The first IJF event of 2020 has concluded and it was an amazing showing of high-level judo. Athletes from all over had a lot on the line as they were looking to set the precedent for the world to see.
Hatashita Sports Athlete / Team USA's Colton Brown secured a Top 7 finish earning a 182 World Ranking Points. Brown is currently qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Hatashita Sports Athlete / Team Canada's Kelita Zupancic earned herself a bronze medal. Zupancic won 4 of her matches and only falling once to the eventual winner of the contest. Zupancic looked incredible throughout the day and started 2020 off right!
Here is a list of the current US Athletes qualified for the Olympic Games (courtesy of the IJF).
Next stop, PARIS!
The first Grand Prix of 2020 has arrived! With sights set on Tokyo, all eyes will be in Israel for the TelAviv Grand Slam. Top athletes from all of the world will converge for what is sure to be some amazing match-ups and overall exciting judo.
Team USA will be sending the following athletes (list courtesy of USA Judo):
The Competition Begins On Thursday, January 23rd
The element of surprise can be a very helpful tool. Off the grip attacks are almost always synonymous with surprise. Anything from drop seio and beyond can be utilized to attempt an off the grip attack. And ultimately, every single judo player has to have off the grip attacks.
This will help you win national and international competitions."
In the video here, Travis Stevens teaches an off the grip attack that helps him get his offense going. It is also a fairly safe bet to use it. It is important to make sure that you take the time to focus on your “situational” judo. While training your bread and butter is important, work on your weaknesses too.
A great training program for developing situation drills is one we refer to as "combinations." The idea is, you do a situation for 1 min (can be longer, we have gone up to 2 min in the past when we’re in very good shape) with a 5 to 10-second rest. Then your partner would go and repeat the process.
One of the workouts we use would look like this: 1 min each
With two sets any combination
And two sets off the grip attacks
Two sets only development techniques
And two sets your favorite best technique
This workout would be roughly 18 mins of your standard hour and a half workout.
Most of the time spent here is based more around the development of fundamental judo strength. You will need to make sure you hit three to four key points every single time you perform an action. In the off the grip attacks, drop seio version Travis focuses on the following:
Not losing my grip
Make sure I get to the end of the wrist
Only do it after trying to establish my right hand on the gi
Make sure my opponent falls to the floor
If you focus on these four areas, you'll be in great shape. Remember this type of technique is not to initiate scores, but it makes being offensive possible. If you can make solid attacks that knock your opponent to the mat, you put yourself in an advantageous position to win.
Hopefully, it also gets your opponent thinking that if they don't let you put two hands on the gi, they can be thrown. That will give you the opportunity to get a stalling call against your opponent.
Take time to focus in on these situations. Not being able to put a second hand on the gi, or an athlete that grip fights a little too much are great examples. Remember that in training and in competition you're going to encounter athletes like this. And you will have to score on them and find ways to win. You can't sit and complain about it, you must find a way to win. These situations come up all the time and when you're down by a score you're going to need to make sure something happens. Work on your off the grip attacks and let us know how it goes!
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On August 10, 2016 I stepped off of the mat at the Olympic Games in Brazil unhappy with my performance. I knew right then and there that I had to make a change. If I wanted a different result at the next Olympics in Tokyo, I had to switch things up. Ultimately I decided to step completely outside of my comfort zone. I moved to the Pedro’s Judo Center in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Before I actually made the decision, I spent numerous nights contemplating the move. The only reason the decision was so hard for me was because I knew judo and life as I knew it were going to change. Things were no longer going to be fun, it was going to be 100% dedication.
June 20th, I packed my bags to leave San Jose. I made myself a promise to do everything in my power to never feel the way I did after leaving the mat in Rio. I knew it wasn’t going to be fun. But I prepared myself to do whatever it took to achieve success. Especially when it came to staying motivated through injuries or anything else that came my way.
When I arrived in Boston, the team was preparing for the World Championships at the end of August. I immediately questioned my decision to move here. Practice was extremely tough, and the coaches (Jimmy and Travis) demanded excellence. The next couple of months were very hard on me mentally and physically. My body wasn’t used to training at this intensity. And for this duration of time. That combined took an even bigger toll on my mind. Although I was adjusting to a new system, I saw major improvements in my judo. More importantly, I began to see improvements in the way I approached training.
