Friday, August 26, 2011

"I prefer standing Judo" ( So long as that excludes leg grabs and double legs)

                                     What's that? Standing Judo you say? Well, it's Haragoshi....
                           so it doesn't count. Seionage doesn't have to be completely standing either.
                                    Only those damn double legs aren't  the real "standing Judo".
I read a lot of posts by Judo purists emphasizing Judo posture and disparaging leg grabs, the double leg (wrestling). They typically dream of this mythical place where every Judoka has perfect upright posture and the gripping is limited, and perfect Ippons fall from the sky. I noticed that they rarely disparage dropping to the knees for seionage, or makikomi/rolling all the way through for tomoenage, haraighoshi, or uchimata. They don't really mean "standing Judo" completely. They mean "standing Judo" when it's applied to wrestling and pick-up techniques so they don't have to bother with sprawling or figuring out a way to counter bent over posture.

So, then, it's not really the "standing Judo" across the board which they's to ban the leg grabs and pick-ups that are typically outside of their skillset.

Were that the case they would harp on makikomi uchimata or haraigoshi or virtually all sutemi waza....but they don't.

When the russians came in with unorthodox grips and more leg grabs/pick-ups, all of a sudden, the Japanese supremacy came into question. They realized that so long as other countries, decades behind the curve, without a national sport worth of training partners had tried to play the Japanese style of Judo, Japan was elite. All of a sudden, the Japanese style was less effective against players who did not try to play as though they were Japanese.

So gripping rules were made, they disparaged the other styles of wrestling and Sambo that made it more difficult to win with the mythical "standing Judo".

                  OMG!!! Even in 1986, standing Judo at the Olympic level wasn't taking place!!!!!

Good posture is key to Judo. An emphasis on standing Judo and strong upright Ippon Judo is also wonderful and great and should be the end goal. But to disparage a group of techniques that have their place, according to Kano himself, is not in the spirit of Judo.

    - Judo Revolution

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thoughts on the Judo World Championships: Gripping and Playing the Edge

                                      (Jimmy was right. It's all about gripping. I doubt even he knew
                                                             how true this would become)

If you're like me, you've been following the Judo World Championships in Paris the last few days. Last night after about an hour, I noted I was bored by the number of 7-11 minute matches with few discernible big throwing attempts, save in the last few minutes of regulation.
I got to thinking about my most recent tournament and some things I realized on the drive home.....

I competed recently in a regional level Judo tournament. I had semi-dislocated my elbow 3 weeks prior due to armbar/jujigatame in an MMA fight. I was unable to play right hand due to pain in my elbow and had only managed about 6-7 training sessions before the tournament.

I managed to sweep two weight classes, win all my matches by Ippon while playing predominantly left-handed. My tokuiwaza is a right Tai Otoshi with either traditional grip or a cross/same side grip.
This post isn't about how I'm the most awesome Judoka ever. It's more specifically about the importance of gripping based on the new rules in Judo. I thought back on the 2 hour drive home from the tournament. I beat several players not so much b/c I was a stronger thrower, had better conditioning, or even a wider range of strong throws.....I won b/c for the most part won the battle for grips: I kept them from getting their preferred grip and out-hustled them by attacking first in most of the exchanges. Some of these were legitimate attacks and some of these were just to make it look like I was throwing and he wasn't throwing.
When my opponents did attack, it was often  from a technically weaker position due to inferior gripping/position. I had watched their previous matches and my first order of business on the mat was keeping their preferred grip out of reach. I avoided any high collar grips or over the back grips from being placed on me, and I controlled their sleeve at the end, without letting them grip me on that side.

They eventually became anxious due to penalty for passivity or began coming forward out of frustration. Or both.
Each time this set up my finishing throw for Ippon. I actually threw my 2 toughest opponents the easiest out of the rest of the guys I faced b/c they grew anxious due to penalty or frustration and added their momentum to my throw.

Back to the Paris World Championships:
The banning of leg attacks and the move towards Judo being a mainly standing/throwing version of grappling (as opposed to wrestling, BJJ, Sambo et cetera) has very much increased the importance of gripping in Judo.

If you go and watch matches like I've linked below in the 60kg and 66kg category you see a much higher incidence of gripping exchanges that float to the edge of the mat with either half-hearted throws attempted or none at all. Many more matches are being thrown/won/decided at the edge of the mat following what feels like more protracted gripping exchanges than in the past.

Sobirov vs Hiroaka


2 more matches in the 66kg with protracted gripping exchanges and few big throw attempts


The final of the 60kg, at my first watching seemed overly passive, almost like neither player was really looking to throw and throw big. But as I went back and rewatched the matches, my perception changed. Players that historically could attack a leg or look for a pick-up when in an uncomfortable position or being driven to the edge of the mat now must either regrip, break the opponent's grip, or hope for a referee's "matte".

Sutemiwaza which was such a common occurrence in the last Olympics was still on display in the 60 and 66 as a fall back for players out of position and wary of passivity penalties by referees.A number of players you could tell just went for a sutemiwaza just to do something rather than draw a passivity call.

In Summary:
With the new emphasis on standing Judo and the banning of leg attacks; gripping has become even more important due to new limitations on attacks. In theory, players can still set in for a pick-up or a fireman's carry/kata guruma, but the potential for hansokumake/disqualification by a referee makes this ill-advised in competition.
In addition, the combination of shidos into points has also changed the nature of matches. Once a player is penalized, the non-penalized player then pours it on in rate of attack in the hopes of the opponent being further penalized and falling behind in points, thus having to further open up and attack from potentially inferior positions.

The banning of leg attacks and the double leg/morotegari was meant to get rid of "koka" Judo and make Judo a standup grappling sport.
The Cubans were criticized for their strategy of getting ahead then riding out a lead by foot sweeping and looking busy when ahead on points.
What we now may have is a mainly grappling for position/grip sport where big throws are fewer and further between than ever.

Thoughts? Comments?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Toquinho on his journey from the fields to the UFC

From a dirt floor in Minas Gerais to the UFC and the world's premier Professional MMA organization.
"Because our dreams, only we can see them."
Powerful stuff about faith in God, family, and yourself.

Palhares was within a fight or two from a shot at the belt (perhaps) but lost to Marquardt a couple fights ago.
He's made a career out of leglocking the **** out of guys since early in his career.

Some legs and arms getting hyperextended

Truth be told tho', he's earned quite a reputation and been suspended for holding onto submissions for too long, both before the UFC and in the UFC.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Profit Vs Non-Profit (BJJ & Judo): A Case Study - Part 1

(We're going to have to do more than the above, guys)

Part 1 of a Treatise:

Any time I've discussed this topic on forums, that is the unintended effect of Judo's mainly non-profit outlook, it has often been met with strong reactions.Understandably so, but this is important if we are to respect and follow through with Kano's goal of spreading Judo far and wide.

I'm going to put forth a simple thesis or position supported with my observations.
In a nutshell, the non-profit, "teaching and doing of Judo because you love it type" of mentality has hurt the long term enrollement, membership, and growth of Judo.
I find that often due Jiu-Jitsu and by extension MMA's newfound popularity in the American Martial Arts consciousness,the conservative, more traditonal Judo players would rather voice displeasure over sporting and martial differences instead of addressing the real problem: the long term stifling and perhaps even decrease in Judo's popularity in America.

The Non-Profit mentality of Judo (in the USA in particular), has hurt (more specifically) stifled the long term, overall growth of Judo. Further, the import of Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA when combined with Judo's non-profit mentality has led to a decline in the membership, competition, and growth of Judo.

I will define decline in:
Membership as losing players to Jiu-Jitsu
Competition as the loss of players between their beginning in regional tournaments and later competing in national level events
Growth of Judo as the difficulty in finding clubs in many areas of the USA and lack of high level training centers in most states

1) define the non-profit mentality
Judo taught by instructors who collect enough dues to cover the cost of a lease, or more typically utilize a YMCA, college campus gym, or are part of an umbrella program at a larger martial arts program.
Instructors typically teach for free or train/crosstrain in fitness/other martial art in exchange for teaching time on the mat. This includes but is not limited to monthly dues/fees Judoka set by the YMCA, the college campus, and/ore by the larger martial arts facility where they train.

Let's examine some of the signs or pathos that lead me to the belief that Judo at the regional and USA level is hurting:

1) the dwindling of enrollment as players progress in Judo. The number of black belts who compete at the regional level is low. at best, there is another black belt in my weight class or in the grouping of "light" competitors at the regional level. There are nights when our club (while still new) has 3 players who are not brown belt or above. Retention has been and will always be difficult in Judo due to the nature of the sport.

2) this dwindling of enrollment trickles down to tournaments – divisions are typically light, medium, heavy. If done by weight, perhaps 1-2, maybe 4 guys in a division/bracket as has been my experience ever since I began competing in Judo. I've been to state championships where a true weight class as defined by the Olympic committee has only 1 competitor, or at best 2 or 3. Even when combining multiple weight classes, tournament organizers will still then bracket double elimination, rather than round which would lead to the most matches possible for a bracket of competitors.
Longterm, for those that begin in Judo and wish to compete, the future competition does not look promising. Lack of advertising, t-shirts, merchandise. Never seen a vendor at a judo tournament at the regional level.  

4) This is also true of sponsorship. NoGi, submission grapplers and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors can often find sponsorship beginning at perhaps even the blue belt level.
Judo’s wish to eschew association with fighting and emphasis as an Olympic sport rather than self-defense, a martial art, and a combat sport has done little to foster sponsorship for the athletes paying to train, diet, obtain strength and conditioning, and most importantly travel to compete at larger national level tournaments.

- Even BJJ, a relatively new sport in America when compared with Judo, there are tyically at least 1-2 sponsors paying for the operating cost of the event, and vendors likewise catering to the body of competitors, coaches, friends, and family in attendance. Judo is and HAS BEEN an Olympic sport for decades. Yet, BJJ is often more recognizable to many people walking down the streeet, misconceptions aside.

5) This year was the first time I saw USA Judo with their email “validating” or acknowledging through mass communication in an active manner clubs and tournaments forthcoming. In the past, USA Judo simply posted tournaments on their website.
Historically, there has felt to be little if any connection between regional tournaments and their governing body to whom we pay our membership dues, pay for making our ranks official and the like.
The transition of judoka like Parisiyan, Rousey, and Rick Hawn is also affirmation of this.

Ze Gra[]D[]Dlez: Judo & Jiu-Jitsu and custom t-shirts
Ze Gra[]D[]Dlez: Judo & Jiu-Jitsu and custom t-shirts

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grappling and all that Jazz: From the Kwoon to the Cage

Welcome to yet another blog on grappling.
Ze Gra[]D[]Dlez: Judo & Jiu-Jitzu
I've avidly competed in both Judo and BJJ over the course of the past 7 years, as well as fought in MMA. I intend to cover some of the things having competed and fought has taught me regarding grappling in general and life.
I'll regularly update with observations, thoughts, and experiences regarding Judo and Jiu-Jitsu and more specifically combining the two. At their heart(s), they are one and the same. Due to rules, and sporting restrictions and a host of other reasons, they have grown quite apart.

In the meantime I'll plug some grappling-related wear I've designed b/c not only am I a grappler, but I'm a T-Shirt whore at heart. One of my saddest memories was attending the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials in New Jersey and being told by an event official they had no T-shirts for sale. Then was the winter of my discontent.


Roughly 10 years ago, the guy living across the hall from me in college interrupted me either watching porn or playing Playstation to tell me there was a Wing Chun school downtown, walking distance from our dorm. He was excited. He'd done Karate most of his life, and wanted me to go with him. I obliged, less than enthused but mildly interested as I'd grown up in southern California splitting my afternoons between Kung-fu Theatre and hot chicks on Univision Spanish Soap Operas.

We went.
We worked on our basic stance.
We learned the first form.

It felt old school. It felt and looked like Kung-fu in the movies. I didn't know much about fighting, minus having tricked my mom into renting me some UFC's from the local Blockbuster, but it was what was available at the time, so I began training.

A couple years later, I began live sparring with some local Karate guys and the like.....