Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Choke, well Strangles really.

Within the MMA and BJJ world the word “Choke” conjures up fond memories of one of the best MMA documentaries ever made which followed Rickson Gracie as he competed in Japan to defend the Vale Tudo title that he had won a year earlier. However, for the purposes of this post it’s actually in reference to the strangle techniques which we practised in last night’s class. Now there is a difference between a Choke and a Strangle and what we leant were actually strangles but I just wanted an excuse to post the below documentary and would recommend anyone who hasn’t yet seen it to take a look.

Sore necks were guaranteed to us all by Graeme last night as we practised a number of strangles, many of which are in the current DanGrade theory test. This has to be passed in conjunction with the competitivepart of your Dan grading before you can receive your black belt.

The main two we practised were:



I’ve always felt that one of the weaknesses in my Newaza is actually my strangles. I get in to positions to attack with them but very rarely pull them off, unless of course you are talking about san-gaku-jime. I do know enough of them but in that split second when you get the opportunity to take their collar before they tuck their chin in I often get confused and grab with the wrong hand. I’m therefore going to make a conscious effort to try and only finish people with strangles and see where that gets me.

Following our strangle master class we got to do a number of 2 minutes rounds of newaza. I did actually manage a couple of successful strangles, one of which was a Ryote-jime.

At the end of the class Graeme mentioned that next week’s class would be a Randori only session, both newaza and tachiwaza. Hopefully this will attract some seniors from other local clubs who are looking for some extra practise. So if you are free on Tuesday 1st March then come on down to Dorking Judo Club

Thursday, 13 March 2014


My physio told me I was free to return to Judo providing I took things easy, the rest of the conversation was a blur as I was, at that point, just excited to be able to get back on the tatami.

In my absence Ivan had returned from a very long injury lay off (Cruciate knee ligaments) so it was especially nice to see him return. Also one of the juniors had since received his junior green belt, which was well deserved.

I worked in a three for most of the night with Andrew and Ivan and we mainly focused on two techniques, one tachiwaza and one newaza.

The tachiwaza technique was Tai-otoshi which we warmed up for by doing plenty of uchi-komi with uki first walking towards tori and then uke walking away from tori. We also drilled a nice counter to tai-otoshi using a right handed, left sided tai-otoshi.

On to the newaza technique and we revisited a strangle that we were taught last year that Graeme calls Hell Strangle (Jigoku-jime) or chokehold from the Crucifix position for my BJJ cousins. We were shown two entries in to this, both attacking the turtle and also two ways of finishing, both of which are shown in the following video.

I also found this video which shows different entries in to Jigoku-jime, some of which look very nice indeed. 

We finished up with some randori and as I was keen not to breakfall with my left arm (due to my elbow injury) I was going to make getting thrown particularly difficult for everyone I sparred with.

One throw I managed to pull off a couple of times, following on from the competition I was in a few weeks back, was Osoto-gari. I mentioned then that I got thrown with this by a guy who hooked his leg in and despite being too far away to complete the throw he quickly jumped through and dumped me on my back. This guy did this to other people on the day so it’s clearly his tokuwaza but nonetheless with my long legs it should be a technique that I could be good at. I will continue to work on this in randori but it is a risky throw as quite often uke can counter it with the same throw and no one likes getting thrown with a big osoto gari.

The class finished with two long rounds of newaza randori and I decided to try and get as many subs in as possible. I think I ended up with two ude-garamis, two Juji-gatames, one kata-gatame and a nice sangaku jime.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Crash Mats for Throwing Practice

So after my recent competition experience I dragged myself to see my physio who was shocked to see the state of my shoulders and neck and also my elbow tendinitis (Golfers elbow)which was certainly not improved by the rigours of shiai. The outcome of this was being told to not do any upper body training whatsoever for a few weeks which obviously included Judo.

My neck and shoulders do feel a lot better but nothing seems to be making much difference to my golfers elbow condition.

At the moment the inside of my elbow is sore to touch so the mere thought of intentionally smashing my arm in to the tatami to break my fall fills me with dread.

