Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Legal Takedown vs an Illegal Slam

verb /slam/
1. Crash into; collide heavily with
2. Put (something) into action suddenly or forcefully
Sherdog's f12 forum recently had a thread with a few excellent examples of both slams and legal takedowns.  Rather than arguing over the legitimacy of jumping guard or the superiority of Judo to BJJ, I'd rather focus on looking at the takedowns from a competition perspective.

In sport BJJ most of the standard judo and wrestling throws are legal despite how closely they might resemble a slam.  While most organization don't explicitly define a slam versus a takedown, US Grappling has a rule stating, "Takedowns are NOT considered slams, but you must deliver your opponent safely to the mat".

As long a takedown is performed in a continuous motion, the natural force of the movement is allowed.  It's when extra force is applied that we have problems.  When considering if a takedown crosses the line into disqualification territory, a ref is going to ask:
  • Did the competitor apply unnecessary force to the technique by running or jumping into it?
  • Did the competitor intentionally attempt to injure his opponent? Perhaps by spiking on the head or driving in with an elbow on impact?

Without further ado, here is the takedown that spawned the thread on Sherdog:

This is a blatant foul. The slammer held his victim over his head and then jumped into the takedown.  Jumping shows an intent to injure, but even without leaving the ground he could have still been disqualified for bringing his opponent down too hard.  Once you've picked someone up that high, you are in an awkward situation.  Based on the rules, you now have the responsibility for putting your opponent on the mat safely.

The easiest way to get out of this situation without being disqualified is to simply set your opponent down with as little force as possible.  The more force you apply, the more likely you'll be DQ'd.  If you'd prefer to go on the offensive, you could try to lower your opponent to a safe level and work a standing guard break.  Regardless of how unrealistic these responses might seem on the mean streets of [your hometown here], there isn't much you can do without breaking the rules.

This next takedown is in the legal grey area.  Here is Rousimar Palhares with an epic high crotch:

In favor of Palhares's throw being legal:
  • The high crotch is a legitimate wrestling move
  • He executes the move in one continuous motion 
  • He doesn't jump or appear to apply excessive downward force.
Against the legality:
  • He lifts his opponent extremely high
  • His opponent lands head first

Under IBJJF rules this move is more likely to be allowed than under regional tournament rules such as US Grappling, but it all depends on the referee.

As I've said it before with borderline techniques, you take a risk when you go into a competition and attempt something that has the potential for a DQ.  Are two points and a takedown worth the chance of losing and injuring your opponent?  Remember, the referee won't always see things your way.

The final takedown I want to look at is a completely legal, yet caused the referee to panic and issue a disqualification:

Even though the throw landed hard, there is no reason this match should have been stopped.  A fireman's carry isn't even a borderline move, it's always legal unless you do it Brock Lesnar style.  Sometimes referees are just overly cautious and make mistakes.

Finally, I want to weigh in on the slam debate.  My stance is that slams have no place in sport BJJ.  A slam is a strike, and BJJ is not a striking art.  If you would like to slam people, please go play a sport that allows it.  Boxers don't throw kicks, wrestlers don't use chokes, and BJJ players don't use slams.