The Netherlands Grand Prix was in early November. In preparation for it, the coaches and I thought it would be a good idea to travel to the Quebec Open. That way we could get some quality matches in. In my final match of the day, my foot got caught underneath me while defending a throw. A sharp pain rushed through the top of my foot. Initially I thought I just rolled my ankle and tried to walk it off. I immediately knew that it was more serious than that. I tried to continue fighting on one foot. Jimmy realized the amount of pain that I was in and pulled me from the match.
The next day I went to get an MRI. I realized that I tore some major ligaments in my foot and would be off of the mat for 8-10 weeks. A variety of thoughts went through my head. The biggest one was the amount of opportunities I was going to miss out on over the next two months. I was supposed to travel to Netherlands to compete. Fly to Japan with teammate Jack Hatton and Coach Travis Stevens to train for three weeks. And finally end the year off by competing at the World Masters Championships. What defines champions, though, is staying motivated through injuries.
I spent one day on the couch feeling sorry for myself. Then realized that I had to change this mindset immediately. I woke up the next morning and went to the gym to talk to my trainer about workouts to do in the meantime. To my surprise, he told me I can still come in every day to do upper-body lifts and work on mobility. I went home and seriously thought about the promise I made myself before moving here.
I knew there were going to be “bumps in the road.” Without them, the end result wouldn’t feel as good. I made a commitment to change my diet to decrease inflammation. And to move as much as possible to speed up the healing process. When I initially went to the doctor, he told me I wouldn’t be able to walk on the foot for at least 7 weeks. I took my first steps exactly 4 weeks after the injury occurred.
I have accepted the fact that I will go through injuries over these next couple of years, but nothing will stop me from achieving my goal. The importance is staying motivated through injuries. Despite the various bumps and bruises we experience, there’s always something we can do to improve on a daily basis. I took this time off to re-motivate myself and mentally prepare for the battle ahead. I’ve used this time wisely and will come back stronger than before.
The Tricky O-ouchi gari can be a really great defense to have in your back pocket. But let's set the scene first. Has this ever happened to you? You're going up against an opponent and you're feeling really confident. But then...they just keep on out gripping you at every turn and at every opportunity. No matter how good you get at judo, you will always run into situations where you get out gripped. It happens to the best of the best and there is nothing you can do about it.
Instead of banging your head against a wall when you encounter that situation, make sure you have an answer before you ever step onto the mats. Meaning prepare for all possible scenarios, so you're never surprised by anyone.
The hard part about the tricky O-ouchi Gari concept is the knowledge that you lost your position due to you making a mistake. Instead of your opponent making a good move that caused you to lose the position. When judo players make mistakes, they try to learn how to fight out of bad positions. That same methodology becomes how they train. Let's put that mentality to bed. Learn how to fight to not get put into disadvantageous positions. That will save you from fighting your way out of them 100 percent of the time. Ultimately, this will allow you to focus on scoring from grips and situations that have a high degree of scoring because you are not in a losing position to start with.
The tricky O-ouchi gari is focused on making sure you avoid bad positions. It is also a great way to stop an opponent from grabbing your neck throughout the rest of the match. This will, in turn, make the match a lot easier for you. Without further ado, let's get into the meat and potatoes of the tricky Ouchi gari.
Make sure your head is making their arm "heavy." That means pressure and that means effort. It will shut down any chance of them countering.
Get a solid post on the hip. A solid grip on the belt is key to engaging this properly.
Square off like you would on a normal O-uchi Gari. You have to square off to your opponent to fully execute.
Drive through and smash your opponent to the mat. Drive. Don't lift. That's important!
There is an age old saying that goes: when fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. Preparation is key in all facets of life. Judo is no exception. From mental to lifting, to nutrition and beyond, preparation should surround you. Preparing your responses to a wide variety of scenarios on the mats should absolutely be a major focus of your training.
