Monday, September 10, 2018

4 Tips to Modify the Triangle From Guard For Judo (Sankaku Jime)

It's no secret that many Judoka are now cross training in BJJ in recent years to improve their newaza game. However, when it comes time for actual application, most judoka fail to apply triangle chokes from guard under randori/competition situations since Judo rules force a generally faster, less controlled style of Sankaku to be used.

Remember, you are in Judo to learn Judo - tackling a Judo competition from a Jiu Jitsu perspective is a surefire way of stopping yourself from progressing in Judo. However, a functional newaza game is arguably an important part of understanding traditional (historical) judo, and nowadays, a necessity for modern competition.

4 Common Reasons Why the Triangle Fails For Judoka 

It is impossible to cover every possible variation of triangle and what can happen, so I will break down how to best minimize the opportunity cost in training time as well as literal energy needed to have a functional triangle game for Judo by summarizing 4 common failure points.
  1. Wrong Place, Wrong Time (Most Important)
    • Under Judo rules, it's important to remember something about the Guard position:

      If you're there, you messed up already
      Ignoring the Jiu Jitsu arguments about how inherently powerful the closed guard is, within Judo rules, the closed guard is not an advantageous position. From instant stand ups, ease of stalling, and generally being 1-2 steps away from getting Osaekomi'd combined with the added risk of the latter when attempting the technique, one could argue from the get go that if you can avoid being in guard to begin with, avoid doing so.

      When should you Triangle?


      Since "don't bother" isn't a real answer, you need to identify what situations going for the triangle is appropriate.

      While one should know how to set up the triangle from the time tested ways, pPractice the triangle under these 3 conditions, and opportunities will start to present themselves elsewhere:

      • Uke-side Scrambles from Gari-type throws

        Ideal example: If you can manage to land on your side post-Yuko level Ouchi, Kosoto where the tori does not have upper body control and you have 1 sleeve of connection.
      • Tori-side Failed Tomoe Nage/Sacrifice Scrambles
        For both this and above example, the technique is most useful when you and the opponent end up at about the range in the picture below (note the sleeve control, foot on hip, and right foot on the inside of the shoulder).

        Image result for sleeve control guard bjj
        image by Stephen Kesting, grapplearts.com

      • Also note that the descriptions read "scramble," as having a muscle-memory set plan under these conditions gives this technique its teeth in the midst of the chaos - In perfect position to shoot your legs into position and clamp the triangle on, less likely for the ref to call for stalling.
      • Partial Triangle to Sweep Once Opponent Starts Stack Sequence
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-V3tDXKUE4

        See #2 below for avoiding this situation to begin with
  2. Poor Distance & Posture Management/No Kuzushi
    • You might think "Kuzushi? There's no balance issues here, it's a choke!"
      Nope! For the triangle choke in particular, it's not just a step-by-step set of leverage movements as most judoka think of jiu jitsu techniques. Without off balancing, you are at a huge risk of either a stack or lift.

      If you find yourself getting stack countered often, or just failing to get in position to begin with, look at these videos for proper positioning and posture tips (Jiu jitsu focused, will need modification):
  3. Finishing the Triangle is Hard
    • Due to an inability to finish the triangle and while opponents stall out the choke, a lot of people get frustrated and eventually give up on the triangle choke. Going through all the effort of getting the choke in place only to get stood back up leaves you spending TONS OF ENERGY both physically and mentally. This can be fixed with learning a couple of leverage tricks combined with improving your finishing squeeze (eg: If you just try to squeeze your knees together, this is the section for you).
    • 4 Technical tips to finish the triangle

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-QDTYnGyCw
      Eddie Bravo talks about developing a good squeeze (Rear Choke, but mentality applies)


      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCgMoVz6904

  4. Sloppy Armbar/Sweep/Recovery Transitions
    • Finally, this last one takes into account that you need to understand that most of your  Triangles will fail, and without a fallback/follow up plan, your failed attempts will inevitably lead to losing any faith that the triangle is a viable technique, because you keep getting passed and eventually pinned down.

      In order of importance, the follow ups most useful for judo competition are
      (There are too many variations to really list):
      1. Armbar
        The natural follow up to a failed triangle, the positioning requires only minor adjustments, and is arguably the easier and quicker technique to finish.

        Search:
        https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=triangle+to+armbar
      2. Guard Recovery
        Upon failure of both triangle and armbar, a practiced guard recovery will prevent the pass, and allow you to stall into a stand-up to prevent further massive expenditure of energy.

        Video:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX1G2RcZ6ro
      3. Sweep
        Sweeps requires a practiced understanding of shifts in Center of Gravity and a good sense of timing, so are not suggested as the primary go to. However, once this understanding is achieved, sweeps will lead your newaza game to a whole new level.

        Search:
        https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=failed+triangle+sweep
      4. Turtle
        In case you forgot, we're talking about Judo!
        Turtling, combined with a little explosive movement when opening up your failed triangle (foot to hip, shrimp up, toss over-the-head leg towards the ground as you face towards it as well), is an effective stall out.

        Appropriately enough, there are a wealth of techniques that allow you to roll back into a triangle from the turtle for those last-ditch submission attempts with 15 seconds left on the clock.

        Search:
        https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=turtle+triangle+bjj
      5. (Misc - other options)
        Note that the first 2 sets of techniques in the following video are generally considered illegal in judo competition

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MersUxFbTSg

Summary:

Every Judo throw can be summarized in three parts:

Off Balancing, Getting in Position, and Execution of Technique

It helps to think about Chokes and Armbars the same way. It's not that the guard/triangle doesn't work it's that one must learn how to pick the battles where they are most useful.

Triangles done improperly are a MASSIVE drain on your energy reserves, and without taking this into account, and without having the right follow up techniques in mind, will leave you at  an extreme disadvantage in competition.

On the other hand. done correctly, triangles will open you up to potential victories while at a disadvantage, and are one of the most useful submission toolsets to have in your arsenal.