BASIC UCHIMATA FOOTWORK
Learning new techniques can be endlessly frustrating work, especially when the technique is as complicated as Uchimata. One of the most popular throws in Judo, Uchimata is a stunning and absolutely brutal piece of artwork when executed properly. This is partially why it scores so high during competition. That and it’s pretty hard to counter when done right.
The even better part about Uchimata is that you can enter it from a variety of different positions and combinations. But the tough part? It’s complicated! There’s so many moving parts and it gets tough to keep everything in order both in your head and on the mats. Ultimately, you have to start at the very beginning, and that very first step can really make or break you when using this technique. A successful throw, or the start of a very big problem can happen in that very first step.
First, let’s take a step back and look at the history of Uchimata. One of the original 40 throws of Judo invented by Jigoro Kano in the late 19th century, Uchimata is classified as a foot technique as it originates from the ground up. Let’s bring back the importance of that very first step!
GETTING STARTED WITH UCHIMATA
Most coaches and athletes teach Uchimata as a step at the top of the triangle. While there’s definitely some merit to that, each body and each athlete is different, and there are definitely some adjustments that have to be made for the human body. When it comes to rotational ability, not every athlete has the capability to get their feet in the right position and generate enough torque and power throughout the throw. This inadequacy can be addressed with mobility work and strength, but ultimately there are some functions of an individual’s anatomy that cannot be fixed through those means. When that happens, changes have to be made with positioning of Uchimata in order to ensure it is still an effective technique for all judo athletes.
From a younger age, athletes need to work on the basics of foot placement, not on the extremely complicated portions of it. Athletes who lack rotational ability should lose the idea of exact foot placement at the top of the triangle for their first step and instead think about this: If you focus on where to place your first foot to ensure that your planted foot lands at the top of the triangle comfortably, the judo will be easier and the throw will be more powerful for you.
One of the coolest parts about the sport of judo is that there are weight classes and it encompasses an extremely wide variety of athletes, shapes, sizes, and abilities. When it comes to super complicated moves, less emphasis needs to be placed on precisely where a textbook tells you to put your body, and more on what works for the individual athlete. You could have the most perfect and precise foot placement according to someone else, but if it doesn’t work for you or your body type specifically, then you won’t get the most out of it.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t concern yourself with what your neighbor or friend or YouTube sensation is doing. Talk to people who know your style of judo, and who know your body type and your strengths and limitations (coaches are great for this) and figure out what the most powerful foot placement is for you. Then practice it until it’s a flawless reflex. Let us know how it goes!