Space and entering with judo

Again, sorry it's been a while since I've posted. Lots of things on my mind, naturally. Here's a few:

To my recollection, it seems like I've always been told in aikido (I wonder if any of my teachers would say, What? I never told you that!) to maintain ma'ai, to maintain a certain distance at all times. I've tried to follow that over the years, and really, it's worked pretty well.

But lately, I've been thinking more and more about changing the distance. Specifically, about creating space, or creating a kind of vacuum that sort of sucks uke in, and about entering, or closing in. This goes hand in hand with my earlier thoughts on likening our movements to a wave: not just the crashing down part, but the drawing in, undercurrent part as well. That concept has, of course, overflowed into my judo work as well.

I also noticed an interesting secondary throw to hiza guruma this morning. (Here's a lovely competition example of hiza for your own enjoyment =)

Anyway, we were working on try to do hiza, but uke steps through it, and we were supposed to follow up with okuri ashi harai (double foot sweep). But I noticed many of the students ended up placing their sweeping foot too high (as newer folk are want to do sometimes), which put their ankle behind uke's calf. I suppose it then just felt naturally to throw uke back from that position and unwittingly found themselves doing kosoto gake.

It follows suit with the sort of "space and entering" idea I've been so fascinated with. We tend to approach hiza as somewhat of a separating throw, creating space between tori and uke. Now, should that fail, there's naturally the opportunity to close the distance, or enter, which is were the kosoto gake came in.

It just goes to show, no matter how far along you get, you can still learn something from beginners!


  1. It's interesting that you consider knee wheel as a separating throw. I've always thought of it the other way.
    In the video you've got, Tori has his chest pressed against uke pretty much the whole way through the technique, he couldn't be closer unless he climbed into the dude's gi.
    I think it feels far away because our point of contact is on the far side of bad guy's body, but the only way we can reach that point is if we compress the space between us.
    I've felt the technique done with lots of space between us, but it really felt more like foot stop with an odd contact point rather than knee wheel. Though, that could have just been a particular version.
    anyway, just my two cents, great post.

  2. Yeah, I thought saying that would raise a few eyebrows. You're absolutely right, and that's how it's done a lot of the time, particularly in that video. It's definitely a "closing space" idea and is certainly effective.

    I wish I could describe adequately in words the way of doing it as a "separating" motion (normally when a "closing" throw has failed) but maybe I'll make a video of the differences one day. In the beginning of this video, there's more space between them, and tori catches uke as he steps back, which is my favorite way to throw it.


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