Why Judo? – The Self Defense Company

Why Judo?

Why Judo?

I’m often asked what martial art should I add to 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,


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Published by Damian (Instructor)

Founder, The Self Defense Company

Join the Conversation


  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.

      1. Glad you said this. If there was only one martial art to stand above the rest, personally, I believe it to be boxing for its philosophy, physical requirements and practicality in every situation. I love many martial arts, but boxing? It has to stand as the first and last in many respects.

        1. Boxing has many good attributes – however…two issues with regards to self defense.
          1. Hand protection (wraps and gloves) allow you to strike in a manner 180 degrees different than if you were fighting bare knuckle. So unless you’re specifically training in bare knuckle boxing (look at the old school module in the elite member’s section) you run the risk of severely injuring your hand.

          2. The clinch – in boxing this is where the “fight stops” so to speak, but in the street – it’s just another situation you need to deal with. You would still need to maintain your balance and break on your own (without the rules and a ref telling you). And this is why Judo trumps it for the street.

          Again, striking first and hard gives you the edge (welcome to the SDTS). But if you miss…you need to maintain your your balance.

          1. I agree Damian I have seen a few pro boxers get into street fights and next thing you know you see them on TV with a cast on their hand or hands

  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.

    1. Small joint manipulation only works on compliant people.

      If you can apply a small joint lock – you can get the same result with a strong command.

      I’m only interested in non-complaint, combative subjects… and on them, that crap won’t work.

  14. The problem in the USA for Judo is, to my knowledge, there are VERY few places to train in it. I’m guessing probably only in the (very) bigger cities.

  15. I’m no expert in Judo but it would make sense as a base for movement because you have develop a sense of balance.

    Balance is only balance WHILE moving. Everyone is balanced standing still. Everyone can hit a static target. So obviously people need to develop great balance while moving which will also make it far easier to hit moving targets. Because balance is power, so you want to hit while moving WITH power.

    I never took Judo but my brief high school football taught me a lot. I was 6’3” 176 lbs at the time and I had to block or rush guys who were like 5’10” and 225-250lbs. I was tall and skinny and light and they were shorter, denser and heavier.

    I was successful however because I learned to get my center of balance underneath theirs while also keeping quick footwork. Cuz you want to engage at angles, or engage and then suddenly you shift to a different angle.

    Stuff like that is immensely useful to fighting because it’s gross motor manipulation of your balance versus the balance of another. Being tall put me at a huge disadvantage but it also made me learn how to get leverage.

    And because I weighed so much less I learned to viciously engage as fast as possible and then IMMEDIATELY change angles on the heavier dudes. No way I’m wrestling any of these guys. But a heavier guy with momentary loss of balance is basically a tackling dummy.

    Simple things like that I find to be so much more useful than martial arts. Physical movement is physical movement. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. Playing basketball or unloading a shopping cart. Balance is what allows physical movement of ANY kind.

    Right? If you couldn’t balance, you couldn’t move.

    Therefore, everyone has a sense of balance, and the real training lies in taxing and sensing that feel of your own balance while under stress. This is the real idea of “staying centered.”

    Athletic ability is athletic ability. If you took The Professor — a one on one basketball genius on YouTube — and taught him a few strikes, and told him to do exactly what he does when dribbling except to hit people in various areas of their body instead of dribbling a ball, he’d be basically unstoppable because he’s already got great balance.

    The only potential pitfall would be if instead of fighting the SAME way he plays basketball, he tried to fight like a martial artist or an MMA guy. I’d tell him to do exactly what he does when playing basketball.

    This also demonstrates that each person has to work to their own ability and strength and experience. If someone was a ballet dancer, this person has incredible balance. So my approach would be to tell them to do very violent ballet.

    Balance is balance, and different activities develop it in different ways. But if you have balance — which is ONLY balance IF moving — then you’re already 90% of the way there. As opposed to seminar attendees and video watchers who know all the techniques but likely suck at moving in a chaotic atmosphere. At least a sport trains you to move in a constantly moving environment.

    So with people who are used to moving I would tend to add on to what they’re already used to doing instead of trying to make them a “martial artist.” That’s where I see great athletes go wrong. Forgetting the big picture of destruction in favor of creating an image.

