Sunday, September 9, 2012

Judo Players to Dominate Mixed Martial Arts?

So, Ronda is wiping up the female divisions, Hector Lombard is doing well in the UFC and Fedor was pretty damn impressive as well.

So, does this mean judo players are going to be tearing up the mixed martial arts world soon?

I don't fucking think so.

And here is why ....

As I looked through our proofs for Winning on the Ground, something I knew all along was strongly reinforced.

Ronda owes me big time.

No, not just for not setting her on fire and throwing her into Santa Monica Bay on a number of occasions when she SO deserved it (though, that, too). No, it is because some forms of judo are FAR more conducive to transferring to mixed martial arts than others and by an amazing fortunate coincidence, the judo that I did and that I taught Ronda fits into that category. 

It is no coincidence that Fedor was not only a fourth-degree black belt in judo and a champion in sambo AND successful in mixed martial arts.

Guess who else won international medals in judo and was the national sambo champion? Okay, well, I am sure you won't guess, so I will tell you - it was me. I don't know diddly squat about sambo. I did the same judo I always did, the same judo in the book and the same judo I taught Ronda and it worked.


In a nutshell, there are two types of judo. Years ago (DECADES ago), when I was at the Panamerican Games, the folks from the TV station asked Coach Willy Cahill who to film. He said,

"If you want judo that looks like a ballet, film Robin Chapman (Chow). If you want judo that looks like a barroom brawl, watch AnnMaria."

There is judo that relies a lot on gripping, on using the gi for tie-ups and that does NOT transfer terribly well to mixed martial arts.

[It should be noted that Ronda did not agree 100% with me on this because she pointed out today that she felt the PRINCIPLES of grip-fighting transferred and that is why she is so effective in a clinch. She did agree, however, that the specifics don't transfer so well and many of the matwork techniques using the gi don't transfer at all.]

So, here are five reasons why most judo players will not be successful at mixed martial arts.

  1. They just aren't in that good physical condition. That's a fact. Shut up. I've seen athletes in wrestling, track, soccer and, yes, even swimming, and they train more than most judo players in the U.S. My lovely little Julia at age 13 played for the Santa Monica Saints Extra team (that's like the city All-Stars) and they practiced five days a week, two hours a day non-stop, and often played an additional two or three hours each day on the weekends in tournaments. That is more than many judo players in this country. Shut up. I watch you train and fight. You do not.
  2. They count too much on the referee to save them. Judo has stupid rules. If you touch the opponent's leg (in most circumstances) you can automatically lose. If you hold more than a few seconds on one side, you get a penalty. On the other hand, you can lay on your stomach and stall and it is nothing. In mixed martial arts, the opponent gets to punch you if you do this.
  3. Many judo techniques on the mat rely on using the judo gi to tie up the opponent, which will not work in mixed martial arts, although it is very effective for judo and if you compete in judo, I highly recommend that, if it is working for you, you keep that up. 
  4. Effective grip-fighting, tying up the opponent so he or she cannot attack, is a good strategy for winning in judo. It is not AS effective for mixed martial arts. (Although Ronda argues that, with the right attitude and strategy, it CAN transfer.)
  5. Many techniques like tai otoshi rely on using the gi and are far more difficult to do without one.
Look at an example of judo that DOES work in mixed martial arts. This is one of the out -takes we did not use in our book, but I do like it. Notice something about this series of pictures ?

Nowhere in here does she grab the gi. Even though they are both wearing judo gis, this technique is an example of one that translates perfectly to mixed martial arts.

Visualize them not wearing judo gis (not to that extent, you creepy pervert). You can see that the exact same technique would work.

Even if you are in amazing physical condition, judo techniques that rely on gripping the gi, tying up with the gi, hell, HAVING a gi, are just not going to be as effective as those that do not.


Al B Here said...

Right off the bat I'll say, I agree wholeheartedly with what you've said. I'm a total novice at judo, but I like to pretend I have a clue with respect to MMA. Why is it so painfully obvious to me that not all judo translates well to MMA?

One point that I'm sure you've mentioned somewhere in the past (but if you didn't, I'll take credit for stating the obvious) is that judo players work a heckuva lot more on their stand-up. They spend an inordinate amount of time trying to perfect their throws, often to the detriment of their ground game. Ronda doesn't stop when the fight hits the ground. In fact, she's just getting going....

Anonymous said...

I agree that if you focus on the adaptable throws like seio-nage, osoto-gari, o-uchi-gari, ko-uchi to ku-chiki-daoshi, ko-soto-gari, te-guruma, kata-guruma, etc. They can be adapted to other grappling games. Until recently I was a full time judo athlete, but I decided to try Olympic free-style wrestling. Surprisingly, not even knowing much about the rules, I was able to use some of my big techniques to throw my opponents and score on the ground as well. The principles are very important which are common to all grappling sports - like hip thrust, weigh distribution, shoulder control, etc.

