by Elie A. Morrell, Shichidan

Judo This paper deals only with engagement preparations associated with the first techniques in either the Te Waza or Yoko Sutemi Waza group.

Uki Otoshi is the first throw in Set One. Following the opening of the Kata, Tori and Uke are standing twelve feet apart at their respective engagement positions. They proceed to meet each other and engage at a distance of two feet in the near position.

Yoko Gake is the first throw in Set Five. Prior to engaging, Tori and Uke duplicate the same moves as those required for Uki Otoshi.

Located midway between Tori and Uke on the longitudinal axis is a point corresponding to the center of an six-foot diameter imaginary circle called the Center Zone.

Otaki & Draeger (Reference One) stipulates that regardless of where any technique begins (right or left) it should climax at the approximate center of the Center Zone. That is, Kake takes place there. This is the situation as it applies to Tori. However it should be understood that Uke’s impact zone (Ukemi) is not always located within the Center Zone.

Reference One states that for the first technique of Sets One and Five (Uki Otoshi and Yoko Gake respectively) that Uke and Tori are to approach each other in the following manner:

“Uke moves about one third the distance between the points where he and Tori stand at their respective engagement positions (twelve feet apart). Tori moves about two thirds of this distance.”

If Uke and Tori did move as Reference One dictates, they would in fact be touching each other! Furthermore, Uke would have moved to a point which is about one foot inside the Center Zone. With Uke at this location and Tori maintaining a near position of two feet, Tori would have to be standing in the center of the Center Zone!

With Tori located at this position, it would be impossible for Tori to climax the technique within the Center Zone, let alone at the center of the Center Zone.

This problem does not exist for the first throw of the second set (Koshi Waza) since Tori and Uke are moving toward each other for Uki Goshi with no stopping at the engagement distance of six feet. This is the far position located at edges of the Center Zone.

Accordingly, no problem exists for sets three and four, Ashi Waza and Ma Sutemi Waza respectively, since Tori and Uke move the same distance toward each other and come to a dead stop. For set three, the first technique is Okuri Ashi Barai on the lateral axis. For set four, the first technique is Tomoe Nage where Tori and Uke meet within the Center Zone at the semi-far position of three feet.

It is interesting to note on page 145 of Reference One that the schematic depicted for the technique of Uki Otoshi indicates that Tori has walked over to Uke to engage. This makes more sense, and the climax is indicated in the approximate center of the Center Zone. The ideogram representing Uke in this drawing remains fixed at the engagement distance for the right and left techniques.

The paragraph at the bottom of this page outlining the preparation for engagement has Uke moving along the longitudinal axis to meet Tori. This conflicts with the schematic.

Referring to T.P, Leggett (Reference Two), the author differs from Reference One regarding the preparation for engagement following the opening of the Kata for the first technique in Set One (Uki Otoshi) and the preparation for engagement of the first technique in Set Five (Yoko Gake).

Specifically, Reference Two has Tori walk across to Uke to engage for the techniques of Uki Otoshi and Yoko Gake. This appears to be a more logical approach since it places Tori about one foot outside of periphery of the Center Zone. Following the Tsugi Ashi moves by Tori and Uke, Tori can then easily climax the technique well within the Center Zone.

By definition, Reference One classifies Uki Otoshi, Yoko Gake, and six other techniques as throws which start outside of the Center Zone. At best, if Uke is to move prior to engagement for Uki Otoshi and Yoko Gake, it could only be just slightly forward of his engagement position. Reference One indicates this to be the requirement on page 90 of the text, but this is in disagreement with requirements by the same reference indicated in an earlier paragraph in this paper.

References One and Two are based on conclusions reached at the April 1960 National Kata Research Convention chaired by president Risei Kano and held at the Kodokan. The purpose of this convention was to standardize the Kata. The standard form of the Kata to this day is based on the conclusions reached at this convention.

Reference One is the text in common use today. In addition to the conclusions reached at the 1960 convention, it extrapolates Dr. Jigoro Kano’s technical notes in order to eliminate any apparent uselessness that is often promulgated by modern interpretations of this Kata.

The writer’s preference when teaching the preparatory moves for the throws discussed herein is to have Tori walk over to Uke to engage as indicated in Reference Two. This method allows Tori to climax the throw within the Center Zone.

References: Tadao Otaki and Donn F. Draeger. Judo Formal Techniques, Charles Tuttle Co. T.P. Leggett. The Demonstration of Throws, W. Foulsham & Co. Ltd


“Do not think of attack and defense as two separate things. An attack will be a defense, and a defense must be an attack.” –Kazuzo Kudo, 9th dan

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