Boosting Your Training With Uchikomi

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Uchikomi, is an exercise that no serious Judoka should ignore.

Everyone is always looking for an edge. Therefore, we train with the most advanced methods that science has to offer (or that we can afford). From Crossfit to computerized dieting plans, training in the martial arts has changed over the years.

What if I told you that all the fancy exercises we do are unnecessary? Or rather that there is an excellent ‘traditional’ exercise that does wonders for your throwing and Judo game.

See the advanced Judo & Bjj technique here:

What is Uchikomi

Originally, the word uchikomi means ‘repetition training’ in Japanese. Essentially, it is the act of going through the motions of a throw without fully completing it. As you practice, you stop just before the part that would throw your partner to the ground. This is a concept that exists in every Japanese martial art and is an integral part of kendo.

In fact, no martial art, whether Eastern or Western is complete without it.

The Logic behind Repetition Training

They say practice makes perfect. Of course, we all know that you have to try something a couple of times before you really grasp it. That is the essence of uchikomi. First and foremost, it is a training method that allows you to ‘feel’ your techniques. You constantly make adjustments to your entry and positioning. Consequently, this in turn will allow you to perform swift and powerful throws.

Next, you may think, “Why bother with this if we do randori (free sparring)?”

But, randori can get very competitive. Both you and your training partner are applying a lot of force. Somewhere in between, a good amount of your technique gets lost in translation. How are you going to learn proper execution if you’re always moving at a fast pace?

In reverse, Uchikomi is different because your partner offers varying degrees of resistance (and your aim isn’t to actually throw him). Then you get to practice without having to worry about being countered.

At the same time, your partner isn’t just a ‘dummy’. If your technique is bad, he adjusts himself to make it as good as possible. Eventually you pick up on how he is repositioning his body to meet your bad technique, and you start doing the right thing instead. It involves a mix of conscious coaching on the part of your partner, and observation and intuition on your part.

The great thing is that uchikomi doesn’t only increase your technically skill but also your speed and power. Together with these things, a well performed uchikomi is explosive. It is quick, but with excellent grip placement and technique. Many times you will slightly lift your partner on your shoulders as you are practicing. Just like lifting weights this will strengthen your muscle.

How to Perform an Uchikomi

Now, applying this training method is simple as pie.

  • Step 1: Place your hands on your partner as if you were grip fighting.
  • Step 2: Step in and adjust your grip for the throw you want to practice.
  • Step 3: Execute the first half of the throw (DON’T throw your partner).
  • Step 4: Step back to your starting position.
  • Step 5: Rinse and repeat.

The specific uchikomi for every throw is a bit different, since ever throw is unique in its own way. That’s why it’s best to start out under the supervision of your sensei, if you aren’t sure of the motion.

Ideally speaking you practice uchikomi with a partner. That’s the thing about judo. Naturally, you depend on other people to develop you skills. That’s also why you can make great gains in Judo over a shorter period of time as compared to boxing or muay thai.

If you don’t have a partner you can also use a belt or rope. Simply tie it around a pillar at your shoulder height, hold onto it with both hands and execute the motion. However, this isn’t the best way to practice as you don’t get to feel how a human body reacts but you can put a lot of force into it.

Besides, you can also practice with two partners at the same time. One receives the uchimoki while the other holds on to him, increasing the resistance. This simulates the struggle you would go through in competition more accurately.

In fact, Uchikomi is an excellent and timeless training method. If anything, it is a must for the practicing judoka. The concept itself can easily be adapted to other martial arts as well. Greco-Roman wrestling and San-Shou could make could use of it. When applied right this will force your game to the next level.

Here is a great video of Toshihiko Koga (1992 Olympic champion) explaining the value of uchikomi.

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Robert Sterling
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Teaching, Friendly, Young, Passion. Always wanna go up & down. Hey, you gotta live, do you?  

I would like to add more useful articles for Martial Arts Community. Do you have any feedback for me? What can I do better for my blog?

Hope to receive your warm feedback.

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