Proactivity will always prevail over reactivity too. So when you're on the mats, it is better to be proactive in shutting down your opponents from advantageous positioning. Rather than reactive in bad positioning, your opponent has put you through. The tricky O-ouchi gari is a way to be proactive. So learn it inside and out and use it before it uses you!
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The drop seio is one of the most common throws in judo at any level. Adding a component of left on right (i.e. same-sided) complicates the technique a little bit, but does not render it overall impossible. The left on right drop seio is just as basic to execute as opposite sided, the angles just change a little bit.
Travis Stevens executes the same-sided drop seio with Jack Hatton. Both men are 81kg judo players. Make no mistake, they're both strong and explosive athletes. Jack and Travis are both as serious about their time in the gym as they are about their time on the mats. Lifting is important for judo players. As is maintaining and working on the mental side of your game. And nutrition. In fact, lifestyle of an elite athlete is incredibly important. If you're an aspiring judo player, make sure you get all parts of your life in order. It will only help you on the mats. Take it from some of the best in the game!
Let's get back to the left on right drop seio and the details of this technique! A few steps you should aim to follow when doing this throw follow.
You MUST have inside control. You will need to make sure you have a strong post that is under your opponent's arm. When you later twistin to
jack your opponent up on your toes, this positioning will come in handy.
Snap your opponent to the side. Do this while moving in front. The snap and front-move will enable you to turn, create whip, and drop down through. The STEP and WHIP is the most important part. This will create the speed you need to shock your opponent and complete the throw.
Drop through your opponents legs, never in front of them. If in front, they can counter easily. If though, they have no choice but to be thrown.
The left on right drop seio can be complicated if you ever get lost in what should be done. The common mistakes you want to make sure you don't do are as follows:
Dropping on the side of the leg
Not making a rotation
Not opening up your opponent to make a successful attack
It isn't often we will tell you what not to do, but those mistakes are so common with the drop seio they're worth mentioning. Everyone has messed up throws before and ultimately, we will continue to do so. That's sport! And that's especially the nature of judo and judo throws. If you ever saw a ratio of throws tried versus throws that worked, me oh my we would all be shocked at how rarely throws actually work! That said, it is still incredibly important to practice correctly.
Take your time going through this video and make sure you really focus on what TO do, not what not to do. The left on right drop seio can be really beautiful and scary when executed correctly. Get a good training partner and drill over and over again. Be explosive, take care of yourself, and have some fun!
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How to get a high grip on a same sided opponent is a conundrum as old as time. If you've ever struggled to get a high grip on a same sided opponent, you know what we're talking about. Same-sided opponents in general can be a tough challenge. It can be really frustrating to go up against someone and feel like you're either in a stalemate. Or even worse, feel like you're losing because you can't manage to get a grip on them. In the technique in the video here, you'll find some useful tips for getting a grip on your same-sided opponent. Travis Stevens (a right-handed fighter) used this technique most often to get his right hand down the back of his opponents. See what he does in the video and be sure to follow our step-by-step as we break this technique down.
Here are a few key points to be sure you pay attention to when trying to drill and execute this technique. Be sure to watch the video all the way through first. Then break it down into smaller bite sized pieces.
Make sure you have a strong post. You don't want to allow your opponent to put any hand on the gi other than their same side (so right under righties arm or left under lefties arm)
Sidestep! Sidestepping will help you create a greater angle and make it much more difficult for your opponent to grab the gi. Space and control is key here.
When you throw your hand, try to make sure your bicep comes into contact with your opponent's face. This is a sneaky nuance but very important! You want to make sure you gather their head so you can pick it up! This will help you ultimately finish what you started.
You may run into the problem Travis Stevens constantly found. Sometimes your opponent won't take the grip under your arm because they know that the instant they do, you'll manage to ascertain that high grip. If you follow the step-by-step above, you're much less likely to run into this as an issue. But, as always, drilling it into oblivion will be extremely helpful in nailing it in competition.
This technique and working to gain that high grip on your opponent is pretty simple to learn. Even better, it is fairly risk-free as well. That's probably the most appealing part of it. Even if you end up missing your grip with your hand (right for righties, left for lefties) you're in a pretty good spot. You'll still manage to maintain a grip on your opponent's collar and your opponent will have no hands on your gi. If that isn't a recipe for success you may need to return to more basic judo!
Feel free to ask us any questions (about anything) and good luck!
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Let's be honest: going against a same sided opponent can overall be a real pain in the butt. Never is this more true than when getting the sleeve left vs. right side. That means if you are a righty and you're going against a lefty opponent, gaining access to their sleeve can seem like an impossible task. If your opponent is a little bit better than you are, this can be especially true! Superior opponents are not impossible to beat. You must come at them with everything you have. Brains and brawn need to combine in order to culminate in victory. Knowledge of every scenario, especially how to gain the sleeve, will put you in an advantageous position.
Judo players have run into this problem time and again. You get control inside and want to throw. And you could! If only it weren't for the frustration of not being able to get to the sleeve of your opponent. Sometimes if the grip is gained, it doesn't feel strong enough to finish the throw. Getting the sleeve left vs. right sided opponents can be a real head scratcher. It doesn't have to be!
Travis Stevens goes over the technique in this video, it can help you and save you from years of frustration. Since the leg grab has been removed from judo, the use of this technique to get the sleeve will help you be able to fully commit to the throw. When you fully commit here, you get a strong pull and off balance of your opponent. All of which will ultimately lead to a higher likelihood of executing the throw, scoring points, and becoming a champion.
Make sure your post starts on the bottom. It is possible to execute from the top, but overall much more dangerous. If you start from the bottom, you set up a good foundation for the rest of this technique.
Speed Kills. If you're not familiar with this saying, get familiar! Using speed here will be far and away superior to any other method. Strength won't save you, speed will. The speed will get you the reaction you want out of your opponent and set up the grip (and eventual throw) nicely.
Trap the elbow. If you grab the end of the sleeve, that can be helpful, but the odds of you finishing well decrease significantly. If you focus on overshooting the elbow, you will have a higher percentage of ending up at the end of the sleeve. Ultimately you want to trap the elbow, so do that, nothing else.
When caught going up against a talented same sided opponent, the technique in this video can save you. Getting the sleeve left vs. right handed opponents (thus, same sided) can be really frustrating if you don't know where to start. Luckily, this video exists, and it can really help you gain an advantage! An advantage can be the true game changer. Paired with some proper training and lifting to elevate your speed and power, it is a match made in heaven.
Execute the details. Drill over and over. Executing your training and this technique at full speed means you're on a really good track. Lastly, a good training partner will only help you get better. Find a great same-sided training partner for this technique and hit the mats!
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Once you're down on the mats, there's a lot that can go right, and a lot that can go wrong. Footwork to keep you upright is important, but once you get down on the ground, knowing the ins and outs of the Knee Cut to Pin is super important. Almost every Judo player has found themselves in this exact position. And, unfortunately, it is one of the most common places to see judo players lose a match. Totally trapped after getting your knee cut to pin. This is most common when your opponent is able to pin you, control the top half of your body and render you unable to get your leg free. Everyone has fallen victim to this at least once (if not many) times in their career.
There is nothing worse than being so close to winning and just falling short due to a silly mistake.
For this technique, it is important to keep your hips high. This will keep your knee angle wide and render your opponent unable to cut and pin them. The best way to combat this in a match is to drill moves like this over and over. Ultimately it will make winning easier for you, the more work you put in before you hit the competition mats. The knee cut to pin is all about pressure, making sure you get your partner to look away from you with your shoulder. Here are a few of the key points you need to focus on to get this to work:
Be sure to keep applying shoulder pressure so your opponent is looking away from you. This will help you with the next part.
Get your hips high and free your knee. If your partner's legs are locked over your knee (around your thigh) then you won't be able to do this move. If they have control of your knee, you're in deep trouble. You don't want that. So keep your hips high and make sure they don't have control of your knee.
Step out wide with your free leg. This will allow you to maintain some kind of control and will help you avoid being seriously trapped.
Bring your trapped leg's knee to your free ankle. This will begin your knee cut and is about to set you free.
Kick your leg free! You're back in control as soon as you free your leg. Get to it!
