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Judo For BJJ With Satoshi Ishii

Judo For BJJ With Satoshi Ishii

Satoshi Ishii is an Olympic Gold medal heavyweight, All-Japan Judo champion and has fought such luminaries as Mirko Cro Cop and Fedor Emelianenko in his ongoing MMA career and is also a BJJ black belt. Even though he is a heavyweight Satoshi notes that the reason Japan is so good at Judo (their national sport) is that they have a very heavy focus on game changing technical details. So who better to learn from than Satoshi Ishii? 

In the video below Satoshi observes that when he trains with BJJ practitioners they sometimes  push their hips back in order to stall the throwing game. If we want to employ the throwing game so we can gain a dominant transition to ne waza (ground work) then this is obviously something we want to combat. Luckily we have Olympic Gold medalist Satoshi Ishii to help us out with both a concept and a technique to use against someone who is stalling in this way.

We begin with our opponent taking double lapel grips and creating as much distance as they can with their feet and hips by pushing away from us, framing away with the arms, and pushing their head down. This blocks us getting the close body contact often needed in Judo to execute a successful throw, but it comes at a cost. The concept that Satoshi brings in to play here is kuzushi (breaking balance) and highlights that while our opponent is in this position it does act to stall the throwing game, but the price they pay is compromising their own balance.

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As our opponent is both leaning and pushing forward to stall the throw Satoshi almost threatens a snap down type entry here but with some crucial distinctions. His knees sink down into a form of traditional kiba-dachi (horse riding stance) so that he creates a wide and stable base that also allows him to maintain an upright back and strong posture. Using this stance allows Satoshi to bring downwards pressure onto his opponent, who is already unbalanced in their posture with their attempt to stall Satoshi’s throwing game. This downward pressure reduces Satoshi’s opponents mobility and is likely to cause his opponent to counter this force with upward movement of their own, at which point the second phase of Satoshi’s kuzushi comes into play. 

Simultaneously with the downwards pressure Satoshi instigates a driving footwork sequence that gives him foot penetration into his opponents center of gravity, moving his lead foot in between his opponents feet and following in quickly and smoothly with his back foot. As he is now closing the distance in body-to-body contact upper body grip work comes in to play to further break his opponents balance. 

Using a sleeve and lapel grip Satoshi now employs a ‘steering wheel’ motion to bring one of his opponents arms down with the elbow control given by sleeve grip, and the other side is brought up by the control of the opposite arm and armpit given by the lapel grip. This circular push and pull movement is now turning Satoshi’s opponent in such a way that his weight is coming on one leg and he is increasingly unable to balance. 

To finish this sequence Satoshi’s lead leg moves upwards to initiate Uchi Mata (translation: inner thigh throw). The lead leg is the fulcrum of the throw and the back foot hops closer and closer to his opponents foot to stop them regaining balance until the throw is completed. Satoshi shows that even if our opponent tries to hop away from our attack our kuzushi prevents them from moving far away enough and the throw will be successful

So there we have it! We have gone from a situation in which our opponent is playing defensively and gripping on for dear life in an attempt to stuff our throw to our employing a throwing sequence that systematically breaks our opponents balance down and throws them in such a way that we’re set up for either Ippon or dominant ne waza (ground work). 

If you want to see more game changing details like this from Japanese Judo legend Satoshi Ishii then see his full course here: