How To Improve Your Judo with an Uchikomi Programme

How to Improve Your Judo Using an Uchikomi Programme

Uchi- Komi also means ‘to beat against’ and ‘to go in’, others might also use the term ‘drills’ but in essence it is repetitive practise.

I say ‘simply’ in a somewhat tongue in cheek manner because the use of Uchikomi can change your Judo.

How can Uchikomi make my Judo Throws More Effective?

Well the old saying ‘practise make perfect’, is a bit of a falicy. What practice does do is it makes permanent and is never more true when it comes to Uchikomi. It is very easy to ingrain bad techniques and this leads to poor performance in both randori and competition.

In this article we will look into the art of Uchikomi and how you can develop your own Uchikomi programme to enhance your training.

Breaking the techniques down

To ingrain any technique successfully it must be broken down so that the Judoka only has to think of one part of it at a time, and by separating the four sections of hands, head, body and legs, this ensures that each is understood completely and mastered, then you can begin to practise them in full repetition.

Very often weight lifters and body builders will focus mentally onto the muscles they are developing as they are training a specific exercise and Uchikomi is no different. You need to focus mentally on the aspects of your set.

For example the hands- you can practise your Kuzushi by developing a strong pulling action and working on the hand element of a technique.

By breaking techniques into smaller parts you can really learn a lot more about your Judo and this type of training can be mentally and physically exhausting. It is easy to see the hands and forearms of Judoka tire in remarkably short periods of time through simply concentrating on the hand aspect and positioning of a technique.

After hands you need to consider the action of your head & body in the movement, and of course then your legs. Body turning practise is used to help improve the speed of entry for an attack, and head determines the direction of the throw and Uke’s landing, however you still need to start off slowly to ensure your technique is correct before you move forward, remember we do not want to be ingraining mistakes in our training.

On the Move

We all know that techniques would be rarely done from a static position, so you will also need to practise them on the move. Moving Uchikomi is essential but you will need to be relaxed when you are doing this. It is here where you will develop your ‘feeling’ for the techniques.

Work with your partner in a relaxed manner and move them around, start to think about Kuzushi and how you technique can be applied. This type of training is both really enjoyable and also can be very physically taxing as you are starting to change the breathing patterns.

Try to alternate between you and your partner so each becomes the uke and the tori. You can practise your techniques with different grips as well and you soon start to see that your Judo is now flowing.

Speed Uchikomi

There is a difference between speed and endurance and this must be remembered because is it is all too easy to add speed to your training and then see faults start to rapidly appear in your technique. The aim here should be the focus on speed with correct technique. It is one of my biggest pet hates, using Uchi komi for cardio work. It is simply a recipe for disaster. Nothing tears your judo down faster than speed uchi komi done without thought to the technical aspects.

Quality is of importance with speed training and not quantity, it would be easy to add a time limit and see how many repetitions you could do, however after only a few repetitions the quality of the technique would go downhill fast! Remember mental focus in your training is key to getting better, think about your training whilst you are actually doing it. Very easily people will lose mental focus as they tire, this again is another skill area we will look at in the future.

Power Uchikomi

This is one of the best way to develop power and there are two ways that it can be done. The first is one of the oldest methods and is 3 man uchikomi.

This is when you introduce a third person to hold the belt of the uke or support the back, and you can use this method with many different throws. Team work is key here!

The other method I have developed is by using what I refer to as the Wall Mat. Technically by using this wall mat we have added a cross between uchikomi and nage komi.

The wall mat was developed so you can use full commitment power throw training without injury. I can hear you asking ‘But why can’t we use a crash mat against a wall?’

I have heard this question many times but just hold on and look at our wall mat, it is tapered at the top and to our knowledge it is the only training mat in the world to do this! But why?

The unique tapering at the top adds an important space for the Uke to fall into! Without this space you cannot project Uke Forward.

Imagine this-

when you do Uchikomi you have to stop at a certain point because your training partner would be thrown. There is a ‘point you cannot go past’ otherwise the technique would actually turn into a throw and as we all know being thrown at ‘full power’ can put stress on the body of the uke.

So you put a crash mat against the wall and think you can do the same thing as the ‘wall mat’? It doesn’t work because you can only go into your technique to the same point as uchikomi. Are you starting to see just how revolutionary the wall mat is? Your Uke can be thrown past the point where an uchikomi repetition stops, and they will not land on to the floor but bounce back into position ready for the next attack.

For the first time ever you will be able to practise your throws full power, 100% commitment! Imagine what doing 30 of these types of throws in each training session will do to your fitness, your strength and your Judo performance. I will assure you, your performance WILL improve in all areas.

But hold on I can hear people say “but we can use a crash mat on the floor”

The problem with crash mats all come down to the feet, the space you throw gets cut into by the mat so it makes achieving the correct foot work difficult so you have to lift your uke off the floor first before throwing. In addition to achieve that full commitment, you are likely to end up falling onto your uke! Again this forces a lot of impact on the Uke and we all know we need to look after our training partners.

There is a saying “somewhere out there your next opponent is training, are you training harder than them?” Only you can answer that question. I know using the wall mat gives Judoka the edge because they can practise their throws 100% Commitment and your Uke will never complain.

Developing your Uchikomi Programme

By combining all of the above aspects you can quickly develop your own Uchikomi programme that suits your club or your own fitness needs. It might look like this:

Fundamental Aspects

Hands 3 x 20

Body 3 x 20

Legs 3 x 20- each set focuses on the specific area

Static Uchikomi

Pick 5 techniques and perform each techniques in 10’s then perform 3 sets.

It might look like this:

Tai otoshi 3x 10

Osoto Gari 3 x 10

Seoi nage 3 x 10

Ouchi Gari 3 x 10

Uchi mata 3 x 10

Moving Uchikomi

Try utilising the same throws but attack in a variety of directions such as

Tai otoshi – 5 attacks in all directions

Osoto Gari- 5 attacks in all directions

Seoi Nage – 5 attacks in all directions

Ouchi Gari- 5 attacks in all directions

Uchimata – 5 attacks in all directions

Power Uchikomi

Get into a group of threes and try 5 power repetitions of a technique then change uke and tori over. Make sure you each get your turn.

And for wall mat owners you can 3 x 20 throws with 100% commitment!

By using an uchkomi training programme you will see rapid increases in your Judo fitness and ability, however you need to make the time to do this!

I feel I can’t ask my coach to do this for us

It can be really difficult to ask your coach to try new things, after all they go on courses all the time to learn new training programmes but it is easy to get into a rut especially when most Judo coaches have other full time careers outside of Judo to think about.

However you can also train at home!

But I have no training partner! That is among one of the many reasons we developed our Uchikomi bands. You can use them to train at home, to improve your Judo fitness out of the dojo and of course to improve you Kuzushi.

My goal through my legacy project is to help Judoka to improve their Judo skills. I am doing this by writing these articles, by producing educational programmes such as Judo Excellence and of course by creating and developing products such as the bands and the wall mat.

There are many ways to improve your Judo and an uchikomi programme is just one of them, however by training smarter and not just harder you will reap the benefits of your training a lot faster than before.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article, we have lots of treats including videos that have never been seen before coming in the next few months so make sure you subscribe to our blog newsletter for all our articles and updates.

Neil Adams

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