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?