If BJJ or Judo Is Hard On Your Body, Why Do It?

Are BJJ and judo hard on your body? Are you going to get injured? Are you going to hurt your knees, shoulders, back, etc?

If they are dangerous why do them?

Well, first I will answer the question if judo or jiu-jitsu is bad for your body based on my experience training which has been oh maybe 5.5 years or so of pretty steady training.

I estimate I have over 300 hours of judo practice and about 1400 hours of BJJ practice.

Watch this video to hear my experience on how hard these martial arts are on your body.

So did you watch the video yet?

So if they are hard on your body why do them?

Well, like many things in life there is a good side and a bad side. Let’s now look at the good side.

  1. It’s fun
  2. You’ll learn a lot
  3. Get high! (natural source of drugs)
  4. You’ll get a great workout
  5. You’ll probably make some friends
  6. Learn self defense!
  7. It might change you

Jiu-jitsu is fun

It can be scary, difficult and sometimes it sucks, but…

It’s usually a lot of fun because for one it’s a game. Sure, it’s self defense, but it’s also a game and most people like games. Think you’re not a competitive person?

Think again!

Competition is your very nature!

Think of it like checkers or Scrabble or chess.

Well…

Actually people compare jiu-jitsu to chess, but I never played chess so I couldn’t relate. It’s like you make one move and I can make one move. If you do this then I can do that. What I can do is dependent on what you do.

In the beginning you don’t know what to do, but you learn slowly.

You’ll learn

It’s fun to learn new moves and new ways of using your body. Basically you learn solutions.

Now…

The learning is slow, but you will gradually learn solutions to the problems that you are having on the mat.

In the beginning you don’t know anything and you lose a lot. It’s tough! You’ll get submitted a lot and discouraged, but remember it happens to everyone even black belts.

Through trial and error you learn.

Free hits of dopamine

Jiu-jitsu can be very addicting. Like I told you already it’s fun to learn. But it’s really fun to win! And winning in jiu-jitsu is catching someone in a submission or it can feel good to do a sweep, escape or some other dominant position too.

In judo it could be a throw, pin, submission, sweep, etc.

Now if you are new chances are that will take time before you get anybody in a submission because… you are new.

But when you do you’ll get a little a shot of dopamine that will probably keep you coming back for more.

It feels good.

But…

What happens when you get tapped out?

Ahhh, it doesn’t feel as good, but you get to reset and try again or if you don’t tap out you can go to the hospital and get some kind of shot from them.

Hehe, that’s my dark humor…

Also at the end of class you’ll probably feel better than when you went into the class. I can’t tell you how many times I had a hard time getting to class. I didn’t feel like it and I wanted to stay home, but I pushed through it.

And almost always I felt better once I started and then even better at the end of class.

You’ll learn that this is a skill.

And that’s cool.

Yes, strength and size matter, but so doesn’t skill. And jiu-jitsu/judo is something you can learn. Chances are that you will meet a higher belt who can tap you out and they will be smaller and weaker than you!

You’ll be like WTF!

“That guy or girl who is like 50 lbs less than me just got me.” It hurts your ego a bit, but it’s cool.

That will give you faith…

Because then you realize that this isn’t just a brutal game of people trying to out muscle one another.

Well, wait sometimes it can be like that, but that’s usually at the lower skill levels. Strength matters, but remember that skill can overcome strength.

I remember KRS-ONE saying something interesting once. It was something like…

“What can you do without technology?”

In this day and age we are so dependent on computers and phones and other electronic gadgets.

They are cool, but how about you? What can you do without technology?

One of your answers could be “judo” or “jiu-jitsu”!

That’s cool.

You’ll probably get a great workout

Now I don’t mean you’ll get buff or ripped because of it alone, but chances are you’ll get a great workout.

What kind of workout?

I’d say mostly cardio.

Will you get stronger?

Probably somewhat and you might get some muscle tone if you do it frequently, but I wouldn’t expect much. At first it’s difficult and like anything new you will feel pain, soreness and be short of breath.

Remember that first day of soccer, basketball, skiing, snowboarding, ____ (fill in the blank)?

It’s kind of like that.

However, with time your body will get used to it.

Now what’s practice like?

