Breaking Down A Stiff Arm
Opponents who keep a firm grip on you with stiff arms are everywhere in judo. The beginning judo player is sure to have encountered this. Stiff arms essentially keep you at bay. The best bet you have in this fight is to gain an inside grip on your opponent's shoulder. This can then be used it to control them. Thereby methodically breaking down a stiff arm. This isn't quite like breaking grips, but is a really helpful technique just the same. In this step by step video, Travis breaks down the technique into bite size chunks. This will help deliver tangible goals to you.
Creating a Whip
Fighting is almost synonymous with tension and aggression. The truth is, one of the most important things for a fighter is to be relaxed. And it is extremely difficult to learn how to be relaxed and fighting all at once. The relaxation allows us to create elasticity. That elasticity is a "whip" feeling so many elite players are accustomed to creating. The reality is, it's a lot harder to do than they make it look! It's very difficult to be in a fight and simultaneously be relaxed at once. The whip comes from being relaxed up until the very moment they must tense at the end range and create an explosion. This is akin to a spring! This goes back to the stretch shortening cycle and is super common to find in strength training.
Tensing and the Judo Player
Ultimately, fear of getting thrown is what causes judo players to tense up and become stiff. Stiffness will lead to an inability to create elasticity, explosiveness, and whip. When your opponent is giving you a good stiff arm, it's because they are nervous and locked into fear. Take it as a good sign, even if you can't score. The real problem lies when we are losing and our opponent starts to stiff-arm us. They do this because they don't have to really do anything in order to win other than hold on. This is where breaking down a stiff arm comes into play big time. We have to force the action and take some risk in order to score.
Breaking down a stiff arm isn't utilized as often as it could be, so definitely learn it and use it to your advantage.
If you're exceptional at creating that whip, at being relaxed and aggressive all at once, this technique can yield some really excellent results for you. Below are some keep points that you can focus on when learning to execute breaking down a stiff arm.
Make sure you have two hands on your opponent. This not only helps you control them, but it gives you an opportunity to regain control if they counter your attempt to break them.
Try to make sure you have a steady tension on your opponent. Again this doesn't have to be a death grip, but that steady tension will lead you to create the whip that you want momentarily.
Circle toward your strong hand. Whichever is your dominant side, that's the direction you want your opponent going in. That way you can be extra certain you're maintaining control.
Attack the elbows. Don't pull them straight in but try and focus on widening their elbows. This opening will allow you to execute the rest of the break with relative ease.
Breaking down a stiff arm is a lot simpler than it may initially feel when you encounter a fighter keeping you at a literal arm's length. Securing that inside grip and driving your dominant hand up in order to circle your opponent is super hard to counter. That puts you in a really advantageous position, provided you've laid down the foundation and done everything in the right order. This can be super challenging in the moment, but very rewarding when you've regained some control and really re-entered the fight.
Another consideration is how well you can already create whip. If it's not great, it may be worthwhile to work on some strength and mobility, you just might surprise yourself! Keep in mind, being relaxed until you need to be explosive is going to give you the best chance at creating that elastic whip. Think about lengthening those muscle fibers with relaxation and then tensing abruptly and all at once, that's power! That's an explosion!
Give some thought to what we've presented here and see how well you put these words into play on the mats. Breaking down a stiff arm is a simple concept, and can be easy in execution if you're explosive and ready to fight!