Saturday, November 1, 2014

So easy a caveman could do it

Caveman Judo

The Violence Dynamics Seminar was two weeks ago already.
I took some time to let ideas bounce around in my head for a bit.
The next couple of blogs will be a brain dump of a type to help me sort out all of the information.

This blog post I want to focus on takedowns.

At the seminar I taught a class on striking into takedowns.  It was later in the week after we covered some basic fundamentals.  

In my mind this class was an opportunity for students to practice practical application of those principles.

If I am honest with myself the takedowns class ended up being just a group of techniques I like to do
Instead of application of the principles we had worked, it became memorizing technique.

That is perfectly fine for a martial arts seminar of one particular style, but directly antithetical to the Violence Dynamics ideal of developing better individuals. 

As opposed to producing flawed copies of the instructors.

So I started to think - how can I teach a principle based approach to takedowns?

Start at the beginning – What is required to throw another human being?
Any throw will need the following:
  • Grab
  • Move
  • Off balance
  • Fit in
  • Execute

Fair enough, but... 
How do you know if you should even try to throw someone?  
When you do know, how do you know which throw to do?

The - Grab, Move, Off balance, Fit in, Execute process can be refined down further.  With further refinement those questions answer themselves.

In order for a throw to make any kind of sense tactically you have to be close enough to throw.

Therefore the first principle of takedowns has to be positioning.

Positioning - 
(Relational position and orientation)

In sport application of grappling arts there is a gentlemen’s agreement between the participants.
I will not hit, kick, bite or spit at you if you agree to do the same.
This makes throwing “safe” from anywhere

Before (and outside) of this agreement, if you are in range to throw you are in range to get hit.
{If the enemy is in range, so are you and incoming fire has the right of way}

That means outside of such an agreement there are only so many places where it is “safe” to throw someone from.

For style neutral reference I’ll use this chart
2 ½

0 is called 0 because you want to spend ZERO time there.  All of the enemy's offensive weapons are viable and not only are you in range you are in the cross hairs.
Action is always faster than reaction if you find your self in this position you need to go on offense to get off the X

1 is safe to throw from as long as you are outside of the enemy.
To clarify - Let's say you move to the 1 position on the left side of the enemy.  To be outside of him means your right leg is to the right or out side of his right leg.

If your leg is inside of his you can easily get kicked in the giblets and your leg is also vulnerable to sweeps (see removing structure coming up)

Although 1 is safe to throw from when kuzushi, the next principle is applied the positional relationship between you and them usually changes to 2 or 21/2 

2 is a great place to throw from, especially with your center line on their hip bone.  I have found that overbalancing to the front works best from here.

2 1/2 is also great your hip bone on their hip bone.
Offbalancing to the back works better here.  You can also offbalance forward but the process of offbalancing puts you in the 2 position.

3 is clearly a gold mine.

Also there are only so many ways to get into those positions.

You can:
Talk your way there (see references to werewolfing in previous blogs)
Strike your way there
Find yourself there after a counter assault from the front
Find yourself there after a counter assault from the rear

It has to work in both offense and defense. 

No matter how you ended up in a good throwing position you are not going to throw anybody if they can maintain the ancient Japanese principle of HA or headou over assou.  Translated as head over ass.


The second principle of takedowns has to be off balancing.

Generally taught as the 8 directions of the compass.  

However, I have found there are really only 3 ways to off balance someone
NOT – Nose over toes (Number 1 on the chart above)
HOH – Head Over heals (Number 2 on the chart above)
HOS – Head over side “I’m a little tea pot” (Numbers 3-8 on the chart above)

As mentioned previously many times the position you throw from will dictate the offbalance that makes sense.

Also as mentioned sometimes offbalancing changes or dictates the position.

You need to get their head outside of their cone of balance (see picture above)

With that in mind I have found...

HOS works best for bringing bigger guys down to your size allowing you to take them NOT or HOH. 

So really there is one way to cut "giants" down and two ways to kill balance.

Once you get to a place it is safe to throw from you will have to take their balance from them (binary decision either front or back).  If your position dictates the offbalance, or the enemy is already off balance due to your effort to get that “safe” position, the decision tree reduced even further.
No decision needed – take the gift

Bone slave - Puppet Master

The "Platinum" move
Much like Rory Miller’s Golden Move, only better

Improve your position
Worsen their position
Protect yourself from damage
Damage them
* Twist them up in such a way that they cannot move

Once you are in position, and they are off balance, bone slaving / puppet mastering is twisting them in such a way that it is difficult for them to use any of their strength.  Also you are forcing them to bare all of your weight.  For all intents and purposes removing their ability to move in any direction except the one you want them to which causes the throw.

