I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if your game doesn’t cover both standing and the ground I will never respect you as a grappler. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ll respect the hell out of your technique. I just can’t take butt-scooting and jumping guard seriously. For example, when Xande and Vieira butt heads or when I see Xande going for throw combinations followed by a flying armbar my faith in BJJ is absolutely reaffirmed. However, when see things like Jeff Glover turning his back and doing a forward roll to start a match, or him and Caio Terra fighting to be on the bottom throughout that same match I die a little inside and go watch judo. I mean, there’s that stereotype about BJJ right? Jump guard and fight off your back. When my fiancee wanted to start learning judo the first thing I taught her about the ground was to “be a lady.” That means stay off your back and don’t let strange men between your legs. Don’t get me wrong, I flat out abuse the guard against larger players, but your goal from standing should be to establish a position of absolute dominance. That usually means hitting the throw or takedown.
So what about the other side of the coin? I mean, I’ve harped on BJJ enough and I’m pretty sure it was no surprise to anyone to find out that the guy playing judo thinks you need to learn throws, but what about the guys who throw and just let people climb their back afterwards? Just as bad. If you have a phenomenal throwing game and can get ippon every time you probably think you don’t need the ground. Bullocks. I’ll respect your throws – I just won’t respect you. I understand that for judo you can win by throwing someone and having them on your back a split second later. I get that. I just don’t see why you would think that’s a good idea. What if the judge scores it a waza-ari? Now you’ve given up your back, they’re probably choking you as we speak, and that half point isn’t doing you any good because they’ll get ippon when you tap or pass out.
My point is pretty simple: when throwing you should know where on the ground you want to go. When wanting to go somewhere on the ground you should know how to get there from standing. The whole point of the throw for us is to establish a dominant position on the ground. Yes, there’s the tradition of ippon which represents a throw which had sufficient force, control, and speed that it could have been terminal had it been on their head instead of their shoulders, but quite frankly – we’re not killing people, we’re wrastlin’. In judo we’ll spend a lot of time doing a throw and that’s where it stops. Then we’ll spend some time doing some related but disjoint ground work. Junior will make me do the whole thing. Throw has to go to submission. Pins aren’t acceptable. It has to be throw > position > submission immediately and it has to flow. He might correct me all the time, but he’s got a point. That’s the way it’s meant to be.
I’ll, uh, step down from the soap box now, but as I do I want to leave you with a parting thought – make July cross-training month. If you’re just training judo go to a BJJ school and spend some dedicated time playing on the ground. Learn what life’s like when you’re not going to get stood up by stalling. If you’re just training BJJ, go to a judo or sambo school and spend some time learning how to do throws. You won’t regret knowing them. Once you put on that jacket and say choking and arm locks are allowed you’re really only playing one family of sport. It’s important to go see that distant cousin who was raised in a funny country every once in awhile though – he’s got gifts for you.