Posts Tagged ‘judogi’

How to do Kesa Gatame (Scarf Hold)

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Of all the ground holds, this is my favourite. Kesa gatame (scarf hold) looks as though you are doing virtually nothing, but, if applied correctly, is very strong and difficult to escape from. It can be applied with or without a gi as well, so lends itself to MMA, jiu jitsu and grappling matches. This article will cover the basics of this ground hold. The next article will cover a few escapes from kesa gatame.

If you and your partner are wearing gis and you are tori (applier of the technique):

1. You are on the ground at tori’s right side. Place your right arm across uke’s (the receiver of the technique) body and under his neck such that your forearm is flat against the floor. 

2. Grab the inside of his collar with your right thumb.

3. With your left hand, palm up, wrap your arm around his right arm, gripping the material of his gi in his armpit.  Your left arm must be above his elbow and tight against your body. If you are holding his arm correctly, he can bend his arm and cannot get out; incorrectly, he can bend his arm and pull it free.

4. Sit out on your right hip with your legs bent and relaxed. Your bottom leg (right) should be as high up toward his head as possible. Your left leg is about ninety degrees from the right.

5. Put your own head as close to the floor beside uke’s right ear as possible. This way he can’t place a hand or arm under your chin and peel you backward.

6. Put all your weight on the little toe of your right foot, the big toe of your left, and his chest.

That is the basic ground hold.  If uke moves, you move with him, keeping attached at the hip. Retain the leg positions, moving a little at a time. If you have to cross your legs to go onto your stomach, do so for as short a period of time as possible and then go back to being on your hip.

Variation 1 – An even stronger hold than this is to bring your right leg toward the hand which is holding his collar. Let go of his collar (Point 2 above) and grab your own knee. This is a very tight grip and works extremely well in no gi situations.

Also no gi: Instead of grabbing the material in his armpit – Point 3 above, you merely grab his muscles there. The important part here is to ensure that he cannot free his arm, so your arm holds his tightly above the elbow. Other than gripping uke’s body instead of the material, there is no difference. Click here to go to a video of Kesa Gatame with no gi.

Another variation for kesa gatame when wearing a judogi is the following: When you have moved your hand to grip the material in uke’s armpit (Point 3 above), continue moving your hand (still maintaining his arm tightly against your body) and grasp his far lapel instead of the armpit. When you sit out to complete the ground hold, the hold on the lapel compresses uke’s ribcage making breathing difficult. If you then grip your knee instead of putting your thumb in his collar, he’s toast. 

Kesa Gatame, or scarf hold, is named for the scarf-like look when tori’s arm wraps around uke’s neck. Since most of tori’s body isn’t touching uke’s it may look feeble. It is, however, extremely powerful and effective. You are immobilizing the head and shoulders of your opponent. Without his shoulders, he cannot lift himself off the floor. I’ve managed to hold down guys who outweigh me by about ninety pounds, so I know this hold works well.

Click here to go to a video of kesa gatame.

Click here to go to How to Escape from Kesa Gatame (Scarf Hold)  Escape #1


December 11, 2009

Traditional Versus Non-Traditional Judo

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Over the last several weeks this topic has been ruminating in the back of my brain, partially because of a comment on judoforum after someone had accessed our brand new website.  This person who was a black belt in judo reacted in a somewhat negative way to our site: he stated that instead of showing judo going to MMA, it should be the other way around, i.e. MMA going to judo. This, of course, is not practical, or reasonable: mixed martial artists are by definition combining skills from multiple martial arts.  They would not go from many to one, unless that one (in this case, judo) were the martial art they started from.

Our club has always had an amalgam of other martial arts: Our previous sempai and sensei had interests ranging from wrestling to aikido. Chris Miller, whom you can see in a number of our videos, practiced kendo for several years. A few years ago, Chris’s wife, Hyekyong, was a member of our class. Her background is in hapkido. Dave practiced the jo for many years and is picking it up again.  We had a Korean fellow in our class for a few months who taught us the basics of taekwondo. We’ve all been to jiu jitsu clubs. Perhaps because of our exposure to these other disciplines, we are more apt to discard the judogi and apply our skills to mixed martial arts.

That does not mean that we have abandoned traditional judo. In fact, to advance in our club, no matter the judoka’s previous experience, he or she must follow the curriculum. If people are keen to learn judo and obtain the higher belts, then they must come to the requisite number of classes and be tested for each belt in succession.

If the class members are not interested in traditional judo on a particular day, we are fine with that as well. We teach and re-teach some traditional judo always, though. Breakfalls are crucial. Many people have come into our dojo saying they know breakfalls and that is definitely not the case. Throws and other techniques are taught the traditional way; however, non-traditional methods are also taught.

If a judo club teaches mostly sport judo, then the traditional judo is essential. The judoka who participate in tournaments must all have the same backgrounds in order to compete in the matches. Other than one person in our wee club, we do not compete. We get together to have fun, learn new techniques and practice old ones.

We rarely bow before the dojo or call Dave, “Sensei”, although we used to do both in our old club at Dalewood. I suspect this comes from two years in the Mouse Room. We have no set rules about judogi. If someone wants to come to class and has no gi or a white jiu jitsu top and black pants or any other variation, we’re OK with that. I’m sure that comment will grate on all those in judo-land who are fanatics about white gis (you know who you are). The point of our club is not to wear a certain garment, but to learn and participate. Eventually people serious about working on judo obtain judogi because they are hardy clothes and appropriate for judo techniques. We can show respect to Dave without bowing and calling him, “Sensei”. We can show respect to the dojo without bowing in and out. We do bow before randori or ne waza matches, though.

I’m not certain why North Americans and Europeans feel a need to be so Japanese and so traditional in their attitude in judo.  Judo really has not been around very long – 127 years – and yet we treat it and Jigoro Kano with a reverence that’s stifling. If judo is to continue, we must broaden our approach, let other ideas in, basically evolve the martial art. We can take the best of judo and use it in other areas, other disciplines. Traditional boxing is going the way of the dinosaur, being incorporated into mixed martial arts. I think that judo is far more complex than boxing and has far more to offer mixed martial artists; however, judo clubs must loosen the rules a bit. Even the English language adds new words continually; although some are stupid (e.g. “meh”), others embrace changing technologies and workplace situations (e.g. “upskill” – to learn new skills).

You know the old definition of tradition without change? It’s constipation. Change without tradition is not any better. It’s diarrhea. We are proposing to meld traditional judo into a non-traditional sport, that of mixed martial arts, using the best of both.


January 6, 2008