Self Defense – Deepen Your Core Art

Recently Ronda Rousey, a world class judo practitioner, fought Holy Holm, a world class boxer/kickboxer. Ronda was defending her belt.  She lost decisively.  Both are true competitors, but with very different world class core skills.

I want to share some thoughts with you on why it is very important to (whatever else you wish to learn) work on deepening your core art skills.

Let us say your core art is judo. For many years you have been at a world class level. You have worked out with very good coaches and training partners. Through the years you have made sacrifices so you could put in an accumulation of quality training. Your mind and body are built into a powerful and skillful machine for judo throws and judo type ground grappling (hold downs, chokes/strangles and arm locks). Your reflexes are highly tuned to subtle balance shifts in your opponent and yourself. You have earned by constant practice the title world class.

It isn’t just the power in your moves, it is as well your deep sensitivity to the shifts in balance and leverage between you and your opponent that you have slaved on to obtain. It is one thing to have a powerful throw, it is quite another to have that world class timing WHEN to execute.

You at some point decide to enter MMA (mixed martial arts) or perhaps you wish to strip down your judo for basic self-defense purposes. Let’s speak about MMA here. You are aware that in MMA the rules are very different from judo competition. For example you can be kicked and punched standing. On the ground you can be leg locked and ground and pounded.

Immediately you can see that in order to get into position for your world class judo throwing game on the opponent you have to get by their strikes. Also the chances are very slim you or your opponent will be wearing a gi to use for the throw (and judo grappling on the ground).

So you and your coach/training partners start with modifying your core art skills. How can you adapt your throwing expertise to a no-gi situation? How do you get by the problem of strikes so you can set up your throws? How do you deal with such things as ground and pound and leg locks?

Because for many years you have worked very hard (and smart) learning your throws and judo grappling you certainly have a deep core of skills to work with. No gi throws you will pick up relatively easily. Yes, you still have to work on it but you already have years of judo to greatly help you.

The main problem will probably come from dealing with skilled strikers. To do your judo throw you need to grab long enough to execute your throw.

Now let us say you learned some boxing, enough for the level of boxing/kickboxing you have been facing. In other words you were close enough in power/skill to weather any storm until you forced a clinch to then work your judo throw and then judo grappling. You have been rather successful because you are so good at your judo (in relation to your opponents) and good enough with your boxing (again, in relation to your opponents) that you are now a champion in your weight division.

Now say you are in 6 or 9 months going to fight a world class champion boxer/kickboxer.  The boxer/kickboxer has some takedown and ground skills but no way close to your judo skills.

Now before I continue I want to define how I am using 2 terms. One is the word possibility and the other is probability. Probability means here what likely will happen more times than not. Possibility means what “could” happen somehow, even if not probable.

When you train with each other it is better to stay with what is probable than what is possible. If you are going to fight a world class boxer/kickboxer within a year, you would do much better stripping down how fast you can get the opponent to the ground and kept there. This means you need to strip down your judo throws. Below is a video with further views on this subject.

Thank you for reading this and always train safe.

Fred Crivello
Jujutsu 101


I developed Jujutsu 101, which consists of drills to help you help yourself improve your leverage control and balance disruption for self-defense situations. Fred Crivello

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