On occasion we have people attending our class from the jiu jitsu school, or whose backgrounds are in other disciplines, specifically to work on judo throws. They may or may not have had any exposure to judo throws before. We cater to their experience and skillsets, body type, and type of tournament they are entering and teach a few judo throws to add to their arsenal.
Right now, we have a fellow training with us to help prepare for the NAGA world championships in New Jersey at the beginning of April, 2009. His matches will begin from standing, so his main concern is taking someone to the ground with control and to land on the ground in control. We haven’t much time to work on the throws, so initially we are working on throws he is already familiar with and then will add perhaps another few to the mix which compliment his style.
Francisco has an extensive background in karate (3rd dan), although in recent years he has been doing BJJ. Since he is strong in karate, we are not concerned with outside leg techniques; he’s been doing these for almost fifteen years.
The start position for these matches is standing and, not unlike Greco-Roman wrestling matches, the competitors tend to bend from the waist, keeping their hips/legs away from each other while keeping their heads close together. It seems that the most common strategy is for them to simply pull guard as soon as possible.
The opponents grasp one another’s gi collar or lapel and sleeve, sometimes both sleeves at the wrist. Since they are bent forward to begin with, we are working on throws that put the opponent off-balance even further, pulling him forward or attacking at awkward or unexpected angles.
Our philosophy is to win by throwing and acquiring a dominant top position, then maintaining that position while working toward a submission via choke or lock. Check out the book Mixed Martial Arts Unleashed for an in-depth explanation as to why we feel this is best - we don’t have room in this article!
First off is seoi nage, which Francisco already knows. We are doing a variation on ippon seoi nage, one in which his back is exposed for as short a time as possible, but still allows him to control his opponent in the forward direction. He can do this from standing or dropping to his knees. He can either drop deeply between his opponent’s legs and throw forward, or move farther outside, such that he is on his knees well to the right of the opponent and then the throw is at an angle of about 90 degrees. He still has a tight grip on the lapel or collar and the sleeve. As soon as he drops to his knees, he angles his right shoulder to the mat: this manoeuvre makes the throw very fast and powerful and also enables the opponent to roll without drilling his head into the floor. Since he still has control of the lapel and sleeve, he can move quickly into a hold of some kind. We’ve also added a number of simple entries to this throw for him that involve combinations and action/reaction sequences in order to make the throw more likely to succeed.
Francisco has also used tomoe nage with good success, so we are again doing a variation of tomoe nage, but having Francisco end up on top, in the superior position. Tomoe nage is the high circle throw, in which you drop to your back while placing your foot beside your opponent’s hip or in their stomach. In the movies, you see this done with a powerful leg extension, propelling the opponent up and a long way away from the thrower. Since we want to stay attached and wind up on top, we’ve modified this so that the leg doesn’t really kick him or even straighten out; it is used to direct him up and over. The arms are more instrumental in the direction. In Francisco’s case, we are also working on hooking the opponent’s leg either with Francisco’s hand or free leg, so that as his opponent goes over, Francisco stays attached to him, rolls with him, and lands on top.
Tawara gaeshi and sumi gaeshi can be executed the same way: as your opponent goes over your head, hook his leg with either your own leg or your arm (or hand), so that you remain attached and go over as well. You will end up on top of him and can immediately go into a groundhold.
There is also yoko tomoe nage, side high circle throw: You use your outside leg, (assuming you are holding one of your opponent’s arms, the outside leg would be the leg further away from him) planting your foot sideways onto his stomach. At the same time, you drop to your back, twisting such that you are about ninety degrees to his body. You can throw your opponent to one side of your body or the other depending on how much he is fighting the throw and/or how deeply you manage to get under him – either way allows you to end up on top.
Another throw which lends itself well to this starting technique of heads close together is a variation of o soto gari, sort of a combination o soto gari and koshi guruma - o soto gari’s leg movement and koshi guruma’s arm placement. If you’re doing a right-sided version, give your opponent a slight jolt to his right, causing him to try to straighten up, then go in at an angle while wrapping your right arm around his shoulders and your left hand tightly grasping his right sleeve. Sweep out his far leg with your right leg and go down to the ground with him. He’s already in a groundhold when he lands.
We have also worked on sasae tsurikomi ashi, propping drawing ankle throw: you grasp your opponent’s lapel with your right hand in order to lift his torso, while simultaneously blocking his right ankle and pulling the right sleeve horizontally to the left. As he falls, move your right arm around his shoulders and go to the ground with him. Change the grip on his sleeve as well. You will be in a groundhold (kesa gatame) right away.
Although Francisco has had experience with a few judo throws, non-judo practitioners can pick up these variations of judo throws and handily use them when needed. For videos of judo throws with gi, go to the Traditional Judo section of this website; videos of no-gi judo throws may be found in the Judo for MMA section of this site.
March 13, 2009