5 Ways To Improve Your Newaza

In today’s article we are going to be looking at ways that you can improve your Newaza. By using these together and by training in a more focused manner, your Judo will improve quickly.

1. Improve Balance

Balance is one of the key factors in Newaza and is often over looked by many. A great Newaza specialist understands balance, and will make you feel as light as feather when they turn you. Many people become obsessed about learning new techniques or variations of techniques yet spend very little time on balance!

A good way too learn and develop your balance on the ground is to use Belt Lines. By this, I mean you can use your belt as a line and the opponent’s belt as a line. This works from the bottom and the top.

Image the scenario if you are attacking your opponent from behind and your belt line is above theirs then there is a good chance that you will tip forward. The same situation can occur when you are underneath, if you are looking for the Juji or you are trying a turnover then you need your balance lines to be right, otherwise you won’t have the weight distributed in the right place and you will be unable to turn them.

By concentrating on your belt line in relation to theirs, you will easily be able turn them over and make sure you are not off balance.

2. Readjustment

Knowing where the balance lines are is not enough. You need to understand that readjustment is essential to great Newaza. In a competition and you’re being held down you won’t escape unless you make re adjustments to your position. A push here, a shift of body weight there, and you will have created some space, use this space to move, escape or turn.

Readjustment of movement and weight are key to the success of the technique, from both the horizontal but also the vertical aspect of weight. Lift you body up a few centimetres and the weight is lifted off. This is becomes a hairy situation where the opponent can turn and can escape. However if the opponent is escaping and they have started to readjust from the bottom you will need to match the readjustment of the opponent to secure your hold down. The reason we sometimes have to lift our weight slightly is so we can get the reaction we want from them underneath. Action- Reaction - just like if we were standing. They may think they are escaping but really they are moving into a more beneficial position for me and I can “lock & load” so to speak.

And remember to keep every adjustment tight. If the first maneuver is loose, it will have a domino effect and just keep getting looser as the technique continues and you’ll end up with no arm, body or neck in your grasp by the end of it. Keep the resistance on at every stage of the technique.

This constant battle of readjustment is essential and comes from practise. You can’t hope to develop this skill by putting in a few minutes of training a week in groundwork. It is a type of 'body awareness' that takes a long time to develop via randori with different people.

3. Don’t Do it well do it great!

Practise makes permanent, not perfect. Training new techniques each week might be interesting, however it is not perfecting. It is very easy to spend years training and not be able to pull off one technique from a variety of positions and against a variety of opponents. To make great leaps in your Newaza ability you need to be able to do a few techniques really well. You might know 100 Newaza moves but how many can you pull off in competition?

Start off by becoming slightly good at 10 techniques but great at a few. Concentrate on a technique and work on it repeatedly. Take the Juji Gatame for example.You should be able to perform Juji from every angle: the top, underneath the opponent, on the left arm, the right arm. You should be prepared to roll, to deal with defences to the technique and you should be able to apply it to variety of opponents and not just your usual training partners.

And mean it!

Ok, so no partner wants to continually get their arms pulled out of their sockets or choked into la-la land, but it important to feel the resistance, to train for the resistance and how to use that resistance to your benefit. You don’t want to be in a fight and have to give over because you’ve not trained the battle of resistance.

The goal is that you end up being able to perform the technique without thinking. However, to get to this level you need to focus on being great at a technique, it won’t happen overnight but it will happen if you put the effort in.

4.Become a Hunter

To become truly great at newaza then you will need to become a Hunter! By this we mean that you must go looking for the most critical aspect of a technique,The Catch!

The catch is the part of a technique which you have to obtain or the technique will not work. In Juji Gatame it is the taking of the arm, in Shimewaza it might be making sure the Gi goes around the neck and not over the face. It might be a case of getting the leg in to turn the opponent. The catch will different from technique to technique, it may also require multiple actions on your part. A leg may require insertion across the opponent’s body as you take the arm at the same time.

You will become a hunter for these catches and when you see them open, you will take them like an Eagle catching its prey.

5. Be Progressive

The rules of Judo require that on the ground you must be progressive. So you need a plan. Once you become great at one or two moves then you need to have an A.B,C and D continuation plan.

What if your opponent starts to stand? What of he moves to the left? What if he moves to the right? You need to have a plan, and where possible a variation of a technique to move into, or possibly a different technique. You may have rolled them with a strangle but due to the opponent’s movements you have lost the technique, but perhaps the juji is now your next logical technique from here. Being adaptable is key to success on the ground.

If you are not progressive, the referee will stop the action on the ground and you have lost your advantage. Always have a next step!!

So there you have it, 5 strategies to improve your newaza.

Until next time.

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