Thursday, 27 December 2012

Surrey Police Judo Club, Guildford

With DJC closing early this year a number of us needed to find somewhere else to get our Judo fix. Normally I would have headed down to Yoshin Ryu but a combination of Christmas parties & babysitting duties meant I was only able to train on a Wednesday. I knew that Jadon often trained at the Surrey Police Judo Club in Guildford on Wednesday so Meho and I decided to pay them a visit.

A slight mix up with the keys meant that we were 30 minutes late getting in to the dojo, so we only had a 1 hour session. The Sensei, Rob, very kindly waived our mat fees due to the mix up.

After a good warm up we were told to pair up and stuff a flip flop down the back of our belts. We then had to try and retrieve the flip flop from our partner without losing our own. I haven’t done this sort of thing before but it was a good exercise in gripping and movement. If you can get to the side of your opponent it opens up a variety of techniques that can be used against them, like Tani-otoshi, for example.

Moving on we were then encouraged to work on our over the shoulder grips and to practice our throws from this position. Being tall, this is a position I do often find myself in so being given a good 10-15 minutes to practice throws using the over the shoulder grip was welcomed.

The class finished up with 5 rounds of randori and I got to partner up with a white belt, two red belts, a brown belt and then one of the black belt instructors. To be honest, due to the fact that I have been largely unwell from the end of November to the end of December and haven’t done any cardio throughout this time, my gas tank was already low before we started so I mostly worked on countering my opponent and not getting thrown myself. I managed a couple of throws against the lower belts but was thrown with a lovely sumi-gaeshi by the brown belt.

It was nice to train somewhere different and have the option of yet another local club should I need to train again on a Wednesday. Both Meho and I were told we would be welcome to come back and train with them in the future.
DJC reopens on the 8th of January so I’m unlikely to train anywhere else until then. Looking forward to 2013 I hope to finish my bluebelt grading sometime in January/February. I also hope to compete a couple of times, although if I am a bluebelt I could be fighting brown belts as blue and brown belts are often banded together at local competitions. Yikes!

Happy new year to you all and I hope you had a lovely Christmas.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Differences Between Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The following is by no means a “versus” article, it simply reflects my opinions gained through my relatively short experience in training in Judo and even shorter experience in training BJJ. As I have stated on numerous occasions, I consider myself a Judoka first but had I the time, money and a younger body (able to withstand multiple training sessions), I would train both arts but alas I do not.

1. Lineage: Judo was developed in Japan by Jigoro Kano in the late 1800’s, as a variation of Jujitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) was developed and modified in Brazil by the Gracie family after having being taught Judo.

Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo

Helio Gracie, the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

2. Uniform: Judoka wear heavy weave Gis tied by a belt with no undergarments (save underwear – hopefully); BJJ practitioners tend to wear a single weave and much lighter Gi that is tied by a belt. They also tend to wear funky tight fitting and shiny undergarments called rash guards that can be worn under the Gi.  Furthermore, BJJ practitioners adorn and accessorize their Gis with color-coordinated patches and logos, usually representing clubs, affiliations and/or both.  Lastly, BJJ can be practiced with a Gi or no-Gi; a big plus for those interested in MMA and Self-Defense.

A Typical Judo gi

A Typical BJJ gi

3. Fighting Styles: Traditional Judo clubs focus on throws and takedowns which are scored accordingly in shiai (tournaments). For example, a perfect throw, one that demonstrates control, power and impetus can score a perfect point, the equivalent of a knockout punch. A perfect throw (Ippon) is the ultimate goal of most Judoka.  One can also win on the ground via a submission (choke, arm lock) and/or hold down.  Most Judo Clubs will focus 60-70 percent (or more) of their training on throws with the balance on ground work.  Conversely, BJJ practitioners spend about 80-90 percent (or more) on the ground. Throws and takedowns are secondary and are scored as such.  The ultimate goal in BJJ competition is a submission.

The essence of Judo, a throw for Ippon

Tapout. A submission win is the goal in BJJ
 4. Tempo: For advanced BJJ competitors – blue to black belt – matches can run from 6 to 10 minutes with the majority of the contest taking placing on the ground/grappling. The average Judo match – for advanced and beginners – runs 5 minutes, with the majority of the contest taking place standing up. Unlike BJJ, if a Judo contest does go to the ground, fighters are given very little time to work a hold down or submission and if there is no immediate progression, fighters are quickly brought back to the standing position. A lull in action from either fighter results in penalties. As a result of shorter matches and penalties for inactivity, Judo fights tend to be faster paced and more frenetic. BJJ fights tend to have a slower tempo as fighters work on the ground to gain position, control and eventually, submissions. Extended durations may also result in a slower and more deliberate pace during BJJ matches, in large part to conserve energy and to set an opponent up for a submission.

