There are two things that seem to draw the “oohs” from the crowds at a fight: good punches and big throws. There were a couple of good throws Saturday night at Throwdown IV, and I managed to catch one of them on camera. In this case, one fighter lifted the other off the mat, got him shoulder high and turned him over to throw him back down to the mat, and the crowd let out a big “ooh!” of appreciation.
Here’s the thing about throws and sweeps, though: they’re not very painful. The first thing you learn in Judo is how to fall without hurting yourself, which includes when getting thrown. Throws like this do look spectacular, but the objective isn’t to inflict damage to your opponent, it’s to get them to the ground and get a superior position from which to work a submission (or to ground ‘n’ pound in an MMA match). Now, there are times one fighter will pick up another and slam him to the ground as hard as possible, and that can be painful, but in general a takedown itself isn’t going to end a fight.
That all said, I’ve been getting more and more interested in judo and its throws and sweeps myself. There’s some judo in the Shuri-ryu karate curriculum, and I picked up a copy of Kodokan Judo to get a more complete idea of what’s involved in the art. I’m also reading a book called Falling Hard, a great book written by a British journalist who took up judo at age 50. I’m about 70 pages in and I’ve already learned a lot of interesting things about the history of the art and its founder, Jigoro Kano.
My karate school offers judo classes as part of the karate membership, so I may take advantage of those classes later this year. I need to concentrate on making ikkyu (first-degree brown belt) first because the last stripe is going to be a tough one. This just would not be the right time to shake up my schedule. Judo should round out my skills, and should better prepare me for my black belt test when the time comes.
If I do hit those classes, though, it’ll sure feel odd to wear a white belt again.