As many of you probably already know, I train in, and really enjoy Judo. I am also a true lover of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA.)
When it comes to MMA, it really is all about “what works.” To hell wit the right way, or what a style is based on. You gotta do what it takes to walk out of that cage the winner. This is why we have seen so many styles start to really “blend” into a style that is MMA, all its own.
Today, I would say that a good MMA fighter is either a good boxer and/or a good Muay Thai fighter (some might point to Lyoto Machida and throw Karate in here, but I think that one example does not make a pattern.) Additionally, they have to be good at Jiu Jitsu or eventually they will be tapping.
Now, we have seen a lot of MMA fighters then add wrestling to the mix. I think that’s a good idea. Wrestling is explosive and powerful. It’s a great way to get someone to the ground.
But Judo has had a bit more of a challenge in the sport. Don’t get me wrong, there are great examples of strong Judo players in the game, including Karo, and even Fedor. But take a look at Karo’s last several fights. You really don’t see any Judo throws in there… just a lot of double-leg shots, just like everybody else.
I had to do some soul searching on this one… Is Judo really just not up to it? That led me to a couple of thoughts:
1- The Cage.
I think that the cage itself is a real inhibitor to the ability for Judo to function well. If someone can just lean back against the cage, and spread their legs, then many of the throws that make Judo so strong are artificially crippled by the stability that the cage gives a person. “So what?” you might say. Well, this may be less relevant if you only intend to fight in a cage, but it does make me feel a bit better as far as Judo’s ability to be useful outside the cage in a self defense situation.
2- One trick Pony.
Even if the double leg is more effective in a cage 9 times out of 10, if it’s all you’ve got you better either be Olympic caliber, and have cardio that never stops, or you are going to get shut down. I can’t believe how many MMA fights I watch where a guy shoots for a double leg… then again, and again, and again. Not only is it ineffective, but you’re setting yourself up for a D’Arce, Gator roll into an Anaconda, a Guillotine, or any number of other nasty submissions.
Work your wrestling. Nail that double leg… get awesome at it. But dangit, get some other arrows in your quiver. There are few this as satisfying as sprawling when someone shoots, then grabbing the guy and suplexing him. Ashi waza, or foot technique is when you see two guys locked up, and one of them seemingly just taps the other guy’s foot… but it’s enough. Down they go. It’s this ability to take the game where you want it in a variety of ways, to always keep the person guessing, and to play your own game your own way that Judo can help fill in.
Anyway… my two cents worth for today