My takedown techniques then and now

High School Judo Days: Sacrifice Throws and Trips
was 14 when I joined our high school Judo club. The club’s Judo instructor, who also happened to be one of the school’s English teachers, took a traditional approach to teaching Judo and was very safety-conscious, which I guess was appropriate for a high school Judo club. We spent literally months practicing break falls and rolls before we even started our first lessons on throws. He followed a traditional curriculum as well, starting with the O-goshi (major hip throw), then the Osoto-gari (major-outside reap)the tai-otoshi(body drop) and only later on the ippon-seoinage (one-arm shoulder throw). Most of the time I was frustrated, I wanted to thrash people about, but I couldn’t successfully apply any of the techniques I was being taught. I would end up just dragging my sparring partners to the ground whenever my opponent was off-balanced enoughed, relying on instict to maneuver so he’d land on his back instead of me landing on mine.

After a couple of months of this, I started training with the college Judo club. While the high school Judo club trained Tuesdays and Thursdays, the college Judo club would train Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There were a number of us from the high school club which started training with the college club but after a couple of weeks it ended up just being me. The skinny 14 or 15 year old kid like I was back then simply didn’t have the physique to toss college-level players around with any of the traditional hip throws I was being taught. During this time, I was introduced to the tani-otoshi (valley drop) and it was love-at-first throw, a sacrifice throw that countered hips throws. I learned by committing my full weight in a sacrifice throw, could I topple a full-grown judoka. I also spent lots of time drilling my trips, especially the Ouchi-gari (major inside trip). I began combining my trips, the kouchi-gari (minor inside trip) and the kosoto-gari (minor outside trip).

College Days: Shoot, Shoot! Shoot!
When I was in high school, I couldn’t match the strength of the college players. While at university, I had lots of time to engage in sports all day, and I became a physical education major. I was a testosterone-pumped male and I became relatively quite strong and fast for the circles I was competing in. I was in third year college when I learned my university had a wrestling club. Learning wrestling was pure bliss. Like every wrestler, I worked a lot on my shoots or double-leg take downs. I also had lots of time to develop animal strength and speed. Even at a light 63kgs, I could dominate in the grappling sports with my double-leg takedowns. Looking back, my double-leg take downs were terribly crude, but I scored well with them. In training, I could mow down heavyweights with my shoots. I competed in whatever grappling competition I could get my hands on. My double-leg take downs were scoring! In Judo, Brazilian Jiujitsu, Submission Wrestling, Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling and MMA. I was using a number of takedowns but my double-leg take downs were my main scorers.

My sacrifice kosoto-gari became a favorite which I developed in college. There’s a thrill catching someone in the right position and driving him down into the mat with this throw. Later on in college though, I would just shoot, shoot, shoot.

What’s the Working Man Working on Now?
The way I grapple now has evolved over years. I’ve been digging around for new techniques I can apply to my game and I’ve been going back to some of my old techniques and rehashing them. I use the double-leg takedown sparingly, and when I do I tryphage a good set up so I won’t waste precious energy thrashing about to finish the takedown. I don’t have as much explosive animal strength as I had in college. I put a lot more focus on frustrating my sparring partners with Greco-roman tie-ups either till they panick and try shoot in and I sprawl and try spin for the get-behind or until I’m in in a good position to launch a shoot or a throw. I use kneeling arm throws more, like kneeling seoi-nages. I love duck-unders. If there’s one move I most often look for it’s a duck-under, followed by a high-crotch from the behind.

I’m trying to work more Judo throws into my game, now that I can’t shoot as fast and often as I could in college. I’ve been using Karo Paisyan’s book to help me out, it’s fantastic. There’s always been a part of me that’s a Judoka and that inner Judoka goes crazy with joy whenever I study his book. I wouldn’t mind improving my uchi-mata (inner thigh throws). I also want to smooth out my single-leg takedowns too. I’ve been studying a book by Randy Couture, and it made me realized how crude my concept of what a single-leg takedown is.

The more I study and train the more I am reminded there is still so much I can improve. I’ve been reading and I’ve been experimenting. I guess that’s part of being an MCP.

Ask yourself
How have your game play and techniques evolved as you’ve grown older? What were your favorite techniques then and now? What are you working men working on now?

Feel free to post it on the comments section.

About Duke Villanueva 18 Articles
Duke is full-time career diplomat assigned in China. He is a two-time collegiate Judo champion. He's also done quite well in Wrestling, BJJ, MMA and Fencing in his years as an athlete. Once a week, he still trains and coaches in grappling and MMA. He's married with two wonderful kids, and a couple of naughty dogs.

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