Judo Movement & Mobility

Style of movement is critical characteristic of any combat sport and martial art. In Judo movement is the glue that creates fabric of the fight from individual techniques. During any fight movement takes vast majority of time when techniques are just rare spikes on its background. On tactical level judoka uses vulnerabilities in his opponent position, created by movement, to apply techniques. You can safely judge quality of a master by observing how he moves in a fight.

Movement rules aren’t exactly uniformed across different martial art styles. The difference lay between strike based and grappling based styles.

In strike fight the movement technique should allow quick change of position without compromising combat stance. This requires light contact with the ground, “light feet”. Muhammad Ali “butterfly” foot-work is an excellent example.

In grappling the key is to retain contact with the ground and mountain firm stability. Any moment when foot not touches the ground or not firm on the ground, is the moment of vulnerability. Such moments occur when you’re making a step or executing technique, practically any standing technique.

In a mix technique fight or in self-defense the movement strategy changes as combat distance changes from long (striking distance) to short (grappling) and back. The most risky moment is a change switch from striking distance “light feet” movement to close-fight grappling, as “light feet” are vulnerable to foot swipe attack. Reversed change, from grappling to striking distance, is vulnerable to long strikes that hard to deflect when in grappling-style mode. It’s critical to understand and proactively control the fight distance. Fight distance control is one element that can’t be learned other then through accumulation of real fight experience – this is strong argument for using combat sport in combat and self-defense training.

In any movement mode in a fight you should be well aware about your surroundings. Tripping on uneven floor imperfection is as bad as been knocked down by any other means.

Firmness of the ground surface will also affect your movement and mobility: on soft sand you can’t have the same freedom of movement as on a wooden floor, and been bear-foot on concrete sidewalk can hurt if you’ll move the same way as on tatami in your dojo. When firmness of sport Judo tatami is well uniformed, you can occasionally find yourself on softer then normal. Be aware that some Judo movement technique developed on firm surface may not work on softer as normal. First of all it’s applied to foot swipes and grabs. Extra-soft surface also increase risk of foot injuries. In self-defense training you need to prepare to work on different types of surfaces and well understand their limitations and advantages.

Home Judo movement: baby-steps vs. leaps

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