Why Judo?

Why Judo?

I often get asked what martial art should I do to supplement my SDTS training and my answer is simple: JUDO. 

If you don’t know me I was a Div 1 collegiate wrestler, I have rank in Brazilian Jiujutsu and of course, I’m a second degree blackbelt in Judo. 

So why Judo? 


Judo teaches you to stay on your feet, keep your balance against a much larger and stronger attacker. Maintaining your balance in a fight in critical to enable you to keep mobile and keep STRIKING (or stabbing, or bludgeoning..and EVEN DRAWING YOUR FIREARM). 

On the ground Judo still requires you to fight for a position of dominance. I will note that SPORT JUDO allows you to stall to and get put back on your feet – so for self defense it is CRITICAL that instead you fight to PIN or SUBMIT << Don’t get lazy.

The problem with BJJ is that it encourages you to go to the ground. Forget what “moves” or take downs you practice – it’s the end result and many BJJ fighters use those takedowns to enter into ground fighting.
Going to the ground on purpose is a HUGE mistake since the reality of weapons, multiple attackers or dealing with much LARGER and STRONGER attackers will eliminate most BJJ techniques which are designed to work on someone who is roughly your size or smaller. 


Wrestling offers similar problems. First of all, the most popular takedown is the double leg. This puts you at a disadvantage because you’re literally THROWING yourself to the ground. Now, don’t get me wrong >>> I have done this successfully in the street (many times) however, I am NOT your average grappler and as I get older facing younger, stronger and larger opponents I would run into a TON of problems. However – with a good Judo base, I can still stay on my feet and do what I need to do.

If your average wrestler or MMA practitioner attempted a leg attack in the street against a larger, stronger opponent they will get crushed.

Also, wrestlers don’t have a problem giving up their  back on the ground and everyone who has ever seen an MMA fight knows this is a bad idea and in the street its ten times worse. 


We don’t roll on mats in the street – cement, debris, rocks, etc will CHEW YOU UP. When on the ground you’re best bet is to GET UP as fast as possible << practice this in your training. 


Judo trains you to act with a sense of urgency. One false move, one misstep will end the match. This trains your mind to move with purpose and urgency. This is the EXACT way you need to approach self defense. 

Wrestling and BJJ, while sometimes require urgency – generally preach patience. WAIT for your opponent to make a mistake, create openings – again, this happens in Judo and wrestling but at a typically FASTER pace than BJJ. 

Time in Training

For you self defense purposes, you DON’T need to be great at Judo – all you need is to build up a good defense which can happen in months, not years. If your first SDTS attack doesn’t do what you need, you have a better chance of keeping your balance, stay on your feet and continue to FIGHT or ESCAPE. 

But what about GI or no GI?

You can grip a t-shirt to perform many Judo techniques and you’ll be able to STILL maintain your balance…even if your attacker’s naked (hey, I’m not judging – shit happens). 

Again – this is all about SELF DEFENSE.

Keep your balance, and TAKE GROUND.

Until next time…

Train Honestly,


Published by theselfdefenseco

Founder, The Self Defense Company

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  1. ..its why my son is doing Judo………….his base..then will add self defence as we go………….

    1. Hi James and thanks for posting.

      Besides the benefit of physical activity, your willingness to commit, arts like Hapkido offer little tactical benefit.

      First, small motor skills required for joint locks are NON-EXISTENT when your fight or flight kicks in. This is the activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) that happens when you BELIEVE your life is in danger. This is impossible to replicate in training. Read LtCol David Grossman’s “ON COMBAT”. He goes into this in great detail.

      Second – ACTION is faster than reaction.
      Arts like Hapkido and most martial arts are based on the “ATTACK-COUNTER” principal which means he uses a specific attack and your react with a specific counter.

      This doesn’t work in the real world.

      In the dojang you know you’re going to be attacked, your attacker will “tip his hand” and telegraph the attack and finally your attacker let’s you WIN!

      In the street you don’t know you’re going to be attacked, your attacker is NOT going to telegraph it. In fact a good street fighter will NEVER let you know he wants to take you off the count.

      And finally…It’s NEVER going to be JUST ONE ATTACK.

      It will be a BARRAGE of attacks, stabs and swings.

