Three Principles for Practicing Judo

By: Jimmy Cox

Even a black belt judo man sometimes makes the mistake of trying to apply a throw before breaking his opponent's posture. If the opponent is also a black belt holder, he will react quickly to prevent the other man from applying a throw directly. Therefore the problem of how to break your opponent's posture is the first thing that must be studied.

A. Break your opponent's posture before applying your throw: kuzushi (unbalancing opponent).

It was Dr. Jigoro Kano who discovered this principle. In reporting his discovery, he said: 'Mr. Iikubo was over fifty years old at the time, but he was still strong, and I used to work with him often. Although I practiced my technique industriously, I could never vie with him. I think it was about 1885 that I found, while practicing randori (free practice) with him, that the techniques I tried were extremely effective. Usually it had been he who threw me. Now, instead of being thrown, I was throwing him with increasing regularity. I could do this despite the fact that he was of the Kito-ryu school and was especially adept at throwing techniques.

"The crux of my study was that a human body would lose its balance if it was only pushed backward or pulled forward. A carelessly standing man, however large and strong, leans backward if pushed from the front and forward if pulled to the front; his posture is broken. A strong opponent, however, may be able to resist your pushing and pulling. Even so, you can easily break his posture backward if you push him backward when he pulls you forward, or pull him forward when he pushes you backward. It must be emphasized that the throw to be applied is effective only when the opponent has lost his balance.

"I told Mr. Iikubo about this, explaining that the throw should be applied after one has broken the opponent's posture. Then he said to me: 'This is right. I am afraid I have nothing more to teach you. From now on, you should continue your study with younger men. I will no longer practice with you.' And he has refrained from practicing with me since. Soon afterward, I was initiated in the mystery of the Kito-ryu jujitsu and received all his books and manuscripts of the school."

B. Take advantage of the waist and abdominal region.

To apply a throw successfully, you must break your opponent's posture. To do this, you must take advantage of his long reaction time. This is done by harmonizing your motion with his. You can develop this ability through long practice. You must harmonize your motion with his, making thorough use of the forces working on you and your opponent.

You can break his posture and apply your throw with success. What is it that gives your actions vitality or life? It is the force of the waist and abdominal region, technically called the correct centripetal pressure.

C. Practice judo in a natural posture.

1. The natural posture is best for practicing judo.

It is clear that the natural posture is the best position for practicing judo (in throwing techniques) because it is the most convenient for a change in position and direction. This is a standing position with feet forming a 90 degree angle.

2. Grappling techniques require a different type of posture.

In throwing, you apply techniques by taking a standing posture. But grappling is done in a prone position, or at least with one knee placed on the mat. Free and easy motions are largely limited for you as well as for your opponent. So "gentleness" or "giving way" is not so evident as it is in throwing. A lower center of gravity and a large base mean shackled motions.

These are the three very important principles in the art and science of judo.

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