by Elie A. Morrell, Hachidan

The study of the Nage No Kata involves dealing with a highly complex and technical area in the judo repertoire. Proper study should involve the use of a qualified instructor. Also, as an adjunct to proper instruction, the student should make use of the best reference material available on the subject. The author recommends the included reference to supplement the class instruction.

The intent of this paper is to present some simple guidelines that the new student could adopt which should help considerably prior to and during the study of this throwing form. All of the material in this paper represents a very condensed explanation of that contained in the reference.


The following paragraphs briefly discuss a few of the more significant guidelines that a student should familiarize himself or herself with before beginning to learn this kata.

One should initially study the kata when and where it is practical followed by actual practice. Memorize the names of all the techniques, their sequence and the throwing categories that they fall in. You should be highly motivated to learn this kata. During mat practice you must have an unquestionable acceptance of your instructor and conscientiously accept and follow what he/she says and/or demonstrates.

Explanations given to you will likely be in great detail and probably not the same as you have been accustomed in other phases of your judo instruction. If and when explanations appear to be overwhelming, the student should never question the technical knowledge of the sensei. However, clarification of any particular point that appears confusing to the student should be requested by the student.

During the early phases of instruction the student can expect to make many errors. Skill development for most students can be expected to be slow. The student must rely totally on the skill and knowledge of the sensei. A high level of motivation must be maintained by the student at times when it is felt that no progress is being made. Both sensei and the student must wait patiently for growth and development. Learning should be thought of as if time is of no importance. The student is expected to respond to the sensei with untiring attention to detail and constant repetition of movements. The learning of this kata should never be rushed! Ultimately, all the throwing techniques learned in this kata should be applied when practicing randori and competing in judo competition.

The remainder of this paper will discuss the names of the throws in this kata and the sequence in which they are applied. A compilation of technical aspects is included which can be of considerable value and help for the student who is getting involved in the nage no kata for the first time.


The nage no kata is comprised of fifteen (15) throws divided into five categories of three techniques each. The categories are based on the use of body dynamics associated with throwing actions. Each throw is performed on the right and left side. The five throwing categories follow and are in the order in which they are performed.

Te Waza — Uki Otoshi, Seoi Nage, Kata Guruma
Koshi Waza — Uki Goshi, Harai Goshi, Tsurikomi Goshi
Ashi Waza — Okuri Ashi Barai, Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi, Uchi Mata
Ma Sutemi Waza — Tomoe Nage, Ura Nage, Sumi Gaeshi
Yoko Sutemi Waza — Yoko Gake, Yoko Guruma, Uki Waza


A complete and detailed listing of all the technical aspects of the nage no kata is beyond the scope of this paper. Therefore, the intent is to highlight in a brief fashion those technical aspects that the writer feels would be the most beneficial to the student who is being exposed to the nage no kata for the first time.

Ayumi Ashi

Ayumi ashi is normal walking. The feet slide lightly over the mat for all of the stepping moves and are never lifted off the mat. The mat should be gripped with the toes. In this kata the feet move both in a semicircular(arc step) and direct translation fashion. The arc step is used in Ura Nage, Sumi Gaeshi, Yoko Guruma and Uki Waza.

Tsugi Ashi

The trailing foot never catches up or passes the lead foot. In this kata the tsugi ashi stepping is done in three different ways. These movements include straight movements of advancing or retreating, movements directly to the right or the left and rotary movements.

Engagement Distances (Ma-ai)

Near position- Players 2ft. apart
Far position- Players 6ft. apart
Semi far position- Players 3ft. apart
Closed position- Players 1ft. apart

Near- Used for uki otoshi, kata guruma, harai goshi, Tsurikomi goshi, sasae tsurikomi ashi and yoko gake.
Far- Used for seoi nage, uki goshi, ura nage and yoko guruma
Semi far- Used for uchi mata, tomoe nage, sumi gaeshi and
Uki waza. Closed- used for okuri ashi barai.

Performance about the Center Zone

The center zone is represented by an imaginary circle about six (6) feet in diameter. Its center lies on the longitudinal axis about which 14 of the 15 throws are performed. The salutation and engagement positions of the tori and the uke are points on this axis and are at 18 feet and 12 feet, respectively. The lateral axis is at 90 degrees to the longitudinal axis and passes through the center of the center zone bisecting the center zone circle as does the longitudinal axis.

All throws are performed in and around the center zone. Tori determines the precise spot from which each technique will begin. In all of the ukemi, uke finishes approximately parallel to the longitudinal axis. Exceptions occur for okuri ashi barai, yoko guruma and uki waza.

