Wednesday, March 7, 2012

You Dance with Them What Brung You

A liberal columnist from Texas is an odd source of advice for a judo player on mixed martial arts. On the other hand, my most common suggestion for Ronda when it comes to her training is the opposite of what most other people tell her. That is, to quote Molly Ivins,

"You got to dance with them what brung you."
While everyone else is telling her that her striking is not good enough, she needs to work on her striking and eleven different variations of the same thing all over again, I tell her,

"You need to make sure you work on your throws and arm bars."
I've seen enough judo players who wanted to prove they were tough, or that they could really stand up and fight or who knows what they were thinking that stood up and got punched around. What is the point of that? Seriously, if you are winning because of your judo, where do you get the dumb idea to quit focusing on judo?

Almost all of my matches were won on the mat, mostly by pins or arm bars. The two go together. When people are fighting out of a pin, they often give up an arm. A player focusing so much on keeping her arms in tight is easier to turn over into a pin. All of those years, and even to this day, people will say I was not much of a judo player, did not have much technique. Many well-meaning coaches told me that I should focus on my standing technique. Makes sense, right? It was definitely my weakest point.

I remember a lot of coaches telling me,
"Just think, as good as your matwork is, if your standing technique was equally good, you'd be best in the world."
Fortunately for me, I was unable to follow that advice because my knees were so bad many judo throws were physically impossible for me. A couple of years ago, I had my right knee replaced.

I looked at it a different way. I thought, if I was beating almost everyone with matwork as it was, if I could make my matwork even better, no one would beat me. I didn't need to be great at standing technique. I just needed to be good enough not to get thrown for ippon and to knock the person down to the mat once in a six-minute match. (Finals were six minutes back in the prehistoric age when I competed.)

Some people say that is putting all of your eggs in one basket. I agree with Mark Twain that sometimes you want to put all of your eggs in one basket AND WATCH THAT BASKET.

Whether it is going from judo to striking or going from matwork to standing technique, in both cases, the advice other people are giving is, 

"You're being really successful at something, so you should quit doing that and instead do something you're not good at."

Sounds kind of dumb when you put it that way, doesn't it?


PiP said...

I think I agree and disagree. Have a gameplan to use your strength, but train to minimize your weakness.

The problem is, anyone facing Ronda now will be training takedown defense, keeping distance, avoiding the clinch, and God forbid they get to the ground, armbar avoidance! Basically, anti-judo. It will become increasingly difficult for her to just go straight to her strength. I think Miesha, bless her heart, actually thought she could beat Ronda on the ground. I don't think that will be a common mistake with future opponents. That's not to say Ronda won't still be able to impose her game, but I think she'll be exposed to much more striking in any upcoming fights.

Second, I think Ronda could be a good striker. She seems like she could take a punch well, and I bet she hits hard when she wants to. I would definitely say that she should train her striking in a way that helps her get in close & setup takedowns, but I'm sure the fans wouldn't mind seeing a Ronda Rousey knockout someday.

Lastly, and most selfishly, I want her to be as well rounded as possible because I don't want to see Ronda lose. Ever.

Enosis said...

Arm Collector Mom...I agree with you...well said. I don't think Ronda needs to be a "good" striker to win. However, I think her defensive striking needs work. Just like the example of yourself in Judo "I just need to be good enough to not get ipponed so I can make it to the mat" I think Ronda's stand up technique in her last fight, left her too open for a big strike. Perhaps most women in MMA will not have the kind of knock out power to rock Ronda so it may not ever be a problem. Anyway, I'm a big fan of her fights and your blog!

robthornton72 said...

I forget who said it, but one comment I read said, "Tate had to train for just one thing, not to be armbarred. And she couldn't do it."

That's a big statement to Ronda's training, I think.

Jeremy said...

Rob- Actually Miesha said in an interview she wasn't training a lot of armbar defense because she didn't plan on ever being in that position.

Anonymous said...

I agree exactly what you wrote, doc.

robthornton72 said...

Jeremy- I expect that is bluster, but if that's the case, then she was a moron.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

I certainly concur with PiP about not wanting Ronda to lose. I do agree she should work SOME on striking, just like I worked on standing technique. My point was, like others said, she just needs to be good enough to not get knocked out before she gets a grip and throws them.

As for people training anti-judo, not to be thrown and armbarred, to quote Jim Pedro, Sr. "What do you think all of those women did she fought in Europe all of those years?" THEY trained not to be thrown and arm barred, too.

dsimon3387 said...

I think there is psychological merit to this strategy because it forces one to come from a position of strength and not weakness.

When we are forced to adapt something unnaturally, or negatively, or even out of fear as in "Ronda you better fix that striking or else...." it becomes a problem we may not even have had! For example, "let them beat my technique" instead of "I better learn this or else."

