Doubling Your Success in Judo and BJJ with Testing Frameworks

If you've ever read a personal finance blog by Ramit Sethi called IWillTeachYouToBeRich, you'll know that he is a a personal finance and career advice guru with one scammy sounding and looking website (good content though). He's also a New York Times best seller.

There are a couple of things I've learned from Ramit that to be successful, you need to:

  • Double your failure rate in order to double your success rate
  • Build iterative frameworks and models to test out your new ideas to see what works and what doesn't

At this point your probably thinking, WTF, I thought I was reading a grappling blog, what does this have to do with judo??

Well, let me explain.

Have you ever done randori and stiff armed your way through it just to keep from getting thrown?

Jimmy Pedro getting stiff armed

Contrast this with the time you did randori and you were loose, trying new things, getting thrown and maybe even getting a few throws in.

Kyuzo Mifune, the essence of loose and kuzushi based judo

Which randori session do you think was more productive? Exactly. For those who weren't sure, by exactly, I was referring to the second session where you tried a bunch of stuff and some worked, and some didn't. You doubled your success rate by doubling your failure rate. As my judo coach always says, randori isn't a competition, it's an experiment. You put yourself at risk of being thrown, but at the same time you learn a hell of a lot more from either knowing how to avoid a throw next time, or, finding something that worked. If you had stiff armed your way through, you would have learned nothing.


Ok, so what about this iterative framework and testing bullshit I keep talking about? It's a fancy way of saying have a plan for what throws your going to try on who in randori.

Would you paste your partner to the mat who just started judo with your best technique? Would you try a technique for the first time against a high level competitive judoka? The answer to both should be probably not.

So here's a framework you can use for your next randori session.

*I'm a blue belt (Nikkyu) in judo, so adjust your own chart accordingly.

White belts:

you'll probably just move around very lightly allowing yourself to be thrown if they get any sort of kuzushi. The only throws you should do are well timed footsweeps

Yellow and orange belts:

Foot sweep frenzy

Trying totally new techniques focusing on getting kuzushi of the throw.

Minimal grip fighting, only a bit to get them used to it

Green belts:

Sharpening techniques you've had some success with the yellow and orange belts.

Foot sweeps

Maybe your occasional favourite technique and new setups or entry's for your favourite technique

A bit more grip fighting, but not wasting a bunch of time on it

Recreational Blue / brown belts (equal-ish level):

Sharpening your favourite technique and setups for this favourite technique.

Movement, gripping, and strategy.

Occasionally trying new stuff when the moment presents itself


Competitive brown belts, black belts and up:

Testing your best technique. If you can get it on a higher ranking judoka, well then, you have yourself a solid throw.

Break falls, because you will do a lot of them

Observe how they stuff your gripping, your throws, and how they set you up for throws.


Another way of putting it:

Sewing your new throw seed on relative n00bs, the seeds that end up growing are cared for and tended to, the ones that whether the storm of those of equal level are then harvested and used in competition and higher ranks. How's that for a metaphor?

That's the framework I like to say I follow, but I fall into temptation many times stiff arming in randori or slipping a drop seoi on a yellow belt.

How about you, do you have certain things you do or don't do in randori against certain ranks?


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