Judo gets no respect!?

One of my favorite comedians was Rodney Dangerfield.   His classical catchphrase was “I don’t get no respect.”  The first half of his autobiography’s title is It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me: A Lifetime of No Respect.  If Judo were a person and could scream at the top of his lungs, I’m sure he’d be yelling “It’s not easy bein’ me. I get no respect.”  Since Judo is not a person, we judoplayers must step up to the plate and do the screaming.

How does this grab you?   MMA Submission of the Day: “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey Showcases Jiu-Jitsu Skills. If you watch the video, Ronda does in the ring what she has always done on the Judo mat: nice throws and great armbars.

So, why does the author, who states that Ronda has a Judo background, call Ronda’s Judo skills jiujitsu skills?  Is he unaware of what Judo is, or has all ne waza merely taken on the brand name of jiujitsu no matter where the ground grappling skills come from?  I’d hate to think that we’ve simply become in the eyes of the general public the stand up martial art with throws.   Sure, it’s better than being known as the art that teaches you how to fall, but that’s little consolation.  For heaven’s sake, we are the art that gave birth to Brazilian jiujitsu and Sambo.  How in the world did we get to this point?  Why did we allow ourselves to be backed into this label?  Regardless of why or how, we must all stand up for Judo and say, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”   I encourage you to send your comments to “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey Showcases Jiu-Jitsu Skills.  I’ve already sent mine.

It’s bad when Judo gets no respect from others, but even worse when our own players seem to think Judo ne waza is inferior.  I can’t figure out why judoplayers do jiujitsu when they aren’t even remotely conversant in our own ground grappling.  I have several players in my club who are doing BJJ, but I’m hard pressed to say that it’s helped their Judo ne waza.  They remain just as clueless in ne waza as they were prior to taking BJJ.

Not all is lost, however, if we do things right.  A few weeks ago, I started teaching no-gi Judo to amateur MMA fighters at a new club in El Cajon, California.  After the first lesson, fighters admitted that they had gained a new respect for Judo.  Why?  Well, for one thing they weren’t introduced to mat bashing (ukemi), impractical go kyo no waza techniques or demonstration Judo, non-essential Japanese terms, static uchi komi, or etiquette.  And I sure as heck didn’t talk about what’s legal or illegal in Judo.

I found it interesting that they had already been forewarned that Judo had a lot of rules that prohibited a lot of things.  Judo’s reputation had preceded my arrival.  I reassured the group that I would be teaching them the full complement of Judo skills for MMA situations, even skills that have dropped out of Judo over the years.  And that’s what I proceeded to do.  I trained these amateur MMA fighters the same way I would train elite athletes in Judo: real situations, movement, complete skills, and transitions.  The only difference is that the name of the game, and the rules of the game are different, so the skillset is different.  If you can understand that concept, MMA fighters will respect Judo.  Getting slammed a few times on a hard mat from situations they always encounter in MMA matches makes a good impression on fighters.

Most of the fighters I’m working with are strikers, so there’s a strong aversion to turning a back or going to the ground.  Working on face-to-face techniques from the clinch- mostly leg reaps, and horror of horrors, leg grabs!- put them at ease. The duck under to leg grab showed the damage one could do with a well-placed Judo throw, even though they weren’t trying to hurt each other.  Eyes lit up when I suggested that down the road we’ll turn the leg grab into a high amplitude, devastating Te guruma, once we get our hands on a crash pad.  These guys like the idea of being able to plant someone onto his head for a “lights out” ending.

Achieving a better reputation for our sport within the general public will require a serious retooling of our coach education and rank promotion programs, a fuller repertory of throwing skills, a return to Kosen Judo, and a much greater emphasis on competitive skills.  Much of this can’t be accomplished if we remain married to the IJF. The marriage is terminal; it’s a slow death by a thousand cuts. Until we distance ourselves from IJF Judo, Judo will get no respect. Getting no respect makes me as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore. How about you?

10 thoughts on “Judo gets no respect!?

  1. Let me say, for the record, that I’m a BJJ guy. I do, however, have the fortunately pleasure of my BJJ instructor being a Judo black belt and having the local university club training with us regularly as well as consistently during the summer when school is out. Like the article, though disagree with the fact that BJJ doesn’t help Judo matwork. It would be the same as me saying that Judo won’t help BJJ matwork. I’ve gained some valuable insight and improved my BJJ matwork by taking things in from Judo and applying them to my Jiu-Jitsu. I’m sure that same can be said for your students who do BJJ. At the same time, I do understand that viewpoint.

