This short article identifies ten tips to improve your Judo groundwork (Ne Waza) skills.

All Judo players could drastically improve their Ne Waza or “groundwork” techniques by attending a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school – you will quickly learn the geographic hierarchy of positions rarely discussed in Judo.

Don’t start with both knees on the ground – use ‘Combat Base’ when beginning ground work with one knee down and one knee up.

Don’t knee fight – in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo it is common to see both partners fighting aggressively from the knees – in reality nobody fights from the knees. Try to co-operate with training partners and take turns for one partner to start in a bottom position.

Never lay flat on your front, especially during Ne Waza practice. This results in failing to utilise your training time to improve your techniques and skills. Nothing of value is learnt by laying flat on your front and trying to protect your neck from your opponent. Reserve this for the competition mat only and you can learn to defend your neck more effectively from other positions.

Never try to choke your opponent when you are in his guard (the guard is where Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu players lay on there backs with their legs either wrapped around you or the legs are between you and them). There is a high chance that you will be armlocked or reversed if your opponent has even basic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills.

Learn to use the modified scarf position – the standard head and arm position is less stable, especially when you are lighter and / or smaller than your opponent. Therefore instead of holding your opponent around the head, which may give access to your back or being reversed, grip under your opponent’s armpit.

Ask more experienced practitioners for advice – if a training partner applies a technique that are unfamiliar with, ask them to show it to you and any counters or defences that they also know. This will further develop your knowledge and skills.

Practice holds and skills during Ne Waza – in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools there is often an emphasis on winning by any means and all-out sparring. Whilst sparring is essential, try to spar with a particular skill, objective, or even position in mind. Agree with your sparring partners to repeatedly work on your escapes, holds, etc.

Keep a training diary – record your performance, submissions, holds, successes and learning areas.

Search the internet for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sites as you will often be able to find techniques that will address areas requiring improvement.

Follow these tips and you should drastically improve your Ne Waza skills. In the next article, I will address 10 simple tips to assist Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in improving their stand-up and throwing skills.

Glyn Powditch of JudoBJJ and SBG Manchester

BJJ purple belt


MMA Instructor

© Glyn Powditch 2008

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