From here there are only so many ways to make someone hit the ground.

The third principle has to be method.

Methods to put someone on the ground:
Area Denial
Remove Structure
Bone Slave / Sacrifice

I place lever throws first because I feel they are the least complex of the throwing methods I describe.  A lever throw is when you lock the spine so it is one big lever arm.  You use that lever arm to put the head so far head over heals or nose over toes (outside the cone of balance) that the enemy cannot recover his balance and falls.

Example of a rear off balance lever would be Aikido’s Irimi Nage or variations of Judo’s  Kuchiki Daoshi

Examples of a front off balance lever would be like from the video above, except you drive their face into the ground instead of spinning them around, giving them back their balance then taking their balance to the rear.

Area Denial
The only way to recover from a lever throw is to change your base.  There are only so many ways the enemy can move their feet to regain their base to prevent being thrown.  If you put something in the way of that, say your own foot, you are denying them that area.  When they try to regain their base they trip over your feet and fall
Like Tai Otoshi to the front or classic WWII combatives “Hip Throw” to the rear

Remove structure
If somehow they were able to regain their base (area denial failed).  They are now dependent on that leg to maintain that base.  While keeping them off balance and twisted remove the structure of their base by cutting off “sweeping” that leg

From a rear offbalnace this would look like Osoto Otoshi

From a front off balance like uchi matta or even harai goshi.  All dependent on how you and the enemy fit together.


A trebuchet traditionally consists of an arm resting on an axle, which rests high on a base structure. The arm of the trebuchet is like an off-center see-saw with a huge counterweight on the short end and a sling attachment on the long end.

Principles by their nature do not need to be forced.  The results of following them should be all but effortless.  Sometimes in the process of stepping in to deny an area or remove a structure your hips will slip under their center of gravity.

When this happens your combined structure is like that of a trebuchet.  If you drop your weight quickly as you hang on to them, they sling shot around your body.

At Vio Dy we touched on this a little bit.
Take advantage of the gifts offered don’t hunt for or force a throw (any “technique”)
Seio Nage is an example of what I call a trebuchet throw

In my most humble opinion Seio Nage is hard to set up and execute.
But assholes jump on your back

Seio Nage is instinctive, natural and makes sense when an asshole jumps on your back.
It feels (to me anyway) artificial and forced when attempted from the front.
Also when attempted from the front it is very easy to counter.  Simply pushing on their hips or just dropping your weight is usually all that is required to squash it.

I find the using that sling shot around your body as opposed to over your shoulder has a much higher probability for success and is easier to use for smaller stature people vs big guys. (it is unlikely that you will be attacked by someone smaller and weaker than you)

Examples of this would be Uchi Makikomi as opposed to Seio Nage
Uki Goshi as opposed to O goshi

Bone Slave / Sacrifice
Bone slave – I’m going to lock our skeletons together so we are like conjoined twins.  Where one twin goes the other has to follow.  

This concept can / should be stacked on top of all the other principles to make them work even better.  As a stand alone principle it is the basis for a sacrifice throw.  I have a tactical need to put you on the ground…

Vio Dy flashback, before we go further let’s look at why force is used

  • Escape
  • Control
  • Damage
  • Fight
Of those categories, in which of those does it make sense to go to the ground?

Escape?  Hard to run while you are tied up on the ground with someone.  In order to escape by putting someone on the ground you are going to have to control or damage them first anyway.

Control? – Sure that makes sense.  Cops take bad guys to the ground for cuffing all the time.

Damage? – Yup

Fight? – Yes but fighting is social violence done for fun or to display dominance and is not a legitimate use of force anyway.

So back on point, tactical needs to go to the ground are reduced down to control or damage.

If you need to go to the ground to control or damage you can throw yourself to the ground and your conjoined twin has to follow.  The mean little trick is to twist in such a way that they hit the ground first and provide you with something soft and squashy to land on.

Another place where sacrifice throws make sense strategically is when you need to increase chaos.

If you are losing (see also taking damage) you have nothing to lose by making things more chaotic
If you are being thrown to the ground there is a point where physics take over and there is nothing you can do to stop it.  So drag that son of a bitch to hell with you.  Remember, the mean little trick is to twist in such a way that he hits the ground first and provide you with something soft and squashy to land on.

Even if you hit the ground first, you can’t quit.  Quitting is death.  Keeps the momentum of the throw rolling.  Find a way to win.

We have discussed removing their balance and structure to throw them.  To be able to take advantage of their loss of balance and structure, and to prevent ourselves from being thrown.  We must maintain out balance and structure.