The average American judo player fits well in your description of the fitness part. Though that's not the case in any decent level club in Europe.

Though many judo school could use more time devoted to newaza, with especial emphasis on the fundamental movement.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

But remember, kata guruma is not allowed now and te guruma only as a counter, so judo is becoming LESS applicable

Stuart said...

With the likes of Ronda, Hector Lombard and of course Fedor having huge success in MMA competitions there are definitely people out there who would like to add Judo to their MMA repertoire. The problem here in the UK is that most Judo clubs are run as non profit organisations and mostly attract recreational players who are happy to train just once or twice a week, whereas BJJ clubs offer multiple classes each day of the week and usually have separate no-gi grappling classes as well as an affiliation with a local MT and or MMA gym.
What I have started to see recently is BJJ clubs offering Judo classes taught by one of their Judo dan grades (most BJJ clubs have one). Although I have not witnessed the Judo being taught its very likely its taught with MMA and or BJJ in mind rather than with a Judo Shiai ruleset. Of course this doesn’t help the local Judo clubs affiliated with the BJA (the governing body in the UK) attract new members and I’d still like to see more of an effort from these clubs in attracting the 18-30 year old male demographic who are interested in MMA.

robthornton72 said...

If Judo clubs continue to teach their classes according to what the current rules of IJF tournaments allow, Judo as a specific art will die. You'll see it blended into stuff like BJJ or classical Japanese JJ systems, but people will not choose to do Judo based on the prohibitive rules.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

I agree with both Stuart and Rob Thornton. A lot of my friends teach at BJJ and MMA clubs because they get paid primarily and also because they are not subject to rules which seem to change every time someone's favorite country isn't winning. Some people seem to equate judo with religion and think you need to take a vow of poverty and obedience to do it.

Ze Grapplez said...

the gi specific/standing Judo with the banning of direct leg attacks et cetera will be a very big detriment to the long term viability of Judo as a grappling art in terms of its effectiveness outside of judo rules.

it's a shame.

robthornton72 said...

I'm not doing it the same as Steve Scott, I'm certain, but I am continuing "traditional" Judo. I will not water down my syllabus on what the IJF takes out. Jim Hrbek and James Wall have run modified rules tournaments that allow any grips and leg attacks. The problem is getting a lot of Judo players to attend because it's not "IJF" Judo. Too many of our coaches are too myopic for their own good (and the good of the sport/art).

Unknown said...

Heres the problem with Judo as of now.

1. Rules of Judo is killing Judo.
2. No Gi System for Judo, as BJJ have already adapted and now taught among all the BJJ schools.

Dr. If you were to start a "No Gi" system for Judo for MMA, we would see more light on Judo in MMA, heck i'm surprised Jimmy Pedro hasn't marketed on it. Some might say "look at Gokor." His school is not "No Gi Judo/Sambo" when they are more of a ground based system.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Yes, I *would* say "look at Gokor" as a perfect example. Not coincidentally, Ronda has trained with Gokor (and Manny and Karo) since she was 13 or 14. It's been so long I can't remember exactly.

The style that Gokor, Gene and Sarko teach is perfectly transferable to MMA *and* their students win at judo a lot as well. I have seen over the years many of their students doing judo less and less because they get frustrated that the judo rules do not allow them to do MANY of their techniques - no grabbing the legs, no arm bars under age 17, no arm bars at all under black belt in some tournaments, no drop shoulder throws in some tournaments - and on and on. The other reason their students leave judo is there is no money in it, so if they are talented, as adults they start competing in or teaching MMA

Thinker said...

Since the rules are run by IJF...

We should all support AAU Judo (Freestyle). :D

But as of right now... I think Judo should capitalize on MMA, claim the "throwing kings" especially when people are clinching, the stance are straight since the fear of getting knee which totally makes judo a viable answer. We could go with Greco but Greco doesn't feature the same skill set as Judo. BJJ clearly has been effectively using it but not clearly masters at it. I just want to see Judo rise just like BJJ and Muay Thai and becoming a requirement for MMA.

Striking - boxing/mt/kb
Clinch work - Judo/Greco
Wrestling - wrestling lol.
Ground work - BJJ, as they are clearly advance and know what they're doing.

dave schaeffer said...

