Musa Betsu Kyu Judo club

Greater Moncton Judo (official JudoNB affiliate)

Judo in MMA

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Sure, as an experienced Judo practitioner it is completely easy to throw some random person out on the street who has no grappling experience (newsflash: you’d probably be able to do it within your first few Judo classes). It is also relatively easy to throw a Judo beginner or someone with an intermediate or lower level of other grappling Martial Arts, once they’ve finally decked themselves out in a starchy brand new Gi for the first few times and are just getting used to break-falling. However, it takes years to be able to pull-off a clean Judo throw against a resisting and experienced opponent, even if they’re wearing a Gi and competing under Judo rules. Against a fully-resisting, grappling-experienced, striking-empowered, aggressive, not to mention barely clothed and sweaty opponent? It’s damn near impossible. So remember that next time you are watching any combat sport like MMA or grappling events like Metamoris / ADCC and say “why doesn’t he just throw him on his head and win already” or “I thought he does Judo, so much for that being effective”.

The problem with many Judo techniques in the context of MMA is that if you commit completely to the technique (which you often have to for an effective throw) but the opponent somehow manages to resist then you are typically in a very bad situation where your back, neck and/or head are completely exposed; or, you are otherwise off-balance and can be countered or taken down hard & painfully yourself with low center-of-gravity wrestling techniques. With this level of risk, its no wonder only a select few are able to pull off Judo techniques with any amount of consistency or grace when competing at the highest levels. That said, it does happen. So long story short, what are the highest percentage techniques to attempt in the MMA ring/cage?

The Top 10 Judo throws most commonly pulled off in MMA include:

  1. Osoto Gari
  2. Sumi Gaeshi / Hikikomi Gaeshi
  3. Kosoto Gake
  4. Kata Guruma
  5. Harai Goshi
  6. Uchi Mata
  7. Drop Seoi Nage variations
  8. Ouchi Gari
  9. Kouchi Gake
  10. Harai Tsurikomi Ashi / Hiza Guruma


1. Osoto Gari

Large Outside Trip


Cleanly performed Osoto Gari in MMA

2. Sumi Gaeshi / Hikikomi Gaeshi

Corner Reversal & Pulling-In Reversal are two common sacrifice throws, especially since they can be done easily without a gi. The grip simply needs to be modified to over and underhook an arm or body lock from over-the-top. The legs use either the front of a bent leg (softly kicking/springing type of motion) from head-on for Sumi Gaeshi or outside of the leg (hip-hinging type of motion) from an angle, from having your back taken, or from a rotated position at 45 degrees for Hikikomi Gaeshi. The nice thing about this throw is that it isn’t that high impact so isn’t likely to hurt your opponent too much, it easily puts you in top-position on the ground without a battle, and if it fails for some reason, you can pull guard, slide to a leg-lock or even technically stand back up safely.


Ronda Rousey – modified grip Sumi Gaeshi

3. Kosoto Gake

Small Outer Hook


Kosoto Gake with a bit of a push

4. Kata Guruma

Shoulder Wheel


A dropping Kata Guruma variation

5. Harai Goshi

Sweeping Hip Throw


Harai Goshi with an overhook

6. Uchi Mata

Inner-thigh Throw


Uchi Mata against opponent rushing in

7. Drop Seoi Nage variations

One-arm Shoulder Throw


One-arm Seoi Nage varation

8. Ouchi Gari

Large Inner Reaping


Ouchi Gari when grabbed around neck

9. Kouchi Gake

Small Inner Hook


Kouchi Gake to defend being lifted

10. Harai Tsurikomi Ashi / Hiza Guruma

Lifting Pulling Ankle Sweep / Knee Wheel
Both the Harai & Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi (forward-lifting-ankle-block & backward-pulling-ankle-sweep) variations, as well as Hiza Guruma’s “knee wheel” separate throw mechanics all look very similar to the untrained eye. These are popular because they can be done from many different grips, including 2-on-1, over-under, body-lock, double-overhooks, wrestler’s tie-up, Thai clinch, etc…


Harai Tsuri Komi Ashi for a retreating opponent trying to pull you


Hiza Guruma when stuck in a body-lock

In fact, here’s one of the few throwing techniques from traditional Muay Thai which looks just like Hiza Guruma:

As you can see there are only so many ways to throw a person or take them down to the ground, many Martial Arts have commonalities and unique interpretations. There are many downsides to MMA competition including a “tough-guy/thug” culture it can potentially breed, along with the risks of permanent injury (especially in light of recent evidence of the effect of cumulative head trauma contributing to long-term negative effects on the brain, something always expected but only recently measurable by scientists). However, certainly sanctioned bouts in a ring with a referee are preferable to senseless violence in the streets, if certain people were going to be fighting anyway it might as well be regulated and overseen for some amount of safety. There are also some benefits to the Martial Arts community for getting to see the best practitioners from separate disciplines face each other safely, under a reasonable rule set, to see how techniques compare.



Author: musabetsukyu

Musa Betsu Kyu Judo club

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