Rhadi Ferguson on Throwing and Gripping

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson is one of the best known representatives of judo in America. A highlight of his throws is below.

I just did an exercise of listing the first 10 American judoka that pop into my mind (outside my circle of judo friends / coaches). Here’s what I got:

  • rhadi-ferguson-pick-up-judoTravis Stevens
  • Jimmy Pedro
  • Rhadi Ferguson
  • Jason Morris
  • Rhonda Rousey
  • Ann Maria DeMars
  • Nick Delpopolo
  • Taraje Williams
  • Rick Hawn
  • Mike Swain

And I’m sure he would appear up at the top of that list for most people in U.S. and perhaps even world-wide who are interested in competitive judo.

Part of the reason for this is his extensive presence on the web with articles, videos, and general educational material. That’s just what I’m writing about today. In a cool opportunity, he offered to answer a few questions from “fans” on his facebook fan page. I asked the following questions:

Suppose your favorite throw is seoi nage, and your second favorite throw is uchi mata. In a perfect world, where the #1 priority of your life is judo, what is the approximate number of fit-ins and throws of these two would you look to do per week. I realize there is no magic number, but I believe in the importance of drilling, and am curious what amount of drilling you would suggest. Again, the assumption behind this question is that you’re free to train all day 😉

He answered in this facebook video which you may need to like his fan page to have access to. Here are a few key points he made:

  • It is in fact possible that judo being the #1 priority is perhaps not the definition of a perfect world 😉
  • Assuming you’re already proficient at your favorite throws, you don’t need to do too many throws a day. He suggests about 50.
  • You will not execute any kind of throw without first achieving a sufficiently dominant grip which sets up the off-balance and entry into the throw. Therefore, working on the gripping aspect of the game is the wisest area of time investment for improving chances of success in competition. (He is currently selling a video educational series with him and Jimmy Pedro on the subject of gripping.)
  • Work on the transition when you miss the throw. “Miss” here means a non-ippon throw but nevertheless a throw that takes the game into newaza. The goal is to be a step ahead of the opponent in the transition.

I’ll finish up with a quote from Dr. Rhadi that sums it up:

“The key, Lex, honestly is to study gripping like it’s going out of style.”

This is a basic truth that most competitors know, but do little about. My new resolve is to force gripping into my regular training regimen. And I’m not just talking about random ad-hoc gripping but the strategic sequences of grips that Taraje Williams showed when I went to his clinic, and the kind that Rhadi Ferguson shows in his DVD.

0 thoughts on “Rhadi Ferguson on Throwing and Gripping

    1. Lex Post author

      I have a version of it from a while ago. It’s definitely a good one. There’s nothing fancy, just basic grip patterns, which is more than most people take the time to drill. You and I need to!


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