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.
I still find the application of the new leg grab rule a bit questionable. In particular, what gets called a legitimate counter often doesn’t look like a counter to me. Here’s an example of Ariel Zeevi (one of my favorite judoka) winning one of his many matches at the 2010 Tokyo Grand Slam with a Te Guruma.
I’m assuming the refs allowed the leg attack because they considered it as a counter or saw Blue’s cross grip as over-the-back (which is what’s required for a leg grab to be legal).
I get tired every time I have to write, talk, or think about these nuances (since I believe all throws should be legal, unless they severely endanger either player). But it’s important for me (a guy who values pickups) to understand when I can and can’t do them. As a practitioner of both BJJ and Judo, the ability to practice and successfully execute leg attacks is essential for me. I have many judo tournaments coming up, and I fully intend to use te guruma according to the rules. Hopefully the refs will allow me to do just that.
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
Below is a clip from the 2010 Tokyo Grand Slam showing a beautiful counter of te guruma with harai goshi from the over-the-back grip. There are a few interesting things about this throw. First, blue’s te guruma (which obviously involves a leg grab) is legal because of white’s cross grip over the back. That’s one of the exceptions to the leg grab rule. On a side note, I don’t like the fact that at smaller local tournaments the refs don’t watch for that as closely. I love to do pickups against that grip, and have already been disqualified twice for it. I’m not going to stop doing it (unless I’m up on points), because it is still legal, and I would like to take full advantage of the rules.
The second interesting thing is the observation that the commentator makes about blue not stepping in front and under white with the te guruma attack. It’s tough to do obviously when white’s hips are turning all the way around for the harai, but still if you go for it and start standing up, you better have the opponent loaded up. It’s exciting to see judoka taking full advantage of the rule, and seeing that the refs understand the situation (given how quickly it all happens) to allow the te guruma.
Lastly, it’s great to see a harai from that over-the-back belt grip. It’s one of my favorite attacks and it’s always nice to see it done in international competition, proving that it CAN work well, especially with an incoming te-guruma attack.
I successfully escaped being thrown, and actually got a chance to throw about 30 times (te guruma, seoi nage, osoto gari, harai ogoshi, ouchi gari).
Overall it was a very nice training sessions in the sense that Tom closely looked at the way I was doing the Koga seoi nage and made a few details very clear to me. However, most of the uchikomis we did towards the end of the practice, were off of movement, which REALLY highlighted how my balance is not proper for seoi under dynamic conditions. I kept leaning to the left which could easily be taken advantage off in a counter by a good judoka.
Tom’s correction on Koga seoi was to keep my head up and not bend over so much. Also, he said that I need to place my pivot leg (right for right seoi) back farther and place more weight on it. Of course, if I can do a one legged seoi with a tani otoshi. That felt very natural, but I want to try to get down the Koga seoi in the next several weeks. It feel like I could get a lot of power behind it if I get the balance and body position right. I noticed that my legs got a bit tired (burning) when fitting the Koga seoi for prelonged periods of time which means I need to work on my lunges.