Archive for April, 2012

Spring 2012 promotionals coming up

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

The next promotionals are on May 5, and the kata exam is on June 16th. (Thanks to Bob for this info.) The calendar at still doesn't show these events, but you can get an entry form at the dojo. Ask Sensei, Barbara, or Jeff.

For those wanting to take the bus to Tech Judo for the promotionals on May 5, here's my old blog post with directions. I added the map just now.

Three bronzes from the Nationals

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Owen, Jeff, and Paul took bronze at the Nationals on Sunday. Congratulations, guys!

Memorizing the nage-no-kata

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Recently I started studying the nage-no-kata. As Sensei points out, it's something I should know by now. Over the years I've seen friends practice it in preparation for their shodan tests, but I never tried to learn it myself until now.

The first small but nagging hump to get over is memorizing the order of the throws. Some people pick these things up easily enough just by going through the physical motions, but for me, I find it helps to look for patterns and progressions.

The first thing I noticed was an easy way to remember the order of the five sets of techniques. That alone helped a lot. Then I started looking for patterns within and between the sets of techniques.

The five sets — top to bottom

There are fifteen throws in the nage-no-kata, organized in five sets of three:

  • Te-waza (hand techniques)
  • Koshi-waza (hip techniques)
  • Ashi-waza (foot techniques)
  • Ma-sutemi-waza (rear sacrifice techniques)
  • Yoko-sutemi-waza (side sacrifice techniques)

The first three sets are tachi-waza (standing techniques) and the last two sets are sutemi-waza (sacrifice techniques).

To remember the order of the sets, bear in mind that the "hand" techniques are really "shoulder/hand" techniques and the "foot" techniques are really "leg/foot" techniques. You can see that the emphasis of the five sets progresses downward from the shoulders/hands to the hips to the legs/feet to the ground (where you drop to do your sacrifices). It helps if you picture the hands held up at shoulder height.

You can even take this downward progression one step further, considering that the nage-no-kata is the first of two kata that make up the randori-no-kata. (Thanks to Jeff for pointing this out.) The second is the katame-no-kata, which is all done on the ground.

Andy Pernambuco pointed out another overall progression in the nage-no-kata, which is that the throws become more animated, less linear, and less direct. In both sets of sutemi-waza, tori throws uke in large, high-energy circles, and the final set introduces misdirection.

Te-waza (hand techniques)

With each hand technique, tori stands taller.

  • Uki-otoshi: you kneel on one knee.
  • Seoi-nage: you stand, but not straight up.
  • Kata-guruma: you stand all the way up.

Koshi-waza (hip techniques)

With each hip technique, tori's hips rotate more when they contact uke.

  • Uki-goshi: your hips turn somewhat more than 90 degrees.
  • Harai-goshi: your hips are almost square with uke's, but not quite.
  • Tsuri-komi-goshi: your hips are slightly past square with uke's.

Ashi-waza (foot techniques)

With each foot technique, tori's body rotates more leading up to the throw.

  • Okuri-ashi-barai: you don't rotate (just move sideways).
  • Sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi: you rotate 90 degrees to start the throw, and continue to rotate until you finish the throw at 180 degrees, facing the opposite direction of when you started.
  • Uchi-mata: you take two steps that rotate you a total of 270 degrees before starting the throw. On YouTube I've seen some variation on how the two initial steps are done, and on how you finish, but in all cases you start the throw at 270 degrees (a three-quarter turn).

Ma-sutemi-waza (rear sacrifice techniques)

In both sets of sutemi-waza, uke varies the height of his approach to tori.

  • Tomoe-nage: starts with the basic sleeve-lapel grip, at normal standing height.
  • Ura-nage: uke comes in high, with an overhand attack.
  • Sumi-gaeshi: uke comes in low, in jigotai.

Yoko-sutemi-waza (side sacrifice techniques)

Note the parallels to ma-sutemi-waza.

  • Yoko-gake: starts with the basic sleeve-lapel grip, at normal standing height.
  • Yoko-guruma: uke comes in high, with an overhand attack. This not only parallels the ura-nage in ma-sutemi-waza, it is in fact tori's response to uke thwarting ura-nage.
  • Uki-waza: uke comes in low, in jigotai. Unlike in sumi-gaeshi, the active leg is placed outside uke's legs instead of inside.

Final notes

If anyone has corrections or other tips I'd love to know about them. Are there any judo scholars out there who can point me to discussions of how the order of the techniques in the nage-no-kata was decided? I don't mind if the answer is that there simply aren't convenient rules of thumb for everything, and I need to just memorize as I had to memorize the alphabet.

I did a search for "memorizing nage-no-kata" but it didn't turn up the sorts of tips I was looking for, although it did turn up a great article on JudoInfo entitled "Helpful Guidelines for the Learning of Nage no Kata".

Of course my goal is to internalize the kata so that I don't have to consciously think about what comes next each step of the way. Until I reach that point I think it will help to have these mnemonic crutches, and in the future they may be useful for explaining to others or refreshing my own memory. For now I can proceed to the much bigger challenge of actually executing the throws properly. And at some point, maybe at the same time, I need to learn how to be uke as well.

YouTube links

In addition to bugging Jeff, Andy, and Will (who corrected me in a couple of places regarding tori's rotation), I've been using these YouTube videos as study guides.

It's also interesting to watch videos from kata tournaments.