The Ground Game (Newaza) is often a secondary focus in Judo, but this doesn’t extend to all Judo competitors and the current Olympic games have proved it. One of our featured players just answered why he focuses so much on ground game. His answer?
“Because nobody else is doing it.”
Indeed these are the fresh words of a judo Silver medalist in the upto 81kg division Travis Stevens. You can watch his whole journey here. But he is just one in a line of older and contemporary athletes who find themselves more attracted by the ground game.
Here’s the Top 14 Newaza artists:
Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki (Japan)
He won the silver medal of world championships in 1975 and gold medal in 1981.
Kashiwazaki retired in 1982 and became national coach in England, Canada, Germany and so on. As of 2009, he coaches judo at International Budo University in Japan. He was known for his superior ground game and also cross trained in Sambo and Wrestling.
Having broken his arm at the age of sixteen, he found himself unable to use his favorite technique- Morote-seoi-nage any more. He had to rethink his judo and began to study ne-waza, eventually becoming so strong that by the end of his fourth year at Tokai he was part of the team in open-weight events, due to his ability to beat bigger men on the ground.
Kashiwazaki also broadened his horizons by studying various non-Japanese forms of wrestling, travelling to many different countries in the process. In particular he devoted a lot of time to Russian Sambo wrestling- eventually winning a world Sambo title in 1975.
Udo Quellmalz (Germany)
Udo Quellmalz os 1996 Olympic Champion and 1991 and 1995 World Champion. He was performance director of the British team and coached in Austria and Qatar. Double Olympic medallist 1992-1996, 4 World Chs. medals and 3 European medals.
He was revered for his aggressive style and dominant ground game and particularly for his Quellmalz choke.
Neil Adams (Great Britain)
Neil Adams won numerous Olympic and World Championship medals in judo representing Great Britain. Adams was the first British male to win a World title, and the first British male to simultaneously hold a world title and a European title. Other achievements include a gold medal at the 1981 World Judo Championships in Maastricht, the Netherlands, plus silver medals in the 1980 and 1984 Summer Olympic Games and the 1983 Judo World Championships. Adams was also five-time European Champion. On 20 September 2008 he was promoted to 8th Dan at the age of 49. He is known for his ground game (ne waza) and his arm lock.
Adams has released a new series of Judo instructional entitled ‘Essential Judo‘. Check out how to do Adams’ famous arm lock which was taught to Jason Morris, Ronda Rousey’s Judo instructor who then taught it to Ronda:
Flavio Canto (Brazil)
Flávio Canto is a Brazilian judo champion and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, who won the bronze medal in the – 81 kg division at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. He previously competed at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Canto won three medals in a row at the Pan American Games: 1995, 1999 and 2003. He is known for his high level ground game and there are many stories of him having dominated many BJJ champions on the ground in training.
In 2004’s there was talk of organising a grappling superfight between Flavio Canto and Ronaldo Jacare (then world bjj champion, who also had a strong Judo background). The project never came to life.
Leonardo Leite (Brazil)
2 x world BJJ champion and former athlete of the Brazilian national Judo team. He won the Pan American gold medal in Judo.
Leonardo Leite is what you might call a grappling phenomenon. in Jiu Jitsu he is a 2x IBJJF black belt world champion and was the first person to defeat José Mário Sperry at black belt back in 1999. in Judo, he was part of the Brazilian national team in the Olympic games in Beijing in 2008 and was silver medalist at World Cup Judo . And in little more than a year fighting MMA professionally, “Leo” accumulated 5 wins and no losses and became light heavyweight champion Legacy Fighting Championship.
Leo Leite defeated Andre Galvao at the 2013 IBJJF Worlds: