Uchikomi is a fantastic judo drill that is a must when it comes to practicing judo technique. There a few key areas that need to be addressed when doing Uchikomi. These areas are where to grip, Kuzushi, distance, entry, throw and the speed at which you do it.
Where you grip when performing Uchikomi is extremely important. You want to make sure that where you take hold is the same spot you grip in Randori. There is no point practicing all of your technique from a traditional collar and sleeve grip when you fight with a top grip or double lapel. Start looking at how you grip in Randori and make sure you grip the exact same place in Uchikomi if you do this you will see that your technique will improve immensely.
The Kuzushi (breaking the balance) aspect of the throw is one of the most important aspects. Put simply, without Kuzushi there is no throw. Kuzushi is important because it not only breaks your opponents balance but also breaks their posture leaving them weak and vulnerable for attack. Remember that your number one goal in Uchikomi is to make your opponent off-balance each and every repetition. If you are performing a forwards technique your opponents’ weight should be on their toes and if you are doing a backwards technique their weight should be on their heels.
Distance and entry:
Distance and entry, I believe, go hand in hand. You can have the best entry but if you come in too close you will have no room for breaking your opponents balance. Make sure when you perform Uchikomi you are leaving room for your opponent to be pulled off-balance. By coming in too close to your opponent you will leave your opponent ‘on balance,’ giving them a chance to counter you or avoid being thrown.
So many judoka do hundreds of repetitions of Uchikomi each and every week but fail to throw anyone in Randori. One reasons for this could be the fact that although they perform many repetitions of a particular throw they never actually complete a full throw. I understand that there are times when you have the best entry and great Kuzushi but still cannot finish a throw because your opponent may have great movement and balance but if you do a lot of throwing (Nage Komi) with little to no resistance, you will begin to throw people a lot more in training.
The speed of your Uchikomi is extremely important. In training you want to have a fast entry into a throw with a slow exit. Concentrate mainly on having a fast entry rather than a fast entry and exit. This is due to the fact that in competition you don’t want to exit a throw once you are in. Exiting a throw in competition means you probably won’t throw your opponent and you also risk being countered. In training practice a fast, crisp entry and don’t worry so much about the exit.
The entry is what you are looking to improve.
The common rule to get good at a particular technique is the 10000 repetitions rule. You must perform 10000 repetitions of a technique in order to have a successful throw in competition. Uchikomi is a great way to practice your technique but make sure you grip, Kuzushi, entry, throw and speed are correct each and every repetition. If your technique is a bit off then continue working at a slower pace in order to correct any faults. Make sure you ask your Sensei to analyse your technique and assist in correcting anything that needs fixing.
This video is a good example of how uchikomi should be performed.