Written by: Mike Long
The reason for this is simple. Ever since UFC 1 when Royce Gracie took the world by storm with his compact submission style, BJJ has been known as the end all be all of grappling in the MMA world.
However, in this article I’d like to pose some challenges to this belief, and perhaps give you a new mindset in the process.
Before we set out on this journey, I should admit that I am biased. I trained Judo for many years, competed at the national level and won many state championships. Furthermore, my family owns a Judo school.
So why do most MMA fighters prefer BJJ?
The answer is simple, BJJ specializes in submissions and so adding submissions to your repertoire can greatly increase your chances of winning. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly submission specialists in Judo. Ronda Rousey springs to mind with her amazing 100% armbar finish rate in her fights.
The truth is though, for the most part, Judo is predominately a position based sport. Judo sport practitioners primarily focus on throws and pins. Both of these translate extremely well to MMA. In fact, many BJJ practitioners have a hard time switching to MMA because of the different mindsets. In BJJ, the best position you can be in is the best position for submissions.
Not so in Judo. Laying on your back can quickly lose you a match. In fact, if an opponent pins another opponent on his back in Judo for more than 25 seconds, they automatically win the match.
So what we end up with is a grappling art that teaches submissions just like BJJ, but with a much greater emphasis on control and takedowns. This is why an equal level BJJ vs Judo match will generally result in the BJJ fighter getting tossed around like a rag doll.
If you ask me, this combination of control and takedowns is the perfect base for MMA. A strong Judo practitioner can control exactly where the fight goes. If he wants to stay standing, he can use his strong base and takedown defense to shrug off takedowns while unleashing his striking. And if he wants to go to the ground, he can use his powerful takedowns to get it down there. Once he’s on the ground, he can use positioning and control to go for ground and pound or submissions if he prefers. It is this reason that I think Judo is the ultimate grappling art for MMA. Judo allows you to control your opponents unlike any other art, and control is arguably the most important thing in MMA.
So if you find yourself looking for a local grappling school, don’t just consider BJJ. If you see a good Judo school, why not stop by and try out a few classes. You might just be surprised at how useful it is.
Before we go, I’ll leave you with 2 clips of Judo legend Akiyama doing what he does best in his latest bout with Jake Shields:
About the author:
Mike Long is an avid martial artist with over 18 years of experience in various arts from Kenpo Karate, TKD, to Judo and JuJutsu. These days he trains primarily standup at his Muay Thai gym, although you can still find him grappling with the fighters there from time to time. In his free time, he runs Motorcycle Insurance Helper, a website dedicated to helping riders find affordable motorcycle insurance without the traditional hassle.
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