Hard to fight what you've never seen

One of the greatest potential weaknesses of any martial art is the fact that it's hard to fight what you've never seen before. The Gracie family proved that quite effectively when they took every kind of fighter who signed up for the UFC and took them to the ground. Virtually no other style ever spent time on the ground, so the jiu-jitsu folks had a field day once they got down there.

Aikido is like that. No ground game whatsoever. Our particular school or ryu or whatever has a supplementary system of very basic, self-defense ideas for aikidoka because our organization historically has also been involved with judo as well. It works pretty well against people without much training should things degrade to a ground fight. Against a trained grappler, however, you're more or less toast.

But even in judo, which of course has a grappling component, has left out certain aspect of the ground game, namely in the interest of sport. There's no wrist locks, for instance, no ankle or knee locks. If you climb on top of someone, a judoka naturally tries to establish tate shiho gatame. We have an escape or two for that. But what about a guy who just wants to mount you and punch your face? Would a judoka, especially one trained for the sport, know what to do?

I guess this all depends on why you're studying whatever you're studying. Is it sport, or spiritual enlightenment, or self-defense? If it's sport, which sport? Which set of rules?

All of this has made me take a good long, hard look at what I've been training to do, namely in respect to judo ne waza. Our school doesn't focus on tournaments, and yet we still abide largely by tournament rules (no knee bars, or wrist and ankles locks, etc.) So what what happens when we're forced to deal with someone operating outside tournament rules? Sure, principles will help us deal with a lot of things, but even still, there's something about the human mind that has a tendency to pause when it encounters something new or unfamiliar. And that pause, I fear, may be long enough for someone to do some serious damage.

Take this video for instance. Putting the knee on the stomach. Never see that really in our dojo (that I'm aware of).  But that's just one example among many.

All in all, it makes me wonder if I'm missing something. Am I living in a bubble, a sort of imaginary "judo ne waza" world that can be easily shattered when someone who doesn't play by the same "rules" comes along?


  1. I agree, its a concern i have concerning point sparring in my technique. An attacker does not hit you once and step back. As Martial Artists, we have to be cognizant of this

    Great post

  2. Knee-on-stomach is a standard pin in Judo Ne-waza, where it is called uki-gatame:


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