      Anything you do must ASSUME the following:

      He’s Armed.
      Has Friends.
      Has Intent on hurting or killing you.

      Judo is what Aikido or Hapkido look like when your attacker fights back.


  2. I will have to disagree with you on hapkido….choi the founder first taught judo guys who found it very practical and added inbalanceing concepts to make it a quick take down art that when taught correctly is very fast and efficent the problem occured when tae kwon do guys took over and billy jacked it up and watered it down. Junki kwon school of hapkido still teaches the original version …no high kicks, no acrobatricts just hard hiittng and arm wrenching tactics to immobolise or break somoeones arm.

    1. Which Judo players and when?

      Names, and dates and documentation please (something other than someone’s blog post).

      I know you can’t name them because this is just one of those stories martial arts instructors make up to add validity to their art.

      You will discover that MOST stories told in martial arts studios are just that…simply stories with ZERO truth.

      1. Oh and by the way…THERE IS NO WAY ON THE PLANET a Japanese man in the late 1800’s is taking ANY advice from a Korean.

        Choi studied Daito-ryu around 1920 for a BRIEF period in Japan. I use the term brief because he apparently studied with Uesheba in Daito ryu (aikido wasnt founded until after the war).

        That being said he had limited contact with Ueshiba after.

        This reality in the martial arts IS NOT UNCOMMON. Most people who brought new arts over from Japan and Okinawa had limited time with their instructors (I could probably write a book on that).

        So let’s look at the timeline….

        Judo Founded 1892.

        Choi born in 1904.

        Around 1922 Choi came to Japan when he was 17-18 and studied Daito-ryu jujutsu with Ueshiba for a limited time.

        According to Ueshiba’s son (link here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hapkido) he went back to Korea and started teaching DAITO RYU “on a modest scale”.

        After World War II 1946, he lived in Japan for about 30 years where he obviously studied Judo, Karate and Aikido since most arts were BANNED and the Kodokan was closed for a number of years after the war.

        Keep in mind at this time the founders of JUDO, particularly Kano, wanted Judo to be an Olympic sport when it debuted in 1954.

        I’m sure he worked out with some Judoka and like most athletes do, exchange ideas but I assure you the 4 pillars of Judo were wither DEAD or preoccupied with the olympics and spreading the message of Japan through Judo emissaries.

    1. No thank you I’m full.

      Seriously, I don’t know anything about it – every culture has their own form of grappling. Judo is accessible and CLEAN. Two organizations, specific set of standards…not this “I’ll promote you when I feel like it based on what I think.” nonsense.

  3. Great Article Damian,
    I think boxing is also very good. You are correct I see to many BJJ instructors that there first defense is go to the ground.

    1. I’m really glad you mentioned boxing.

      The reason for Judo was because it’s a martial art that would SUPPLEMENT the SDTS.

      Because if I took out the SDTS and said which martial art I thought was bet for self defense…it would be boxing.

      That’s because you’re trained to “hit first” and not wait to be attacked (same as the SDTS).

      When someone gets into range, there’s no “waiting to be attacked” <<< this is why our beloved martial arts FAIL. You wait for the attack and then try to defend.

      Boxing you just hit…and you TRAIN TO HIT IN COMBINATIONS (just like the SDTS).

      Now if you're going to really use your hands for self defense you should do Module 6 regularly or else you're going to break some knuckles.

      So if the SDTS didn't exist…and you wanted to learn something YOU KNOW works…go box.

      Great comment.

