Judo techniques to avoid in MMA

If you’re thinking of either adding judo to your arsenal, or using your judo base to get into MMA, here are some things you should think about avoiding to make your training more useful, and to prevent giving your opponant an easy advantage. When reading, bear in mind the difference in rules between the sports which will inform how you adapt judo to your MMA game.


This is being thorough in judo. Overthrowing ensures ippon (a win in judo). This is where you commit yourself so much to the throw that you follow over onto your back as well. For mixed martial arts you need to think about being strong in your throw, with enough control that you land on your opponant in a good position. If you overthrow, you give up your back, you might have gotten a highlight reel ippon, but they’ve just won the fight with a rear naked choke. Check out the videos below, one of a good judo throw, and one of Ronda Rousey’s fight agains Alexis Davis. The difference being the overthrow in judo vs the controlled throw in MMA.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0_VPtDGv18 – Judo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc_I8ltkkoU – MMA

Landing on your front

Great for judo but gives a mixed martial artist a good position to attack you. If you feel like you’re going to be thrown in an MMA fight, go with it and try your best to pull guard, landing on your front will likely land you in all sorts of trouble.

Throws to guard

While you can attack from in someone’s guard, judo helps bypass this which can be potentially vulnerable. These are throws like Ouchi gari, kouchi gari and all the varients therin as well as morote gari (double leg takedown). Most mixed martial artists are at least adept at jiujitsu and open guard can be a strong point for them. Your advantage with judo is that you can skip all the guard passes by using a throw to land you in a good position from the off so while these techniques can be used and do have their utility in MMA, there are better alternatives.

Techniques that need a gi

These are throws like Morote seoi-nage and tomoi nage as well as most strangles and several hold downs. This is pretty obvious as you don’t fight in a gi in MMA but if you’re training at a judo club but MMA is your focus sport, it’s probably best to find some alternatives which are more specific to no-gi grappling.

If you’re starting to train judo, bear these points in mind as you train so it’s best optimised for your MMA game. If you’re already a judo fighter, make sure you start to get out of the habbit of using some of these techniques if you’re doing MMA so you stand the best possible chance.

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Photo credits to prommatraining.com

Why Ronda Rousey became UFC champ.

Besides the hard work and dedication she’s showed to sport (which should never be understated), Ronda Rousey had one simple reason she was so dominant in women’s MMA on the way to the top. This isn’t meant to detract from her ability as a fighter but more to explain why she’s so successful and if anything, to praise her use of this system. It can be explained through game theory. This is the same way economists study people’s behaviour and how ecologists study animal behaviour. It can be applied to martial arts as well.

For those of you who understand game theory, she essentially played the defector in a slightly modified game of prisoner’s dilemma in being a specialised judo style grappler (and a good one at that) in a group full of mostly stand up strikers with some jiujitsu experience, allowing her to reap the rewards. Hopefully someone educated in game theory can stop reading here.

For those of you who aren’t versed in game theory, here’s how it works. In a group where most people are specialised strikers with a bit of jiujitsu, most people do quite well, no one is particularly standout and success is dependent on how good you are at striking (more or less, this is somewhat of a simplification). If you introduce one strong grappler, none of the strikers have experience in dealing with the grappler so they rise quickly and dominate the group. Introduce too many grapplers however and it becomes the same as before, everyone is good at fighting grapplers and introducing a strong striker will have the same effect.

Ronda Rousey’s continued success (aside from the qualities she possesses which are required of a champion) is because she has been able to consolidate her position and become a good striker as well, making challenging her a very difficult proposition. This however isn’t the takeaway message of this article.

What you should takeaway is that it is important to specialise somewhat in your sport but not too much. For instance, running isn’t the best cardio to do to build a strong mixed martial artist, however Nick Diaz is a frequent triathlon competitor and a good fighter. His niche is his good cardio and high volume boxing. He’s not the perfect fighter but he has occupied a niche which gives him a competitive edge. If he specialised too much in cardio he would lose all his power and make no impact with his punches whatsoever as well as take up valuable skills training time in cardio training, reducing his technical ability.

Perhaps the most obvious example of this bit of game theory at work was Royce Gracie in UFC 1. Examples for the strikers out there could be Machida with his karate influenced striking or Conor Mcgregor with his unconventional striking making them very difficult to prepare for.

The advice here is to find what you’re naturally good at and capitalise on it. If you’re strong, make that your competitive edge rather than becoming the same as anyone else.

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Photo credits to USA Today