Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ronda Rousey - UFC 157

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of MMA. Well last weekend saw the first ever women’s MMA fight in the UFC featuring Ronda Rousey, a former Olympic Judo bronze medallist, whom I have championed on my blog a couple of times in the past.

What’s so nice about watching Ronda fight is that she uses her Judo skills a lot. Her opponent on Saturday night was Liz Carmouche, a tough ex US Marine who put up a really good fight, taking Ronda’s back at one point and putting on a horrible looking face crank which caused me to tap from the comfort of my sofa!

Ouch, that's gotta hurt
Luckily Ronda is made of tougher stuff than me, eventually escaping and then throwing Carmouche to the canvas using Koshi-guruma. Now what was odd, for MMA anyway was that Ronda then proceeded to hold Carmouche in Kesa-gatame and peppered her with short punches to the face before finally submitting Carmouche with her trademark Juji-gatame. The reason I say that the use of Kesa-gatame is odd is that in MMA and no-gi submission grappling, the person on the bottom can often escape from the kesa and end up taking the back of the person on top. This is a very dangerous position to be in in MMA and no-gi grappling but less dangerous in Judo where one can simply turtle up, although the ref normally calls matte before then.

 Kesa gatame
Juji gatame, Ronda's trademark submission.
Opinions were divided on Ronda’s use of Kesa-gatame. On the new Judo forum (E-Judo) many of the guys (and girls) on there simply said that as Ronda is such a high level Judoka that it’s very unlikely that anyone would ever escape. Others on there said that Ronda will lose one day when someone escapes and takes her back and chokes her out. It’s interesting to note that on the same card Urijah Faber was being held in Kesa-gatame by his opponent Ivan Menjivar. Urijah was able to simply pull Menjivar across his body and ended up in side control, where he eventually took Menjivar’s back and choked him out. That said, Menjivar does not possess anywhere near the same level of Judo as Ronda does but I think it’s worth noting anyway.

It’ll be interesting to see what Ronda does in her next fight and whether she continues to use Kesa-gatame. Whether she does or not I’m sure we’ll continue to see other aspects of her Judo like the throws and of course her trademark Juji-gatame.

Blue Belt Grading

I got an email during the week from Graeme to say that he would concentrate on grading everyone in the coming weeks which meant more blue belt syllabus for yours truly.
It was good to see Andrew return after Injuring his shoulder and Jadon was back sporting his new green belt.

After the warm up we did a couple of quick rounds of newaza randori and then I was asked to show the rest of the class various techniques from the blue belt syllabus which went like this:

Okuri-eri-jime –Wasn’t text book but it worked. There are a number of collar chokes/strangles in the blue belt syllabus, which is good for me. I’ve actively tried to use them more as it is a weakness in my submission game as I tend to favour no-gi chokes such as one would typically see in MMA like the rear naked. In newaza randori I’m often able to grab the collar around the neck but then have to stop and think how I apply the choke, by which time Uke has escaped. However, with the addition of Nami-juji-jime, Gyaku-juji-jime, Okuri-eri-jime and Koshi-jime, I at least have some options now.

Koshi-jime – I’ve used this recently in randori to good success so was ok performing this.

Soto-kibitsu-gaeshi, Uchi-kibitsu-gaeshi & Kata-uchi-ashi-dori are all techniques that I’m never likely to use in randori. In fact I think we’ve only practised them once in the class before, so taking all of this in to account I think I did ok.

Kata-guruma – My mind went totally blank with this one and I didn’t know how to enter in to the throw. I eventually performed probably the worst version of this I have ever done. Before Graeme could come and correct me I insisted on doing it again, which was barely passable. I’d like to blame my poor technique on Oli’s (my uke) expanding waistline but I was just having one of those days, at least where this throw was concerned.

With only 10 minutes of the class left we finished off with a couple of rounds of randori where I managed a nice Sasae-tsurikomi-ashi on Oli. I then paired up against Jadon, who I found really difficult to throw. He was particularly quick and able to counter me a couple of times, throwing me nicely with a Yoko-guruma or was it Uki-waza? (It’s very difficult to tell these throws apart in the heat of battle and without the benefit of television replays). Although it only lasted a couple of minutes I can definitely see the improvement in his tachiwaza since we last sparred.

I’m more than half way through the blue belt grading now so hopefully I can finish it off next week. I just have a couple more throws to perform and then it’s on to the performance part of the grading which includes things like showing counters and combinations of a certain technique followed by randori. If I do get my blue belt next week it will be just over 1 year since I got my green belt (2nd March 2012). I wonder how long it will take me to get to brown!