Tuesday, February 3, 2015

An overview of Kaori Matsumoto's judo

Kaori Matsumoto is the darling of world judo. Everybody seems to love her. Maybe it's because she's such a skilled technician capable of big and small throws. Maybe it's because she's so confident and capable in groundwork. Maybe it's because of her fierce look and aggressive style on the mat but pretty smile and friendly demeanor off the mat. Probably it's all those things. One thing's for sure, she is popular -- not just in Japan but all over the world.

Matsumoto is a world and Olympic champion and both these major victories are meaningful in their own ways. She won her world title on home ground at the 2010 Tokyo World Championships. Her 2012 London Olympics title was particularly important as she was the only Japanese judo player to have won a gold there.

Her style of stand-up judo is rather classical and she focus almost exclusively on sode-tsuri-komi-goshi which is done to the left and kosoto-gari which is done to the right. She occasionally does osoto-gari to the right but that is often followed up with kosoto-gari. She also does kouchi-gake in a right against right situation.

She is very strong in newaza and will not hesitate to fight on the ground whenever she has a chance to do so. She tends to prefer osaekomi, of which she has two major turns. Her favorite turn is a common one used by Japanese female players, where she fights off her back. But she has a rather unusual turn executed with her facing her opponent from the front. This is done less often but it very effective when successful. She has been known to transition from an osaekomi attack to juji-gatame or koshi-jime. So, it can be said she's quite an all-rounder in newaza, capable of pins, armlocks and strangles.

In the coming week, I'll be posting my analysis of her judo.

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