It depends on the school.

Often it’s something like: warm up, technique, drilling, and sparring.

It can depend on the school a little as to what sort of warm up you will do. I have trained in some schools that do an extensive warm up: push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, bear crawls, squats, burpees, hip escapes, forward rolls, falls, walking on your hands, cartwheels, running, skipping, sprints, carioca, stretches, etc.

But where I am training BJJ now in Japan we hardly do a warm up. It’s mostly techinique and then sparring. Where I am training judo now there is a light warm up on your own, newaza sparring, uchikomi and then randori.

So it will depend on the school.

However…

The real workout to judo and jiujitsu is the sparring. That’s the core of the workout. You’ll work up quite a sweat through that especially if you spar many times in a row.

I like to do that if possible because if I stop and rest my mind gets too active and I start thinking too much and getting scared to spar. Perhaps it’s anxiety. And maybe I don’t want to get cold.

I am more of a slow twitch guy and I can last pretty long, but don’t have much power.

Anyways…

In judo sparring is called randori and in jiu-jitsu it’s often called “rolling”.

You’ll sweat a lot and it’s good

Here’s how sweating is beneficial:

  1. Detox
  2. Helps your skin
  3. Relieves stress
  4. Good for your heart
  5. Improves circulation

You know what? I think that there might be more benefits because jiu-jitsu sparring in a fairly intense manner is kinda like taking a sauna.

Now I can’t say it’s the same, but I bet it has some of the same benefits.

Benefits of using sauna

Anyways…

You’ll probably make some friends

Grappling is an up and close personal thing. It’s hands on and it’s full contact. You’ll meet a lot of new people from different backgrounds. You’d be surprised. You might think at first glance that it is a bunch of meatheads rolling around, but no you’ll meet all types.

In my class today there was a barber, doctor, artist, fireman, a few office workers, and some others that I don’t know well!

Learn self defense!

Yes.

This was my primary motive for learning jiu-jitsu. Either judo or BJJ can be good for that. It can depend on where you train, but I’d probably say that judo is a little more well rounded though because it includes throws and newaza. BJJ classes can include throws or takedowns, but most of the time (90+%) it’s ground techniques.

But don’t expect to learn either one fast.

I say give it a year at least (a few days a week) if you want to learn it for self defense.

It takes time.

It’s been 5+ years and I am still learning and improving although as I said it’s hard to see.

Check out this video and story about how I used judo and jiu-jitsu in a street fight.

It might change you

I don’t want to say that it will change you and it’s this great character or personality building thing to do. I have no idea on how it will affect you.

But I think if you stick with it then you’ll at least learn something about patience.

I remember when I first got into it. I remember watching Youtube videos and getting inspired.

I think I wanted to change myself and become more of a confident person.

Now I have to be honest.

I don’t think I am anymore confident. I know I have learned a lot of techniques, but am I better?

I had one teacher (Sensei Palacio) say, “everyone else is getting better too” so that’s part of the reason you don’t see your progress.

Has it changed me?

I remember my first teacher Romelo Melo saying one wise thing after about a year of training. He said something like, “Ian, if the old you walked in that door today you would be able to kick his ass.”

I liked that.

That’s competing with yourself.

And even though it seems like we are competing with other people we are also competing against ourselves, maybe our older selves.

Have you ever been humbled by a lower rank in jiu-jitsu or judo?

I saw a question like this on Quora and thought I’d chime in with my answer.

Yes, I have been submitted by white belts in jiu-jitsu and thrown by white belts and green belts in judo. So in other words I lost to people with less experience and a lower rank.

Why?

Aren’t you supposed to be better than the lower belts if you are a higher belt?

Well, yes, but it’s not so clear cut. There are a few reasons why you might get submitted or thrown or beaten by someone of a lower rank.

7 Reasons

  1. They are bigger or stronger
  2. They may have related experience in other martial arts
  3. They could be “sandbagging” (unlikely)
  4. They might have forgotten their true belt
  5. They might be better and more experienced than their belt
  6. They might have let you (the higher belt)
  7. You can get caught

1. Size, strength and skill all matter

Even if you are a higher belt than your opponent they can still be stronger, faster, bigger and all of those give them an advantage.

