Judo: The Most Underutilized Art in MMA

(First of all, this is my first Fanpost so bare with me if it turns out to be horse shit...)

Around ten years ago, I attended my first Judo practice at a local school. I was unaware at the time that the head instructor was widely regarded as one of the finest coaches in Scotland who was attempting to encourage the sport in areas in which there were very few opportunities as far as martial arts were concerned. I immediately fell in love with the sport, specifically the raw aggression and brutally bear nature of the competition. I practised the sport for six years competing at national level and training with Olympic level competitors before I went to university and was forced to put my training on hold.

It was coincidently around this point that I first discovered Mixed Martial Arts. As a newcomer to the sport, I originally never looked specifically at the the grappling aspect with the mindset of a Judoka but as my understanding of the sport increased I found it impossible not to think about how I would act in certain situations.

Since then my frustration has been building at quite a rate of knots....

I start this rant by acknowledging what many of you will be desperate to highlight. "Who am I to criticize the elite Mixed Martial Arts fighters in the world today!?!" That is not what I'm trying to do, I am simply highlighting an incredible art of combat that I think is being hugely underutilized in our sport. It is also important that I state that I have very limited knowledge of wrestling due to being born on the wrong side of the damn planet, so I'm unable to comment on how relevant that is to the topic.

What I do know however, is judo. I understand that many judo throws are hugely reliant on the gi and therefore transition to MMA very poorly Having said that there are a number of throws that would be useful tools against some of the elite take down defence artists in MMA today. How many fights do you watch and vast majorities are spent pressed against the cage in the clinch? This is prime territory for a number of throws. With the exception of Akiyama, Parisyan, Nakamura etc, there have been very few experts entering into the octagon. I will highlight a number of judo throws I feel are being particularly ignored. I've included videos because its fair to say the names of judo throws are not common knowledge

1. Harai Goshi- This throw is particularly useful in the clinch scenario. A recent example of this throw being utilized in the cage was Frank Mirs fight against Roy Nelson, where Mir threw Nelson beautifully (which left me drooling like a kid in a candy store.) It is not uncommon in mma to see a taller fighter struggle to get a shorter opponent to the matt due to their advantageous low centre of gravity. This throw utilizes long legs and can play into the hands of Taller ground fighters. It also worth noting that when you get thrown with Harai Goshi...sweet Mary, you are going to know about it. From personal experience, it is one of the most painful throws to be on the receiving end of, as your opponents weight lands flush on your stomach. Consider your wind officially knocked out...

Harai Goshi (via kholowac)

2. Ouchi-Gari- Many Judokas will consider this a bread and butter judo throw, one of the first moves your shown when you walk through the door. A variation of a foot trip, Ouchi-gari is perhaps at its most useful when it is tied in with another throw. I am not naively stating that trips aren't used in mma, but they are perhaps underutilized in certain situations. Matt Serra is a fighter who I've often seen resort to trips in intense clinching situations (See the Ultimate fighter 4, Shonnie Carter fight) and with his particularly strong base and low centre of gravity, the throw is ideal for him. Often the key with the throw is upper body positioning and if short fighters like Serra are able to get on the inside, they should be able to manipulate their opponents balance, and implement an effective trip.

Ouchi-gari judo throw (via judogido)

3. Kata Garuma- This is a throw I place less emphasis on, as the risks are very large. If an attempted Kata Garuma fails, your opponent will likely end up on top in a dominant position. I highlight this throw because it is largely unlike any attack I've seen in MMA so far. I was once training with John Buchanan who showed me a variation of the throw called "The Latz" which basically placed more emphasis on the position of the legs and I without a doubt found it to be my most successful throw in competitions. Again, shorter fighters with strong upper bodies will probably find the most success with this throw as the quicker you are able to drop, whilst pulling your opponent down, the more speed the move will be operated with.

Kata guruma (via ninjalla)

The final point I feel I must illustrate is that I am not trying to argue that Judo is the most effective combat sport in the world. I am quite prepared to acknowledge that a huge majority of judo is largely ineffective in modern day Mixed Martial Arts...but there are also several untapped and hugely useful attacks that I feel are being completely overlooked.

The key point that must be emphasized about these throws is the element of surprise. The double leg take down is becoming increasingly easy to defend due to its predictabilities as the chief take down in the sport. An example of my point is Chael Sonnen Vs Damian Maia. Sonnen, an incredibly accomplished wrestler, was not only taken down, but brutally manhandled by Maia, all due to the element of surprise. Maia threw something at Sonnen he wasn't expecting and Sonnen was unable to react. I believe it is this lack of education on the sport that would make it so effective if it were to be properly practised in the octagon.

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