Bilateral Judo - Are YOU A Bilateralist?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines ‘Bilateral’ as:

  1. Having or formed of two sides; two-sided.
  2. Affecting or undertaken by two sides equally; binding on both parties: a bilateral agreement; bilateral negotiations.
  3. Relating to the right and left sides of the body or of a body structure.
  4. Having or marked by bilateral symmetry.

I made a remarkable discovery rather early in my Judo training, and it was purely by accident. As an Ikkyu, I’d discovered a liking for Sode Tsuri Komi Goshi, a throw in which you can take a right-handed grip, yet throw to the left side. I developed this throw just in time to compete at my first All Marine Corps Judo Tournament… I was a Lance Corporal, as I recall, and many of my opponents held higher ranks, in both the Marine Corps and in Judo. Yet I came out with a 1st place trophy, enough points to receive my Shodan, and a wonderful insight into the possibilities of doing Judo to both sides.

Years later, I spent some time in an Aikido dojo, and they had this strange idea of practicing all techniques to both directions, alternating right side with left side each time. The Aikidoka doesn’t care which arm you grab, he’s going to execute the same technique to either side with apparently equal precision and power. What a wonderful idea!

Discover just how powerful this idea is - try practicing your techniques to both sides, and you might be surprised at how often you can surprise your partners, who simply aren’t prepared to deal with attacks from both directions.

Particularly powerful, in my mind, are techniques executed to the left, from a right-handed grip.  You will generally lose a wee bit of control, since you are ‘directing’ the throw with a lapel grip rather than a sleeve grip - but the unexpected nature and power will more than compensate.  Give it a try!