Yes, skill matters, but so doesn’t size and strength.

According to Rener Gracie 50lbs is a belt. So what that means is that if you and your opponent are both white belts, but your opponent is 50lbs heavier then he is basically a blue belt compared to you.

The bigger guy has an advantage. And so to be able to compete with him or her then your skill has to be that much better.

So if you got beat by a bigger guy then don’t worry cause it happens all the time.

2. They might have other related experience

For example, they are several grappling sports which have some similarities: wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu and sambo.

They all use some of the same positions, techniques and different ones, but they just have different goals. So maybe your opponent is lower ranked than you but has related experience.

I’ll tell you a story.

In my first school where I trained in San Francisco, (Romelo Melo). My teacher was a black belt and maybe 180lbs. And then there was a guy there who could submit him and he was only a blue belt.

How?

Well there were two reasons:

  1. The blue belt was bigger. I can’t remember, but probably well over 200lbs.
  2. The blue belt used to wrestle in college.

Also in some BJJ competitions a judo black belt who is a white belt in BJJ has to compete as a blue belt in BJJ.

3. They could be “sandbagging”

It’s not very common, but some people might actually be a higher belt than the one they are wearing.

There are some people that enter competitions and compete at a lower level. They just switch their belt.

That’s deception and if the person sticks around anywhere eventually someone will probably fish out the truth.

4. They might have forgotten their belt

Also they might have forgotten their belt that day and be using a donor belt which is lower than their actual belt.

I have experienced this several times in different schools.

For example, where I train now in Fukuoka there’s a guy who is actually a purple belt, but wears a white belt.

When I first rolled with him and he tapped me out I thought this guy seems pretty good and maybe he has experience in judo.

So I asked him with my limited Japanese and he said yes that he did do judo before.

But…

Later on my teacher told me that he was a purple belt, but he lost his belt. So IDK if there is some rule that if you lose your belt here in Japan you have to go back to wearing a white belt or if he just doesn’t care, but he still wears a white belt.

5. They are actually more experienced than you

The belt is a general system. It’s a bench mark and I think it kind of works, but there are variations from belt to belt and each school is different.

For example, no two blue belts (or any other belt color) are the same. One might have been a blue belt for one day and the other for 5 years.

So there is a big difference in actual experience there.

Different schools also have different standards. For example, in my first school most people would get blue belts around the 1-1.5 year mark.

But in other schools like Caeser Gracie or Ralph Gracie those tend to come later like around 2 years.

It took me 3 years to get a blue belt in jiu-jitsu.

And I know people who were blue belts for 7 or 8 years.

There are no systematic standards to jiu-jitsu ranks.

6. Sometimes the higher belts let you get them

Or sometimes they want to practice their escapes. But I’ve known a lot of higher belts to do this. They will play with you and let you get submissions or maybe put themselves on the line so that they can try an escape.

If it’s the case that you just tapped out a higher belt it might be that they let you or maybe not.

I’ve tapped out higher belts: purple, brown and even black, but I know in some cases they let me or just weren’t trying that hard.

7. Sometimes you get caught

As the funny Kurt Osiander always says, “you fucked up”.

Anyone can fail.

Overall you might be better than your opponent, but just because you are better doesn’t mean you can’t get caught or make a mistake.

Maybe your opponent who is lower ranked than you knows something you don’t or surprised you with something you weren’t expecting.

Most of the time you can see things coming with the lower belts. But sometimes they can still surprise you or they might know something that most lower belts don’t.

You can lose. You are not invincible.

It’s hard

Just yesterday I was rolling (sparring) with a white belt here in Fukuoka who was a guest from Korea. It was the first time that I rolled with him.

He said he wanted to “light” spar and well it was my first one of the day.

But he didn’t really go “light” and he was being aggressive. So we rolled for probably 12 minutes or so and one time he almost got me in an ankle lock.

Why?

He just caught my leg. I guess my mistake was that I exposed it at some point. And I almost tapped out, but I got out and did the escape I had learned before.

I didn’t get hurt and I was fine.

But it was close.

I could have tapped.

I was thinking to myself, “don’t get hurt because you don’t want to tap out to a white belt”.

