Judo Techniques

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While judo includes a variety of rolls, falls, throws, pins, chokes, joint-locks, and methods of percussion, the primary focus is on throwing (投げ技, nage-waza), and groundwork (ne-waza). Throws are divided in two groups of techniques, standing techniques (tachi-waza), and sacrifice techniques (捨身技, sutemi-waza).

Standing techniques are further divided into hand techniques (手技, te-waza), hip techniques (腰技, koshi-waza), and foot and leg techniques (足技, ashi-waza). Sacrifice techniques are divided into those in which the thrower falls directly backwards (真捨身技, ma-sutemi-waza), and those in which he falls onto his side (橫捨身技, yoko-sutemi-waza).

The ground fighting techniques are divided into attacks against the joints or joint locks (関節技, kansetsu-waza), strangleholds or chokeholds (絞技, shime-waza?), and holding or pinning techniques (押込技, osaekomi-waza).

A kind of sparring is practised in judo, known as randori (乱取り, randori), meaning “free practice”.

In randori, two adversaries may attack each other with any judo throw or grappling technique. Striking techniques (atemi-waza) such as kicking and punching, along with knife and sword techniques are retained in the kata.

This form of pedagogy is usually reserved for higher ranking practitioners (for instance, in the kime-no-kata), but are forbidden in contest, and usually prohibited in randori for reasons of safety.

Also for reasons of safety, chokeholds, joint locking, and the sacrifice techniques, which can be very spectacular but often dangerous, are subject to age or rank restrictions. For example, in the United States one must be 13 or older to use chokeholds, and 16 or older, or hold the rank of shodan or higher, to use armlocks.

In randori and tournament (shiai) practice, when an opponent successfully executes a chokehold or joint lock, one submits, or “taps out”, by tapping the mat or one’s opponent at least twice in a manner that clearly indicates the submission. When this occurs the match is over, the tapping player has lost, and the chokehold or joint lock ceases. This allows a merciful exit to the match, and therefore injuries related to these holds are quite rare.

Judo Throws

Forms: Forms (kata) are pre-arranged patterns of attack and defence, which in judo are practiced with a partner for the purpose of perfecting judo techniques.

More specifically, their purposes include illustrating the basic principles of judo, demonstrating the correct execution of a technique, teaching the philosophical tenets upon which judo is based, allowing for the practice of techniques that are not allowed in competition, and to preserve ancient techniques that are historically important but not used any more in contemporary judo.Knowledge of different kata is a requirement for the attainment of a higher rank.

There are seven kata that are recognised by the Kodokan today:

  • Free practice forms (Randori no Kata), comprising two kata:
    • Throwing forms (Nage no Kata)
    • Grappling forms (Katame no Kata)
  • Old style self-defence forms (Kime no Kata)
  • Modern self-defence forms (Kodokan Goshin Jutsu)
  • Forms of “gentleness” (Ju no Kata)
  • The five forms (Itsutsu no Kata)
  • Ancient forms (Koshiki no Kata)
  • Maximum-efficiency national physical education kata (Seiryoku Zen’yō Kokumin Taiiku no Kata)

There are also other kata that are not officially recognised by the Kodokan but that continue to be practiced. The most prominent example of these is the Go no sen no kata, a kata that focuses on counter-attacks to attempted throws.