There has been a lot of talk lately about arm bars and judo, in part, I think, because Ronda has been taking arms like there was a bounty on them. Two of the dirty little secrets we judo people don't like to air in public are:
- Most judo players are not very good mat work
- Particularly in America, most judo players are not very good at mat work
It's considered not as "good" to win on the mat as by throwing someone. I've had lots of people say "AnnMaria's judo isn't very good. All she did was win on the mat."
Yes, I'm not very good, all I did was win a world championship and some other random stuff. Someone criticizing the way I competed once said to me,
"I've never seen you throw with uchi mata or tai o toshi in your life. THAT's real judo. What do you call that rolling around on the ground you do?"I answered,
"I call it winning, asshole."The fact that there wasn't one is not the ONLY reason I did not win the Miss Congeniality award of the judo team.
Most clubs don't spend nearly as much time on mat work as they do on standing techniques with the result that they aren't nearly as good at it. I've written a lot of posts on this, including this one, Matwork Bottom Line: You do too few techniques and you're too slow.
Not only are most judo players not particularly good at mat work but they really suck at arm bars. The reason is that Americans aren't even allowed to do arm bars in competition until they are seventeen years old and a brown belt. In some local and regional tournaments, you can't do arm bars until you are a black belt. I've even been to tournaments where arm bars are not allowed, period.
I once was visiting a very large, well-respected judo club and they asked me to teach but said,
"Please don't do arm bars. We don't want to scare anyone away."
I taught a roll over choke. Later, the instructor told me they would prefer I not teach dangerous techniques to their white and green belt ADULTS! He was very nice about it, I must say.
I've asked many judo instructors and tournament directors why we do not allow kids in judo to do arm bars. They say because it is dangerous, kids don't have enough control, we could get sued. Of course, jiu-jitsu allows arm bars for very young kids. Other countries allow kids in judo to do arm bars.
Ignoring all of this, I have taught arm bars to kids for years.