He was bit stronger than me as I felt like I was loosing my grip on his collar to prevent him from going back and finishing the ankle lock, but I took one last chance to push down his foot on my hip and scoot past his leg and get out.

I actually really wanted to tap him out, because he said he wanted to go “light”, but was being really aggressive so that just made me mad. I like to go lighter for my first few rolls to warm up and not go 100% right off the bat.

But hey he’s a white belt and a lot of white belts are wild like that.

Eventually I caught him in an arm bar and he tapped out. And that was the end of that.

But you have to be careful.

I remember Steve Maxwell (cool guy) on the Joe Rogan show saying that a lot of the injuries that he sees are from higher belts not tapping out to lower belts.

It’s hard.

You don’t want to lose to someone who is lower ranked than you, but you have to “remember that your joints have no pride”.

Someone said that on Reddit and it’s true. You have an ego and losing to a lower rank is more of a blow to your ego. But if you want to stay healthy you should get used to it.

And me too.

I understand it is hard when you are in the moment. You don’t want to fail, but tomorrow is another day. You got to think long term.

Getting thrown in judo

I spend less time doing judo, but getting thrown by a lower belt seems to matter a bit less to me.

Maybe because to me it’s just getting thrown and the consequences are not that big. But when you get submitted with a joint lock or choke the consequences in reality are much greater if you don’t tap.

That’s because if you don’t tap your joint is going to get damaged or you will be knocked unconscious (possibly die) if you are choked.

A throw is easier in my eyes. But maybe it also depends on what you value more. If you are a fierce judo competitor getting thrown is a big deal.

But I started with jiu-jitsu and it’s less of a blow to my ego if I get thrown.

Conclusion – It’s easier to lose to a higher belt

It’s less of a blow to your ego if you lose to a higher belt or higher ranking person, but if you lose to a lower belt it’s harder.

There are a lot of reasons on why you may have lost to a lower belt such as they could be bigger, stronger, actually more experienced, sandbagging, not the belt they are wearing, or you just might have gotten caught.

I have lost (been submitted, pinned or thrown) to lower ranks for all of those reasons.

We all want to win, but losing is just part of this game and you are going to lose many times. I know it’s a little cliche to hear but there is often some truth to it and that is that it is a “learning experience”.

Tomorrow is another day and you want to be healthy so despite their belt color you probably want to do what one of my teachers said, “tap early and tap often”.

Is starting judo or jiu-jitsu at age 45 too late?

I don’t think so.

I started around 38 with jiu-jitsu and I didn’t have any grappling experience. After a year I wanted to learn judo too, so I moved to a school that did both.

I currently train both although I spend more time doing BJJ.

What are your concerns? Getting hurt?

You can get hurt. These activities are not as safe as playing table tennis, but many sports are dangerous.

Life is dangerous.

Even if you try to play it safe and hide out at home something else will get you, like disease…

I have received a few injuries mostly minor, but a few that took me out for a while. You got to watch out, especially for the big and strong guys.

You also have to watch out for your ego.

Your passion or will can’t compete with someone who has years of experience so my advice is…

Take it easy.

Cross train: workout, do other exercises.

It takes a lot of time to learn these martial arts and there is always something to learn regardless of your level. In judo the term for a black belt is “shodan” which actually means beginning degree.

I have heard plenty of blackbelts in jiu-jitsu say the same thing.

Think long term. But 45 is not that old.

Initially it’s all going to be new and there are so many movements which you aren’t used to. I train quite a bit now. In the past I was doing 4 days a week with 2 of those days being for a mix of judo and jiu-jitsu.

Now I am doing like 6 days a week for jiu-jitsu and 2 days a week in judo when I can.

Which is harder?

Most people I know who do jiu-jitsu say judo is harder. I spend more time doing jiu-jitsu so I am not really sure what the judo folks think of jiu-jitsu.

Although..

I know my judo teacher would sometimes make comments like jiu-jitsu is more for “animals” – as there are fewer rules. Or you have to use technique in judo where jiu-jitsu is all muscle.

But…

I don’t agree with that. I think that was his bias. I see it the same way and that’s that it is all technique, but strength is an attribute too.

Strength and size matter in both.