There are ways to maximize striking that integrate R's success imo. I could think of many examples.

Jeremy said...

Hey AnnMaria, I hear what you're saying with the Pedro quote. And it makes sense...

but for another perspective, there was an article Rhadi Ferguson wrote recently mentioning he trained Thiago Alves to shut down Karo Parisyan's judo in 5 weeks (Thiago won by tko, and successfully stifled Karo's grappling).

It'll be interesting to see how Ronda forces the division to evolve their skillset.

Anonymous said...

I agree that a lot of grapplers who suddenly learn some striking often tend to use it way too much because it's like playing with a new toy. Thus you get MMA matches that become horrible boxing matches from elite grapplers (see Sean Sherk trying to box with T-Rex arms, for instance). Definitely a pitfall to avoid.

However, I still think it would behoove Ronda to close any holes in her game to better compliment her grappling. Keep in mind I'm not saying she should be throwing headkicks or haymakers. However, striking defense and defensive striking (not entirely the same thing of course) are both very valuable, as is transitional striking to help better set up her throws and armbars. She does these things to an extent already, so hopefully she'll continue to train those, and not make any fatal mistakes like keeping her chin out.

Yes, she needs to focus on her strengths, make sure they are as strong as ever if not stronger, and her strengths are insane. However, like any other profession worth dedicating yourself too, she also needs to work on her weaknesses too.

I have faith she will continue to improve regardless.

Anonymous said...

Dammit, I guess you already addressed what I said. D'oh.

Anyway, Congratulations on your daughter being a second-generation World Champion.

If I might offer stupid unsolicited advice: I would skip trash talking Sarah Kaufmann (beyond maybe advising her to start practicing eating and dressing herself with one arm sooner rather than later, and also that ballet is not a practical fighting background), and instead use the opportunity to praise Kaufmann in a way that points out the character flaws of some of Ronda's other rivals, real or potential.

Ronda could point out that it's refreshing to have an opponent who has a better training partner than a tiny, inferior, insecure boyfriend, for instance.

Or that it's nice that Sarah is secure enough with her abilities not to be juiced to the gills (so to speak), and that she hasn't done anything so stupid it killed an weight entire division, and that while it would have been nice to kick Cyborg's ass, Ronda will just have to settle for someone who is an actually professional.

Finally, sorry to go further off-topic, but you mentioned something before about a Happy Dance that Ronda has been known to do? Is this a dance that she might be willing to share with the world?

Anonymous said...

You know, I don't think Ronda can be beat. Even Cyborg with her juice cycle. Girls' so effin' tough you're just like wtf every fight she's had. Even the ones she's lost you're like ummm..... She's like tiny comapred to these women she's fighting in judo. First Tebow, then Lin, now we got us a Ronda. PLEASE DO NOT DO THE HOLLYWOOD CRAP! Until you finish everyone including a juiced up Cyborg.

Anonymous said...

chrom1um said

"However, I still think it would behoove Ronda to close any holes in her game to better compliment her grappling. Keep in mind I'm not saying she should be throwing headkicks or haymakers. However, striking defense and defensive striking (not entirely the same thing of course) are both very valuable, as is transitional striking to help better set up her throws and armbars."

What fights are you watching? "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey doesn't just get the armbar delivered to her. She pounds the other fighter so much they cover. Instead of keep pounding on them (which maybe she should every once in a while because apparently no one but a few can see she can punch) she sees that arm and is like, like one or two? This girl is so awesome. Just no Hollywood. They MAKE you kiss guys with herpes and stuff. No joke.

Anonymous said...

It will be awesome if Ronda makes it to Hollywood. She will definitely increase the popularity of Judo. Gina Carano wasn't an Olympic athlete and a champion in mma and she is doing really well. I think Ronda can do better. She is more athletic and better looking. Women's mma do not get paid well enough yet.

Anonymous said...

It will be a great fight and a major challenge for Ronda if she has to face Cyborg. Cyborg is a man, not a woman.

PiP said...

We're getting a little off topic, but I can't help myself. Ronda obviously has the looks to make some movies (what a smile!). I hope she doesn't go down that road for at least 2-3 years so we get to enjoy watching her fights.
But one thing that could/should go to Hollywood immediately is her story. It has everything you could want for a great movie. The heartache of losing her father, an awesome mom who teaches her strength and determination, an olympic run that falls just short, the uncertain times after the olympics when she wasn't sure what was next, and finally her MMA run where she finally becomes the world champion that her dad always knew she would be. Someone make this, because I want to watch it now! Some day it will be sold in a 3-pack, an inspirational triple-feature: Rocky, Rudy, and Ronda!

