Keldiyorova’s Armlock

Uzbekistan’s rising star Diyora Keldiyorova is a juji-gatame specialist. Once on the ground, she will pounce on her opponent and snap on an armlock.

She is very quick to transition from standing to groundwork. This seamless transition helped her win his first match of the day, against Ana Perez Box of Spain and her semifinal match against Odette Giuffrida of Italy.

In her first match, she tripped Box to the ground and although that move didn’t score, it allowed her to quickly apply a juji-gatame and pull her opponent’s arm out straight witho0ut even having to do a roll.

A failed drop attack by Giuffrida, in the semifinal, gave Keldiyorova the excuse she needed to go into newaza. Although their exchange on the ground was a lot longer than the one Keldiyorova had with Box of Spain, in the end, she managed to roll the Italian over and straighten her arm for an ippon.

So far, so good. But trouble lay ahead in the final when she did a move that not only failed to score but earned her a penalty.

According to current IJF rules, you cannot do a fake tomoe-nage for the express purpose of going into a juji-gatame (or any other newaza). If it’s a real tomoe-nage attempt and the fight goes to the ground, then fine. You can do your juji-gatame. But you can’t purposely pull someone down and immediately snap on an armlock.

That’s exactly what Keldiyorova did. The armlock was quick and effective, and it had her opponent Astride Gneto tapping really fast, to save her arm. The referee called “ippon” but then asked the video judges to review the action.

It was decided it was an illegal action, so not only was the ippon voided, Keldiyorova was given a shido.

In the end, she lost the final with Gneto scoring a waza-ari towards the end of the match. At that point, Gneto had already acquired two shidos. Keldiyorova had two shidos as well. But had she not gotten that shido earlier on for doing the fake tomoe into juji-gatame, she would have had only one shido and the strategy for the match would have changed.

With Gneto having two shidos and Keldiyorova just one, she could have played the “Shido Game” and try to get Gneto to incur another penalty, which would have given Keldiyorova the win.

Keldiyorova has obviously practiced this move as she has done this before in other competitions but rarely got caught for it. This time, a eagle-eyed referee spotted a possible infringement and had it checked out by the video judges, who determined that it was indeed an illegal action.

It’s unlikely that Keldiyorova will abandon this move. It has worked so well for her in the past. But she will have to adjust her approach to it and make the tomoe-nage more realistic.