Saturday, 17 November 2012



Back in 2010, I took up Judo. I’ve written before that my Son (and now also my daughter) do Judo and back in August 2010, with summer holidays in full flow, the kids’ and adults’ classes were combined and the instructor, knowing I did Jiu Jitsu said I could join in if I wished, rather than sitting at the side waiting for the kids. So I got involved. What the hell? I was there anyway for the kids and Judo is ridiculously cheap.

Me and Cam sharing the tatame
I really enjoyed myself (especially sharing the mat with my son) and really got into Judo (and read a really good book called “The Pyjama Game”). With Ne Waza (ground work) I can more than hold my own, but standing is a different world. Good 14 year old kids can trip or sweep me with ease. This, I always knew was going to be the case. Apart from at the highest levels, Jiu Jitsu takedowns are pretty scrappy and often neglected in tuition (but you will find that the best Jiu Jitsuka also train Judo), so it was good to learn some new things. I confessed some concerns about the ability of my knee (old ACL troubles) to withstand Judo, but all the instructors are older and carrying injuries themselves so fully understand and all the other students are very kind to me during randori (free practice). Mainly through technical knowledge and execution rather than competition, I am now an Orange belt in Judo and it’s something that I feel can only help my Jiu Jitsu.

Being a sport, it does have some curiosities to the Jiu Jitsuka. The aim of Judo is to throw or pin you opponent onto his back. When I first started, predictably, I would get frequently thrown and then be on my back, in open guard, ready to get started. Of course, my opponent walked away, having scored Ippon (outright win by throwing your opponent on his back). This took some getting used to. Also, being a sport, it has a time limit which requires a lot more aggression and directness when fighting. My Jiu Jitsu has always come from a position of exploiting the opportunities that arise when defending oneself, but in Judo, this is frowned upon and you can actually get warnings for being too “passive”. Another little curiosity that springs to mind is that, generally, I “roll” with my eyes shut. In judo, this is a no-no (as the referee has to assume that you are unconscious) and in fact, in one inter-club Ne Waza competition, I was disqualified against a Brown Belt (who I was clearly beating) as I had my eyes shut. There are also a whole lot less submissions that you can use in Judo so this has sometimes limited me, but you know, after a few weeks of feeling that all these rules are restrictive, I got used to them. It’s just about familiarity – Judo is a sport and as such it has its rules, but if you go past that, there’s a lot in it that is incredibly useful to the Jiu Jitsuka. Here’s a few things I’ve picked up.

- The standing game: simply, there’s more to life than pulling guard or grabbing legs only to get sprawled on. Done well, some throws are incredibly effective.

- Aggression: Judo is competition oriented. It’s a great focus for Jiu Jitsu competition (if that’s your thing) to be active and do what you need to do as quickly as possible.

- Technique: When all a guy wants to do is hold you down, it’s pretty tough to get out. Jiu Jitsu works in the spaces left when your opponent tries to move or submit, but when a tough Judoka grabs you in a determined Kesa Gatame, that’s tough. You need to work proper technique to get out. Think your cross-side escapes are good? Think again – ask a good judoka to hold you down and see how good it really is.

- Fighting Judoka – as time goes by, more and more people are cross training between Judo and Jiu Jitsu. This means rolling with Judoka and they can be pretty tough and, at times, frustrating. If a Judoka is determined to “turtle” and stay tight then it’s pretty tough to move them (not to mention pretty damn annoying), but I’ve learned some nifty Judo moves to counteract this that will hopefully be useful.

Apart from club visits (which are a very common and healthy thing in Judo – in Jiu Jitsu everyone would cry “dojo-storm”, but a bit more cooperation and play between clubs would be a good thing for everyone) and inter and intra - club competitions, I have entered one Judo tournament – it was a Ne Waza Tournament in High Wycombe. It was a while ago now, so don’t remember much of it, but I came 3rd. I fancied my chances, but in the end, was far too passive – I even got pinged for it in one bout. I did switch on in later rounds and things went my way, but I was too “Jiu/Ju” to start with and that’s what cost me – that and the HUUUUGE Greek fella that just fell on me and then laid there in my 1st round.
Since I've gotten back more fully into Jiu Jitsu, Judo has taken something of a backseat.  I maintain a licence and attend when the fancy takes me.  I've no ambition to compete and I'm nit fussed about belts - it's more of a recreational/fitness thing for me, and this suits me just fine.
Judo is a great challenge and I'd reccommend anyone to give it a go!

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