A post by Bloody Elbow Grappling Team Judo guy Ananse
While people tend to think about judo mainly in terms of massive hip and shoulder throws, the sweeps, reaps and trips that make up ashi-waza (leg techniques) are in a lot of ways the core of the art because of the focus on timing and misdirection necessary to master them. Regardless of how a judo player actually ends a competition, he will probably have a couple of these techniques in their repertoire. Today we shall talk about Hector Lombard's masterful use of ashi-waza against Jake Shields en route to winning his fight at UFC 171.
I'm just going to preface this by mentioning that people have been talking about Hector's takedowns as a function of how strong he is. Now, I'm not going to pretend that the amount of power he has plays no part in what he is capable of doing, but those throws were at least as much about, skill, timing and misdirection as they were about power. Just because a man is built like his muscles were carved out of granite does not mean we automatically pretend that he only gets by on powerlifting his opponents. Now on to the throws.
Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi
The most readable translation I've found for this throw is "Lifting Pulling Ankle Block." This is an apt description of how the throw works. Assuming the thrower is right handed, the essential idea for them to step forward and to the right, use their hands to drive the forward momentum of the opponent forward, slightly upwards and to *their* right. The thrower's left foot then intercepts the opponent's right ankle to their upper body keeps moving while their legs come to a complete stop.
This throw happens at 4:49 of round 1 Hector has a right underhook and his left hand, which is otherwise a bit obscured appears to be holding on to Shields' elbow or triceps. Using the underhook, he begins to turn Jake into the cage. Predictably, Jake resists this movement and so his balance is towards Hector's right side. Realising this, Hector gives Jake what he wants. He suddenly changes direction and uses both hands to drive Jake up and to the right while his right foot blocks Jake's left foot from moving. All that momentum has nowhere else to go, and Jake goes flying.
The throw happens again in round 1 at 2:32 of round This time, Jake and Hector have right collar ties on each other and Hector is leaning into Jake and pushing him backward. Jake is leaning back into Hector with his upper body while leaving his hips back, I'm assuming either so he can knee or because he is afraid of getting hip tossed. Either way, Hector is able to exploit that pressure by stepping slightly outside on his left leg and then using his hands to project Jake forward, upwards and to the right where his right foot halts the movement of Jake's left ankle and all that momentum spills him unto the floor. The interesting thing about this sasae is the intent behind it. The previous throw was definitely meant to take Shields down. This was meant as a way to break up his posture and put the momentum of the fight back in Hector's hands. This is one of the ways leg techniques are used in competitive judo, as well.
This translates as "Minor Outside Hook" As you can see from the illustration above, the point is for the thrower to hook their foot behind the opponent's ankle and pull it forward while using both hands to push their upper body backward.
Our example of how it works in MMA is the first throw on this GIF and occurs at 4:15 of round 2. As with most throws, you first need a reaction to make it work. Lombard gets his in a manner that would be illegal in judo competition but works great for MMA, by striking. Again, He has a right underhook on Shields, but this time his left hand is resting on Shields' shoulder. First he uses his left hand to grab Shields' traps and bent him over into a knee to the body. Anticipating another one, Shields braces himself and shifts his weight onto his left leg. Once he feels this, Hector now takes a step bringing his right leg right next to Jake's left leg, uses his right hand to get a deep grip around Shields' back, and then drives him further over the leg he is already leaning on with his left hand while hooking and pulling away the left leg with his right foot. Posture and balance gone, Shields goes straight into the mat with Hector landing in side control.
Now, this throw isn't ashi-waza, so technically I may have misled a little bit with the heading of the article. It is still a lovely throw though. Its name translates as "Body Drop." Again, it is dependent on the forward momentum from your opponent, but this time, you exploit it by stepping outside their feet, using their hands to pull them forward and then blocking the forward motion of their legs as your hands pull them over and on to their backs
Gif here. It's the second throw. Again, they are in a clinch and Hector has a right underhook and a left hand on Shields' triceps. Shields is again leaning forward in the clinch so this time, Hector spins, uses the underhook and triceps grip to add more momentum in the direction Jake was already leaning and stretches his right foot across to block Jake's movement, them wheels him over for a lovely throw.
Takeaways from the fight
Even though we've gotten used to thinking about Hector as a granite-fisted bruiser, he is still an Olympic athlete with over a decade of experience in making people fall down when they are in clinch range with him. Something his opponents will now have to keep in mind.
The thing that surprised me when I watched footage of Hector, he was a right handed judo player who strikes from a conventional stance. Like Rousey, he kept the stance he was already comfortable with and built his striking around that, so he doesn't have to change stances in order to take people down. That's something I think converting judo players may really want to keep in mind
Before we end though, I am going to take a second to show you this video of Olympic champion, 4 time world medalist (2 colds, 2 bronzes) and current heavyweight coach of the Japanese men's team, Keiji Suzuki. At 1:22, you will see a spectacular example of what ashi-waza at the highest levels of judo can look like.
Judo 柔道 Suzuki Keiji 鈴木桂治 sasae + ko uchi gari + de ashi baraï (via Judo Seikijuku)
HT to Zombie Prophet for the high quality GIFs
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