Posted On:12/18/2010 8:52am
Style: BJJ, Judo newb
Originally Posted by judoka_uk
Inspired by a recent post on Judoforum and my own experience of seeing literally hundreds of people not understand the important of the triangle or doing Tsurikomi correctly. As well as the dearth of technical information and discussion on Bullshido in general I decided to put together this explanation so beginners can hopefully learn something from it and the more experienced offer their perspectives and help.
I originally thought about having two separate topics for these two things then decided as they were integral to each other that I would combine them, so without further ado.
How do Judo fundamentals 1 - The Triangle
What is the triangle?
It is a very simple learning tool for remembering to have adequate space between tori and uke for forward throws. It is applicable to pretty much every forward throw I can think of - Uchi mata, Tai otoshi, Seoi nage, Harai Goshi etc...
The triangle refers to a set of three imaginary lines on the mat. The base line for the triangle runs between uke's toes and its peak's height changes according to the size of you and your uke.
As you will notice the Judoka above has positioned himself so that the natural lines of the edge of the mat correspond to the imaginary lines of the triangle. This makes it so much easier for beginners as they have a constant reference point for where the peak of the triangle should be.
What do you do with it?
The triangle is a point of reference for the first step tori will make with his foot when he attempts the entry for a throw. Normally this step is made simultaneously with the tsurikomi action as tori commences his kuzushi and begins his tsurkuri.
Using the triangle for entry to Seoi nage:
I have reduced the triangle to a simple line to show the distance between the intial step by tori and uke's feet.
If you don't step on the peak of the triangle and instead step on the base line that runs between uke's toes then this is the result:
Your hips crash into uke, because there is no space. This is bad enough if you haven't moved uke, however, if you do this as you have just done a big pull of uke to bring them onto their toes then instantaneously you will have rocked uke back onto their heels. The result will be stillborn kuzushi and your own body and that of uke both trying to fit into the same space.
The placement of your initial foot on the peak of the triangle therefore means that even with your application of kuzushi to uke there will still be space for your hips and body to fit into.
Toriís initial step for Seoi nage:
Toriís right foot has remained exactly where it was when he first planted it and has merely pivoted on the ball of his foot:
There is space for toriís body to pivot into and uke remains off balanced.
Now if you havenít already seen them go and watch these excellent videos on Tai otoshi and Seoi nage:
YouTube - 5 tai otoshi
YouTube - seoi nage
Look how much attention the two toriís devote to explaining the importance of leaving space and using the triangle. At 1:44 in the Tai otoshi video Nobuyuki Sato gets down on the floor and sketches out the triangle on the mat with his hands.
So every time you go to uchikomi for forward throws remember to observe the triangle and remember to leave yourself enough space to both off balance uke and fit in your own body.
Because this lack of space is such a common problem amongst beginners you see many of them doing things to try and compensate for the problems caused by being to close, without actually addressing the underlying symptoms. A common method is what I call Ďelbow slipí toriís elbow of the lapel arm slides mid way across ukeís chest as tori is so close to ukeís body the elbow has to go somewhere otherwise the shoulder would pop so its slid across ukeís body to the middle of the chest.
Using this as a solution is both a failure to understand importance of space and a failure to understand the importance and correct practice of tsurikomi...
How do Judo fundamentals 2 Ė Tsurikomi
If you said tsurikomi was the core of all Judo you would probably not be too far wrong. Tsurikomi is pivotal to nearly every forwards throw and is so important in some throws that it even makes its way into the name Ė Sase tsurikomi ashi, Harai tsurikomi goshi, Tsurikomi goshi etc...
Understanding how to do tsurikomi and its importance is therefore pivotal for every Judoka it is fundamental in every sense of the word.
Tsuri(吊り) komi(込み) in Japanese means roughly Ďlifting bindingí note this tsuri(吊り) is not this tsuri( 釣り)which means fishing. It is important to know this meaning because conceptualising tsurikomi as a lifting and binding, becomes very clear once you start practicing the action.
So what is tsurikomi?
Tsurikomi is the generation of power from the lower body and hips and channelling of it through kinetic linking to the arms to lift uke off balance and bind him to toriís body ready for a throw.
Firstly the arms, correct use of the arms is vital to good tsurikomi. Tori should grip uke in the normal manner taking sleeve and lapel. Tori should hold ukeís sleeve underneath the elbow with his hikite hand and hold ukeís lapel around the centre of the pectoral so that toriís little finger is just above ukeís nipple. Tori should grip the lapel firmly with the bottom three fingers and relax the index finger and thumb, whilst still maintain a grip with them.
The sleeve action is then performed by rotating the hand as you draw back the elbow so that the palm is facing downwards towards the mate. Ukeís sleeve arm should be drawn out high enough so that it is at least level with toriís forehead. Tori should aim to have ukeís arm higher than his head to achieve maximum effect.
Action of the hikite hand:
The lapel action is bringing the elbow and forearm in so that they fit into ukeís armpit whilst simultaneously lifting upwards and forwards. Toriís wrist should not flex forward or backwards and should remain in alignment with the forearm
Action of the tsurite hand:
Both the actions of the hikite and tsurite should be performed simultaneously and should be performed smoothly rather than in a jerking action. At all times the hands must be coordinated and working together at the top of the inital motion of tsurkiomi the thumbs of the hikite and tsurite hand should be in alignment to show that they have both been working together and the adequate lift has been achieved by the action of the hands.
