As a member of the Philadelphia Judo Club, one of the things we are required to do to get through the ranks of brown and black belts is kata. For first degree black belt, we have to do Nage no kata both as uke and tori, each of the fifteen throws down on both left and right sides.
While my goals in judo at this time are strictly competition oriented, I find that learning kata has been useful in becoming a better uke (understanding the dynamics of being thrown). Also, in my limited experience with it, I have learned in just a few classes how to be more patient and break down each throw carefully to achieve proper form.
Here’s a video of two of our judoka performing Nage no kata:
Let’s be honest here, this “blog” is not about “training and competition” any more than Playboy is about the articles. It’s really just a place where I ramble on about seoi nage on every other post. It’s the throw which I’ve chosen to center my judo around, and it’s the throw that I have come back to for comfort when the world feels like a sad and lonely place. I put Koga’s “A New Wind” video on repeat, open a cold beer, and let my troubles slip away. Okay, not really, but close…
This post is just a quick comment about a revelation I got from a guy that came in to judo yesterday. Name was Bennett, green belt, and hasn’t done judo in a while. We were working on seoi nage the whole class. Bennett started doing fits. He pulled my sleeve like his life depended on it and stepped far in front of me on the turn. At first, I thought this guy was just another clumsy novice whose technique has gone rusty and so he tries to make up for it with drastically over-exaggerating the kuzushi and tsukuri of a classic seoi nage. That’s what he was doing, and he was a bit rusty, but when he started throwing, the technique felt flawless. I felt light as air. It seemed effortless, and these were the least painful seoi nage throws I’ve ever taken.
His pull was strong, and I was letting it happen as a good uke, but as I walked home I realized what everyone has been telling me: that this kind of pull is the key to throwing good people successfully. Movement, timing, speed, power, combinations all create the opportunity for an effective pull, but without training my body to pull every time with exceptional power, I will never be able to throw any good opponent in competition.
Thank you Bennett for demonstrating the fact that is so often told to me, but I always seem to neglect.
On an impulse, I put up a video of one of my throwing sessions to a judo forum: JudoForum.com post
The result is a lot of positive and critical comments on the details of the technique. I would summarize the more critical points as:
More kuzushi (more pull)
Get lower (bend more at the knees)
More consistence in throw dynamic
More control of uke landing
Don’t use crash pad
Do standard version of seoi nage before drilling Koga’s version
Each of these points could be argued, but it’s undeniable that they each contain a grain of truth. I’d say that the experience of posting myself performing a technique online for criticism is a positive one. I have a lot to think about and to work on. As long as I don’t take some of the more negative comments to heart, I think I can grow from this experience.
Ben Reinhardt provided links to a few excellent videos on standing seoi nage. One that was particularly interesting to me (and one I haven’t seen before) is of Hidetoshi Nakanishi (1983 world champ) throwing seoi nage for 10 minutes. I downloaded this video and watched it in slow motion. Just doing that over and over is a great visualization tool.
Also, Ben provided links to these three excellent videos: