you shouHere are some key tips on how to get good at newaza.

It all starts with mindset. I've heard so many people say things like, "I hate newaza but I'll force myself to do it because it's necessary." For such people, newaza is a necessary evil that should be banned. But since it's not banned, they'll do it.

Such people will never be good at newaza. You can force yourself to do something you hate but you can never be good at it.

So,  you've got to accept and embrace the fact that newaza is part and parcel of judo. You want to be good at judo? You have to be good at newaza too.

Once you've got your mindset right, the next step is to understand how newaza is organized. There are two basic ways you can look at newaza.

One way is from the standpoint of techniques: hold-downs, chokes, armlocks. I would argue there's a third category: sankaku (which has the potential to be a hold-down, a choke and an armlock).

The other way is to see if from a positioning standpoint. Are you riding on top of turtle, or kneeling by the side of turtle or facing turtle head-to-head? There's a fourth option wich is what is referred to as the guard position but that situation is not common in judo. When players do get into a guard position they usually wait for "matte" to be called. In that sense judo is very different from BJJ.

When it comes to learning newaza, it's fine to learn based on the first approach. So, you could learn a whole bunch of hold-downs together. Or chokes. Or armlocks. Or sankaku.

But once you start training for randori and competition, you need to start thinking in terms of positioning, not in terms of categories of techniques. For example, you can think in terms of: What techniques do I have in my arsenal when I'm riding on top of turtle?

This will allow you to build your family of techniques for newaza and figure out what techniques you will do whenever you find yourself in a particular situation.

Rules of thumb
A basic rule of thumb for newaza is that you should always make your opponent feel uncomfortable, when you are attacking them. The more uncomfortable they are, the less able they are to defend themselves because they will be distracted by the discomfort.

Another rule of thumb is that looseness is the enemy of newaza. You should always be tight against your opponent when doing the techniques.

Present a dilemma
A problem, by definition, has an answer. A delimma, on the other hand, has no answer. In a judo contact what this means is you should threaten uke with one technique and then attack them with another technique. For example, you could be trying to hold uke down but if he is too preoccupied with fighting that off, you could go after his arm for ude-garami or choke him. If he doesn't try to get out of the hold, he will be pinned for ippon. If he does try to get out of the hold, he is susceptible to armlocks and chokes. This is what I call a dilemma. You're basically caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.  

Engineering a technique
Some players get newaza wins through transitional moves. So, for example, they might do seoi-nage and immediately follow up with a hold-down, strangle or choke.

Sometimes, some players are very good at this but they might be totally clueless when it comes to engineering, for example, a juji-gatame roll or turning uke over into a hold-down.

To me, being good at newaza means being able to engineer a move.