Archive for August, 2007

Uchikomi is everywhere

Friday, August 17th, 2007

seoinage feet

I don't remember when, but at some point I started thinking of small everyday movements as a kind of mini-uchikomi. For example, opening a heavy door: as I pull it open, I imagine pulling an opponent off-balance, and I try to keep a straight posture. Then I use my foot to "sweep" the door further open. I think this small habit helped me learn to do foot sweeps with my hips forward and my foot turned, and with a straight leg and tight inner thigh. Try it and you can see how it makes the movement stronger than if you bend at the waist, which most beginners instinctively do.

The other movements I can think of all relate to seoinage.

  • When I sit down in the subway, I approach the seat as if it's uke and I'm doing seoinage. I use the foot movement illustrated in the diagram above, which is from page 70 of Neil Ohlenkamp's Judo Unleashed. The blue feet are uke. I do a crisp turn to snap my feet into the desired position before sitting down.

  • When I pick something up from the floor, even something small, I squat instead of bending over. I squat straight down in kind of a dropping movement, as if there were an uke behind me and I wanted to "disappear" for a low seoinage. (Actually, to be honest, in recent years I've taken to bending over sometimes instead of squatting. It's not as easy to squat as it used to be.)

  • When I'm carrying a big laundry bag, I carry it on my left shoulder and grip the cloth with the small fingers of my right hand, as if I was about to throw the bag with left seoinage. The left side is my favorite, but I make myself switch to the right. Of course, this idea is nothing new. From what I understand, the basic hoisting movement of seoinage is related to the movement used to hoist a bag of rice on one's back.

As some of you know, I was away from judo for many years. During that time I still opened doors with a foot sweep. I don't remember if I kept the other habits as well, or if they only came back when I came back to the dojo. Now that I'm a real judo player again (rather than just a judoka at heart), I'm more conscious of little bits of judo in the way I move.