5. Terminology: Steeped in Japanese tradition, Judo throws and techniques have Japanese origins and names. For example, the fireman’s carry (a common wrestling takedown) is known as ‘kata-guruma’ in Judo. Another common wrestling takedown – the double leg takedown – is known as ‘morote-gari’ in Judo. The rear naked choke is known as ‘hadaka jime.’ BJJ, on the other hand, has exotic and descriptive names that roll off the tongue and pique the imagination. For example, ‘peruvian neck tie,’ ‘omoplata,’ ‘nonoplata,’ ‘gogoplata’ and more. Other techniques have been anglicized and named so that the average person can easily visualize them, even those with no martial arts background. For example, the ‘guillotine choke,’ ‘clock choke,’ ‘collar choke,’ ‘spin around armbar,’ ‘guard to arm lock no gi.’ These terms, sound cool and are also used regularly by the likes of Joe Rogan when commentating on UFC fights.

6. Belt Gradings: Judoka begin at white belt and from there, progress to red, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown and eventually black belt. At each level, students are required to know a certain number of throws, hold downs, chokes, and arm locks to advance. For black belt, in addition to performing a certain number of throws, hold downs, chokes and arm locks, a Judoka must also compete and accumulate 100 points by entering tournaments and winning fights. They are awarded 10 points for each win via ippon, so that’s 10 wins via ippon. I’ve been told that an enthusiastic Judoka that practices 3-4 times per week and that competes should be able to attain their first degree black belt within 4-5 years. Like Judo, BJJ uses a belt grading system, but that is where the similarity ends. BJJ practitioners start as white belts and progress to blue, purple, brown and black belt. After attaining each belt, stripes may also be awarded to signify progress and levels of competence. Belt gradings are informal and conservative in nature: belts are awarded at the instructor’s discretion and seem to be heavily influenced by attendance, progress and time spent on the mat. That said, a BJJ practitioner may remain at the same belt level for years at a time. An enthusiastic and avid BJJ practitioner should be able to attain their black belt within 8-9 years, an exceptional student, perhaps sooner.

7. Honorifics: Seniority and respect play a large role in Judo. In Judo, the term ‘Sensei’ is usually reserved for 3rd degree black belts and up, but may be used by colored belts when addressing any black belt. However some black belt instructors prefer to be called by their first name instead. In BJJ, the equivalent of Sensei is Professor and is only used when addressing black belts. The term ‘professor’ has a scholarly overtone and again, is one that the average person can easily identify with. Again, in my limited experience the instructors are normally called by their first names. However, to avoid offense, when visiting any new Judo or BJJ club I would ask the instructor how they prefer to be addressed.

8. Profit vs Non-Profit: As a rule, Judo Clubs are run as non-profit and can often be found in community centre’s, schools and/or rented out spaces. It’s rare to find a Judo Club as a standalone storefront/entity. Unlike Judo, BJJ is for profit and charges accordingly; charging what Judo clubs could and maybe should be charging.

9. Conduct: Judo tends to be formal in its on-the-mat interactions. For example, it is proper etiquette to bow before entering and after leaving the dojo mat area. It is also proper etiquette to bow to your partner before and after a randori (freestyle practice or sparring) and/or ne-waza (ground work/grappling) practice session. BJJ clubs are less formal and as a rule, emphasize camaraderie more so than formality. For example, prior to and following a practice session (rolling), participants will shake or slap hands. Should one partner submit the other during a rolling session, they will break and shake or slap hands. At the end of the BJJ class, everyone is acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts with handshakes, hand slaps and partial hugs.

Note: this is the behavior demonstrated at the BJJ clubs that yours truly has attended and as a result, cannot be verified as common practice among all BJJ clubs.

A typical end of class Rei in Judo.

