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Better Know a Martial Art: Judo is Awesome

VidProps: ijfchannel/YouTube

Funny thing about literal translations: they’re rarely very good at saying exactly what you mean; rather, they tend to sort-of-in-a-general-way communicate a rough idea. And sometimes, they’re downright misleading. Take judo, for example. The Japanese translates into English imprecisely to begin with: ju translates literally as “gentle” or “soft”, while do is “way” or “path”. Both of these concepts relate more to the philosophy of judo — conservation of energy and an emphasis on technique — than a description of the style and action. Ask anyone who’s ever tried a few classes in the “gentle way“, and they’ll tell you that it’s anything but. Any class that begins with learning how to fall down with minimal pain runs a significant risk of being brutal.

Judo was born in the late 19th Century by a Japanese jujitsu fella by the name of Jiguro  Kano, known to his brodogs as “Da Jigumon”.  Kano had begun training as a result of being bullied growing up –a story that still rings true through time. At the time, “jujitsu” was something of a generic term for unarmed fighting, and schools varied wildy in technique, training methods, and instruction.

Kano redefined weaponless combat by focusing on a relative handful of techniques from  jujitsu schools, emphasizing techniques that were a) actually applicable in real life situations (so they threw out the Scorpion kick and the Torture Rack) and b) safe to practice on a live partner (so they dropped the tiger claw eye gouge to spinal cord asplosion touch of death).

His break from practicing martial arts primarily through kata (waving your arms around in the air and looking all silly) and placing an importance on randori (actual ass kicking with a real live person) was revolutionary.

Japanese jujitsu schools continued to develop, influence, and challenge judo.  It was a small jujitsu school (Fusen ryu) on the vanguard of ground-based grappling that generated interest in learning something besides how to throw someone to the ground really hard.  The result was a surge of ne waza judo around the turn of the century, just when Mitsuyo Maeda was studying martial arts.  A student of both classical-style jujitsu and Jiguro Kano’s judo, Maeda emigrated to Brazil before World War I, where he met a Brazilian fella by the name of Gracie.  But that’s a whole other story.

Judo continues to evolve, particularly the rules of international competition.  But throwing somebody down really hard is still really, really awesome.

Judo Strengths

Judo players tend to bring a great deal of upper body strength to the cage for MMA, and their standing clinch work is as good as any style.  They tend to be explosive athletes, with knockout power.  Add to that training with submissions and ground fighting, and it is a powerful base.

Judo’s popularity in MMA waxes and wanes — remember when Karo Parisyan was an exciting new prospect? — and with an influx of new blood lately, interest is gaining again.

Notable Judokas in MMA

Hiroshi Izumi, Megumi Fujii, Hidehiko Yoshida, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Satoshi Ishii, Karo Parisyan, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Rick Hawn,  Ronda Rousey

Technique to Know

The uchi mata is one of the throws you may spot in MMA.  Megumi Fujii has a beautiful uchi mata, and that’s not slang for anything. Judo master/sambo savant/all-round grappling ninja Gokor Chivichyan won a gold medal at the 2008 USJA/USJF Winter Nationals with an uchi mata, and we found this very cool video of his demonstrating a slick kneebar off of a defended uchi mata.  And that’s just one throw.  Judo has, like, a whole lot.

Ok, Nation, brush up on your Japanese, go watch a few YouTube videos, and get out there and start hip tossing fools.  It’s what Jiguro Kano would want.*



*it’s really not.




Cagepotato Comments

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BigRed2008x- August 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm
I started playing Judo a year after I stopped wrestling and I wish I knew judo before because honestly its probably one of the best trainings I've ever had. It's also about having the right Sensi I had one of the best in the world and with Judo all it takes is a split second and a minor misstep and your done. It's teaches you more practical manuvers then BJJ. Fights are always gonna start on your feet and the Brazilans were just lazy as all Judoka will tell you. and 100% right the first thing you do learn is to fall because otherwise it's a sport that's really going to hurt so many angles and throws you have to worry about. BJJ's fun for the variaty of submissions but not nearly as fun as Judo. Plus it is a lot harder to get a black belt in so there is so much more of a sense of accomplishment.
TellaTruth- August 24, 2011 at 8:35 am
@ Onan. Exactly! If there is no control after the throw what good is it?
XENOPHON- August 24, 2011 at 12:14 am
That's 100% correct, many think Toquinho is such the shit with his brutal leg locks, but the fact is that is far from the same. Absent his kicks and his striking, Rousimar Palhares doesn't have the additional benefit of length and flexibility for the effective Jui Jitsu.
thej6m- August 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm
Now I'm by no means a "fighter" but I did wrestle in high school and took up both BJJ and Judo in college just for fun. The reason why I recommend Judo to people interested in grappling over Jujitsu is that it emphysizes takedowns and top control over guard. When I sparred in BJJ half the time I was put on my back in guard and I don't have the flexibility or the long legs to really be effective in that position; I'm a stocky dude. I'm much better at getting in close and puting someone on their back. Because most guys I know don't have the build to really excel at guard control(which is pretty much the only position I was ever really shown in BJJ) I turn them to a sport that will better suit their physical attributes.
MrBlondeSL- August 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm
@guapo, I. Clicked it because I was on someone elses computer. Its just a cheap looking mma site, I think the guy gets all his articles from cp.
ReX13- August 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm
charles >> all true, but if the Commies want to call their judo "sambo" they don't get mentions. Myah, see?
The_Dead_Cow- August 23, 2011 at 5:35 pm
Judo is cool, I love to see people use that shit in MMA. Although some fighters have the credentials but never seem to use it.
JUDOknowSHIT- August 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm
Yoshida. that is all.
charles- August 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm
great writeup, but you forgot the greatest judo based fighter of all, Fedor Emelianenko. He was a bronze medalist in the Russian judo championships, and remember that Sambo's grappling system is basically just a Russian version of judo.
newaza01- August 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm
Fried Taco, hush you fool.

Judo is a great martial art and great sport. I believe it translates well to MMA and there is alot of judo techniques that are not being utilized (especially in clinch) that could be.

Just like ever martial art, we will be seeing many more judo based players in mma soon. Cant Wait.

sona mama!
El Guapo- August 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm
Anybody clicked on the MMA spammer's link yet? Kinda tempted to, but... Y'know.
ArmFarmer- August 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm
Yeah, didn't work out so well for Karo when he tossed Diego head over heels.. and the momentum rolled diego right on top of him.
Onan- August 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Judo highlight reels are great. Watching an actual judo match? Not so much. Seems like 90% of the match is hand fighting and jockeying for a sleeve or collar. Oh and something seems wrong about a throw that scores points but results in the person being thrown ending up on top. If the result of your throw is that you end up on the bottom then the technique is not effective in my book.
Fried Taco- August 23, 2011 at 11:48 am
The thing is, Judo (and jujitsu) concentrate mostly on gi techniques, which don't translate very well to MMA. When you have your hands on a sweaty, naked body, things are, uh, um, sorry, what was I talking about?
j-k-martin- August 23, 2011 at 11:47 am
I started judo 6 months ago to help round out my game and I am loving it.