The starting points for all of the 15 throws are as follows:
Outside the center zone. Uki otoshi,kata guruma, harai goshi, tsurikomi goshi, sasae tsurikomi ashi, sumi gaeshi, yoko gake and uki waza.
Opposite edges of the center zone. Seoi nage, uki goshi, ura nage and yoko guruma.
Within the center zone. Uchi mata and tomoe nage.
Outside the center zone(lateral axis). Okuri ashi barai. Kumikata (Gripping)

The majority of the gripping for this kata utilizes the standard lapel and sleeve hold. Both players hold firmly but lightly. When kake is reached, tori releases his grip for tomoe nage, ura nage, sumi gaeshi, yoko guruma and uki waza. For all other throws tori places the tsurite on the sleeve of the uke at a point near the hikite during the final moments of the throw. Uke releases the tsurite for all throws. Sumi gaeshi and uki waza make use of a modified jigotai which has no grip on the judo gi.

Uke’s striking attacks

Uke attempts to strike tori in four techniques that include seoi nage, uki goshi, ura nage and yoko guruma. Only in the leadoff attack for uki goshi is uke in motion. Details of the striking actions and the level of uke’s commitment for each of the four striking techniques are well spelled out in the included reference.

Uke’s cooperative efforts

Uke yields completely to tori’s actions and does not avoid or hold back from being thrown. On the other hand, uke does not overdo his cooperative efforts. The throw is not to be anticipated in an effort to aid tori. Uke faces tori head on in shizentai. Perfection of body control must be uke’s goal.

Tori’s kake requirements

Tori has to throw uke in a specific direction and location. Uke’s balance must be disturbed to the point so that tori can easily fit in and bring about a real throw. For all the throws tori must maintain his balance with the chin tucked in at the point of kake as the uke impacts on the mat. Tori must maintain zanshin(dominating form) with eyes fixed on uke for all throws except uki otoshi.

Closed- gate effect

The closed-gate effect is one aspect of this kata which makes it mandatory for the uke to be very proficient at. So much so, that if this move is sloppily done by the uke, the kata would be ruined. The move by uke is required in most of the techniques.

The move is accomplished by uke by bringing up his trailing foot with the advanced foot thus approximating a shizenhontai posture just as tori turns in under him to complete the tsukuri action for the throw. Uke’s move is similar to that of a gate swinging from the open position to the closed position. The result is tight body contact with tori. This action by uke results in making the throw easier for tori. Uke’s free hand is placed on the buttock of tori to stabilize his balance during kake. If uke does not initiate the closed-gate effect when required, the direction of the throw will be off the longitudinal axis. It is very important to note that uke does not just drift into the closed-gate position but is forced by tori pulling uke such that uke moves the trailing leg forward to preserve his balance.

Ukemi by uke

Does not allow feet to vibrate or bounce. Feet are pressed into the mat except for yoko gake where feet are in the air and the arm beat is evident with rebound. When uke falls from the throws of the first three sets of the nage no kata, the ukemi requires that uke remain lying on the mat. For the two sets of throws involving ma sutemi waza and yoko sutemi waza, uke remains on the mat for ura nage and yoko gake. Uke comes to his feet at the completion of the ukemi for tomoe nage and must not totter forward. Uke is in shizenhontai at the finish. For the remainder of the sutemi waza, uke has the option to choose whether he will remain on the mat reclined or come to his feet in shizenhontai to terminate his ukemi. Most players elect to come to their feet.

Positioning by uke and tori

It is the responsibility of uke to adjust the engagement distance for each of the throws. In doing so, uke finds tori already waiting to receive uke’s next attack. Tori has the responsibility of stationing himself at the correct spot just before uke arrives for the next engagement. When both players are properly positioned, this should allow for the throw to be carried out within prescribed limits.


Proficiency at this kata requires long and regular practice. When performed during practice or audience demonstration it can easily be ruined by hesitation, positioning errors and the loss of proper rhythm. The players are required to move in harmony in order to engage simultaneously for the non-collision and collision (striking techniques) throws. There should be no uneven gripping or pause by either player once gripping is achieved. The pull by the tori must be steady and even. No bobbing up and down should be evident by either player while they are in motion. Uke is always the aggressor for this kata.

This paper has barely scratched the surface with regard to presenting all of the pertinent information necessary to completely cover all aspects of this kata. To do so would require a complete text. For that reason, it behooves the reader to refer to the included reference where this kata is covered to the last minute detail. The material in this paper presents only a thumbnail sketch of some of the more significant points that a new practitioner of this kata will find very useful during the early stages of practicing this kata.

Reference: Judo Formal Techniques by Tadao Otaki and Donn F. Draeger.