BJJ's more relaxed way of finishing a class.
 10. Perception: Although an Olympic sport practiced world-wide and over 100 years old, Judo has an image problem. In general, the Judo community has no idea how to market itself. Rather than embracing a resurgence in Martial Arts vis-a-vis MMA and the UFC, Judo seems to have turned a blind eye to the opportunity, preferring to suffer in silence. On the other hand, BJJ is flourishing. It is marketed as a form of self-defense and a staple to any serious mixed-martial artists’ game. No doubt helped in large part by the UFC, Royce Gracie’s MMA legacy and the continued success of BJJ practitioners in mixed martial arts. However the likes of former Judo Olympic Bronze Medalist and current UFC World Champion Ronda Rousey, has started to change people’s perceptions of Judo. I watched an interesting video on YouTube the other night of Ronda training and swapping ideas with Nick Diaz. It also showed Manny Gamburyan (3rd dan Judo black belt) showing Nate Diaz how to throw using Tani-otoshi.

In essence, both Judo and BJJ are great sports/martial arts and forms of self-defense that have a lot to offer both purists and mixed martial artists alike

BJJ's rise in popularity all started after Royce Gracie won UFC 1,2 & 4

It's taken female Judoka, Ronda Rousey, to finally bring Judo to the attention of the MMA world.

Thursday, 6 December 2012


I missed last week’s training due to a nasty ear infection which left me deaf in one ear, apart from my own voice reverberating in my head, and also gave me bouts of vertigo. I still wasn’t 100% and still haven’t got my full hearing back yet but at least the vertigo has subsided, which makes doing Judo a little easier.

Jaden was back tonight for the first time since he became a dad and he was sporting his new orange belt which he attained from Guildford Police Judo Club.

After a quick warm up Stewart had us partner up and practice the reaping movement for O-soto-gari. I paired up with Andrew and after several minutes we progressed to the actual throw. We were told that we would only spend a few minutes on this throw as the O-soto-gari was only to be used as a set up in to Harai-goshi, which worked pretty well. When I was doing the throwing I felt I was able to control Andrew sufficiently enough so that his landing was fairly soft, much the same way as Oli has always been a good Tori to me.
We moved on to some Newaza techniques and Stewart showed us a couple of turnovers followed by what BJJ’ers would refer to as the “stack pass”.

Stewart mentioned that I liked to be on my back and have people in my guard where I could attack them and this was therefore shown as a way of getting past my guard. If people get good of this I will have to go away and look at the defence’s against this guard pass.

At this point I was supposed to start my blue belt grading however as they were just about to start some Newaza randori I asked Graeme if I could just have one quick roll with Jaden, something I’ve been wanting to do for some time now.
I spent most of the quick roll we had trying to stop Jaden from passing my guard by pushing back on his hips with my right hand. He eventually caught me in some sort of cross collar choke, oddly enough just as I thought I had thwarted his guard passing efforts and had turned the tables on him. He finished the choke with me in side control. I was trying to work out if I could roll out of it but the pain was too much, so I tapped.
At this point Graeme took both Ivan and I to one side to start some of our grading. I felt particularly un-prepared, due to my recent illness, but the techniques I was asked to perform were the ones I was fairly comfortable with anyway so I needn’t have worried. Ivan and I joined the rest of the class with a few ticks to our grading sheet but I know I will really need to swat up over Christmas so that I can pass the more difficult techniques, counters, combinations etc that the blue belt syllabus requires.

Following on from the O-soto-gari in to Harai-goshi that we did earlier Stewart showed us O-soto-gari in to Yoko-wakare. This is a throw I have seen Peter perform before and Stewart did mention that it’s a particular favourite of Peter.
Ivan seemed to have got the hang of this throw fairly quickly but by the end I was also pulling this one off fairly well.

We finished the class with some light randori and I stayed paired with Ivan. Unfortunately Ivan tried what I believe was a sacrifice throw like Sumi-gaeshi or tomoe-nage, but only succeeded in pulling me on top of him with my forehead hitting him square on his nose, which duly broke. So whilst Ivan was hurried off the mat to get some medical attention I paired up with Jaden for a really interesting and enjoyable little tussle where we both tried lots of different throws, with me catching him with a perfect Hiza-guruma and Jaden getting me with a double lapel grip version of the Yoko-wakare that we did earlier.

This was the last senior class of the year and the club is now closed until January so expect me to be training elsewhere next week. We were also told that Stewart would be retiring from coaching due to a change in his work commitments, which is a real shame as I enjoy his no nonsense way of teaching. Hopefully he will be able to pop in to the club from time to time, if only to take part in the class as a student.

I also wanted to add that I hope Ivan’s broken nose heals quickly and that it doesn’t keep him off the mats for too long