It is crucial that toriís forearm be fitted into the pocket created by ukeís armpit. As this will ensure that throughout the rest of the motion toriís elbow will be in the right place.
The power and impetus for the lift with the arms is generated in the hips and the lower body. The tsurikomi action is a whole body movement designed at coordinating not only toris body to off balance uke but also to coordinate transfer of power from the lower to the upper body. The simplest analogy is that of a boxer a boxer doesnít punch from the shoulders he punches using his whole body to generate power in the same way the Judoka uses his hips and legs to generate power for his upper body.
Tori commences this power generation by either leaning into uke or swinging back the leg he will plant first to generate momentum. In this process tori deliberately transfers weight to uke:
By weighting uke tori provides himself with added impetus by inducing an upwards reaction from uke when the pressure is released so aiding toris off balancing pull.
Tori then makes his inital step forward and begins to initiate the lifting action with the arms
Tori observes the triangle rule with his initial foot placement to ensure that there is space for uke to be off balanced into and for his own body to fit.
When just practicing the tsurikomi action itself and in a static situation the common foot pattern is to leave the initially planted foot in place and bring the other foot in behind it, closes to uke, to bring the hips into contact with uke
Tori usually aims to place his hip bone against ukeís illiacus muscle
However, as a directly transferable stepping pattern this is only really suited to Uchi mata and Harai goshi. Where the Ďbindingí part of tsurikomi can be seen most clearly
However, this stepping pattern is obviously inappropriate to Seoi nage, Tai otoshi and throws with tsurikomi in the title like Sasae and Harai tsurikomi ashi where each throw has its own stepping patterns but the key principles of the arm action of Ďtsurikomií are still vital in off balancing uke.
Tsurikomi. Youíre doing it wrong!
Where people fail so often with tsurikomi is their elbow positioning, because of the chain of factors outlined above beginning with stepping in to close, not lifting uke sufficiently and not understanding the importance of the positioning of the tsurite and hikite arms.
This can have a myriad of consequences from failed throws right the way up to major injuries like rotator cuff tears and other serious shoulder complications. Because ignorance of proper tsurikomi is so widespread you see a number of solutions brought in to try and get round the problems caused by failure to do it properly these include, but are not limited to Tai otoshi with Morote seoi nage arm positioning, Uchi mata with the elbow pointed to the ceiling and of course the most common solution removing the tsurikomi element entirely and taking a high collar or round the head or round the back grip which offer less complex ways of gaining leverage and offer a greater margin for error than the sleeve lapel grip does.
The two best examples of why failing to understand and use tsurikomi can be bad for you and will ruin your Judo are Tai otoshi and Morote seoi nage.
Here is a classic example of someone trying to cheat their way around bad tsurikomi:
Now hopefully toriís errors and problems should be immediately apparent to you if not...
Toriís elbow management is far from perfect and he has failed to keep his forearm tucked into ukeís armpit Ė pocket Ė and as such has been forced to send his elbow to the ceiling, because, well it has to go somewhere. This is a very unnatural and weak position for the elbow and shoulder to be in. Just stand up and position yourself with your elbow upwards and your arm behind your body just standing in that position feels awkward and you look like an idiot. This is not only a totally inadequate position to get any lift from but trying to throw uke with an arm like this puts immense strain on the shoulder and is incredible difficult to do unless ukeís incredible light or jumps.
Toriís arm is on his own hip, ukeís sleeve is wrapped around his own body and as a result there is minimal effective off balancing and the only reason he was able to get to this position is because uke is being cooperative.
As a result toriís own balance has been ruined and uke although bent over at the waist could easily block the throw attempt if he resisted even the slightest. As tori has failed to break ukeís balance properly he has had to drag uke into him and as a result has sent almost the entirety of his weight onto the wrong foot and has massively off balanced himself to the extent that his outstretched foot is coming off the floor.
Compare that Tai otoshi to this one:
Tori has good elbow management as a result of proper tsurikomi his elbow has remained in the pocket of ukeís armpit and thus allows him to maintain his kuzushi throughout the throw and properly off balance uke. Also his hikite arm remains high with the sleeve drawn out so that ukeís balance is utterly destroyed.
Toriís hand remains level with his ear and has not fallen behind his head which can lead to severe stress on the wrist, elbow and shoulder joint and is a prime cause of injury in Tai otoshi and Morote seoi nage.
Here tori has maintained his balance and is completely stable
Almost all because of effective tsurikomi and good elbow management.
Thats about all I can manage to type for now. I hope this will have been helpful to some people and that at the least it will promote some positive discussion.
Thanks for the great post. This explains a lot.
LVL 99 Photomancer
Posted On:3/17/2011 9:56pm
What an outstanding Judo contribution.
I think I learned more about technical Judo concepts in your article than I did in my first 3 months of Judo training :)
If I had an instructor like you at the time, I'm sure I would have understood the concepts outlined here in the first week.
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