If you have been following my blog, one thing you might notice that during the past 1,5 years or so I've really started to focus on my stand-up as I want it to be on par with the rest of my abilities before I reach brown belt. A long while ago I was told that I have blue belt level takedowns, purple belt level guard, an brown belt level passing. So I started thinking...what if I improve my takedowns and get on top to use my best assets which is passing so I wouldn't have to improve my guard so drastically?
To be honest, despite being a guard puller myself, I am also somewhat worried about the dominance of the current guard pulling/double guards in competitions because of reduced realism etc.
Yesterday I had a great chance to work my gi takedowns and more specifially judo with some up and coming judoka from Finland and their trainer. The agenda was to go through a vast array of throws and then dig deeper into certain ones in seminars to be organised later.
What I like about training with top judoka is the focus on grip fighting, footwork and off-balancing which I feel most BJJ teachers do not understand/are not able to teach. BJJers teaching judo too often resembles teaching boxing but only focusing on throwing punches (without faints, parries, blocks and foot work).
Some things I took with me:
- Grip fighting games and how to use your knucles in a four-finger grip
- Hopping Osoto gari against a stiff arming opponent who keeps his hips away. There is a video on this in an earlier article but it is basically putting the sole of your foot on the back of your opponent's (cross) knee and then jumping closer as you push with the collar hand
- Emilia throw (I can't remember the name of the throw). This was a personal favourite of one of Finland's judo prospects Emilia Kanerva. It resembles a "reverse" Ippon Seio or Ippon Seio to the collar grip side but the grips give a huge pulling ability.
After focusing on stand up for a while now, I can finally say I have a stand up game instead of isolated wrestling takedowns, throws and trips. I have my preferred grips and reactions to my opponent's different stances. This makes stand up randori much more enjoyable.
Of course, what helped me create a game is refusing to try and learn everything. Learning new stuff all the time might be fun but it will not make you win. This seemed to be the approach that the young judo competitors had taken as well as they didn't know how to perform all the moves their comrades did. Specializing is key I guess..