As an MMA fighter, you’re always looking for techniques that give you an edge inside the cage. Judo, with its focus on throws, holds, and submissions offers a wealth of techniques that can be highly effective in mixed martial arts.
Here are 10 judo techniques that you can incorporate into your arsenal to outmaneuver and dominate your opponents.
1) Osoto Gari: The Major Outer Reap
Osoto Gari is a powerful Judo throw that’s perfect for MMA. To execute, start by stepping close to your opponent to mirror their stance. Reach around their waist or back with your right arm, pulling them close.
With your left leg, step forward beside their right foot. Then, swing your right leg forward and then back and strike it against the back of your opponent’s right knee, sweeping their right leg toward you. As you do this, push their upper body backward with your arms, causing them to fall. This technique is ideal for when you’ve got your opponent against the cage.
2) Ippon Seoi Nage: The One-Arm Shoulder Throw
Ippon Seoi Nage is a classic judo technique adaptable for MMA. To perform this throw, grip your opponent’s right arm with your left hand. Pivot on your left foot, turning inwards while pulling your opponent forward. Lower your center of gravity and position your right arm under their armpit, lifting them onto your back. Finish the throw by propelling them over your shoulder, using your hips for additional leverage.
3) Uchi Mata: The Inner Thigh Throw
Uchi Mata is a dynamic throw that can catch an opponent off-guard. Begin by gripping your opponent’s left tricep with your right hand and their neck with your left hand. Step in with your left leg between their legs as you pull them towards you. Swing your right leg up and through their thighs, lifting them off the ground. Simultaneously, pull down on their arm and neck to complete the throw.
4) Koshi Guruma: The Hip Wheel
Koshi Guruma is a hip throw that’s highly effective in MMA. Start by establishing a dominant grip on your opponent’s neck with your right hand and their arm with your left hand. Step in with your right foot across their body and swing your left leg around, planting it outside their feet. Rotate your hips so they’re facing the same direction as your opponent’s, and use your grip on their neck and arm to lift and wheel them over your hip. This throw works well when you have broken your opponent’s balance.
5) Harai Goshi: The Sweeping Hip Throw
Harai Goshi is a powerful hip throw for MMA. Get a firm grip on your opponent’s tricep and neck. Step in with your left foot while turning your body to face the same direction as your opponent. Plant your right foot beside their right foot and sweep your right leg backward against both of their legs. Simultaneously, pull down on their arm and push against their chest with your other hand. The sweeping motion combined with your hip movement will throw them over your hip. This technique is effective against aggressive forward-moving opponents.
6) Tomoe Nage: The Circle Throw
Tomoe Nage can surprise an opponent who’s pressing forward. Grab their tricep and neck, then plant your foot (either left or right) on their lower abdomen or hip. Fall backward, using your planted foot to flip your opponent over you. This move is particularly effective when your back is against the cage, turning a defensive position into an offensive one.
7) Ouchi Gari: The Major Inner Reap
Ouchi Gari is a classic judo technique that’s easy to integrate into MMA. Step in close to your opponent, grabbing their neck and arm. Use your left leg to hook inside their right leg, reaping it towards you as you push them backward with your arms. This throw is excellent for off-balancing an opponent who’s resisting being pulled forward.
8) Tai Otoshi: The Body Drop
Tai Otoshi is a powerful and efficient throw. Grab your opponent’s neck and arm and step across their body with your right foot. Turn your body to face the same direction as theirs, placing your left foot beside their right foot. Drop your weight suddenly, pulling down on their arm, and push their upper body with your other hand, causing them to fall over your extended right leg. This technique is useful for countering an opponent’s forward momentum.
9) Kouchi Gari: The Minor Inner Reap
Kouchi Gari is a subtle but effective technique for MMA. Approach your opponent and grip their arm and neck. Use your right foot to sweep their advancing left foot as they step forward, pulling them forward and off balance with your grip. This move is particularly effective when combined with strikes to create openings.
10) Morote Gari: The Two-Handed Reap
Morote Gari, similar to a double-leg takedown, is excellent for MMA. Start by lowering your level and dive towards your opponent’s legs, wrapping your arms around their thighs. Drive forward with your shoulders, lifting and pulling their legs out from under them to bring them to the ground. This technique is perfect for when you need to take the fight to the ground quickly.
This technique has been illegal in tournaments overseen by the International Judo Federation since 2013 when a new rule banned techniques that required participants to touch their opponents below the waist. It’s perfectly fine in MMA though, so add it to your arsenal.
Incorporating Judo Into MMA
Focus on drilling these judo techniques regularly to integrate them into your mixed martial arts skill set. You ideally want to learn how to execute them against shirtless opponents but you might have to sign up for regular Judo classes if you don’t have enough shirtless volunteers to drill with.
Expand Your MMA Arsenal With Judo
You’re not just learning new ways to throw your opponents by adding these judo techniques to your repertoire; you’re expanding your overall fight IQ, unpredictability, and ability to control the pace and position of the fight.
These judo moves provide alternative strategies to traditional wrestling takedowns and can be unexpected and highly effective in the cage. Train diligently, understand the nuances of each technique, and watch as your MMA game evolves to a new level of proficiency and dynamism.
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