Uchi Mata Redux
Uchi mata, one of the most common scoring techniques in Judo. Beloved of the Japanese and one of the sexiest throws in Judo.
Also a throw I’m pretty terrible at, but I think I have a few tips that may help people with it.
So, without further ado.
Uchi mata is one of the Judo throws, where the centrality and applicability of tsurikomi, can be seen most clearly.
The hand action for Uchi mata is the classic tsurikomi action.
The hikite/ sleeve hand draws diagonally upwards, the wrist rotating so that the palm faces towards the mat.
The tsurite draws upwards and forwards, with the forearm fitting into the pocket created by uke’s elbow.
As always ensure that your kuzushi action is continuous keeping the sleeve hand raised and both arms working together throughout the throw.
Remember, that you must never separate the hand action from the foot action and that the two are simultaneous and mutually reinforcing.
As always you should observe the triangle spacing rule, stepping to the peak of the triangle.
And step into place with your feet in the correct position.
Always ensure that your second step, bringing your support leg into position, is done firmly so that you have a stable base to support your weight through the rest of the throw.
There are two main schools of thought on Uchi mata namely ‘leg’ and ‘hip’. I’m not going to take a position, however, what I am going to do is outline what to me is a classical Uchi mata and is the way I was taught.
Correct body positioning for Uchi mata is almost exactly the same as that of Tsurikomi goshi,
For this reason I advise everyone trying to develop their Uchi mata to spend some time working on that throw first and then returning to Uchi mata once some basic proficiency is achieved.
The central issue to ensuring correct body positioning is making chest contact and maintain chest contact between tori and uke throughout the technique.
In order to ensure this chest contact head positioning must be correct.
The main error in head positioning for Uchi mata, which directly causes the main error in body positioning i.e lack of chest contact. Is that people collapse their head when trying to complete the technique.
Bent over at the waist, looking down at the floor and with their hands trailing behind their head.
From this position you have not only lost control of uke, but are unable to apply any power.
To ensure correct head positioning rotate your head through a rough 90 degree arc in the direction of the side of your body off of which uke will be thrown.
In addition to not collapsing your head and keeping it in the correct arc. It is also important not to over rotate the head.
Often in Judo we’re told to look where we throw, bizarrely this always seems to translate into people turning and looking over their shoulder in exactly the opposite place to where their uke will be thrown into.
A simple test for whether you’re over rotating is which box do you finish the throw looking in red or blue
If you said blue, you’re over rotating.
Often in a contest or randori situation we can’t replicate the technical perfectly so sometime you will need to make adjustments to complete the throw. With Uchi mata this means doing the famous ‘ken ken’ or hopping to complete the throw.
This is labelled as an O uchi – Uchi mata combo, but is essentially what you need to know for Ken Ken Uchi mata.
The key here is Yamashita’s point about ‘pulling down’ with the sleeve hand its incredibly important to ensure successfully completing a ken ken Uchi mata.
The other key element is to hop in ever decreasing circles.
Hop in an ever tightening spiral whilst driving down with the sleeve hand and driving with the lapel hand to complete the Ken Ken Uchi mata.
With each successive hop bringing your supporting leg closer to uke’s leg remaining on the ground.
Against a left hander
Explained in full here
O uchi gari to Uchi mata:
Yamashita’s point about ‘pulling down’ with the sleeve hand is incredibly important to completing this combination.
Ko uchi gari to Uchi mata:
There are obviously many others such as O soto gari – Uchi mata, Tai otoshi – Uchi mata etc... However, I wasn’t able to find video examples of sufficient quality so have left them out. If you, however, follow my guide on how to practice combinations then you will be able to chain together pretty much whatever techniques you want with Uchi mata.
Drilling Uchi mata
Note the use of the tsugi ashi step
I hope this has been useful to people.
And as always, comments, critiques and questions are welcome.
Nice work once again. The part about not turning the head too soon/too far is critical.
Tsurikomi Goshi, who would have known?
I think you and TSG need to a get a room, its becoming a bit awkward for the rest of us.
Oh, we were in a room last night, but we weren't alone...
Originally Posted by judoka_uk
Moving swiftly on...
Originally Posted by BKR
I just wanted to emphasise for people, not Ben because he already knows this, how important the chest contact and head positioning is.
It will revolutionise your uchimata if at the moment your tending just to end up thighing your partner in the balls.
Really concentrate on not letting your head collapse and maintaining that chest contact, makes a huge difference.
Yes indeed. In fact, I was attempting to teach a junior judoka Uchi Mata tonight. After a lot of Tsurikomi drills, and the Tsurikomi Goshi nage komi. Both of them were making the head error in various ways, even in the TKG. Uchi Mata was hit or miss, mostly miss.
Originally Posted by judoka_uk
The tendency is to try to throw too soon/too fast, bending the head and/or bending at the waist. So the tsurikomi drill looks reasonable, TKG looks OK, but the Uchi Mata is very lacking. Back to more TKG.
This is a similar pattern to my senior students, from when they were a bit older (14ish). Without the solid base of tsurikomi, tai sabaki, etc., uchi mata harai goshi, tai otoshi are pretty difficult to do correctly.
That said, the progress made using the tsurikomi drill and TKG is pretty amazing.
This is fantastic. It's nice to see a thorough breakdown of a throw that I'm frankly not very good at.
Excellent tips, thanks for the write-up.
When you do tsurikomigoshi you needs to get your hips lower than uke's does the same apply for uchimata? I get to the stage where on shorties it seems like my hip is in their stomach and makes uchimata hard to do.
I've practised tsurikomi goshi a lot and I can squat low enough when I've got two feet planted I'm even coming along nicely with haraigoshi especially seems I've been focusing on making good chest contact, I just seem to really struggle with uchimata.
With haraigoshi I find i get really good lift using the shift in my bodyweight. When doing a normal right handed haraigoshi I step in with my right foot as I turn to place the left foot I bend low on the left leg which shift all my weight onto my left foot which really pulls uke up and on the all I need to do is sweep with right leg and straighten the left and uke flies over. This means my hips don't have to be that low and I can even throw the short spunge bob square backs without having to force it. I just can't seem to replicate this when doing uchimata
Considering the differences that tend to exist in judo between the way a technique is taught and the way it's done in competition, what are the modifications to be made to the "taught" uchi mata that are most useful for competition?