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.

Overthrow

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

How to win more fights by tap out.

A lot of clubs I’ve visited regardless of if they’re Mixed martial arts, bjj or judo, tend to separate standing and groundwork. This is an odd way of training from my point of view and is probably a sort of coaching tradition because one of the best times to submit or takedown/throw an opponant is in a transition period, a brief moment of confusion when your opponant has to mentally shift their focus from one aspect of the game to another. I’m going to first talk about my success using transitions then some drills you can use in your sport be it Judo, BJJ or MMA.

So going back a few years I was on the national circuit and I gained a couple of national medals but never made the podium at the national championships. That summer we worked day in day out on our submission drills from checking a throw (mostly drop seoi-nage which at the time was very common in judo). Come the national championships, after a defeat in the first round I won every single fight bar 1 with the same strangle that I’d been drilling over summer from the transition. It’s a great time to attack.

The same can be seen in the top levels of the UFC, Jon Jones submitted Vitor Belfort, a much more qualified grappler, by taking him down and quickly moving to side control, then landing a couple of strikes and catching the arm for an americana. Ronda Rousey almost always tries to hit her throws such that she lands in a good position on the ground but her quickest win ever against Cat Zingano was in that brief moment of confusion between standing and groundwork where an arm was free.

Drills

So what can we do to work on these transitions? Basically identify when one distinct part of the game moves to another and practice that change so that you have a better position in the new part of the fight. This can even be as simple as passing a guard. Here are some examples:

  • Takedown to submission (Hip throw (ogoshi) to armbar (juji-gatame) for instance)
  • checked or sprawled takedown to submission
  • strikes to takedown
  • strikes to clinch
  • clinch to takedown

These are just a few MMA related examples but you can apply the same framework to any submission grappling, judo, BJJ or any others. The old saying “strike to pass, pass to strike” is essentially capitalising on that brief moment between striking and grappling which are so often kept separate which makes this a niche you can exploit.

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Image credits to sherdog.com