SchenkMMA Martial Art Series: The Art of Judo

Judo or Jūdō (柔道 jūdō?, meaning "gentle way") is a modern martial art and combat sport created in Japan in 1882 by Kano Jigoro. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an opponent to submit by joint locking or by executing a strangle hold or chokeStrikes and thrusts by hands and feet as well as weapons defences are a part of judo, but only in pre-arranged forms (kata) and are not allowed in judo competition or free practice (randori).

For more information on the history and details of Judo please go to this Link.

Now that we have a better idea of what Judo is and what a Judo practionioner is trying to achieve let get some feed back from some modern day female MMA fighters to see how they have taken this ancient martial art and adapted it and changed it to work for them in their Mixed Martial Arts strategies.

Our first comment comes from Cindy Dandois who has a very deep judo background and has competed in Judo tournaments all over the world before she became a Mixed Martial Arts fighter.  Her current MMA Pro record is 5-1-0 and this is what she had to say about how Judo has helped her in her MMA career.

"Well in the beginning it was difficult not to give my back in MMA. Because in judo that isnt really a problem. Also some techniques arent usuable and I had to learn what it was to get hit. On the other hand I had my base of being flexible and my Judo throws who are also very usefull in an MMA fight."

As we can see from Cindy's comment there was things that she needed to adapt to be able to use her Judo in the MMA world but I think from her current record we can say that Judo is a good base for her build from.

The next Judoka we spoke to was Ronda Rousey who has an extensive Judo background and was the first American women to ever win an Olympic medal for the U.S. in Judo.  Her current MMA Pro record is 3-0-0.  Here is what she had to say.

"Judo has helped me in almost every aspect of MMA. But where I think it helps the most is judo is the only grappling art that teaches you to have good posture while doing throws/takedowns. This translates into being able to take people down without "changing levels" the way that wrestlers do. I guess what I'm trying to say is the takedowns are harder to defend because they're telegraphed less. Also, even though judokas are not known for their ground game, the ones that are decent on the ground are usually just as efficient if not more so than bjj players. In judo you have 10-15 seconds max to catch your opponent in a pin/submission before you're made to get up and start standing again. This makes judo players much more explosive in their ground techniques not to mention having quicker transition from standing to ground."

So for those of you out there who are thinking that Judo doesn't have a place in MMA or that it can't be effective in MMA please reread Ronda's statement above.  I think she is proving right now that there is a place for Judo in MMA and that while it may not all transition to MMA some of the fundamentals of Judo can be applied and leveraged to help round out any MMA strategy.

Last but not least we reached out to Patricia Vandermeer (who we were fortunate enough to meet and talk with at the GFight Summit in Indiana back in 2010.) who is an up and coming female MMA fighter and who also has a very extensive Judo background to get her take on how Judo has helped her while she has been learning MMA.  This is what she had to say.

"I wouldn't say I've adapted Judo to my MMA game, I'd say I've adapted an  MMA game to go with my Judo.  Judo is so ingrained into me that it just happens in my fights,  I don't have to think about what to do when I clinch, it just happens,  same thing on the ground!  My Judo background has also taught me how to train and compete at a high level.   Sure the fans tend to be a little... rowdier,  and the ref isn't wearing a suit, but it's all the same when your in the ring/cage or on the tatami.  You also have to execute your game plan better then your opponent executes theirs.    One other thing that having a Judo background helps with is that in Judo, when you're on the ground you have to work, and improve your position, and work to win,  you can't just sit around in someones guard(or with someone in your guard), and do nothing,  and that helps in the MMA game because they'll stand you up, or you'll get hit in the face a lot,  either way, it's not good. I suppose there has been some minor adaptations,   I go for a traditional drop seio nage, instead of my more favoured drop morote seoi nage, and I have a kind of 1/2 thai clinch instead of holding the lapel for the o soto gari,  but the physics and such of the techniques are all the same."

As we can see from Patricia's comments Judo while being known as the "Gentle Way" can be a very technical and complex Martial Art to learn and to master.

I hope through out this look at Judo and how it has been used in Womens Mixed Martial Arts that you the reader will have a little bit better understanding of this Martial Art, and for the value it can bring not only to the sport of MMA but also to the lives of the people who choose to study it.

Until next time we appreciate your support and always welcome any comments to this post or any post that is on the site.

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