    So Judo is another great example. Added to which I think throwing someone onto their head on the concrete would basically kill them. But you’d throw after you strike something damaging to finish them.

    This is another problem with MMA where you can toss someone on the mat twenty times and they get back up to win the fight. That ain’t happening in a fuckin parking garage. They’ll be breaking something or dying. So Judo seems to me to be an awesome thing to practice.

    Balance DOESN’T mean wrestling. It means studying balance WHILE moving, and the duration of that movement should be as violently BRIEF as possible in order to end the threat.

    If you have great balance but you want to wrestle someone for a half hour, not good.

    Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I want to or that it is ideal.

    So, whether Judo or any other athletic activity, never forget the big picture of balance WHILE moving.

    After all, the greatest athletes in every sport are those who have developed the greatest balance. Not even necessarily the fastest or the strongest.

    Killing someone with your own body is an athletic physical activity. So if you’re serious about this then you’d better be working out and increasing your fitness and balance like you would with any other physical activity.

    There are no secrets: as always it’s a question of discipline and honesty, which of course are the two components of character to begin with.

    So the balance of your character will pretty much dictate the rest anyway.

  16. I’ve got to add an addendum that occurred to me earlier while running through the woods, and I think illustrates both the absurdity of MMA and also the application of my previous comments on balance.

    And, btw, trail running after heavy rain is great for balance.

    I thought of Herschel Walker doing MMA. I saw one fight of his — might of been UFC. Don’t know. The fight was a ridiculous, obviously fixed, nonsensical horseshit laden farcical satire of some kind. Much like the horrifically acted Mayweather/McGregor stage production.

    I don’t bother watching MMA anymore, cuz I don’t want my mind polluted with nonsense, and also because the quality of the actors seems to be rapidly decreasing. This seems to be true of a lot of sports. Back in the day, at least the fixed sporting events were a lot more bad ass to watch. Basketball used to be full contact, martial artists were clearly way better back then, etc. Even football with guys like Barry Sanders.

    But, let’s pretend we live in a sane, logical world, where Herschel Walker is not an actor. He’s going to go into a cage to fight some guy.

    Herschel Walker is a guy who is one of the greatest athletes of all time. This is like a walking embodiment of balance and power and agility and strength WHILE moving.

    I’m his coach. Let’s assume he’s already in NFL playing shape. I’m like, “Mr. Walker, you’ll be ready to fight in literally a week — doesn’t matter who your opponent is.”

    This is going to be so, so, so simple. This guy is a fuckin incredible athlete. There is NO MMA fighter alive who can move like this fuckin tank of a dude. Or as fast. Or as balanced. Period, and go fuck yourself.

    In a sane world, I tell him, “Mr. Walker, when you get in the ring, you’re going to do EXACTLY the same thing you do when you’re running the football. We’ll add in like two or three additional things.”

    Now, Mr. Walker has spent his entire career running over and around guys trying double leg take downs on him while they were also closing on him at like 35 mph. I mean, watch some tape of this guy running a ball. Plus, he also went to pro baseball and had great success which is incredible, even given sport fixing. The guy is an incredible athlete.

    So I tell him that when the bell rings, he’s going to sprint at his opponent full speed. He’s used to this. They can respond in four ways. They can duck left, duck right, try to take him down, or try to hit me as he closes.

    Nothing he ain’t used to. He’s used to cutting and changing direction at a full sprint. If they try to move out of the way, he cuts the ring off on them and closes like the semi in “Duel.” If they go for a takedown…oh shit — for them. He’s been dealing with old school gridiron safeties a lot better at double leg takedowns on the run then they’ll ever be. They go for a takedown they will get run the fuck over. A knee to the face at 4.5 speed.

    They try to hit him while he’s coming in, same deal. I tell him, “just throw up an elbow, or a stiff arm.” I mean imagine Walter Payton just chin jabbing guys.

    Like, in a sane world, there’s NO way an athlete like Herschel Walker doesn’t literally MURDER the other guy. You will NOT stop what I just described. Your only hope on the street would be to catch him in the eyes or throat to stun him and stop him, and then stomp thru his ankle to put him on the deck, and then stomp his throat — or stomp other joints enroute to his throat.

