The Basis of Teaching Methodology

by Juan Carlos Suarez (Head Coach of Seychelles National Judo Team, Professor of the Sport Sciences Faculty of Matanzas University, Cuba)
and Gerard Baker

The elements of Judo Technique are coordinated and consecutive corporal segments of movement. The separate study of their phases facilitates the logical foundation of teaching and improvement of the specific Judo skills.

The analytical – synthetic methods utilization (for the professor when he makes a class plan) or fragmentary (when the pupil learns the techniques divided in parts) requires a deep knowledge of techniques phases. This knowledge avoids deviations from the ideal movement’s model parameters.

“The exploration of complete movement can be done… by analytical methods… This analysis gives us the possibility to divide the techniques in partial phases, (preparatory phase, main phase, and final phase” (1)

The Judo professor must know the anatomic position and corporal movements that are fundamentals and must define each one of the different skill phases. This allows him or her:

  • To do previous preparation for the teaching of particular technique to increase the level of strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, rhythm, coordination, etc, necessary to begin the learning.
  • To determine the main movements that define a technique, which allows organizing one’s objectives in ascending order of difficulties in order to build the skill in a logical and slow form.

“The motor learning always must begin by simple and grounded skills of one structure and later pass to other structures more complicated” (2).

The correct methodology utilized during throwing technique teaching guarantees the efficiency of the teaching process. It permits the professor:

  • To avoid having some pupils leave Judo because they do not progress rapidly.
  • To motivate the classes with logically organized objectives.
  • To avoid the automatization of technical mistakes that later are very difficult to correct.
  • To develop solid technical grounds for the later tactical work.

It is necessary to ask the next question:

What are the fundamental actions in Judo techniques?

If you have done a particular and integral analysis of the throwing techniques you can know that to obtain efficiency, the Judo athlete must execute in fluent form the following positions and movements:

  1. Attack position
    1. Kumi Kata
    2. Shizei
    3. Attack angle
    4. Distance from Uke
  2. Shintai (Movements)
    1. Ayumi Ashi
    2. Tsugi Ashi
  3. Kuzushi (Off balance)
  4. Tai Sabaki (To put and turn the body)
  5. Throwing (Nage)

This analysis is done from the start with the Judo principle Seiryoku Zenyo (Best use of energy) expressed by the master Jigoro Kano. The Judo technique actions are dynamic movement systems. The Japanese professor Kazuzo Kudo in the book title “Judo in Action: Throwing Techniques” says:

“As we have explained several times, to apply a technique to your opponent you must move together with him and push and pull in such a way that you force him into a position in which your attack is easy to make and in which he is easily thrown. This is what we call the preparatory moves or in Japanese, the Tsukuri” (3).

What is the importance of the attack position?

It is very important when the pupil is learning a new technique to begin to integrate Kumi Kata, Shizei, attack angle and the optimal distance from Uke.

To adopt an incorrect attack position determines the following mistakes:

  • To run over too much space during technique realization
  • Impossibility to do a correct Tai-sabaki.
  • Off balance of Tori
  • To lack harmony in the movement
  • Difficulties in the Kuzushi

We have integrated in the attack position idea concepts like kumi kata, shizei, attack angle and distance from Uke, because all of them connected determine the required conditions necessary to do the techniques.

The general technical requirements for each one of these elements are:



1. Kumi Kata

1a) Flexed arms to facilitate the next Kuzushi action

2. Shizei

2a) Body weight distributed in both legs.

2b) Separated legs at shoulder-wide distance

2c) To adopt Migi Shizen Tai if the technique will be done right. If the technique will be done to the left the athlete must adopt Hidari Shizen Tai

3. Attack Angle

3a) Tori must be in the angle with relation to Uke where he must not do unnecessary turns when he is going to do a technique

4. Distance from Uke

4a) Tori must stand in the place that allows him to bend his arms when he does Kumi Kata. If Tori is too far from Uke within the attack angle he will have difficulties in Kuzushi and Tai Sabaki. The same will if he is too close from Uke.

What is the importance of body movements for technical realization?

The Technical training objective during Tachi Waza preparation is to develop the skills to throw one opponent in combat context. The methodology that has no specific exercises to develop movement skills to facilitate the preparation to realize the actions in combat is not a complete methodology.

“Shintai. Under this single heading we include both the advance – retreat (Shintai) type of movement and turning movement (Tai-Sabaki). Advance-retreat movement, as goes without saying, are the vital fundamental movements that let you move your body straight forward, backward, left or right to get it into the required position. If the ways you move your feet and body are correct and if they agree with the various postures and methods of standing with your opponent when these movements appear in a technique, that technique will be correct and free of strain” (4).

The actual Judo is divided in two schools or styles:

  1. One school which predominates techniques and movements
  2. Other style which predominates strength and static combat.

What school has more Olympic and World Champions?

Are Tai-Sabaki and Kuzushi situated in the preparatory phase or in the principle phase?

It is known that it is impossible to make the opponent off balance without simultaneously doing the movement and body turning.

The off balance together with Tai-Sabaki (in the narrower sense) are parts of the fundamental elements of Judo Techniques.

“The Japanese words Tai-Sabaki are capable of two interpretations. In the wider sense they simply mean all natural body movements including the Tsugi-Ashi advance – retreat motions we have just been explaining. In the narrower sense they indicate the ways we manipulate and control our body’s motion. We will be using them in the latter sense”. (3).

The Tai-Sabaki helps Tori to do Kuzushi and a good Kuzushi helps him to do Tai-Sabaki. For example when one athlete does Tobi Komi Uchi Mata, the Kuzushi pulling helps him to do the leg and body movement, and the body movements facilitate Kuzushi. It is impossible during technique realization to separate Kuzushi and Tai-Sabaki. It is also incorrect to separate these actions when the pupils are learning the techniques. Kuzushi is the fundamental elements that permit application of the best use of energy Judo principles.

Finally the Throwing (Nage) phase

It is the final body movement. This phase finishes the leg extending, arm action, and body turns.

The objective to divide the technique in phases is to look for a correct learning methodology. We propose to group different elements of Tachi waza techniques in this form:

  1. Preparatory phase
    1. Attack position
      1. Kumi Kata
      2. Shizei
      3. Attack angle
      4. Distance from Uke
    2. Shintai movements
      1. Ayumi Ashi
      2. Tsugi Ashi
  2. Principal phase
    1. Kuzushi (off balance)
    2. Tai-Sabaki (putting the legs and turns)
  3. Final phase
    1. Throwing (nage)

How do we propose to organize the technique learning process methodology?

We propose the following methodological steps during the Tachi Waza skills learning.

  1. To determine the previous physical preparation requirements (strength, endurance, rhythm, corporal balance, temporal coordination etc) that make the pupils ready to begin the technique learning. Many times technical mistakes are caused by a low level of physical preparation. It is convenient if the pupils are children, to realize the preparatory exercises applying games and competition methods.
  2. To teach attack position elements first in static form and later in movement
  3. To realize Kuzushi-Tai-Sabaki
    1. Starting from correct attack position, to realize the simultaneous movements of the first leg that begins Tai-Sabaki with off balancing the opponent.
    2. To add to the last exercise the other leg movement and corporal segments that participation in Tai-Sabaki (trunk, head, hip, legs). It is the more complicated phase of technique learning.
  4. Static throwing
  5. Technique realization in movement
  • To do Uchi Komi (Kuzushi and Tai-Sabaki only) when Uke moves himself to Tori’s right
  • Nage Komi (throwing) when Uke moves himself to Tori’s right
  • Uchi Komi when Uke moves himself to Tori’s left
  • Nage Komi when Uke moves himself to Tori’s left
  • Uchi Komi with Uke rear movement
  • Nage Komi with Uke front movement
  • Uchi Komi with Uke circle movement (right)
  • Nage Komi with the circle movement (right)
  • Uchi Komi with Uke circle movement (to left)
  • Nage Komi with Uke circle movement (to left)
  • Nage Komi when Uke moves himself to different directions

It is convenient to change the initial position of the technique (Kumi Kata movement etc.) to avoid the appearance of a coordination barrier.

This general methodological position is part of the research about the methodology of Judo technique learning. We need to further discuss these ideas with other coaches and interchange information about Judo.


(1)- Grosser Manfred; Neumaier August. Tecnicas del entrenamiento. Teoria y practica de los deportes. Ediciones Roca S.A. Barcelona. 1990. p.15.

(2) -Grosser Manfred; Neumaier August. Tecnicas del entrenamiento. Teoria y practica de los deportes. Ediciones Roca S.A. Barcelona. 1990. P.153.

(3)- Kudo Kazuzo. “Judo in Action”. Throwing techniques. Japan Publications Trading Company. Tokyo. 1977. P.20.

(4)- Kudo Kazuzo. “Judo in Action”. Throwing techniques. Japan Publications Trading Company. Tokyo. 1977. P.13.

(5)- Kudo Kazuzo. “Judo in Action”. Throwing techniques. Japan Publications Trading Company. Tokyo. 1977. P. 13