A couple of days ago I wrote about how there are a a few videos on the interwebs doing a shitty job of incorporating judo into MMA. It was a bit upsetting to see such poor technique being taught, but on the other hand it’s encouraging to see that there is an interest in adapting judo for MMA. Hector Lombard, Ronda Rousey (on many occasions here, and here), and even Urijah Faber have been showing how useful takedowns from the clinch can be, which is exactly where judo is useful in MMA.
One Reddit member pointed out a major flaw in the article:
Could someone please suggest some good instructional videos that specifically address using judo techniques in an MMA fight?
The article does a great job of saying the MMASurge video sucks but doesn’t offer any additional guidance other than the obvious suggestion of training at a Judo club.
I realized that he was right! The article was a rant on a shitty O-goshi tutorial, but, anytime you have a complaint about something you need to show up with some solutions too.
So here was the response that I wrote (slightly edited, original version is here).
In order to use your judo in MMA you need to have judo SKILLS in the first place to adapt. How do you get these skills? I feel very strongly that judo is extremely difficult to learn without practicing at a club. The reason is, that it’s about moveMENT rather than individual tricks and tips. When I first started, as with most people who have any bit of natural athleticism, I found I could approximate triangles, armbars, pins and other groundwork just from watching videos. Of course they would need lots of polishing, but I could get most of the way there.
Throws on the other hand were completely foreign to me, and any amount of just watching someone would not help me, only after years of getting the FEELING of the use of someone elses momentum and movement was I able to make throws work in the true way they are meant to in judo (i.e. minimal effort, using the other persons momentum against them). And This is after a lifetime of learning to skateboard and snowboard with no peers to learn from, only videos (i.e. i’m half decent at learning from videos)
If you don’t have a local judo club you could
1) find one in the nearest town. Even if it’s an hour or 2 hour drive you could go with a friend once a week. Practice between the two of you for a week and go back to get the instructors to polish your technique. If you practiced enough between the two of you during the week, before much time at all you would develop some pretty decent skills! (open mat, unstructured rolling between friends is such an underrated way of learning, of course you still need regular polishing from coaches though)
2) put an ad on craigslist to see if there are any judoka with reasonable amount of skill who’d be willing to teach? No where to work? Is there a local high school with wrestling mats that will let you practice? A grassy field? Someone’s basement with multiple layers of carpet or puzzle mats? What about making your own mats Gracie style?
3) you tried EVERYTHING above, and you live in a super-remote town of 500 people 500 miles from anyone who does judo.
Watch PURE judo videos. Type these into your YouTube machine:
- “toshihiko koga – a new wind”
- “101 judo ippons”
- any competitions from the IJF youtube channel (like these)
- Kim Jae Bum
- Mansur Isaev
- kaori matsumoto
Watch the videos and practice with a gi on with your friends. Imitate the videos, pretend you are Kim Jae Bum and your friend is Isaev and you are in a judo match with judo rules. This is super-not ideal, but stick to the bigger well known names that play in the Olympics or coach athletes in the olympics and you won’t have to worry about bad technique videos like MMA Surge. Then on your once every 3 month trip out of your ultra-remote town, visit the nearest judo club, and just tell them your story. I bet they would let you practice for free for a week or weeks on end (worked for me!).
I’m sure if you seeked it out, you could find a way to learn judo. The hardest part about it though, is that you can’t just learn one or two throws as if it’s a life-hacker-trick where you get a tip or technique. You really do need to spend at least a bit of time in pure judo (or at minimum grappling with some good judoka) to get the FEELING of it.
Once you get a feeling for judo, translating it into no-gi is actually VERY EASY (or seamless…pun intended ha-ha).
And just for good measure here are some awesome videos for using judo in MMA
and if you’ve developed a good drop seoi nage, here’s how to do it without a gi. There are a lot of subtleties to her technique, mainly the feeling of when her opponent is moving forward and how she is able to duck under that momentum.
Check out more great Judo for BJJ and MMA in our article “Judo Throws for BJJ, MMA, and No Gi Grappling – 12 of The Best videos on YouTube”.