It was with excitement that on Saturday Week 7, Olympic Judo Player Sophie Cox, who has also competed at European Championship and the Judo Worlds, came to Lancaster to teach a seminar, having been invited by the Mixed Martial Arts Society. She came to teach a no-gi Judo technique based seminar.
I’d met Sophie a few months previously at a female fighters camp, down at Fighting Fit Martial Arts centre in Manchester, had liked her teaching style and the techniques we did. As soon as I became President of the society I knew I wanted to get Sophie down to learn from her again.
For the seminar we split the class, working on more beginner techniques in the first half and then those who wanted to stay on to do more advanced work were welcome to stay. The first class went over some cool trips and throws, learning how to manipulate your partners balance without jeopardising yours. One thing that we were really keen to learn was how to translate classic Judo throws, done whilst wearing the traditional gi, into throws that could be executed in Mixed Martial Arts, which is done no-gi, and where clothes grabbing and manipulating is illegal (as a matter of fact men compete bare chested, so the option isn’t there anyway!). Therefore it’s about learning how to grip the opponents and break down their stance without the use of the gi. Focusing on that in the first half was really useful, especially whilst also learning how to do some awesome moves, including the hip throw, MMA champion Ronda Rousey’s go-to move. It’s unusual that an MMA fighter would attempt a hip throw because if the technique is executed poorly it exposes the back, something that you really don’t want to do whilst in the cage! You can tell Ronda Rousey has a background in Judo because before her opponents know her back is there for the taking, she’s pulled them onto her hip, over and onto the ground with a bit of a bang. It certainly looks awesome when it’s pulled off correctly! Judo can give people the advantage in MMA, because it provides different techniques to the standard double leg and single leg takedowns (amongst others). The feet become another weapon, another jabbing tool, a tripping and sweeping tool, which can surprise opponents, who are used to strikes coming from the hands. In the advanced class we moved onto some different grips, and then onto sweeps and ankle picks.
One thing that I aspire too when watching Sophie execute her Judo moves is the confidence with which they’re taken on. She was manoeuvring guys almost twice her weight as if they were puppets. One thing about these moves is that they can’t be done half heartedly, otherwise you’ll be at the disadvantage due to being off balance, or not having a good enough grip. I think this confidence comes with just practice, practice and more practice. Part of this confidence is learning how to fall. Some people can be put off by Judo or by MMA because it looks scary, being continually dumped on the floor, but in fact when training, it’s not like that at all. You learn how to fall, how to roll and how to move your body to minimize the risk. Sophie told us today that children often throw themselves (literally!) into Judo because they spend half their lives falling, picking themselves up and falling again. Teaching adults is different, because as a general rule we don’t fall on the floor all that often, we need to learn how to fall again, how to do it safely, and how to trust our bodies again.
It was a lot of fun and brought a fresh perspective to the excellent training we normally do.