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Three Judo Mistakes I Make: Jujigatame

April 10, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 160

Anyone who has ever studied or watched Judo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or MMA is familiar with jujigatame, the straight arm bar. It is one of the most flexible and dangerous submission holds in any grappling art, which makes it very popular and commonplace. Jujigatame is incredibly effective even against opponents who are looking to defend it - if you do it right. Unfortunately, I don't always do it right...hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes to improve your own game.

Jujigatame can be applied from any number of side or top mount positions. The example for this article puts you in top mount, with your opponent pushing on your chest to try and bench-press you off of them. It's a common reaction from people who don't know how to grapple, and as my master instructor says, "When they do this, you should be polite and say 'Thank you' before taking the arm bar."

You start by moving each of your arms, keeping them straight, around one of their straight arms. For consistency's sake, let's say you're going to be attacking their left arm; your right arm would come around the side closer to their head, your left closer to their chest. You get off your left knee, putting that foot on the floor by their right armpit...this will be your pivot point. Slide your right knee closer to their head, then continue that motion and swing your straightened right leg around their head. At this point you will be sitting down, right leg over their face and left leg over their chest. Pinch your knees together, isolate their left arm, and bring it down, palm up, over your left thigh.

When done correctly, the jujigatame technique is one smooth motion that will almost always finish your match. When I do it wrong, it is usually for one of these three reasons.

1) I come up too high

In general, when I'm attacking, I want to keep as close to my opponent as possible, as they will use any space available to them to defend and escape. Bringing your butt up is the biggest spacing error when doing jujigatame. When my left knee first comes up, I want that leg to remain in a fairly deep squat. My back remains straight and I keep my head up, forcing my butt to stay low. When my right leg starts to slide up toward my opponent's head, my hip should be tucked next to their left shoulder. This way, if they do start to try and pull their arm out, my body is limiting their movement. I don't even need to have a grip on their arm to keep them in the right position to continue applying the hold.

Another reason to stay low is to force your opponent to carry more of your weight. If he's uncomfortable because of the pressure you're applying, he's far less likely to be actively thinking of ways to counter what you're doing. As my first BJJ instructor, Mestre Carlos Machado, said when I learned the arm bar: "You carry your weight around all day. Why not let the other guy do it for a little while?"

2) I don't counter-balance my weight

As you start to throw your leg over, it's VERY important to try and keep your weight back toward your pivot foot. The natural momentum will carry your body toward your right leg as it swings around. This will be disastrous as you complete the move. Give your body a counter-balance by leaning your head toward your opponent's right hip (anywhere on the "far" side of your left knee is good). You can also use your straightened arms to help keep your body weight back. I can tell every time I don't give a good counter-balance, because I end up falling on my side, rather than ending up perpendicular to my opponent.

3) I end up too far away

So I stay low, and try to counter-balance. I will never be able to finish the move if I end up too far away from my opponent, for two reasons. One, the farther away I get, the harder it is for me to use the weight and downward pressure of my legs to control my opponent's body while I'm attempting to straighten their arm. Two, the best way for me to get the submission is to straighten it over my left (downward) thigh. If I'm too far away, it's more likely that I won't be able to control their arm at all...or even worse, straighten it directly into me, so that their elbow ends up jammed into my groin.

The best way to stay close is to think about sitting straight down once your right leg has swung around their head. DO NOT fall backward. Just sit. You're in no hurry about this point if you've done the technique correctly. Control their arm, keep it tight on your chest, and lean back.

Notice that I said "lean back"...not "fall back". The most common mistake people make with jujigatame wasn't on my list at all, and that's being out-of-control when they straighten their opponent's arm. I believe jujigatame is the most dangerous upper body attack, and I'm sure anyone who saw Miesha Tate get her elbow snapped by Ronda Rousey would agree with me. The elbow is not designed to bend in the direction that the hold puts pressure, and there is very little margin for error. If you fall back with too much momentum, you have a far greater chance of hurting your opponent. Nobody wants that, and that's doubly true if you're in the gym with a training partner rather than in a competitive setting.

Jujigatame is the most common joint lock submission in Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If you don't have it mastered, you're way behind the curve. Avoid my mistakes, work the technique safely, and you'll be one step closer to greatness on the mat!

Paul Herzog and his son Christopher have been taking judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instruction at Petushin Martial Arts since the new Rosemount, Minnesota facility opened in 2010. In addition to receiving some of the best grappling instruction in the Midwest, Paul has lost over 35 pounds, and Chris has gained strength and self-confidence. If either of those sounds appealing, please contact the academy at 612-991-9116 or go to to arrange your first visit!

Source: EzineArticles
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