Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Use of space in judo and BJJ

People say that BJJ groundwork is more advanced than judo's newaza. I have repeatedly written about my opinion that Judo and BJJ are the same thing or that BJJ and judo are just competitive brand names for jujitsu, but I'll have to admit that I have been impressed watching BJJ guys flow so smoothly through a wider range of combos on the ground than it seems most judo guys do.
But it occurred to me the other day while watching a Saulo Ribero disc (see below) that a friend loaned me - BJJ makes different use of space than does judo. Per Saulo, you need space between uke and tori in order to be able to flow into a wide variety of submissions. In judo you usually try to limit that space, crushing uke into immobility but perhaps limiting the range of submissions or combinations that you can get to work. This is an artifact of the rules - in judo competitions you can win by holding but in BJJ you can't. Perhaps this is why BJJ seems like its groundwork is more advanced - the rules allow us to see a wider technical range in BJJ than they do in judo.
How about you, Dear Reader, do you do judo or BJJ and do you prefer more or less space between you and the opponent on the ground?
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  1. Nice, Pat. This difference in space-usage helps explain the difficulties I have in Jitz... I can pass guards reasonably well, I can pin wonderfully, but getting my submissions has been difficult (I would usually wait until they wore themselves out while I pinned them, then I would proceed, but this doesn't work when the guy is patient, or good at escaping). I believe it is because I am eliminating space...

  2. My Judo teacher seems to leave more space than other Judo teachers I have seen.

    Like all probably depends on the artist. Every artist seems to have a different bend and angle on strategy and technique that they employ with with their own unique and ever aging body.

    Whatever works most efficiently is probably the way to explore.

    What happens when a space taker and a space maker collide?

  3. Great vision of the differences.

    I submit that less space makes better self defense. Close the gap and finish 'em off!

    More space: more learning. Oh what a balance?!

  4. "What happens when a space taker and a space maker collide?"
    I'd guess that the space-maker would have the advantage because, taking space is a skill and not a natural condition.

    If the space-taker (judo-crusher) makes a mistake then he gives the other guy what he wants. On the other hand, if the space-maker (BJJ guy) makes a mistake he doesn't necessarily give the other guy what he wants. The space does not automatically close when the space-maker stops acting effectively.

  5. I'm a BJJ blue belt (though not a particularly good one), and I have only limited insight. Usually, if you're on the defensive, you're trying to create space. If you're attacking, you'll be trying to avoid space. Then, some BJJ practitioners prefer a fast-and-loose game, which leads to more space, even on offense.

    I've rolled with some guys who had more Judo than BJJ experience, and there definitely are stylistic differences. In BJJ, holding a guy down isn't really a goal unless you are going for a submission. On the other hand, I've been stuck in a really good Kesa Getame at times, and boy is that a miserable position to try to escape from.

    BTW, love your blog. :)

  6. Thanks, Pete! Glad you like the blog.I see what you are saying, but it sorta seems to me like offense and defense blend into one messy thing

    Sounds like you're off to a great start in your BJJ training. Where do you play?

  7. I'm outside of Philly. Unfortunately, I did a big stupid a few months back, and am recovering from shoulder surgery. If you're interested, the link to my blog is in the user name of my post. I'm out of BJJ until at least July; the only thing I'm doing right now is teaching TKD.

    The Hapkido that I practice is highly influenced by judo, but not enough for us to work on newaza there; it would be interesting to get a better idea of the different philosophies.

  8. As I'm taught in bjj, you want to take away space while flowing. I don't see how that is different from judo except that a pin that is the end position is only a transitory position in bjj.

  9. Interesting thoughts all the way around. I know that when I am sparring in BJJ class I tend towards a looser flowing game that gets very tight when I achieve the position I am after. In tournaments I am significantly tighter. I am the space taker. Control, control then control some more and go for the submission. Ultimately it is a give and take with the space. Looser allows for attacks during transition and tighter provides significant levels of control. Which allow you to appear to loosen to entice your opponent into a submission or positional transition.

    Really gave me some stuff to think over this weekend. Thanks.

  10. My Judo background is not extensive. If I Wiki BJJ, the entry talks about the original Japanese source being a ne-waza expert, and the competition rules to make Judo more appealing as a sport and safer to practice were not followed by BJJ. Judo has been part of international competition for decades, wrestling was part of competition for centuries. BJJ has really formed a large part of MMA, but rules are rapidly being introduced because the crowd finds traditional jujitsu boring to watch and because of safety needs.

    So, what is BJJ going to look like in a century as MMA has a direct effect on who is studying BJJ and why they study?


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