This article is to discuss how to modify Judo for BJJ takedowns.
Because every Brazilian Jiu Jitsu match starts standing.
So you need to get good at takedowns if you want to get good at BJJ.
In fact… a study of 100’s of matches from the IBJJF World Championships showed:
The most effective and efficient way to win a fight is to get a takedown that immediately creates a submission attack opportunity
And even though BJJ is a direct descendant of Judo…
…it’s now so different that it’s tough to go straight from one to the other
Let’s find out why:
What’s the difference between Judo and BJJ?
As far as throws and takedowns are concerned:
In Judo the match STOPS if someone is thrown substantially on their BACK, with both FORCE and SPEED. If all 3 criteria aren’t met then it continues down onto the mat for groundwork.
In BJJ even the best throw will just score you a few POINTS for a takedown… but the match will always continue onto the ground.
[This means how you land is just as important as the takedown]
The International Judo Federation banned throws that involve grabbing the legs.
[More on that later]
So when I started cross-training Judo and BJJ something became clear pretty quickly…
…the Judo throws I drilled the most wouldn’t end the BJJ fight, and could leave me either:
1. In a good position where I could immediately transition into a submission,
2. On top, in a dominant position like Side Control…
1. Inside someone’s Guard, or
2. In a bad position with my back exposed
Credit Rik Vander Sanden (Creative Commons, No Modifications)
I’m only what you call a ‘Hobbyist Black Belt’…
Judo for BJJ: An elite grappler’s experience
What if you’ve competed in Judo at the highest level… and then started training BJJ?
To find out I asked Matt D’Aquino of Beyond Grappling. Matt is a Judo Olympian and National Champion, 4th Degree Judo Black Belt, and a BJJ Brown Belt
He’s also the creator of this: Judo for BJJ Takedowns Course
Here’s Matt’s answers:
1. When you started BJJ what were your go-to throws?
1. Fireman’s Carry (Kata Garuma)
2. Drop Shoulder Throw (Drop Seoi Nage), and
3. Double Leg Takedown (Morote Gari)
Matt D’Aquino in action
2. Were these Judo throws less effective in BJJ because of the rule differences?
Yes. I found that BJJ guys moved differently and reacted differently and I really struggled with their reactions. I almost found it easier to throw a Judoka opposed to a BJJ player.
Note the traditional upright posture in Judo where the legs are more exposed…
… compared to the more bent-over posture in BJJ because you have to worry about leg grabs:
Credit Akiko Yanagawa (Creative Commons, No Modifications)
Another problem I had was the ‘re-roll’. This is where you throw yourself so much into the throw that you roll over your opponent after the throw and you end up on the bottom.
A great Judo throw example… but note the follow-through:
I also found that BJJ guys do a lot of sprawling (due to MMA/wrestling influence) and I couldn’t double leg anyway, whereas a Judo player never practices a sprawl and so they were easier to takedown.
3. Are there any Judo throws (or groups of throws) you wouldn’t necessarily recommend for BJJ?
I think all throws are great if the context/timing/situation is right.
The best throw done in the wrong timing will become the worst throw, and the worst throw in the correct timing will be better.
My biggest downfall was always the Inside Leg Trip (Ouchi-Gari)…
…even though it was one of my favourite Judo throws I had trouble using it as a BJJ Takedown because I would consistently end up in my opponents Closed Guard:
The biggest key for throwing in BJJ is to not only focus on the throw, but the 2 second transition after the throw because this is where the positional game comes in for BJJ.
Here’s a great example of transitioning to the ground game immediately after a throw – foot-sweep (Deashi) straight into an armbar in a BJJ comp [9 second video]:
Many Judoka (myself included) often get a takedown only to lose the advantage in the next exchange.
The best in the world capitalize on the transitions, and have transitions between positions down to an art.
Here’s an example of a great Judo throw then a separate groundwork exchange:
4. What are the 5 best Judo throws for BJJ?
I think there aren’t 5 best throws because like I mentioned the context/timing is more important.
However in BJJ you mainly see:
- Collar drags
- Single Leg Takedowns (Kuchiki Daoshi/Kibisu Gaeshi)
- Double Leg Takedowns (Morote Gari or Sukui Nage)
- Drop Shoulder Throw (Seoi Otoshi)
- Advanced Foot Sweep (Deashi Barai)
Check out Matt’s course on how to modify these Judo throws for BJJ:
Summary: Is judo good for BJJ takedowns?
Yes, but some modifications are needed if your training is based around modern IJF competition rules. You’ll need to learn defense against leg grabs, and focus on the transition immediately after the throw. Practice with non-Judokas so you can get used to the differences in their movement and the different grip-fighting that’s allowed. And don’t forget leg locks.
If you have a Judo background and haven’t trained defense against leg grabs…
…when you go straight into a BJJ competition you might be in for a surprise.
Here’s a video from Matt about his tactics for beating Judo players in a BJJ rule-set:
Have you made the transition from Judo to BJJ? What was your experience?