By Zach Borisch
The application of Judo and wrestling have similarities yet are quite different. Doing both in my lifetime I have gained an understanding of how they complement one another. Here are some insights into how Judo helped my wrestling.
When I was around the age of 10, Judo was the ultimate takedown sport because it allowed leg grabs like wrestling but was strongly known for its beautiful throws. When wrestling was having troubles on the Olympic stage because of spectator views, the governing body of Judo was worried and changed the rules to make it more dynamic for viewers. The legs grabbing techniques used in wrestling can lead to a boring match when you see two high-level athletes that can not score on each other. Judo banned grabbing the legs from a standing position in an effort to make the sport more dynamic and exciting. Though this eliminated Judo being the ultimate takedown sport I once knew it also had great benefits.
Judo players are known for their spectacular throws because they know how to leverage their body into perfect positions against an opponent. They are experts in balance and agility, while also being extremely strong for their size. While wrestlers (not including Greco Roman) are primarily attacking the legs, they, unfortunately, end up having much less of an understanding of how to throw their opponent, or defend against being thrown.
Throughout my wrestling career, I had a very high success rate in throwing my opponents because they were not used to wrestling someone who was bred to throw. Whether it was a collar tie to a drop ippon-seonage, a single leg where I would defend with an overhook to an uchi-mata or a simple de-ash-barai foot-sweep from an underhook, my Judo skills came in extremely valuable throughout my wrestling career.
In Judo, we almost always wear a Gi, a thick heavy cloth coat (kimono) and pants, and Judo fighters get used to grabbing the clothing. In wrestling, there is no clothing to grab, so all the Judo throws and takedowns have to be adapted to use without a Gi. Learning to wrestle and fight Judo without a gi takes practice, but the transfer of knowledge is totally worth it. Wrestlers don’t usually know how to handle Judo fighters.
Judo athletes, known as Judoka, work countless years perfecting their speed and effectiveness to throw their opponents through the air. The older I get, the more I realize how effective Judo is in all sports. You are taught the balance and coordination, strength, agility, hard work, and determination – traits needed in all athletics. Adding Judo to your grappling game can do nothing but benefit you.
Whether you want to learn Judo for MMA, Brazilian Jujitsu, Sambo, Wrestling, or any other grappling sport. My wrestling coach used to always say “Mat time is Mat time, as long as you’re grappling, you’re always getting better”. That could not be closer to the truth.