Judo and BJJ Two Sides of the Same Coin

I recently read an interview with Carlos Lemos Jr on Slideyfoot‘s blog on judo and bjj. The 2002 Mundials black belt champion had the following to say about BJJ fighters in MMA.

“Most Brazilian jiu jitsu guys I see in MMA, by the time they take their opponent to the ground, they’re exhausted. Or even worse, after two or three sprawls, they can’t get the takedown. They go the ground and have nothing left. For a jiu jitsu fighter, the strongest weapon is the ground, so it is necessary to get to the ground fresh. Judo gives you that, because it’s about footwork, taking your opponent off-balance, hipwork: it’s everything we do on the ground”

This is a video of Jean Jacques Machado, an ADCC champion, demonstrating Lemos Jr’s quote exactly.

JJ is without a doubt a world class submission grappler, however, after watching several blocked takedown attempts (most of which aren’t very strong) and ending up tired, bloody and beaten, you can’t help but see Lemos’ point.

This isn’t to say that bjj fighters are worse than judo fighters or vice versa. It’s simply to say that Judo and BJJ are really two sides of the same coin. The modern ruleset for BJJ and judo have driven each one to be a specialty in their own domain. One for ground work, the other throws. Training one without the other only allows you to see half of the whole picture that makes up maximum efficiency – minimal effort grappling.

“Where I live in Chicago, it is one of the three top states in wrestling in America, so all the wrestlers over there are really good. So when I fight, most of my fights I’m going against collegiate wrestlers. I think it is a big mistake for Brazilian jiu jitsu fighters to try and prepare for the cage with a wrestling camp. Wrestling is based on power and explosion: our muscle memory as jiu jitsu fighters is not the same.”

“I really believe that judo and jiu jitsu is the right combination”

Combine the two and you get a beautiful flow of techniques like these:



Lemos also predicts an explosion of judo fighters in MMA. As much as I’d love to see this, the pessimist in me sees the judo debacle that the IJF has created with disallowing ranked judoka to participate in other grappling events.

On the other hand though, with the success of elite level judoka like Ronda Rousey and Hector Lombard, the optimist in me would love to hear Joe Rogan scream “Hayuuuuge judo throw!” in every UFC .

Perhaps a positive sign is the recent press release that UFC will be sponsoring the 2015 European judo championships. This partnership is a great demonstration the second tenant of judo: “Mutual Welfare and Benefit”. The UFC will gain a pool of extremely high level combat athletes to draw from, and expand their brand in Europe while the British Combat Sports Federation is able to hold larger tournaments, and spread judo to more spectators.

Will we see a sudden domination of European fighters dominating with judo because of this? Will they be tossing on their heads completely kuzushi-unaware fighters like how Royce Gracie dominated the uninitiated with his BJJ in the early days of UFC? Probably not, however, throwing and foot sweeping from the clinch position has been a gap in the MMA skillset for much longer than I thought possible.

Elite level fighters like Urijah Faber, Cung Le, Nick Diaz, GSP, and Jon Jones have been utilizing throws from the clinch position for some time and now and it’s just a matter of time before before uchi-matas, and ko uchi garis are standard weapons in every fighters arsenal.

As Ronda Rousey herself says: the difference between judo and regular MMA takedowns is that the takedown can happen from any position, not just by shooting in.

<> European Judo Union forces UFC to withdraw sponsorship of 2015 European Judo Championships.  WTF!? Should of saw that one coming.

What do you think? Will judo start to make its way into MMA mainstream, or will it remain wrestling dominated?

Post in the comments below!


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