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.
Ariel Zeevi is a 33 year old judoka that put Israel on the (judo) world map in the last 10 years.
He had a remarkable performance at the 2010 Tokyo Grand Slam, constantly threatening his (much younger) opponents with clean powerful techniques. Drop seoi nage was always the main threat, but off of that, he was able to get a beautiful footsweep (shown below), as well as many other scoring attacks.
This is a particularly good example of not giving up when an attack fails. Too often I see the top level guys both stop when the attack is blocked. Anai is an example of that. Of course, he’s one of the best judoka in the world, so it’s hard to criticize him. But I feel like he’s never in a battle, he walks around like he just woke up, until he tosses his opponent with a huge uchi mata. For the mere mortals, however, I feel like constant creative combinations is where it’s at…
When your opponent goes to his knees in judo, the ref will usually call “matte” and give him a stalling penalty. Otherwise, it’s considered that they entered newaza (ground work). There’s a little hazy area (in terms of the refs having to make a judgement call) here if the opponent is on his knees but starts standing back up. The two videos below show cases when the refs give an ippon for an attack in such a situation. I can see an ippon for Tony in the second video, but I honestly can’t see an ippon for Anai in the first video. Either way, it seems wise, in general, to stay turtled up and take the penalty if your opponent still has a grip on you.
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
The IJF does a pretty good job at being specific down to the minute detail of every possible case in defining the rules of olympic judo. There has been a bunch of changes in the rules in the last several years, specifically the addition of a “dynamic edge”. The rules relevant to this are defined on page 12 of this 2009 Judo Refereeing Rules. Basically any attack that starts inbounds but continues out is still valid. What’s important is that this only applies to tachi-waza (the standing part of judo) and not to newaza (the on the ground part).
In newaza, you’re inbounds as long as some part of your body or your opponent’s body is in contact with the contest area. In the video below, the commentator says otherwise. What happens is this:
White applies an armbar
Blue rolls to his back
The ref believes both to be out of bounds and calls “matte” (stop)
Important: Blue did not tap
The refs change their mind and give White the win.
The rules are pretty clear about there having to be contact with the mat in order for you to be counted as inbounds, so I believe White was out of bounds, but it’s a close call and certainly arguable either way.
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’ve been watching videos of judo matches from the Tokyo Grand Slam. As my own judo gets better, I start to notice more and more details in these matches about gripping, footwork, strategy, timing, etc.
One of the things I’ve noticed, especially in the female divisions, is the use of what are essentially a succession of quick kicks that are supposed to look like footsweeps but don’t involve much upperbody commitment. The most popular of these is the kouchi that would never throw anyone but is designed to give an appearance of attacking. I’m talking about attacks that look something like this (except of course with good posture, etc):
The key observation I made is that the ref’s are buying these non-committed attempts as positive judo. The players that were putting together these combinations were not being penalized for stalling.
I need to utilize this strategy more often, especially against stronger defensive players that don’t open up. In order for me to throw, I need them to open up, and a pretty good way to do that is to get a yuko lead through penalties. Of course, the story is a little different in randori when people don’t get penalties, but such combinations just might frustrate folks enough that they try to throw (thereby opening themselves up to be thrown).
Travis Stevens is one of my favorite judoka since he consistently throws people in international competition with standing Koga-style seoi nage. He is ranked 16th in the world at -81kg as of May 2010, and has had some good success since then.
At the Tokyo Grand Slam yesterday he got caught by Avtand Tchrikishvili (GEO) after a couple good koshi guruma attempts. Tchrikishvili anticipated the attack, stepped in and miraculously was able to counter the incredible forward force of the koshi guruma to lift Stevens all the way over onto his back:
A few things I noticed:
Travis likes to switch to an uchimata when the koshi guruma fails by lifting his leg.
His favorite grip is the same as mine: right lapel, left wrist, righty stance. He uses this grip for both seoi nage and koshi guruma. However, he looks for the wrist control first, which never occurred to me.
It looks like there was a lot of pressure on his back/core when he was countered. I wonder if he gets hurt often from people trying to counter that way. I know I sometimes tweak my back a little from exactly that situation.