    I can’t take the UFC. It’s laughable nonsensical horseshit. It’s acting. And when I saw the one match with Herschel Walker, it was just so ridiculous. Obviously, he trained to “ACT” like an MMA guy, not actually to destroy.

    Any fight in which you see two guys circling each other, or striking and then BACK OFF, is NOT A REAL FIGHT.

    In real life, you attack with immediate and overwhelming viciousness and you NEVER STOP until the other guy is mutilated meat. This approach would ALSO work in a sporting environment, even with rules. But when do you see anyone attack and NOT STOP until their opponent is down and out?

    You never see this! This is absolutely nonsensical! And then you’ll see a lot of people IMITATING this sporting style in street fights. Circling, engaging and then disengaging. It’s ridiculous.

    You’d only disengage to run away. Like, I’m going to stop, back off, let you regroup and reformulate a better way to fuck me up?! Where the fuck am I livin?

    This is why even tho I’ve got a mean temper, it takes a lot to get me into a fight. Because I do not intend to stop EVER. So, in my mind I’m always seeing dead bodies and blood everywhere and usually the provocation is nowhere near appropriate to this reaction.

    One of my favorite quotes is from the rap duo Mobb Deep: “Ain’t no such things as half way crooks.” This statement is so profound on many levels. It explains why the general public is always duped by their leaders and played for suckers fairly routinely. Because half-way crooks will always be ruled by all-the-way crooks. The average person has average character. Like Jesus said, be hot or cold, but fuck the lukewarm. Exact quote.

    But, as applied to violence, ain’t no such thing as half-way violence. You can’t play around with violence. Don’t threaten people, don’t think you’re just going to get into a fist fight, don’t point weapons at people to show em up. Either you’re going to fuck a guy up for life — or death — or you’re not. And there’d better be a good reason.

    Because even if you half-way fight, someone can still die. So you might as well make it intentional.

    So there’s that point. But the point about Herschel Walker illustrates how un-fancy combat has to be. It also illustrates the real combat value of incredible balance and power and athleticism. Because if Herschel Walker just fought the SAME way he ran a fuckin football, he would absolutely devastate anyone. But he would have to completely throw out all stereotypes of MMA and fighting and just think in terms of another guy trying to hit him and/or take him down.

    And getting hit or taken down by a safety in old school NFL… Yeah, fuck the UFC. It’s one hundred percent theatre. And I strongly suspect there’s an element of sick fucks who just like rolling around with sweaty dudes on the ground. I’m not even joking. But just the idea of that makes me about 20 times more potentially violent…

    So, think honestly, as they say. So much of what you see is entertrainment — spelling intended — and conditioning. It’s not real, and it’s not what you want to imitate. I like to think from scratch. Then I’ll stumble across other people with solutions that match mine, and that’s how I know they actually thought about them. Guy’s like Bruce Lee and Carl Cestari are examples, and not so much for their physical techniques but for their PHILOSOPHY OF THINKING.

    Philosophy of thinking and understanding is your greatest asset. Principles underly techniques and without sound principles and rational thought, then techniques will fail you even if potentially viable.

    Honesty is the number one asset of a human being. Ruthless internal honesty.


  17. Damian, many years ago, my employer (a paving contractor) was badly hurt by part time truck driver he used on occasion. They argued toe to toe with each other, and without warning, the truck driver hit him in the mouth, busting his lip clean through and blood was splattered all over him from the punch. I got there right after the assault. Is there any kind of defense to keep from getting sucker-punched? This has never happened to me, but down life’s road, I would like to be prepared. My question most likely can also be answered as I train in your SDTS.

  18. Thanks for posting Tom and to be clear, your boss didn’t get hit “out of nowhere” – the argument was the warning.

    Lesson 1 – establish distance, create a reactionary gap. Once your boss let him into his personal space he lost.

    Attacks aren’t random and come out of nowhere. There is a size up event that leads up to the attack and the SDTS focuses starts before the actual, physical assault. This separates us from a lot of programs.

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