If they didn’t matter there wouldn’t be separate weight divisions in competitions.

Anyways…

You get impact with judo cause you get thrown and sometimes it’s hard and unexpected. It’s a little faster and probably demands better conditioning than BJJ.

Jiu-jitsu is slower so you tend to get less impact and collision, but you can get strain and injuries too.

But again make sure you start slow and learn how to fall. Find a good school that is looking out for you.

I also recommend doing some yoga to stay limber, but not intense yoga. I do about 15 minutes of yoga for jiu-jitsu a day and I think it helps balance out my body and then a few days a week for strength training. I think all of those things help.

There are a lot of guys in my current jiu-jitsu school who are in their 40’s, some in their 50’s, a guy who is really strong and agile in his 60’s and even a guy who is 70 (in the video above).

Just start slow and take it easy.

Find a good school for either one and tell them your concerns.

I think for starters judo is better to learn as it is a little more well rounded. You learn the basics like falling, plus judo is where BJJ came from, so I think it’s good to know the tradition.

But either one could work depending on what you want. Also I would do some cross training with other exercises.

Here’s a tip for judo to remember.

Tuck your chin!

Remember that when you fall or get thrown because if you don’t you will get a bit of whiplash on your neck or hit your head on the mat.

And as one teacher said, “tap early and tap often”. And as I always tell myself, “play smart”.

And…

Don’t resist.

So here are some tips again to repeat over and over again in your head.

  • Tuck your chin (when falling, but also helps to prevent some chokes)
  • Don’t resist
  • Tap early and tap often
  • Play smart

And lastly

Don’t just take my word for it.

The abdominal workout that I do at Axis jiu-jitsu (5 exercises & 500 repetitions)

This is at Axis jiu-jitsu in Fukuoka. On some of the weekdays we do an abdominal workout with about 5 different exercises and on this day it totaled about 500 repetitions.

The larger the class the more sit ups we do.

It’s a really awesome core workout.

I think my stomach actually got a little more cut from this, the intermittent fasting I do, and the exercise I sometimes do when I am fasting: jiu-jitsu, riding my bike 12km a day, working out, etc.

Related:

7 Reasons to do Yoga for Jiu-jitsu and MMA

Here’s a video I made about practicing yoga for jiu-jitsu and martial arts. And following the video are 8 reasons why you should practice yoga or at least consider it if you train martial arts.

1. Increase flexibility and mobility

Increasing your flexibility is a perk in jiu-jitsu. There are a lot of factors that can make in difference in BJJ or judo and flexibility is one.

The others are strength, weight, speed, and skill.

But with flexibility…

Maybe you can do rubber guard, avoid painful stack passes or just sneak your legs into just about everywhere. Many people that I roll with tell me that I am pretty flexible. I think I am somewhat, but I am not extremely flexible.

I know people who are definitely more.

But the thing is you can always get more flexible if you focus on it and you are patient.

And remember if you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

I started to lose some flexibility in my knee. When I first started BJJ I realized I couldn’t kneel without pain. Closed guard escapes and just seiza hurt. I thought it was arthritis from injuries and old age, but I had stopped doing certain poses in yoga too.

So I started to do deep squats, some kneeling and then gradually I was able to kneel without much pain in my knee.

2. Reduce recovery time

If you are sore after practice then yoga is a great way to speed up your recovery time. But don’t over do it. Some yoga classes are too intense and with other people around you can overstretch trying to compete with others.

I do yoga every day and only for about 15 minutes. That’s enough. I don’t do yoga for exercise. For exercise, I do body weight exercises like push ups, pull ups, leg ups, squats, box jumps, etc.

And I suppose you could say the jiu-jitsu and judo I do is exercise too, but that’s not why I do it. I do it because it’s fun.

Yoga is something I do for maintenance. It’s like brushing my teeth.

If you want to reduce your recovery time and not feel sore and stiff the next day then do yoga, but take it easy. I don’t actually suggest a class for that. I mean you can take classes like I did in my first year to learn, but choose wisely as some are pretty intense.

I think more frequently and less intense is better. That may also be the case for martial arts training in general as Firas Zahabi said.

3. Get centered and calm down

For balance I think you need something soft to complement the martial arts. Jiu-jitsu, judo, MMA, etc. are all hard on the body. If you exclusively do hard training all the time you will burn out and your body will fail.

Don’t be too tough.

Take it easy and take care of your body.

4. Improve your breathing and cardiovascular system

Yoga isn’t just stretching and yoga isn’t yoga if you are not doing the breath work. In jiu-jitsu you can find yourself in a lot of tough positions where you can easily freak out or panic.

But that is not going to help. You need to focus on your breath, be patient and then maybe you can get out of that terrible position. But if you panic you will gas out and probably have no chance.

The practice of deep breathing will also improve your cardiovascular system.

5. Control your mind

Your breath controls your mindset.

Think not?

Then pay attention to your breath the next time you are:

  • angry
  • depressed
  • anxious

Now breath.

Take deep steady breaths for an extended period of time and notice how it helps control your mind and body.

6. Prepare for competition or anxiety

Light yoga and/or meditation with a focus on your breath can help ease the anxiety that fills your body before competition.

Here’s a simple technique to ease your nerves.

Deep belly breathing.

Place your hands on your stomach and then breath in for a 5 count and expand your belly. Pause for a 5 count. Exhale for a 5 count and contract your belly. Pause for a 5 count.

Repeat and continue.

Or do some yoga and focus on your breath.

Activating your body somewhat might be an even better way to calm down whether you are preparing for a competition or dealing with general anxiety.

7. Help heal injuries or prevent them

If you injure something your body can get out of whack. It might lose proper alignment or function. Yoga is a way to activate muscles that may be out of balance, tight or out of shape.

8. Cross train

I think a lot of benefits come from cross training. If you train exclusively in one domain you may become one dimensional and parts of your body may get out of shape or suffer from over use.

What do you think?

Any other reasons you should do yoga for martial arts or jiu-jitsu?

Training jiu-jitsu at my new dojo in Fukuoka, Japan

So I have been in Fukuoka, Japan for a few weeks training jiu-jitsu and learning Japanese. It’s going good.

I started training at a new dojo called Axis jiu-jitsu Fukuoka. It’s a nice small space near Ohori park in Fukuoka.

It’s fun training at a new place too.

I chose this place basically cause it was the closest place to where I live which is like 7km away and the owner let me train there on my first day for free.

Before that I went to a couple of other places in the city to check them out.

The first place said there was no free class and that it would be 2,000 Yen which is about $20 and if I wanted to train for a month then it would be 20,000 Yen.

What?!

I had already done some research on places around Fukuoka and knew a few were around 10,000 Yen a month which is about $100.

I went to the next place and they seemed more friendly. They didn’t invite me for a free class, but said it was 10,800 Yen.

I was thinking that maybe things in Japan were different with no free first class.

So then I was thinking of going to another place, but just decided to go to Axis jiu-jitsu since that was closer anyway. When I did the teacher Kanda invited me to the mat when I walked in the door for free.

So after class I rode my bike home and pretty much decided that was where I was going to train at. And that’s where I am now.

Some customs remind me of my first school in San Fran, Romulo Melo as everyone seems to shake hands when they greet each other on the mat.

Maybe that is a Gracie thing I don’t know.

It’s nice to be able to train everyday too. I hurt my knee, but other than that the vibe seems mostly pretty relaxed too.

More on Axis jiu-jitsu in Fukuoka.

2 Jiu-jitsu Moves NOT To Do

These 2 jiu-jitsu moves are dangerous and I do not recommend doing them. Both of them are illegal in judo and they are also illegal in some situations, competitions or belt colors in BJJ.

I have received a knee injury from both of these moves and you will see one of them in the video below.

I can tell you that you will not want to be on the receiving end of one of these moves gone wrong.

It’s not that they always cause injury, but it’s that they often enough cause injury and when they do it’s often serious.

  1. Kani basami (scissors throw)
  2. Jumping guard

#1 Kani basami (scissors throw)

When I lived in San Fran there was one purple belt there that did this to me. I didn’t get an injury, but it was close enough and very sketchy feeling.

Then like 4 days ago or so I was sparring with a new classmate here in Fukuoka standing up trying some throws when the next thing I know my knee turns in and I feel it pop.

