European style of Judo and MMA

People throw the term "Judo" around a lot and it is a very bad term to use. The problem is that, Judo itself covers multitude of styles: people from all over the world bring in their native wrestling style to Judo. "Japanese Judo" is just one of the many styles.

In Russia if you train, people do not say "Lets do Judo". They say "Lets wrestle". Small nuance that indicates a HUGE difference from the Japanese approach.

Here, I will talk about European style of Judo. This means mostly Judo as trained in Russia, Georgia, France and few other countries in Europe where I have trained.

Ground game: can you get a good ground game from Judo ? The answer is a resounding yes. There are many many ground specialists in Judo who are as good as your good BJJ black belt.

I believe Judo is the ideal ground game to start with for MMA: when it comes to pins, chokes and arm-bars from the back, it is more advanced than BJJ. BJJ is more advanced with guard passes, sweeps and bottom arm-bars and chokes, and also with transitions.

But if you train under good Judo ground specialists, you will have a very very solid ground game.

Competition: EU Judo is HEAVILY competition based. There is NO TMA spirit in it whatsover. A regular practice in a good competitive EU Judo dojo looks closer to what you see in an Iowa NCAA college wrestling training room than in a standard Dojo that most people imagine. People come in, they pick up random belts, you have world medalists with white belts and they just 'wrestle' for hours and hours on. In general, the volume of wrestling you do in EU "Judo" is huge. My normal Sunday practice was going there at 8am and going home at 1-2pm. So you can wrestle for 3 hours or so.

Also, we would travel every week to compete against other Judo clubs, including Sambo competitions. In Sambo competitions, roughly 30% are freestyle wrestlers or Greco-Roman wrestlers, and as you can guess, they themselves come from a native wrestling style, same as the "judo" guys. :) haha.

Because EU Judo is very competition oriented, it also is HEAVILY oriented on physical training. Physical training in quality Judo clubs is as hard as wrestling, if not harder. The physical training involves heavy weightlifting, plyos, neck work, anaerobic training, and all the advanced physical trainings that people use. It also involves learning to cut massive amounts of weight, using supplements, etc.

Techniques: When I trained "Judo" (for lack of better term) in Georgia, you would think it is a wrestling practice. The grips, the techniques, the power required, is VERY different than Japanese Judo. Period.

Think someone like Karo and Gokor type. This is the standard, not the exception. Except that Karo is weak physically and many who train there seriously in "Judo" are not. They are physical animals.

Anyone good you ask can do standard "Judo" techniques without the gi', no problem. In fact, I regularly practiced seio-nage without the gi', more so than with the gi'.


EU Judo in general is very open minded. Because it is so focused on competition, any technique that works is taken right away. Who cares if it is from BJJ or wrestling: if its good, its absorbed. Show me a good guard pass. If its good, I will take it. Show me a new 2-on-1 entry from wrestling and if its good I will take it.

That is "Judo" as seen in Europe.

MMA and EU Judo:

When you see guys like Karo, Gokor, Ronda, Fedor, Ivanov, they are trained in what I refer to as EU style of Judo.

-- its very physical

-- its very aggressive

-- the ground game is very solid and control oriented.

-- well versed in leg attacks and defenses.

-- you can do your favorite "Judo" techniques without a gi'.

However, all this comes under "Judo": European, Japanese, Iranian, Korean, Brazilian...all these styles are under Judo.

So when people say "Judo", be careful, it can mean MANY different things. Those coming from say Georgia "Judo" are VERRRRYYY different than those coming from Mongolian "Judo" or those coming from Kavkaz region.

I really would encourage most people who train to visit the good European Judo dojo, especially those in the former USSR like Georgia. I think you will find something that is useful to your game, whether it is wrestling, classic for lack of better name "Japanese Judo" or BJJ.  

very informative, thanks.

"I really would encourage most people who train to visit the good European Judo dojo, especially those in the former USSR like Georgia."

You forgot to mention they better be really good at judo/wrestling or they might get hurt


I don't think anyone will hurt you on purpose.

If you are a white belt and have good BJJ, people will work with you on the ground no problem. When I trained, we had few guys from USA BJJ academies visiting and they were impressed. In fact, few of them had hard time leaving, they wanted to train more and more "Judo" (for lack of better name). Great guys !

btw, I should also say from my experience when top BJJ instructors come to teach BJJ ground game, people are very serious and interested. There is none of that, this is Judo or BJJ or whatever.

And in turn many of the Brazilian BJJ instructors who come to EU Judo dojos absolutely love it: people compete heavily and just want to get better so they are delighted to show working techniques. People really appreciate that. I have had a BJJ BB teach me an awesome guard pass very good for Judo competition.

You see, nobody cares there because what people really love is wrestling, whatever it is, Judo is just the name of a particular wrestling sport which allows them to wrestle against more people.