Judo defense vs. offense
and sport technique

As Judo been highly diverse martial art its worth to put line-in-the-sand dividing Judo defense techniques from its offensive combat and non-combat-sport-only technical arsenal.

Self-defense techniques have special attributes that define them and put them apart from all other fighting methods.

Judo is multi-faced art: it is has been used and still used as self-defense system, diverse advanced military combat system, as well as popular competitive sport under number of independent styles with their own organizations and distinguished sporting philosophy and tournament rules.

Participation of Judo masters (primarily of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Combat SAMBO styles) in MMA contests add to the confusion, as everything used in MMA often seen by outside viewers as “truly combat” technique, even its not.

One good example is use of chocks and joint locks while in ground fighting in Combat SAMBO (as it practiced in last two decades as competitive sport). As Combat in the name of the style implies everything you see is a combat technique. However, applying rollover with chock or arm bar or pin on opponent in turtle position is nether self-defense, nor combat technique, but pure sport technique defined by tournament rules: when opponent is in turtle position he’s posing no threat to you and therefore its not self-defense, and if you do need to attack him, his undefended and un-defensible back and back of his head open to your disabling atemi strikes. It also worth to note that anyone who taking turtle position in the real fight or a dead men or capitulation unconditionally and accepting all punishment the victor is willing to supply (if its true life-or-death fight, it includes death option – not a pretty chose, even murderer will have hard time in court later).

The following categories are Judo defense techniques:

  • Atemi strikes
  • Throwing that and-up in a standing or semi-knelled position, or allows instant return to standing in one short move
  • Joint locks in standing or semi-knelled position

The following categories will make Judo offensive combat technique set when in addition to defense techniques:

  • Chocks in standing or semi-knelled position

The following techniques in addition can be used in one-on-one combat (if you absolutely sure you would not be attacked by anyone other then your current enemy – this is not self-defense as to know that it is only one enemy means you have planed the fight):

  • Throws that end-up on the ground
  • Ground fight chocks and joint locks

All other technical categories, such pins and different types of ground fighting support techniques, are sport-only category.

Point pressure in Judo is primarily supporting techniques used in preparation and execution of moves from other technical categories.

When learning Judo defense techniques in a class in a dojo you need to remember that version, that you’re shown, is always (and should be) polished sport version. This is especially applies to throws. As you training such technique, you’re developing range of motion, getting muscle memory, triggering elements, etc. Then you’ll make it self-defense technique by walking through supplementary Judo defense training by 80/20 rule. Then you’ll learn that its not that important in combat to throw your enemy on his back vs. side, and that low level take-downs can be as effective as high amplitude throws, and what is ‘non-completed throws’ are. However, you should resist temptation to skip strait to self-defense training as in 80/20 formula 80% is applies to the fundamental skills you developing in your regular Judo class and only 20% – to the supplementary self-defense training.



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