Your point of Judo players stalling on the ground is valid, though not limited to Judo. Freestyle wrestlers do the same thing, even worse, they practice it. Both my boys transitioned to wrestling pretty well, (maybe because my sensei hated stalling)and I think Judo does help other grappling arts, but, yeah, keep dickin' around with the rules, and we will wuss ourselves out of relevancy.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Wussing ourselves out of relevance. I think that could be a motto for much of organized judo !

Chad Morrison said...

Rob - I don't really buy that people won't go to a Judo tourney because it doesn't have an IJF rule set. I think that most competitors hate the current rule set - and hate worse how poorly it is enforced. I think the reason that many tourneys with alternate (read: better) rule sets have lower attendance is simply because they are mostly new, and it is hard to get good showings at new tourneys. People don't want to show to small tourneys with small divisions, so they stay small unless/until they hit a tipping point. If established medium-sized tourneys changed their rules to Freestyle or the 1972 rules, or anything else reasonable, I would bet that attendance would rise, and rise significantly. You may not get as many elite athletes who need credit from IJF-certified events, but how many of those guys are there in the US? 10?

Chad Morrison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
robthornton72 said...

Chad - you underestimate how many coaches are too tied to their Juniors getting points and going to the USJA Juniors, the JO's, etc. There are a lot of coaches out there who are myopic about the rules. For instance, USJA allows rule modifications, to the current rules, but does absolutely nothing to promote different ideas. And good luck getting coaches to send their players to tournaments what are not USJA/JI/JF sanctioned. In time and with more progressive coaches, yes, this will change. For now it's an uphill struggle.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

You know Rob, I think it is already happening. They just don't call them judo tournaments. They call them "gi divisions" of grappling tournaments. They are popping up all over the place and bigger than most judo tournaments.

As for the silly points nonsense, I agree with you. I was just talking with Serge B. about that today. You know who never won the triple crown? Ronda.

She never went to all three junior nationals because I thought it was a silly waste of money.

robthornton72 said...

AnnMaria, are Judo people going to them much?

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Do you mean to the grappling tournaments? I'd say maybe 10% of the people are judo players.

Anonymous said...

"They just aren't in that good physical condition. That's a fact. Shut up. I've seen athletes in wrestling, track, soccer and, yes, even swimming, and they train more than most judo players in the U.S."

In the U.S.? The U.S. is just one of the 200 or so nations competing in Olympic level judo. Not an important player at all. How can one country mean anything or be generalized to represent all the Judoka. Maybe change the topic to something like "U.S. Judo Players to Dominate Mixed Martial Arts?

I'm pretty confident the athletes of Russia and former Russian states are in shape and the Japanese might train enough too. You probably know better.

MMA is not the center of the universe and neither is the U.S.

Austin said...

Fedor in particular seemed to learn a way to translate his judo into "dirty boxing", hand trapping, and putting people off balance before he hit them. Ronda hasn't done much in the way of striking so far, and Lombard is sort of a wash right now, but it seems to be (basically what you said) all about applying the right principles.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

It is true that the US is not a major player in judo and probably true (I cannot swear to it but I think you are right) that the average level of ELITE judo players in other countries is higher than their counterparts in the US.

However, the MMA market in financial terms, viewership and participants seems to be heavily concentrated in North America

Anonymous said...

LOL! For a woman that is only 5' 2", you boast with great frequency.

Conclusion: You are unstable.

You are just proving that you are not living a fulfilled life.

Women's MMA is still grossly undeveloped compared to men's MMA. Ronda hasn't to this date fought a great talent.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with you on the whole "grip fighting" thing. I use a lot of grip fighting strategy in my Judo and there are no-gi applications. Transitioning from gi to no-gi is like transitioning from weapons combat to empty hand. It's more of a change in mindset than in physical technique.

Anonymous said...

"'LOL! For a woman that is only 5' 2", you boast with great frequency.'" Hey, jerk face! Don't disrespect the doctor like that! If you want to disagree, then do so with dignity.

"You are just proving that you are not living a fulfilled life." Well, if your life is so fulfilled, then why are you taking time out of it to comment on this blog just to insult the doctor and her daughter?

". Ronda hasn't to this date fought a great talent." She's fought NOTHING but great talents, even as an amateur. What about Edaine Gomes, who was her first pro fight? Gomes is a beast! So let me ask you, what's a good talent to you if Charmaine Tweet, Taylor Stratford, Sarah D'Alielo (who beat Vanessa Porto), Meisha Tate, Liz Carmouche, Sarah Kaufman, Julia Budd (the only woman to knockout Gina Carano in Muay Thai) aren't "good talents"? I may be young (not much older than Ronda), but there are parts of be that are a bit old fashioned. I say, if you have any questions about Ronda's abilities, then why don't you fight her yourself? If you're not willing or capable of doing what other people are, then you have no right to criticize them.