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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

09 May 2010

09/05/10 - Judo

Class #10
University of Warwick Judo, (Judo), Adam Jones, Coventry, UK - 09/05/2010

It initially looked as if today's session wouldn't happen, because due to this being the exam term, hardly anyone is keen to go train. That's either because they're buried in exams, or if not, they're getting drunk celebrating that fact. I do miss being an undergraduate sometimes. :)

Fortunately, there was a fellow older student up for grappling, who has messaged me a few times before on Facebook. Mike and I were shortly joined by another guy, who hasn't been to judo for a year or two, so was a bit surprised to see two blokes rolling no-gi. We kicked off with a bit of drilling: I'm a bit lost when it comes to no-gi, so I suggested going through the basic butterfly sweep.

There was time for a five minute roll with Mike no-gi (mainly me squirming around in open guard, then occasionally looking confused when in no-gi closed guard), before it turned into the judo session proper. I had originally thought I'd just be there for the hour of rolling and drilling, so it was a pleasant surprise to get in a class too, even if was judo rather than lovely ground-based BJJ. ;p

Adam, the black belt who took the session tonight, based class around a throw. I can't remember the name (harai something), but if he's reading this, he should be able to remind me. He started by going through the footwork in a solo drill. IIRC, step forward, raise your arms and twist (but still face ahead), thrust your hips forward, while blocking an imaginary leg with your other foot.

That then progressed to a two person drill, where you step to get the rhythm, then try and use that same solo drill to enact the throw. You have a grip on their sleeve, just above the elbow, while the other hand holds the and collar. The important thing here (which I kept fucking up) is to make sure you really lift up that sleeve arm. You want your partner to go up on their toes, so it is easier to take them down when you twist and block their foot.

More stepping followed, this time in a circle, as that is closer to the kind of situation you'd find in a live spar. Adam emphasised some handy tips, like sinking as you move in, in order to facilitate raising up again to really lift them up on their toes. To finish, Adam had a transitional drill, where after you take them down, you move into knee on belly, then drop back for an armbar.

If your opponent spins to their stomach, legs straight out, arms and head tucked in (common in judo, suicidal in BJJ), Adam had another trick. Sit on them, then simply reach behind and lift up their legs to establish your hooks. If you are having trouble digging out their neck for the choke, grab their same side shoulder. Bring your other elbow across to the same side, then drag it back into their head. That should expose their neck for the submission.

Sparring began with Mike. As we both just wanted to grapple, I immediately pulled guard. I was more comfortable this time, as we were wearing gis, but I still couldn't get that spider guard grip I wanted, with the hand up past my hip. I might try just yanking on the arm with both hands next time, but there must be a more technical way of establishing that deep spider guard grip.

I also had a go at moving into deep half guard, but instead just gave up my back, which definitely wasn't the plan. That meant the rest of the spar involved me trying to wriggle out of Mike's body triangle, without a whole lot of success. I did at least keep my neck safe, with the trusty 'Shirley Temple' defence, though that reminds me I should be crossing my hands, not having them on either side.

I then went with one of the green belts, Jenny. I didn't want to pull guard this time, as that would make me a rather crappy training partner for a judoka. When she took me down, I was able to move into a sweep and come up into side control, then move to north south and a somewhat sloppy kimura. I'm not sure if the takedown would have been enough to stop the spar under judo rules, although Adam did say we should keep going until a submission, even if the takedown was an ippon.

The next time I somehow ended up on top in half guard. I used the usual shoulder pressure pass, though again I think my technique was a bit crude. Moving into mount, I was looking to get my knees up into her armpits and go for an armbar. I did eventually swivel and drop, but again, poor technique. I also let go too early, though that's certainly preferable to letting go too late.

Next up was a brown belt, Carol, who unusually is much smaller than me. She got a bunch of smoothly executed throws, but each one involved turning her back to me, so I could establish hooks and go for a choke. Again I was a bit sloppy, and also looking to switch to an equally dodgy armbar.

I wasn't sure taking the back like that was ok in judo rules, so checked with Adam. I think the consensus was that it would be stupid in a judo tournament, and even then you would normally do it when they're on one knee. So, next time I'll avoid doing that, as I want to make sure the training is useful for my partner, not just me.

Finally, I went with Adam, who is a big, powerful guy. So big, in fact, that I had trouble closing my guard, forcing me to go to open guard. I could see him leaning back so wanted the sit up sweep, but I wasn't quick enough.

Again, I tried for butterfly and spider guard, but also as before, I had trouble getting the grips. Or indeed any grip, as Adam immediately broke any hold I tried to establish on his gi. I spent the latter part of the spar under my old friend side control, which meant I squirmed a lot trying to spin back to guard.

I should be back to GB Brum tomorrow, or possibly Tuesday for my first basics class. I'll see how I feel on Monday, bringing my gi to work with me either way.


  1. Great stuff buddy. I'd love to fit judo into my training. I probably will at some point.

    I remember reading in Camarillo's book how important to "put your judo googles on when doing judo, and not thinking BJJ!" Which is kinda against mainstream. Everybody wants you to keep your original sport in mind but Camarillo says that comes in much later. What do you think?

  2. Heh - ironic, as I've got no real desire to fit judo into my training. Reason I turned up was to do the nogi groundwork session beforehand. That ended up merging into the judo class, which is how I found myself learning how to throw people. ;)

    I'd agree with Camarillo, though probably for different reasons than he intended.

    Naturally I would be looking at training from a BJJ perspective, and how it would fit into my BJJ training. I don't plan to compete in judo, and I doubt I'd ever bother to grade in judo either.

    However, in sparring, that same attitude would be selfish. Everyone else at the class (except for Mike) was there to improve their judo, so I'd be a shitty training partner if I then insisted on butt scooting towards everybody or something.

    I assume what Camarillo was talking about was the old (and sensible) adage about emptying your cup. If you don't come into class ready to at least listen to what you're being taught, instead of always saying "ah, but in BJJ we do this", then nothing else will be able to get in your 'cup'. In other words, you'll learn nothing.

    That isn't to say you should ignore your previous training, but leave "yeah, but in BJJ we do this" until after the instructor has demonstrated the technique, and if possible, after class.