If you do, then it follows logically that mat work only happens by accident. All mat work is secondary to throwing. It is Plan B. You throw to win and if you fail, then you do mat work. By this logic, no one ever goes to the ground on purpose. On the rare occasions that you see anyone practicing transition from standing to ground techniques it is taught as,
"If you do this throw and for some unknown reason it does not work, then you can follow up into a mat technique like so ..."
Can this be really true, that no one ever goes into groundwork on purpose? I know I did. My reason for adopting this style was simple, I had no choice. As I mentioned before, I hurt my knee badly when I was a teenager and after that I couldn't do throws that required bending my knees more than a few inches. Often, my competitive style was referred to derogatorily as "koka judo", meaning I only won by a slight advantage rather than dominating my opponent with a big throw. In fact, though, although I threw almost no one for an ippon ever, I won almost all of my matches by ippon year after year, including every match in the Panamerican Games, Austrian Open and world trials. I just happened to win them by pins and arm bars.
When I look at pictures of myself throwing, they never look like the textbooks. This never bothered me until I started writing a book and had to debate whether I should include pictures like I was SUPPOSED to be doing the throw or how I actually do it.
The truth is, I don't do matwork by accident. I do it on purpose. When I take a grip and go into a drop shoulder throw my end goal is not to throw for the win but to knock the person down and do a pin. When I do a standing shoulder throw, my first goal is to go for an arm bar and if I can't get the arm bar, to win by a pin. If I actually ever threw anyone for ippon and won by the throw alone, THAT would be by accident.
While I adopted this style because I had no choice, it was very successful for me. I know I'm not the only one who competed this way. I was talking to Hayward Nishioka about this today and he recalled someone he knew in Japan who was not that great at throwing, " ... but, man could he beat everybody on the mat!"
Hayward said that what I called my method of competing, "Matwork on purpose" and the general view, "Matwork by accident" didn't sound important and academic enough. So, just for him, let me reiterate.
Almost everyone uses the "secondary theory of mat work", where the primary attempt and goal is to win by throwing. Matwork is secondary. My "primary theory of mat work" allows for the possibility that winning on the mat is the goal and the throw is secondary, just a means of getting to the mat to win.
This next point is very, very important so pay attention ...
Often, the way you do a throw to set up mat work is different from the way you would do it to win by ippon. For example, at practice today, Richard (Blinky) Elizalde was teaching a drop shoulder throw. He had students throw and keep driving with their legs so that the opponent was driven to flat on his or her back. If successful, this will give the player a higher score, a waza ari (half point) or ippon (full point). HOWEVER, it puts the thrower in a less advantageous situation for mat work, with his back on the opponent's upper body and neck exposed.
Since Blinky and I were team-teaching today, I taught the same throw next, except I had the students throw their opponent and immediately follow up to the pin.
When I do ko uchi makikomi, I drive straight into the opponent. My goal is to end up with my opponent on the mat and me largely at her right side (assuming I did the throw right-handed), in a good position to turn quickly on my stomach and pull myself up into a pin or roll (the backstroke ) into a pin. Other people (Ronda, for example) often do the same throw rotating much as Blinky teaches in a shoulder throw. Again, you're more likely to score a full point than the way I do the throw, but if you don't win by ippon you are in a weaker position for mat work.
Time after time, when I won matches, the competitors and their coaches would comment on how I had just "gotten lucky" to stumble in the perfect position for an arm bar, turnover, choke or pin.
So, next time you see someone perform a throw "incorrectly" and end up winning on the mat seconds later, consider this - maybe they meant to do that.