  4. I desperately wanted to learn self-defense after surviving an abduction and life-threatening assault as a teen. This traumatized the crap out of me, and I NEVER wanted to EVER feel so vulnerable again. So I began with Judo under a black belt instructor, then tried several of the striking arts which included the combination art of Hapkido. My Hapkido instructor was 2nd degree black belt from Korea who said he taught us original Hapkido self-defense. After learning approaching 200 Hapkido skills, I was injured so badly from heavy sparring that I could not continue my formal training. All of us who trained in Hapikido for 6 months and longer suffered a least one broken bone or worse. Both Judo and Hapkido taught us to initiate most of our techniques “AFTER somebody began their attack with grabs, punches, kicks, weapons, or whatever.” Don’t get me wrong, there were many positive things that came from my formal martial art training, i.e. great relationships, better balance, coordination, athletic fitness, knowledge of Asian cultures, skills like powerful kicks, hand strikes, and development of martial art values, i.e. respect, honor, integrity, humility, indomitable spirit. But in hindsight, I lacked important street defense and survival skills. I was not properly trained in de-escalation, avoidance, and distance management, the justification for preemptive defensive strikes when physical conflict was imminent, the use of legal defensive aids like pepper spray, tactical flashlights, edge weapons, etc., ways to protect myself from legal implications of a fight, what do to do after a physical assault, and the requirement to learn so many specific complex motor movements used in joint locks, restraints, and throws that can easily go wrong in times of high stress (outside the safety of the dojo or dojang), especially with attackers of different body types, sizes, strength potentials, motivations, pain tolerance, and unexpected reactions. So I stand strong on the acronym of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Savagely Simple).

    1. Well said Jerry.

      All martial arts are based on that “attack-counter” principal but as you know against a DETERMINED, CAPABLE predator it’s too late and impractical.

      In martial arts we’re taught to put everything in “nice-neat packages”. Clean and tidy. We are attacked – there is no question we’re attacked, we give a “measured-response” to the attacker.

      He grabs our wrist > we put him in pain with a joint lock.
      He punches> we block and punch back.

      This makes us feel JUSTIFIED but in reality it does not work.

      Attacks are messy and uncertain. They come at the worst time.

      You are never ready like you imagine.

      In the civilian world, you’re not a soldier on a mission or a police on patrol. You’re not a bouncer working a door EXPECTING to use force. You are going about your day and your FOCUS and ATTENTION are at the task at hand. Even when you’re approached and your warning sensors are triggered…YOU STILL NEED TO ADJUST.

      Like you see in module 1 – the dodges predators use are made to disarm you.

      Even off duty police and soldiers suffer the same SHOCK and STRESS as civilians because like you, they’re off duty and their focus in on their everyday life.


  6. Judo did exist in korea….called yudo….same difference and it was Korean judo players who xhoi taught first when returning to korea.

  7. son won two Judo matches today…want him to do at least an intensive two years getting the base……..he is 10..then got my BOB at home he can hit in combos as we go…………..etc

  8. Hi.thanks that was very helpfull
    But my question is be side training judo, which sport do you prefer?
    Please answer me.thank you

  9. I agree boxing and judo are the best to supplement SDTS. or any of the early 1900s Jujitsu that was taught in the west alongside Judo the goshin jujitsu that was very similar to judo but not koryu stuff as this is not practical.

  10. I’ve been taking Krav Maga what would be a good martial art to supplement? Judo, kickboxing, etc. ..?

    1. You should probably read the post again…?

      Or ask your Krav Maga Instructor.

  11. Absolutely sound advice! I practice Judo and BJJ, I primarily focus on only the moves that would work in the street. I focus on fundamentals, balance, breath control, and base. I avoid spending too much time on inefficient “fancy” moves, however in training I’ve developed a good sense on how to defend them. One of the greatest things about judo is the constant focus on controlling the hands or arms. My eyes are on there hands—I’m trying to control their wrist, elbow, or shoulder. This truly helps in self defense.

  12. I agree with you Damian. What would you say about learning Judo from a club who only teaches it for sport?Can most of what you would learn from sport Judo be translated to self defense?

    1. Judo is a SUPPLEMENT not a SOLUTION.

      It teaches you to stay on your feet and maintain a position of advantage.
      It get you in good shape and increases toughness.
      It shows you how to use clothing to your advantage – WE RARELY FIGHT NAKED OR AT THE BEACH.

      That’s what judo will do for you.

  13. i ALSO DISAGREE WITH YOU THAT SMALL JOINT MANPULATION DOESNT WORK..When i was a doorman it worked for me all the time…..and the very basic ones. Everthing requires an understanding on the concepts that make them work. Most dont train them correctly so dismiss them….this is equevilant to a kid trying baseball and becuase he or she cant pick it up then quiting……Hapkido has all the strike you teach in sdts ….many of similar drills etc….also trapping drills to connect the dots and develop reaction. Again it depends who you are training with.

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