The Most Powerful Footwork Pattern In Judo.


To improve your Judo, particularly shiai, you must speed up your techniques… one of the ways to do this is to shorten the number of steps that you take when entering for a throw.

Let’s examine any forward throw (as opposed to a backward throw such as Osotogari).  Right-sided Tai Otoshi, for example… we normally teach students to take a step forward with the right foot, placing it generally close to uke’s right foot.  Then we step around with the left foot, placing it so that the toes are now facing in the opposite direction from your beginning stance.  Then your right foot shoots over beyond uke’s right foot to execute the technique.  This is the normal three-step entry that every Judoka is familiar with.  Nothing wrong with this stepping pattern - it’s merely too slow for advanced Judoka.

Now, when I’m teaching a competition form of Tai Otoshi,  I tell students to stand with their right foot forward (taking a right-handed grip).  Now there’s no need to do a three-step pattern for Tai-Otoshi, as you already have step one completed!  And, I might note, it’s a more natural posture… having one foot forward.  (Taking a right-handed grip, it’s natural to have the right foot forward, and ditto with a left-handed grip, you’d naturally have the left foot forward.)

Now, here’s the trick.  With your right foot forward, you must spin your hips, and take your left foot around, and plant it, facing the opposite direction from your right foot.  You must transfer most of your weight to that left foot as well.  This must be done at a fast speed, and your left foot must stomp into the mat.  This provides the driving force needed to move uke forward as well.

Note that I’ve not described the hand/arm movements, as they’d vary with the throw you’re doing… but as you stomp your left foot, your arms will be doing their job as well.  For example, with Tai Otoshi, your right forearm will slam into uke’s chest - preferably midway between the left side of his chest, and the left-facing side of his chest.  (Do you get this?  You want your forearm to exert pressure to uke’s right direction, not to his back direction!)  Your pulling left hand will be doing exactly that… pulling uke diagonally to his right.

If you’re advanced, you already know this footwork… you can practice synchronizing your stomping left foot with your hand/arm movements.

By the way… this stepping pattern can be performed as a sort of uchikomi - with no particular throw associated with it - it makes a wonderful warmup exercise at Shiai, without giving any clues to possible opponents as to your tokui waza.