeks at a stretch :-(

i was not referring to people who are going to japan for recreational judo. i was strictly speaking of people who want to go to japan so that they can "train hard."

it is shocking to me how many people i know who have, and continue to, go to japan for hard training when they dont train hard here, dont do well in tournaments here, and arent even willing to make the chioce to relocate to a place where they can train hader within the USA as it is.

i made damn sure that i was ready to go to japan to train before i went as an adult. Doug Tono wouldnt have opened the door for me to go on his name unless he knew firsthand the training i was doing was as god as it was going to get at that time.

hard training in a place like japan is exactly that.. hard. besides getting the hell kicked out of you day in and day out there are mental and psycological issues as well... nobody to talk to, nobody to really seek advise from-- no medical team to take care of you when you get broken in half, no trainers willing to tape you up daily, hell, its even difficult to get around the country, or even order a meal, for a first timer.

why anybody would put themselves through it unless they absolutley knew they were ready for it and were willing to make the hard choices about their life in the USA first and foremost i will never understand.

its just my opinion, naturally.. but it is not as if the technical level of judo in the USA is bad.. not even close to it. i can name off a dozen place around the US where the level of technical instruction is as good here as anywhere in the world ive ever been to.

Thanks for the clarification.  In that sense, I agree with you.

Some people have mythic ideas about training in foreign lands...fantasies.  It is about their ego. Same in Sambo or any martial art.  Like you said, people will say "I am going to Japan (or Russia, or China) to train hard" when they only train recreationally here.  That is a mistake and they will get hurt.  In the end, people should be realistic about what they can and can't do. Whether in the US or anywhere else, nobody should jump in with the big dogs unless they are ready to do so.