My son LoudBoy has always been more of a quiet kid until he comes out of his shell, then he can rough-house with the best of them. Birdsnest, my daughter, has a tendency to not stick up for herself, except to her brother. Both of them like to wrestle with me from time to time which I think is just excellent bonding time and really fun. However, in doing this, I’m integrating some lessons on self-defense explicitly and implicitly so that they can defend themselves against bullies should the time occur when words won’t suffice.
I wrestled for six years, took Judo for about one and a half and did Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) for another year and a half. All three sports have stand-up and grappling and are well rounded. Judo and BJJ are two ends of the same martial arts spectrum, with Judo focusing more on stand-up technique and BJJ more on ground grappling, though both contain the other. Though I’ve never been in a fight, I’m not afraid of one and can handle myself. I may have shared the story about getting macho-talk static one time from an acquaintance at a friend’s party. Said acquaintance who was probably at least 5 inches taller and outweighed me by 50 lbs, was talking smack about something I don’t remember, but essentially threatening my masculinity. We got into each other’s faces in a pseduo friendly/psuedo confrontational manner and I did a super basic Judo move I’ll teach you that knocked him off his feet in maybe a second. If you’re unaware, Judo translates to “The Gentle Way”, and is more about using your opponent’s force against them. In this instance, the acquaintance recognized he was being a dick, apologized and I helped him up. Crisis averted, no one was hurt except maybe his ego.
My kids are too young right now to properly give them the information from BJJ on submission holds and chokes, but when the time comes I’ll unlock that door. For now, we deal with basic wrestling and a little Judo. The move I used above, and one I’m currently working on with my kids, is called O Soto Gari (Major Outside Reap). Essentially, you stand facing your opponent, your left hand grabbing the outside of his right elbow. Your right hand is grabbing his left lapel or collar. You pull a little with your left hand, push a little with your right and get his weight onto his right leg while keeping him close. At the same time your hands are doing this push/pull action, you get your feet in position. Depending on the positioning of your left foot, you may need to take a small step forward and to the left, once set, your right leg swings forward (like a kick) between your left leg and the outside of your opponent’s right leg, and on the backswing comes behind your opponents right thigh or knee.
Click below for larger picture of the sequence.
Here it is live:
The trick to this throw is really getting the opponent off balance and getting your feet positioned before he has a chance to back step and adjust his stance. This is a simple, effective self defense move I think everyone should learn. This is an easy one for kids to learn too, though I recommend practicing on softer surfaces. Notice the way his hand comes down during the fall. It’s not braced against the ground (which can cause dislocated elbow/shoulder) but sort of uncoils as it makes contact with the ground, slapping it as the hand finally hits the mat/floor. When the kids get good with this, they don’t need to worry as much about bullying. Do it enough and it becomes instinctual, which is what happened with my pseudo-bully. I didn’t think, just reacted.
Holly knows some Judo too and it’s fun to go back and forth with her rough housing… but those are some stories for another day.