This has been the most tortuous and long-delayed Judo Chop yet. When I saw Demian Maia take down Nate Quarry at UFC 91, I knew immediately that I would have to write about it. Almost four months later I'm finally getting down to it.
We've been delayed by legal threats, gif-making troubles and most of all by the fact that I had no understanding of what Maia was doing. Reading Eddie Bravo's Mastering the Rubber Guard explained what I was seeing.
First off, the gif on the right is possibly the least cool part of the move but the gif of the whole sequence is way too big to post on the home page so I chose the culmination of the move: the take down.
But the cool part of the move was the way Maia pulled half-guard on Nate Quarry, entangled his legs, got up on his feet, fended off Quarry's whizzer and ended up on top. It was like Maia was some sort of human superglue, all he needed was a brief contact to ensnare Quarry in a fatal grappling bout. There are more gifs in the full entry so you can see for yourself.
What reading Eddie Bravo's book explained to me -- and let me say that my guess is that Maia developed this move entirely independent of Bravo -- was the way Maia did it.
First off he shoots in, gets stuffed by Quarry. Quarry did everything right, slid his hips back and got double underhooks, but it couldn't stop Maia. Then Maia pulled half guard. At first this baffled me, why half-guard rather than full guard? But reading Bravo I realized that pulling half-guard allowed Maia to wrap his legs around Quarry's (Bravo calls this the lock down) and then get up to his knees (Bravo calls this the dogfight) and work for a takedown.
Quarry has a whizzer on Maia's right arm, but its not enough to stop the takedown, even though he stopped Maia once, Maia just kept coming until he is on top.
This gif on the right shows the transition from half-guard to the dogfight, including the first failed takedown. The key thing seems to be Maia's right leg wrapped around Quarry's left. Quarry can't get separation as long as their legs are entangled.
As always, I'm all ears for anyone who knows more about what's going on than I do. I'm especially interested in knowing what the common denominator of this move is for Maia and Bravo. Is this a BJJ technique that goes back to the Machados or further? I don't know much about Maia's teachers. I believe that Bravo learned from Rigan Machado who learned from Carlos Gracie, Jr.
What's Maia's BJJ pedigree?
Here's the intro to Maia's instructional video series -- I've watched the parts on YouTube but haven't seen the whole thing. The intro video gets the biggest thing across -- Maia takes a very scientific approach to BJJ, focusing on the underlying principles rather than just memorizing techniques.
Gifs by Chris Nelson from UFC 91, November 15, 2008.
About the name of this feature: I chose Judo Chop because it’s an utter misnomer that is sometimes used by poorly informed MMA commentators during fights. It’s also from the Austin Powers movie. I chose it because it reflects my own lack of expertise and what this column is: my stumbling along in the dark trying to get a handle on the technical aspects of the fights. The techniques featured here will sometimes involve judo but not always. Sorry if that's confusing.