BJJ players and judo athletes can both benefit immensely from this technique. Being able to avoid the pin and free your leg is going to frustrate your opponent and keep you on top. The knee cut to pin is a necessary technique to know so you can avoid falling victim to it. By learning and knowing this position inside and out, you make sure that you remain on top. There are a lot of variables and components to the knee cut to pin and you need to make sure you have answers for them all.
Make sure you're constantly drilling this technique both offensively and defensively in practice. Keeping the hips high will be a game changer. You don't want to fall victim to the pin, so make sure you're proficient at freeing your knees at all times. Once you've mastered that, drill it over and over. This way you'll be sure to never be caught on the mats.
Lastly, make sure you're executing both on and off the mats. Strength matters here, make sure you take the time to educate yourself at FUJI Fit and leave nothing to chance. Put the work in, get the reward out.
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Opponents who keep a firm grip on you with stiff arms are everywhere in judo. The beginning judo player is sure to have encountered this. Stiff arms essentially keeps you at bay. The best bet you have in this fight is to gain an inside grip on your opponent's shoulder. This can then be used it to control them. Thereby methodically breaking down a stiff arm. This isn't quite like breaking grips but is a really helpful technique just the same. In this step by step video, Travis breaks down the technique into bite-size chunks. This will help deliver tangible goals to you.
Fighting is almost synonymous with tension and aggression. The truth is, one of the most important things for a fighter is to be relaxed. And it is extremely difficult to learn how to be relaxed and fighting all at once. The relaxation allows us to create elasticity. That elasticity is a "whip" feeling so many elite players are accustomed to creating. The reality is, it's a lot harder to do than they make it look! It's very difficult to be in a fight and simultaneously be relaxed at once. The whip comes from being relaxed up until the very moment they must tense at the end range and create an explosion. This is akin to a spring! This goes back to the stretch shortening cycle and is super common to find in strength training.
Ultimately, the fear of getting thrown is what causes judo players to tense up and become stiff. Stiffness will lead to an inability to create elasticity, explosiveness, and whip. When your opponent is giving you a good stiff arm, it's because they are nervous and locked into fear. Take it as a good sign, even if you can't score. The real problem lies when we are losing and our opponent starts to stiff-arm us. They do this because they don't have to really do anything in order to win other than hold on. This is where breaking down a stiff arm comes into play big time. We have to force the action and take some risk in order to score.
Breaking down a stiff arm isn't utilized as often as it could be, so definitely learn it and use it to your advantage. If you're exceptional at creating that whip, at being relaxed and aggressive all at once, this technique can yield some really excellent results for you. Below are some keep points that you can focus on when learning to execute breaking down a stiff arm.
Make sure you have two hands on your opponent. This not only helps you control them, but it gives you an opportunity to regain control if they counter your attempt to break them.
Try to make sure you have a steady tension on your opponent. Again this doesn't have to be a death grip, but that steady tension will lead you to create the whip that you want momentarily.
Circle toward your strong hand. Whichever is your dominant side, that's the direction you want your opponent going in. That way you can be extra certain you're maintaining control.
Attack the elbows. Don't pull them straight in but try and focus on widening their elbows. This opening will allow you to execute the rest of the break with relative ease.
Breaking down a stiff arm is a lot simpler than it may initially feel when you encounter a fighter keeping you at a literal arm's length. Securing that inside grip and driving your dominant hand up in order to circle your opponent is super hard to counter. That puts you in a really advantageous position, provided you've laid down the foundation and done everything in the right order. This can be super challenging in the moment, but very rewarding when you've regained some control and really re-entered the fight.
Another consideration is how well you can already create whip. If it's not great, it may be worthwhile to work on some strength and mobility, you just might surprise yourself! Keep in mind, being relaxed until you need to be explosive is going to give you the best chance at creating that elastic whip. Think about lengthening those muscle fibers with relaxation and then tensing abruptly and all at once, that's power! That's an explosion!
Give some thought to what we've presented here and see how well you put these words into play on the mats. Breaking down a stiff arm is a simple concept, and can be easy in execution if you're explosive and ready to fight!
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