MMA is a complex sport. There is a lot to take in when trying to understand the technical game and most of the attention is devoted to flashy striking techniques, exotic submission holds and dramatic slams and throws. Trips from the standing clinch don’t get a lot of attention.
Let’s rectify that with today’s Judo Chop.
This weekend’s Strikeforce: Feijao vs Henderson and Bellator 35 events both featured excellent examples of the take down fight from the clinch. This shouldn’t be entirely surprising since former Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Dan Henderson and U.S. Judo team member Rick Hawn were featured on the respective cards.
What may be more surprising is that the most notable techniques from both men came straight from Judo. The strict rules of Greco-Roman wrestling forbid any attacks below the waist so pure Greco-Roman brings MMA a fairly limited range of attacks, but it’s very common for fighters coming into MMA from Greco to have done quite a bit of training in trips and throws for folkstyle or freestyle competition.
In fact the cross-over is so thorough that there is really very little distinction between many freestyle and American folkstyle techniques and judo techniques. American wrestling programs will eagerly train any move that is legal in competition and proven effective.
For this post I’m using judo nomenclature just because it’s what I’m more familiar with but I’d love to hear from wrestlers in the comments explaining things in wrestling terminology.
I asked BE reader Dan Pedersen aka judonerd to break down the action. We’ll hear from Dan and look at some animated gifs and videos in the full entry.
Gifs by BE member Grappo (except Werdum/Vera)
Take it away Dan:
Dan Pedersen: As far as Hendo goes, he actually defends the same outside leg-cover trip with a very similar movement to Uchi Mata (though I doubt his intention was to go for the pure Judo throw). Watch him step back with his free leg to center his balance and turn his body into the throw. Feijao basically made the mistake of placing his weight on Hendo’s hips when he wrapped his leg for the trip, and Hendo was able to use this to regain control of the clinch. Because Hendo’s hips are between Feijao’s legs, he can carry Feijao’s weight easily or disrupt his footwork with a simple twist of the waist. Because of the placement of Hendo’s left thigh and his upper body control, Feijao has to swing his attacking leg far wide to get it clear and regain his balance.
Dan Pedersen: Hendo’s trip takedown is another common counter to the outside leg-cover: O Uchi Gari. Feijao once again goes for the rudimentary outside leg-cover trip and winds up just putting his weight on Hendo’s hips again–really poor game-planning considering his opponent is a Greco specialist. Hendo keeps his center of gravity under Feijao, and as Feijao tries to drive forward into the trip, Hendo just steers the attacking leg clockwise with his own thigh. Feijao continues forward while his lead leg is yanked off to the right, and he goes down hard. Feijao winds up on his back because he never had control of the clinch in the first place.
Fabricio Werdum used this same ouchi gari take down on Brandon Vera at UFC 85.
Here’s an animated gif of the ouchi gari from Judo Info:
In the gif above we see Jim Wallhead attempt to shoot in for a double leg take down on Rick Hawn. Wallhead dives down to attack Hawn’s lead left leg. He seals his fate when he wraps his right leg around the back of Hawn’s left and Hawn is able to land a low Uchi Mata.
AKA grappling coach Dave Camarillo describes this very technique in his Guerrilla Jiu-Jitsu book on pp. 108-111.
Dan Pedersen: The other reason Hawn gets the toss is because Wallhead tries to perform a simple leg-cover trip on top of his single. Karo Paisyan explains why using this against a Judoka is a really bad idea in this video:
Dan Camarillo uses the same Uchi Mata against Genki Sudo’s single leg in this old competition video:
If your Japanese is in good shape the following will be even better, but it’s a nice slow demo of the Uchi Mata as a single leg counter that is very easy to follow despite the language barrier:
Here’s an animated gif of an Uchi Mata:
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