Ground holds look relatively simple: one guy is on the bottom, another on the top, and the guy on top holds an arm or squashes a chest or some other body part. In reality, they are complex placements of tori’s body on uke’s. If one or more of the placements is wrong, the ground hold doesn’t hold. An example: if tori is holding uke with kesa gatame (scarf hold), with or without a gi, and doesn’t have the arm just so – tightly above the elbow — uke can bend his arm and get it free, the first step to an escape.
The little things are vital during application of chokes. While applying okuri eri jime, for instance, if you don’t have your thumb deeply inside the collar — to the back of uke’s neck, even — the choke may not come on, or will take longer and more effort on your part to apply.
Arm bars are very difficult to learn for the novice. In juji gatame, the thumb has to be up, your hips have to be almost on his shoulder; you try to bring your knees together, and so on. If some of the individual elements are missing, the arm bar may not work or take too long to work, and in a match, time is limited.
And so, we work on the little aspects of the technique in order to perfect it and make it part of the student’s arsenal.
We may study a technique dozens of times over a year. Partly that has to do with new people, but as senior members of our club, we still practice the techniques we’ve been using for years. Every once in a while, there’s something new that someone has figured out, some little element which makes the technique better. This applies to everything in traditional judo or MMA judo, right down to the breakfalls.
We are not sport judo people and only one member of our club attends (and wins at) tournaments. We like the learning and the practicing. There’s lots to learn.
December 12, 2008