Wednesday, 18 July 2012

BJJ and Judo

A post unrelated to writing today. Recently, I’ve taken up judo, and I also practice no-gi submission grappling where the basis is Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. In theory, these two martial arts should be pretty close, because BJJ sort of comes from judo, in that one of Jigoro Kano’s students was the guy who taught the family who came up with BJJ, yet playing with both has thrown up some interesting points:

First, the whole gi v no gi debate. I’ll say now that I’m not in a position to comment on which is better, though I do think that people need to do whichever is closest to the way they plan to compete/fight. But I will say that I think I prefer the fluidity of no-gi. I can see that wearing the gi slows things down enough to think, but honestly, my experience of it in judo is that it doesn’t promote advanced tactical thinking so much as people just latching onto a collar and stalling like crazy.

Secondly, small differences can sometimes have a bigger influence than you think. Take the difference in the scoring systems between submission grappling and judo. For SG, you get points for passing the guard and taking advantageous positions. For judo, you get them for holding someone down. That means that the bottom game is much more about turning face down and then stalling. Which you wouldn’t normally do in SG, because the opponent has as much time as they like to set the choke.

Of course, there are bigger differences in the moves allowed, yet weirdly, the absence of leg locks or shoulder locks alone hasn’t been the thing that has been getting in my way with judo. It’s more the way those gaps mean that I have a space in an established game plan. I can work around that part.

Other things are actually more of a problem. Like the way things stop when your opponent stands up. That means that all the cool standing guard stuff from BJJ no longer applies, but it also means that the butterfly guard stuff is a problem, because standing as the opponent tries to roll you over is a common thing (which would ordinarily force all the fun standing guard stuff mentioned before)

One interesting observation for the BJJ types though, which is that judo does a lot more ground work than you think. It might just be the club I’m at, but while competition judo newaza is only a few seconds at a time before the referee stands things up, that actually translates to training very hard on the ground to try to make something happen against a defensive opponent. I actually feel that the judo people I’ve run into have stronger hold downs and escapes than most of the BJJ people I’ve trained with.

There’s also a real sense of continuity between throwing and the ground, which is both good and bad. It’s good, because no fight or grappling match these days starts on the knees. It’s maybe bad because the throw lets you bypass the guard game a lot, so that doesn’t seem as developed for many judo guys.

All in all though, it’s a fun combination, and I particularly like the way doing one is making me think differently about the other.

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