I hit the ground and I am in pain. My opponent was around 220 I’d guess and tried a scissors throw, but I didn’t know that until I saw the video.

It’s dangerous and not worth it. You can see how my knee looks in the video above. Fortunately it could have been worse. I don’t know what happened to it, but I would guess that it is was a minor MCL tear or it just got stretched.

Minor MCL injuries usually heal on their own. I got one in my other knee like 20 years ago snowboarding.

Don’t do it.

Oh, and it’s NOT just me.

If you want to see more injuries from this move then do a search for:

  • kani basami injury
  • kani basami gone wrong

#2 Jumping guard

I personally think jumping guard is kind of a woos move…

And of course I think that now because I got hurt from it. And well anyone that does judo probably also thinks that.

You would never do this in a street fight, probably never if you are smart. And you don’t ever see this in the MMA.

Why not?

Because if you do you are going to get slammed into the ground and punched in the face.

Now it’s a move that’s relatively easy to do, but it’s dangerous.

Here’s what happened to me back in 2016 or so.

I used to go to CCSF in San Fran for judo and jiu-jitsu classes. That day we were doing judo competition practice where you bow, step in, bow and then start going for the throw.

But this guy also weighed well over 200 pounds decided to jump guard which is something you can’t do in judo anyways.

My mistake my not so compassionate teacher said, haha was I was going backward. And I wasn’t on my toes.

So he jumps guard and lands on my knee. He never made it to my waist. It hyper extended my knee backwards. If you weigh 50 pounds more than your opponent you definitely don’t jump guard.

It was really painful and the MRI said I had a bone bruise and a torn meniscus.

I was out for 2 months.

Now…

This is not only me.

Do a search for:

  • jumping guard injury
  • jumping guard gone wrong

And you will see some nasty looking injuries like the one in my video above.

Last words

You have to consider your training partner. You can’t just do a “hail mary” move and hope that it will work out because your partner is going to suffer like I did.

Do you want someone to do that to you?

If you’re a big guy or just bigger than your partner then you need to respect the difference.

It’s possible to do these moves correctly so that you do not hurt your opponent, BUT how often do you do moves 100% perfect?

Let’s say you are good at arm bars from the mount and you do one 90% perfect and smooth, but you hit the guy in his head when you bring your leg over his head.

That’s no big deal because your partner might just get a bump or bruise.

For that move.

But for these moves if you are just a little bit off and/or your opponents position is too then that can lead to a terrible knee injury.

Don’t bother with either. There are plenty of throws and take downs out there to learn.

More on training at my new school in Fukuoka.

If you keep your head up you can’t get thrown

Haha, this was a funny photo from the CCSF Christmas party, 2018. I made those shirts. I made it for sensei. I remember that he said that once and I thought it was cool.

He might have been describing a specific situation, but I thought it also sounded cool figuratively.

Robert Mendoza and Sensei – If you keep your head up you can’t get thrown – CCSF judo

I made another and added it as a random gift in the party. I am happy that Robert chose it.

How I made it…

I did a drawing of sensei that I found on Facebook on a piece of poster board. Then I made a stencil and stenciled it with a fabric marker onto a T-shirt. It’s kind of low-tech and a bit wabi-sabi.

Not sure if he really liked it, but some people seemed to get a kick out of it.

I got promoted to Judo brown belt

So along with another classmate I got promoted from green belt to judo brown belt.

Sensei, myself, Stas, and Samir

This last Tuesday I got promoted to judo brown belt. Nothing feels different though. I still feel like a white belt. Sensei says that it is hard to see your own progress cause everyone else is progressing too.

Beats me.

In promotion everyone lines up and gets to do 3 free throws. You don’t fight you just let them throw you. It’s practice for falling, but it is a lot of throws.

So in about 5-10 minutes I got thrown about…

Let me think…

There were maybe 15-20 students doing throws and they each get to throw 3 times so that’s…

Getting thrown anywhere from 45-60 times in maybe 10 minutes. I sort of dreaded it at first because I remembered last time, but it’s not so bad. Some throw hard, but many don’t.

And…

Judo is hard.

Progress seems slow, but belt promotion is faster than jiu-jitsu. From what I read I think averages for judo might be close to 5 years from white belt to black.

In jiu-jitsu the average is about 10 years from white to black.

I don’t do a lot of judo. I do about 2 days a week and have done so for around three years. Though in the beginning I didn’t do much randori just technique.

I got the photo from CCSF’s judo page.

Judo vs. BJJ for self defense?

Which is better for self defense? Judo or Brazilian jiu-jitsu? I saw this question on Quora and I had to add my two cents.

The short answer is….

It depends.

There are some potential advantages and disadvantages to both and in this post I will explore them both as best as I can.

But first off know that you can’t learn any one overnight, in a couple of weeks or even a few months. I mean you can learn techniques, but how deeply will you learn them? Will they be instinctual under pressure?

Probably not.

You need time and a lot of repetition.

Judo for self-defense?

Judo could be good for self defense as it evolved from Japanese jiu-jitsu. But nowadays judo is more focused on throws. In its past it was the full grappling program with newaza (ground grappling), tachi waza (standing) and leg attacks.

But the rules to judo changed because it was boring to watch ground grappling on TV. It was more fun to watch people getting thrown. Then 4 or 5 years ago they banned leg attacks so you can’t touch the legs.

So for judo it’s going to depend on the dojo. Many are going to spend most of the time doing stand up techniques.

But for self-defense you want to learn both stand up and ground grappling.

So if you choose to go the judo route and you want to learn it for self defense choose a school that spends a lot of time with newaza.

The potential problem with judo is that you won’t learn enough ground grappling.

I have only trained judo at one school, CCSF. The intermediate-advanced classes are now 100% stand up. Sensei used to teach some basic newaza in those classes, but now he says if you want to learn ground grappling to go to the beginners judo/jiu-jitsu or intermediate jiu-jitsu classes.

The throws work though even without a gi. In fact I will tell you a story below related to that. But if you are curious here is a cool video that shows judo throws being done in MMA.

BJJ for self defense?

BJJ evolved from judo, but not the modern day judo you see on TV. BJJ is primarily a ground grappling martial art. The goal in BJJ is to basically submit your opponent.

It’s good for self defense, but it has a weakness and that is that it is mostly focused on the ground. If you don’t learn how to take your opponent down then you’ll never be able to apply what you learned in ground grappling.

The potential problem with BJJ is that you won’t learn how to take someone down.

I’d say most BJJ schools will spend 90-99% of the time on the ground. For example, the first school that I learned at probably spent 95% or more of the time doing ground techniques.

The rules won’t apply on the street

Judo has a lot more rules and formality than does BJJ. BJJ is basically about submitting your partner. Judo contests are mostly about throwing your partner and getting him to land flat on his back, ippon!

But judo sparring matches start standing up which is more like a real fight. BJJ sparring usually starts on your knees. Contests start standing up, but in class you usually start on your knees or sitting which is not like a real fight.

A submission can win the contest too, but only black belts can do arm locks in competition. Lower belts can only do chokes.

Keep in mind either way the rules applied to either one don’t apply on the streets. The same goes for MMA. While in MMA you can kick and punch you can’t kick and punch everywhere or attack the groin or eyes which could be done on the street.

Also on the street someone could try to bite you too right when you are about to arm bar them. So keep that in mind.

I had an altercation once where this freaky street guy probably on drugs without shoes or a shirt came by and tried to steal my money. I was able to use what I had learned from both judo and BJJ to stop the fight and control him until the cops came by.

Here’s a video about that or you can read and watch it here.

So which is best? BJJ or judo for self-defense?

I’d say both. Learn both if you can or choose a judo dojo that has a good newaza program or a jiu-jitsu program with good takedowns or throws. Commit to a year for starters. That’s what I would do. It’s easy to quit after a month or two and like I said you won’t really learn or remember much in a month.

What about Japanese jiu-jitsu?

That might be good, but as far as I know the sparring element is missing which can be common in some other martial arts.

The first martial art I did was wing chun. It was kinda cool, but I thought it was overly mechanic and everything was staged – there was no sparring.

Sparring is important. And judo and BJJ both have live sparring.

There are a lot of martial arts that could be effective. It just depends.