Cross Training Judo for BJJ: Five Benefits

Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu share a unique and connected history which continues to this day and cross training in both can be a great way to give you an edge over the competition. Because of this common history, there is much to learn to improve one’s approach to their game.

The rulesets of each art have developed different approaches and solutions to common problems but this does not mean these methods are relevant only in their own world. Top players like from both sports have utilized their knowledge of both arts to become the best at their games.

With respect to Judo, several top BJJ players, such as Claudio Calasans, Saulo Ribiero, and Xande Ribiero have backgrounds in Judo. Similarly, famous Judo players like Flavio Canto or Travis Stevens are no strangers to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and have put those skills to good use at the highest levels of competition.

So, what can a BJJ player learn from training Judo?

Judo supplements your Jiu-Jitsu game

It commonly understood that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu players focus on the ground game whereas Judo players focus more on stand-up. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but if you are BJJ players who have ever been thrown around by a competent Judoka, you know that adding Judo to your repertoire can bring many benefits.

If you are considering adding some Judo to your ground games, but need a few reasons to convince you it’s a good idea, here are five benefits studying Judo will add to your BJJ game. 

  1. Tactics
  2. Grips
  3. Attacks
  4. Technique
  5. Overall ability

Gain a tactical advantage with Judo for BJJ

If your opponent knows you can dominate the top game, you, in turn, can expect that he or she will try to force you to the ground as soon as possible.  Knowing this beforehand, or at least expecting it, can give you the tactical advantage.

Setting up a simple feint for a throw or trip can be enough to elicit the reaction you are expecting. Once you are one step ahead of your opponent, you are one step closer to a submission.

Just ask Jeff Lawson at Polaris 4.

Get a grip: Judo grips work great in BJJ

Judo players are notorious for their strong grips. There is a common axiom in Judo circles that he who controls the grips controls the fight. Grip fighting will fundamentally change how you approach BJJ.

Judo gripping is another layer of knowledge that will help you distinguish you from your opponent. Of course, by practicing throws and grip strategies, you will become stronger and thus able to control your opponent better in the more general sense.

However, learning how to grip properly also allows you to incorporate higher levels of positional awareness and strategy, which are concepts that apply both standing and on the ground.

Judo teaches you how to attack

It is a common strategy in BJJ to be a counter-player, waiting for your opponent to make a mistake or to outlast your opponent’s stamina to victory.  These are valid ways to win, but if there is one thing that Judo can show BJJ is that those who attack control the match.

Judo players train to keep attacking. This is because Judo rule sets penalize passivity. By staying on the offense, your opponent must play your game.  You control the pace, while your opponent can only react. This is a powerful dynamic to control.

Because pulling guard is not enough

This is statement is somewhat of a low blow to guard pullers, but let’s be honest, pulling guard can be boring. It can also be dangerous if done wrong and a set back to your own bjj development.

Yes, it’s a legitimate and logical way to move a match from standing to the ground, but only knowing how to go to the ground makes you an incomplete grappler.

It’s like only knowing one way to do an armbar or one way to do a choke. If you want to advance your strategies and tactics, you will need to take an honest look at your weaknesses, and guard pulling is a common one for many players.

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu every position, attack, and defense has a counter and if you only know one way to go to the ground, your opponent knows five ways to counter your attempt which puts you in a pickle. By studying Judo you will add to your concept of controlling your base and learning the tactics and strategies to use to your advantage.

Become a complete grappler by cross-training Judo

This should sound obvious, but when you understand both the standing and ground games your overall ability improves significantly. Not knowing the standing game, or vice versa is like driving a car with only one hand. Yes, you can functionally drive the vehicle, but how well? Adding the second hand gives you greater control and peace of mind that you can take charge of any situation.

How has cross training Judo added to your BJJ?

Let us know in the comments.

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