First, the good impressions:
1.The competitors get major points from me for attitude. I saw lots of attacks, lots of ippons both throws and pins and only saw 2 stalling penalties out of all of the matches.
3. There were quite a few throws for ippon.
4. People were generally quite nice, both competitors and referees. I was just some random old lady off the street who didn’t speak terribly good Spanish and they didn’t know me from Adam. Still, everyone I asked was perfectly polite and willing to take their time to answer my questions.
What I think could be improved
I saw no grip fighting, literally, zero.
Nobody blocks a high grip- which might be related to the counters, since if you have a high grip and come in off balance you are more likely to be countered. However, if you have a high grip and can bend your opponent that prevents him or her entering a lot of throws.
Matwork is rudimentary.
Not only didn’t I see a single choke or arm bar, I didn’t even see a single attempt. I actually asked one of the black belts waiting to compete if chokes and arm bars were not allowed at this tournament. He said, no, they were allowed and maybe I would see some. I didn’t.
While there were some turnovers, and more turnover attempts into pins, they were not very deliberate. If you’ve read Winning on the Ground (what do you mean, you haven’t?) , you know I’m usually the one for hitting hard and fast when the situation presents itself, as opposed to Jimmy’s 47-step moves, so for me to say the matwork needs more deliberation is really saying something.
There were no matwork combinations. I didn’t see anyone try a half-nelson. No one tried to do matwork from the guard, either as offense or defense. The only defense was to pancake out.
On the other hand, generally both players tried to attack when on the ground, instead of one just laying there and trying to wait it out until the referee stood them up, so that was good.
World Judo Federation
As for the World Judo Federation, I don’t know exactly what their rules are but there certainly were far less penalties called than in the typical judo tournament. That’s a good thing. They let the players compete without stopping the match a lot to tell them they couldn’t grab here or don’t touch the leg.
I did see one player grab the leg and nothing happened. I asked a competitor who told me that was legal.
From watching, it reminded me of Freestyle Judo. I went to the freestyle nationals a few times and there were very few penalties called and the players were a lot more aggressive, in a good way, with less vying for grips and more attacking than the typical judo tournament. I’m not being a hypocrite here when I just criticized the Chilean players for not grip fighting. I think you can overdo it.
My recommendation would be if you are into freestyle judo you might want to check out their Panamerican Judo Championships next year and give it a go. Probably USA Judo would have a cow but if you are doing freestyle judo, USA Judo obviously isn’t dictating your life.