Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gracie Barra BJJ + San Jose State Judo: The Missing Link? Not Quite.

We've all thought it.

It warms my heart. This is what I want to see and as always hope to see more of in the future.
But, until you have a teacher who has competed in both, there is a critical component missing.
A black belt in Judo watching BJJ can easily say, "well, I would do this....." but the reality of competition may negate that approach.
To parallel, a black belt in BJJ can easily say, "well I would do this...." but the reality of Judo rules and conditioning of high level athletes makes that an unrealistic approach or solution to a particular nuance/position/situation in Judo.

The above, when you're working the leg drag to pinning the player. In maybe the novice, or white to green belt divisions, but I doubt many elite level players would lay flat long enough to get pinned by an opponent who is nearly standing. I've had national level players manage to nearly turn completely over to break the plane of the pin/osaekomiwaza even though I had their legs grapevined from the top/mount position.

This kind of cross-pollination is what grappling and each sport needs in general.
However, the best is yet to come. As you will eventually have black belts on each side of the two sports that have competed at a high level in both or have at least competed at the lower belts in each sport.

I've had Judo coaches and BJJ coaches see my matches in each respective sport and make commentary, that simply, with all due respect, just isn't feasible, practical, or ends up being woefully low percentage.

Example A: Judo coach discussing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu matches tells me to immediately establish very aggressive grips and begin movement with foot sweeps.
Outcome? The BJJ player immediately sits and now I begin to pass open guard. Now, I am on top/standing, but I missed the window to get two points and be in an optimal position as I begin to pass.
What has actually worked for me in BJJ competition? A calm, and relaxed approach to gripping where I'm feeding my traditional sleeve/lapel grip, then I foot sweep but don't immediately blindside the other player by going balls to the wall from the word "Go."

Example B: BJJ coach watching Judo matches tells me to pull guard and work to quickly sweep or to stall for time in Judo if I'm up on points.
Outcome? I lose the match depending if/when the other player initiates a takedown and the referee awards him an Ippon as I pull guard.
Another common one is attacking the back/turtle.
Without the advent of crossfacing or putting your hands across the face period in Judo, cracking the turtle when a Judo player needs only to defend for 10-? seconds the referee allows, is often a waste of energy and time, allowing the bottom player to run down the clock. Rather than force him to stand.

Until coaches have a lot of experience in competing UNDER THE RULES SPECIFIC TO THE SPORT, the advice given will be limited to conjecture and theory rather than what has worked and demonstrated to work in the sport-specific conditions.

Final Thoughts:
Judo and BJJ have taught me quite a bit about one another.
I recently won 7 matches with a variety of mat work techniques at a local tournament. chokes and pins which were made possible by the amount of time I've spent developing my mat work. Despite my knee injury, I was able to beat heavier players when the opportunity arose to finish the choke and/or get the pin.
This is something I would have never been able to do a couple years ago when I was simply a "thrower" in Judo tournaments. Now, players have much more to worry about in facing me in competition.
As for competing in BJJ, by now, all the guys in my division know I'm a Judo player and as such they either opt to pull guard, sit to guard, or I usually get my 2 points then begin to work to pass which has become my approach to BJJ competition.
A lot of players resist training both with a variety of excuses, but chiefly among them is stepping outside of their comfort zone. Despite injury, I've trained consistently for 7, almost 8 years in various forms of grappling and won a number of tournaments. My BJJ success has not caught up to my Judo success, but it is coming along. At the end of the day, that discomfort has led to growth on my part as a grappler. Growth I would have never achieved without having crosstrained. Now you know, and according to GI Joe, "Knowing is half the battle!"
 - Happy Trainingz!

And one last thing for your Wednesday: The 2012 World Masters Judo Tournament

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