MMA technique breakdown: The art and stylings of Judo


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When thinking of mixed martial arts and its practical application, what pops into your brain? Jiu-jitsu? Striking? Leonard Garcia brawling? Karate?

All likely answers and all with good reason.

However, there's another martial art that is rarely used but extremely effective -- judo. This martial art is still fairly young in its current form, created in the 1880's in Japan by Kano Jigoro, and heavily influenced by jujutsu. 

In its most basic form, Judo is centered around the objective of taking an opponent down and neutralizing them with joint locks or superior grappling. However, Judo is also well known for its "sport" approach. Kano, was, after all, an educator, and he sought to make his art a form of self defense and exercise.

Let's get deeper:

Practitioners of this art are commonly known as Judoka and the ranking system actually varies depending on where you're located geographically. The most common breakdown is simply this: white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, black, white and red. 

The Waza, or techniques in Judo, are divided as such: throwing techniques (usually done while standing) and grappling techniques (includes gaining position and applying chokes or joint locks).

There is also a striking technique, but since this aspect is not allowed outside of practice, I will not go into detail.

Now that we have a basic summary of this great martial art, let's see how it has worked in MMA. In order to obtain a better understanding of Judo and its application in competition, it is important to look at those who have made it a big part of their game:

Karo Parisyan is perhaps the earliest mixed martial artist to successfully utilize this art on the big stage.

Note how Karo uses the right underhook to steadily walk his opponent into his right hip and set up the beautiful throw utilizing his hip action. He steps through and forward into the throw as he transitions his right shoulder over his opponent in order to expertly land in the side mount.

Explosive and impressive.

Next up, we have Yoshihiro Akiyama, another brilliant Judoka, who demonstrates a perfectly executed Judo trip. 

Here, "Sexyama" waits patiently for Belcher to throw a leg kick, tries to counter with his own, but instead finds a clear opening once Belcher leaves his left leg hanging out for too long. From there, Yoshi grabs the leg, slides his arm up, keeping his body crouched lower than Belcher, and steps forward into the trip, utilizing his left foot while also lifting upwards in order to plant Belcher on his back. 

This is instinctive Judo at its absolute best.

Next up is a legend of the sport, Fedor Emelianenko.

In this scenario, we have Fedor being tossed around by Matt Lindland, a phenomenal wrestler. Now, let's forget about the illegal rope grab for a minute, and just focus on how Fedor takes this from a position of weakness to one of strength and advantage. 

He initially blocks Lindland from the takedown with his left leg, lands his right leg on the mat, pushes off, spins it towards his left leg and uses the momentum to throw Lindland. This may look accidental or easy, but the balance and hip strength such a move requires is deceptively sizable. 

It's technique like this that partially led to his being considered the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time.

Lastly, we see a beautiful submission by Mitsuhiro Ishida

He actually initiates this move by preventing a single leg takedown. From there, he works to isolate the opponents right arm, initially working for a standing kimura and then drops down, pulling the arm back while sweeping with his lower body. Once on the ground, Ishida switches the grip into more of an armbar pull, using his legs to create separation and extending to a sweet submission finish.

There you have it, Maniacs, the often forgotten art of Judo, and how truly mesmerizing it can be when utilized properly inside the cage, ring or wherever a fight breaks out.

Feel free to share your thoughts on which technique impresses you the most and who your favorite judo practitioner is.

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