The fourth principle has to be maintain your base.

My definition of combatives is starting with your primary weapon as a foundation and working back to empty hand from there.

I bring that up now because a good rule of thumb in maintaining structure throughout the throw is to ask your self  "Am I in a solid shooting position?"  "Would I fire a weapon from here?"

If the answer is no it probably means your structure is shot.

That is Judo's Jigo Hontai or defensive posture.  Solid structure.  You can also move while maintaining this structure.  If your attempt to throw takes you away from a solid structure it is much more difficult to deliver force into the enemy.

When position and off balance come together the delivery method becomes more instinctive / obvious.  Circumstances will dictate the throw.  Use this naturally, accept the gift.  Don’t fight it to get the Kodokan ideal.

Lots of Judo throws have added flash to make sure the ref saw what you did and you get credit for a full Ippon.

I don't need credit from a ref.  I just need to smash that fucker into the ground.

A perfect example of this was Makoid Sensei's demonstration old man Osoto Gari on me last summer

He used the following model:
  • Grab
  • Move
  • Off balance
  • Fit in
  • Execute
But that model fits within the principles I mentioned today.
Grab - got into throwing range
Move & Offbalance  - he moved into a position it was safe to throw from as he took my balance to the rear and twisted me so I couldn't move and all our weight was on my right foot.
Fit in - he maintained his structure while preventing me from regaining mine.
Execute - he removed the structure of my post (leg).

His feet never left the ground.  He had no need for flash.  It just had to work against a bigger, stronger, younger opponent with out much (if any) effort.

Takemusu Aiki is the spontaneous creation of technique

Position off balance and delivery come together as a spontaneous gift appropriate for the circumstance and the defender / threat factors.

Another thing Makoid Sensei said to me last summer, was that young instructors try to show how much they know by showing tons of techniques that no one remembers.

Old instructors show one or two principles that are remembered and give the students the ability to master tons of techniques.

It took me a while to figure out how to teach a few principles.

I have come to call these principles "Caveman Judo" although it can be applied to any style of throwing.

Why Caveman Judo you ask?

A couple reasons

To describe one of the reasons Rory Miller references the book "Angry White Pajamas".  The book is about a guy from England that enrolls in the Yoshinkan Aikido Honbu Dojo Senshusei course.

Anyway in the book there is a story about some of the greatest Aikidoka of the time out drinking while mourning Shioda Sensei's death.

A fight breaks out and they all end up rolling around on the ground throwing wild punches.

Some of the best and most severely trained guys in the world and none of that skill was used in actual confrontation.

Rory makes the point - Under pressure you are going to be a cave man.  Might as well train to be the best cave man you can be.

Another reason...

So easy a caveman could do it.

For throws to make sense tactically they have to be all but effortless.  They have to be giant killers that small stature people can use against nightmare attackers.

Finally, like a caveman these throws are fairly brutal.
Slamming someone into the planet will cost them.

In review - The principles I have come to understand  that make throws work:


  • 1
  • 2
  • 21/2
  • 3


  • NOT
  • HOH
  • HOS
  • Platinum move


  • Lever
  • Area Denial
  • Remove Structure
  • Trebuchet
  • Bone Slave / Sacrifice

Maintain your base

Takemusu Aiki

  • The spontaneous creation of technique
  • Position off balance and delivery come together as a spontaneous gift appropriate for the circumstance and the defender / threat factors.

It has been two weeks since the Violence Dynamics Seminar.
Since then I have been implementing these principles in my teaching, and the results have been impressive.

Lise has thrown me so hard (see brutal like a cave woman) I could smell colors

Rob (roughly 1/2 my size) "accidentally" threw me with a Harai Goshi. - Takemusu Aiki
Rob threw me effortlessly in such a manner that if I were in the air any longer I would have received frequent flyer miles from Delta.

Luke who started training with us two weeks ago, and Greg who has trained with us of and on are throwing spontaneously under pressure.  Throwing at a level that usually isn't seen until brown belt (approximately 3 or so years of regular training)

Kristen was throwing instinctively after her first class!

I've been receiving requests on my face book page to explain these Caveman Judo principles further.
This blog is just a first step.

Soon an ODIN YouTube page containing video of these principles in action

After that I plan on putting together an e-book

Stayed tuned here for further updates

Train hard, Train Smart, Be safe

Also I just noticed I went an entire blog with out a comic book reference.
So for your entertainment here is one of my faves showing Batman kicking Superman's ass with Judo....and Kryptonite

1 comment:

  1. Awesome way of breaking down throwing! Looking forward to the videos & e-book, going to go play with this now :)