Tag Archives: Kuzushi

5 core techniques – Should this be the focus of your training ?

1,O-Soto-Gari      2,Tai-O-Toshi      3,O-Uchi Gari        4, Uchi-Mata        5,Seoi-Nage


I believe that young competitive Judoka should have a main focus to their technical training. However which techniques should the focus be on? I have selected the techniques above for 1 reason only – They are the throws that work at elite level. Set yourself a simple task. Take a copy of any competition DVD, watch all the contests and make a note of how many different throws are used and which throws win contests. I have done this many times by just keeping a simple 5 bar gate record for each technique and these 5 core techniques are the ones that appear every time I do this. This may seem really simple to think – Yep, I will learn these 5 techniques and I will be able to win more matches. The harsh reality is though that it may take you easily 10 years to become proficient in these individual techniques. Consider what you will have to learn for each technique?

1. Kumi kata for each technique.

2. The basic mechanics of the throw Inc. Kuzushi, Tsukuri and Kake.

3. Uchi Komi – static and on the move

4. Kata variations

5. Nage Komi

6. Competitive scenarios i.e. Left v Left, Right v Right, Right v Left

7. Movement and entry into the throw to make it happen

8. Counters

9. Combinations

10. Executing the throw in Randori

11. Executing the throw in shiai (competition)

12. Transition into Ne-waza

13. Special “Tricks” to make the throw work, feinting, twitching, scenario’s

As you can see (I may have misses other examples) there is a lot to consider when learning individual techniques and this takes time to become proficient. This is why judoka must be patient and not expect to be shown the technique a few times and then expect it to work. Maybe we as coaches dilute the learning process by trying to teach too much? You may find that when you become proficient in just a few techniques, others will follow more naturally and not take so much time to learn. To finish I will describe a scenario that gives you a taste of what I am talking about (not real but just something to think about).

“John” a young Englishman who is taking his training a bit more serious has been doing judo for 3 years and has managed to reach his 1st Kyu (brown belt), training regularly at his club and learning a new technique every other week and maybe knows 20 – 30 judo throws. He can demonstrate all the techniques he needs for the purpose of gaining his grade and syllabus. He feels really confident in his ability and feels good about his Judo. A visiting Judoka ” Kano” on holiday from Japan arrives at his club to participate in the class. John and Kano get talking in the changing room and John discovers that Kano has ben doing judo for around 3 years the same as him. He tells Kano that he is 1st Kyu and asks Kano how many judo techniques he has learned. Kano’s answer was “Just 2 throws” Seoi-Nage and Tai-O-Toshi and that he is still a white belt.

John is feeling good about himself and his ability as he knows way more throws than Kano and is looking forward to the randori session. However on the mat its a different story, Kano throws John all round the mat, using only 2 techniques, everyone of Johns many techniques is countered or defended or blocked.

So the old question remains – Is it all about quality rather than quantity ??????????




Figuring out your opponent – How the experts do it !

Today we looked at how elite Judoka can figure out their opponents quite quickly and identify the main strength of their opponent. Look at the 2nd video below and you will see how Takamatsu (JAP) is able to quickly gauge that Burton (GBR) is trying to dominate him with a strong over the shoulder grip and he is trying to wrap up his arm as this is one of Burtons favorite tactics as you can see in the first video of Burton V’s Perrault (CAN).

1st Video Link – copy and paste into your browser


2nd Video Link – copy and paste into your browser



Takamatsu is happy to flop a couple of times so he can work out a strategy to stop this strong grip. He constantly keeps moving, he blocks Burtons arm from coming over his shoulder, he bats away Burton’s grip, he maintains an upright posture and uses his shoulder to shrug of the grip. The contest slowly changes for Takamatsu from being dominated by his opponents grip, to being in control and Burton getting a Shido. More importantly he has stopped Burtons offensive tactics. When he feels in control he is then able to unleash a massive ippon-seoi nage, which was probably his first meaningful attack in the contest. Note how tight the arm is locked in to Burtons shoulder, note the big pull with the left collar grip creating the Kuzushi and when he completes the throw he throws off the side of his body by rotating his shoulders and not throwing over his shoulder.

Excellent work Mr Takamatsu !!!