I’ve been doing a lot of combinations in my training lately, because we practiced sweep combos at LBJJC for the past couple weeks, then yesterday in no-gi Throwing Sunday at the dojo, we worked on combination throws. In the earlier days of my training, I would generally view the first technique in a combo as simply a means to an end, with the second technique being the true goal (and I’ve seen other beginners approach it the same way), but then I realized that the reason combinations are so effective is because they enable you to create a reaction in your opponent and take advantage of it, which only happens if you do the first technique like you mean it, because it’s not supposed to be a fake. You should really try to get it, and if your opponent doesn’t defend properly, you won’t even need the second technique!
One of the things Amy had us work on with combinations in Ethridge class yesterday was defending against throws, so we would each try to do a forward throw, then when our partner blocked (by dropping their center of gravity and/or hip-checking), we would switch to a backward throw, but if they neglected to defend the first throw (or didn’t block it well enough), we would go ahead and throw them forward. This type of practice really helped me to see how one technique sets up the other, because to defend being thrown forward, you usually lean back, which puts you in danger of a backward throw (and vice versa). In rolling, sometimes newer people will try to muscle a technique on me when the conditions aren’t right for it (which may work anyway if they’re much bigger or stronger than I am), but that isn’t “maximum efficiency with minimum effort”. Instead of trying to force your opponent to move a certain way, you can either cause them to do it in defense, or you can just try to take advantage of whatever they chose to do. “Throw them the way they want to be thrown.” -Cap’n Judo.
In a rare twist in Ethridge class, Joe and I didn’t do any true randori or rolling yesterday, but we did practice executing a sacrifice throw after blocking our partner’s initial throw attempt, which added another wrinkle to the combination equation, and since at that point we were both trying to throw each other, it came down to whoever reacted faster was the one who got the throw (which usually wasn’t me ;). You typically have only a short amount of time to capitalize on a change in balance, and I was able to feel Joe’s kazushi yesterday, I just wasn’t aggressive enough in taking advantage of it!