Jeremy said...

How did this get onto movies? While we're here though...

1- Hey PiP, you know what's actually the biggest hindrance to a Ronda movie? Her MMA career. Seriously. Could you imagine if 3/4 of the way through Rocky he falls short and takes up an entirely different sport?

Her MMA run totally messes up the flow of the story. It's not like Cool Runnings where their original sport is this cursory thing. You'd have to focus on one or the other, and then fictionalize the chronology to the point where everyone complains 'That's not how it happened' (which I hate hearing. Movies aren't supposed to be historical accounts. They should change 'based on' to 'loosely based on').

So if you wanted the full thing a documentary would be better suited.

2- If anyone's interested in seeing Ronda's acting cameo (and one from AnnMaria and Julia) (from 0.04 and 6.00).

PiP said...

Hey Jeremy,

I didn't see Dr Ann Maria (a.k.a. "Annie") in the video, but I didn't watch all that closely. I felt my brain starting to drip out of my ears about 1:30 in. (I don't mean to knock the video too much, but it was kinda bazaar trying to follow it).

Anyway, I totally disagree about the Ronda movie. To say MMA is "a totally different sport" is not accurate. If she became ping-pong champion of the world I'd agree with you, but judo is a subset of MMA. It's completely related. I get what you're saying, but for me it wouldn't be very difficult to link the two endeavors, and create a compelling story that the public would eat up. I could totally imagine the same story if a boxer got a bronze medal in the olympics and went on to become a champion in MMA. It's a great story, and Ronda being so lovable makes it that much better. Quit fighting it, and admit that when the movie comes out you'll be one of the first in line to see it. I know I will be, and I'd like to buy it on blue-ray asap. Dr. Ann Maria, get on it. ;-)

Jeremy said...

AnnMaria is the scary referee 6 mins in.

I actually lazily sketched out a Ronda film for fun (along with a Chael one haha) a while ago, which is how I came to that conclusion. I know it seems clear in your head, but once you try structuring it you'll see the weaknesses.

However I did find a way to include her MMA career without making the story worse (and keeping it around 1hr 50mins). You'd cut her first olympic run out completely. You'd cut her year of 'being normal' out. The midpoint would be her taking bronze, and unlike real life you'd have to make taking bronze piss her off.

You'd take all the drama that happened before her second olympic run and actually transfer half of it over to her MMA run.

Cram 3 of her MMA fights into a montage and make the champion a fictional character (closer to Cyborg) instead of Miesha Tate.

Then take the feel good stuff with the flag that happened at the second olympics and transfer it to winning the belt.

There's other problems though, like convincing the audience that a female mma belt is worth more than an olympic gold medal.

And referring to your earlier post, although I love AnnMaria her character would not be the "awesome mom who teaches her strength and determination". Her character would be a mean old crow for 85% of the film. But the audience would like her by the end. So there's that...

You know who Ronda actually could've played regardless of acting level? The girl from Winter's Bone. Tough, quiet, unflinching. Not a whole lot of range required. Appropriately that girl is playing Katniss in the Hunger Games. Interesting because that's the second role that came to mind.

The third, embarrassingly, was supergirl. Don't laugh, It only came to mind because Gina's doing Wonderwoman.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

.As far as Ronda trash-talking Sarah Kaufman - from the very little I have seen of Sarah she seems like a nice, polite person - kind of the stereotype Americans have of Canadians.

Personally, I expect more attention to be paid to the fight with the whole US vs Canada aspect. While Canadians may be polite , one only need watch a US vs Canada hockey game to see how much they love to see Canadians win.

I'm sure Ronda feels pretty strongly about representing her country as well.

Anonymous said...

Imo, Ronda needs to train striking only b/c of the imminent Cyborg fight. Ronda will need to ensure she is not "thrown for ippon" (overwhelmed by strikes and knocked out) before she is able to close distance with Cyborg and unleash her judo.

Re Sarah Kauffman: Trash talking would be pointless here b/c Sarah would not "bite". Rather than "polite", I would characterize Kaufmann as "mature". In the build up to the Rousey vs Tate fight I listened to some interviews she gave to some over zealous "anti Ronda" WMMA websites and she gained my respect for showing to be a person of integrity. Regardless how much the reporters would try to bait her to sling mud at Rousey, she stood her ground and would not go beyond her original stance that in her opinion she was "1st in line" for shot at Tate and that's it.

Otherwise, Sarah K. would not survive the 1st round in a match with Ronda.

Anonymous said...

I want Ronda to be able to take a punch and defend against a punch. The best defense isn't always a good offense. Its harder to apply good mat technique when your brain has been introduced to your skull. I think a solid punch from a well skilled striker is the ONLY thing that can stop Ronda.