Uchikomi – embodies the idea of invading one’s space or territory. From the game of GO - An invasion is a play made inside an enemy framework with the intention of living or escaping. In the context of judo uchikomi means to invade the space of the other player forcefully and take it over in an attempt to throw or otherwise control or submit the other player; an attack. Uchikomi are drills performed for skill development.
Static and Dynamic Uchikomi
The argument has been around for years that static uchikomi is not relevant and specific enough for competition judo. By definition, uchikomi is not and should not be considered static. If in fact an invasion or attack of someone else’s space is to occur movement is necessary.
Most judoka view static uchikomi as uke just standing in one spot while tori enters his space to perform kuzushi and tsukuri. This may be the way to teach a brand new white belt how to do his first few throws. But then it’s over. Dynamic uchikomi comes into play by tori moving and making uke move his body. Depending on the type and force of the attack uke may simply be unbalanced or forced to take a step or two during the kuzushi phase of the uchikomi. If uke doesn’t move the kuzushi by tori was not forceful enough. Uchikomi done correctly has to have movement by tori and should induce movement of uke, but it is not necessary to move around as much as is done during randori.
The Purpose of Uchikomi
Uchikomi is done in order to afford players the chance to repeat a technique many times in a relatively short period of time, as well as, to reduce wear and tear on uke from taking falls. The primary purpose of uchikomi is skill development. Uchikomi drills ingrain gross motor movement so it becomes an automatic action. Uchikomi allows judoka to practice the correct technical moves for any given technique to ensure efficient movement by tori and correct reaction of uke.
Repetition is a proven method of practice that allows the acquisition of needed skills quickly. Some of the individual skills aided by uchikomi drills are developing taisabaki, kuzushi and tsukuri, while increasing the attack speed and force. It is not necessary to perform kake to call uchikomi a skill. Uchikomi is in fact a set of several skills without the need to finalize the throw by uke hitting the mat. Performed correctly and with proper instruction from a knowledgeable teacher uchikomi should expose the players to the most efficient biomechanical movements required for the technique being practiced. Any skill practiced as a drill is in reality uchikomi.
How To Practice Uchikomi
Start with slow and very controlled movements when first learning a new technique. Once the correct movements are achieved the speed and force of the movements can be gradually increased. Uchikomi for each technique should be repeated 3-4 times and then the kake or final execution of the technique should be completed.
1.Kata and Butsukari or Uchikomi by Gunji Koizumi in Budokwai Quarterly Bulletin, October 1952, pp 14-15 ©1952 from Electronic Journal of Martial Arts and Sciences - Journal of Combative Sport – Dec. 2005 http://ejmas.com/jcs/jcsframe.htm
2. Judo Formal Techniques by T. Otaki and D. Draeger © 1983
The author of this paper is a certified judo instructor, national referee, national kata judge and instructor. He is the chief instructor at Arkansas Goshinkan http://www.ArkansasGoshinkan.org/