What was different this time is the appearance of a new Albanian judoka who has taken 14 months off from training and was just making his return. He is wearing a white belt in the video, but is actually a black belt. Though he was noticeably rusty in his technique, he more than made up for it in intensity and “fighting spirit”. He kept getting up, getting really excited, angry, happy, lauging, etc. It was a little chaotic and concerning at first (since his unpredictability was a little dangerous) but it grew on me pretty quickly.
He was my training partner, and kept telling me that I was doing the te guruma pick-up wrong. Many of the points he made were absolutely correct, so I was happy to learn from him. More importantly, the harder and faster I threw him, the harder and faster he would throw me back. Given that the technique was clean, this process lead to one hell of a good work out. We probably got 30-40 big throws in.
Given how hard he went, I’m sure he won’t be back for a few days (needing to recover), but I look forward to seeing him get back into fighting shape. For a competitive person like that it’s always tough to step into a new club.
In 2010, grabbing the leg in judo was made illegal, resulting in a disqualification. The exceptions are:
If the leg grab is part of a counter attack
If the leg grab is not the initial attach, but is part of a combination
If the opponent has an over the back cross grip (with or without the belt)
I just finished watching all of the 2010 Tokyo Grand Slam. That’s about 10 hours of footage with commentary. I did not see a single disqualification for a leg grab. Moreover, I did not see a single clear case where there should be such a disqualification. The international competitors have done a remarkable job of adjusting their game to the new rules. However, it appears that there were a lot of close calls that the refs ignored. One example is the following video:
I guess you could argue that Blue was countering an attack by White, but according to the rules the “attack” needs to threaten the opponent in order to count as an attack. I don’t think under that definition White makes any initial attacks.
There are many other such examples. I suppose the referees are erring on the side of not disqualifying judoka when it’s at all a close call. However, what was weird to me is that in those 10 hours of video, the commentators never once mentioned anything related to leg grabs or the changes in the rules. They talked about everything under the sun except that. Given how hot of a topic of discussion it was this year, it seems strange that they would not mention it, especially in the attacks such as the one in the video.
I titled the post “Grabbing the Leg is Legal Again” because based on the footage and commentary of the Tokyo Grand Slam, it is as if this major change in the rules has become a non-issue, because:
Competitors adjusted their judo
Refs are not at all zealous in enforcing this new rule