  2. I’ve read the post with great interest because I love judo and wish the best to it.
    But after reading it carefully, I have to say that I don’t get the point. Judo gets no respect because someone said Ronda uses Jiu-Jitsu?. Ronda is a grown up woman that is begining a professional career in a sport called MMA. Her background could be Judo, Track & Field or Handball, it doesn’t matter. She is not representing anything apart from herself.
    So, please, don’t mix Judo reputation with individuals careers.

    P.S. There’s no such thing as “no-gi judo”.

  3. Ronda can be her own person and have her own career, but the fact is that she is known in the MMA industry as a Judo Olympian. She may not care to be known as a Judo person, but we judoplayers do care. I think she can have her cake, and we can eat it too.

    By the way I teach no-gi Judo.

  4. Although I sympathise with your ‘IJF bashing’, I must say that judo groundwork is indeed inferior to BJJ groundwork. It’s simply odd to assume that, in nowadays’ ‘cross-training’ craze, people just ignore judo and deliberately deprive it of respect it duly deserves. No, it’s just because judo doesn’t offer potential benefits to improve the skills of today’s (non-judoka) martial artist. As grappling disciplines, BJJ, wrestling and even sambo have more to it. On the other hand, sorry but that so-called ‘Kosen Judo renaissance’ is nothing more than a desperately meagre attempt to steal some of BJJ’s prestige using the genealogical bond between two arts.

  5. I can see both sides of the discussion. I get fed up just in general of the lack of respect any grappling game gets, it seems like it has always taken the backseat to the striking arts.

    I train bjj, purple belt, and at our gym a couple times a week we cross train. The judo guys will come over for a bit and work on ne waza, and then we’ll go over with them and work randori. When it’s time to roll, or throw, we mingle between the two. A round of ne waza, or two, and then a round of randori.

    Randori is hard as hell though man. I grew up wrestling and when we worked takedowns it was tiring. Focusing on just randori is exhausting.

    Now, with that I’d like to add that prior to bjj and seeing judo, I too was under the impression that judo was just a throwing art. I get it now. However I think judo kind of still clings to the old martial art label. It seems unwilling to be flexible with the rules, I don’t know all of the rules, but to ban certain techniques seems crazy. Especially in this popular age of mma.

    Judo should be doing all it can to embrace the connection it could make with mma. Take Karo Parisyan for example, not my favorite guy, but he exposed who knows how many people to judo, especially judo for mma. The judo federation should have ridden that wave.

    Anyways man, great article and I agree with you. Judo doesn’t get much respect and neither do other grappling arts. Well wrestling doesn’t anyways.

    I’d like it if you came by and checked out my blog. It is mainly about bjj and wrestling. It has concepts, techniques, posts where I complain. Ha ha. Take care.

  6. IJF rules is killing judo not allowing more time for ne-waza 25 seconds isn’t enough time. . The judo dojo is USA don’t show enough newaza @ the dojo. I say just cross train. I am fortunate enough to train at a dojo . We do nage-waza & ne/waza.

  7. Good article. As a 30 year Judoka with 5 years now cross training in BJJ and teaching Judo to BJJers I think the mat-work skills are complementary. Coming from a pure Judo background I did not really know what to do with the 1st BJJers I rolled with. Their development of guard and other positions, the sweeps against standing opponents and at least the older versions of BJJ’s relentless progression towards the submission really added something. Also, playing stand up Judo with BJJers who really want to take your back, led me to throw with greater control, and also led me to explore a lot of the alternative grips usually associated with Sambo which make it harder for them to crawl onto your back. I think this makes my Judo more combative and closer to the original concept of Judo. From the other side, my own mat-work has gelled as a hybrid. The skills I have from Judo – especially pinning and some of the more dynamic techniques, like turn overs, are not well known in BJJ, and people have a hard time dealing with them. The skills of transitioning from standing to ground is much better in Judo, and something not often discussed is getting up from the ground – as in disengaging from mat-work.

    They go together and Sambo should also not be ignored. I tend to view them as elements of one art really. And no one disrespects judo after they have been slammed.

  8. Oh yeah, and the IJF sucks. I ignore any rule after 1970. I think everyone should.

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