Anyway I stumbled across this piece on the Judoforum today and thought I’d share it as using crash mats does seem like a very good idea, especially for those of us over a certain age.

Please feel free to comment accordingly.

Crash pad training allows everyone on the mat to do more throws safely. Here are two important points. You can do more throws on a crash pad than throwing only on the mat (tatami). After a while, landing on the mat takes its toll on anyone-even tough guys who say otherwise. By using crash pads, everyone on the mat can perform a lot more throws-and the result is that the level of technical skill improves. An increased volume of throwing practice translates to an increased development of functional skill.

Anyone who says that power is not what judo is about simply doesn't know what the word power means. Power does not mean brute strength or lack of technical skill as critics contend. The ballistic effect generate by a throwing technique is tremendous and demonstrates the skill, movement and strength inherent in a good throwing technique.

As far as safety is concerned, not only are there less injuries during practice when using crash pads, both in the short term and over the long haul of years of training, the body doesn't take as much punishment by landing on 8 inches of foam (in the crash pad) on top of the actual tatami than by landing only on the tatami. Sure, performing good breakfalls when taking a throw is important, but (as will be pointed out again later) the added level of safety in using crash pads definitely reduces injuries in practice.

Functional Skill

Anyone who uses crash pads can (and will) develop harder and more effective throws. The 8 inches of foam certainly helps cushion the fall for your partner when you drill him with that Uchi Mata, O Soto Gari or any other throw and it will provide the same cushion for you when he takes his turn to throw you. This means that you can develop more plyometric (explosive) power when throwing. I don't care what anyone says, the idea of a throw is to finish the fight. Throwing an opponent softly (in a match or real fight) is the antithesis of what the concept of Nage Waza (throwing Techniques) entails. A good analogy is boxing. Boxers use a punching bag to develop their punches in the same way judo, sambo, jujitsu and grappling athletes use a crash pad to develop their throws. Boxers don't train to hit an opponent softly, they train to hit an opponent hard. Crash pad training allows us to develop the full ballistic effect of a throwing technique.

More on Safety

Some people will say that using Ukemi is sufficient and good breakfalls negate the usefulness of crash pads. Okay, learning how to land safely is a necessity-that is a fact. But anyone who has taken a lot of falls on the tatami quickly finds out that, even with perfect breakfalling skills, taking repeated throws from partners in practice takes its toll on even the toughest guys' bodies. After a while, people get gun-shy and avoid throwing practice or simply stop coming to practice and take up something more docile, like spending too much time watching Youtube videos of judo instead of actually showing up to practice. So, my point is that using crash pads adds another level of safety in training to Ukemi (this was mentioned earlier).

Use Crash Pads Wisely

Do not limit your throwing practice to the use of crash pads only. By all means, work on throwing techniques and skills when moving freely about the mat to improve timing, spatial awareness and other important factors in throwing. In the same way boxers do not exclusively use heavy punching bags to develop their punching skills, judo, sambo, jujitsu and other grapplers should not limit themselves to exclusively doing throwing practice on crash pads. Like any training tool, use crash pads in an overall plan of training and development.


I don't care what anyone says. Doing a lot of Uchikomi (fit-in practice) instead of Nagekomi (throwing practice) is not a good substitute for actually doing throws to develop technical skill. I'm not against Uchikomi-I'm just against replacing throwing practice with a lot of fit-ins. The old adage "do more Uchikomi" only works for a (short) while. That's been the advice given by people when they didn't have an answer to a question about a throw. I've been to clubs where they did lots and lots of Uchikomi and only a few actual throws. Maybe you've been to one of those clubs as well. Again, don't get me wrong. Uchikomi training has its definite place in any fighting sport, but too much Uchikomi training translates directly into athletes who do not finish their throws and (for the most part) have their throwing attacks more easily blocked by an opponent or do not follow through enough at the end of a throwing attack to get the job done. Others can do what they want, but I want my students and athletes to develop more functional skills in throwing, so we'll keep working on our crash pads