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It is widely employed as a training technique, and yet there are many who question the value of Uchikomi. The common belief is that the value of Uchikomi is that it trains the ‘muscle memory’.

Muscle memory is a slight misnomer, but a useful description for the process where a repeated physical action is stored in long-term memory and so can be repeated without conscious thought. We are surrounded by personal examples; an often quoted example is the process of learning to ride a bicycle.kusushi

However, it is widely accepted amongst sport psychologists that practicing dynamic motor skills in part only does not aid the acquisition of those skills. In other words, it is not helpful to practise just part of a throw.

There are 4 stages of a throw: Kuzushi, Tsukri, Kake and Kime. Most judoka will be familiar with the term Kuzushi, usually translated as breaking of balance. Tsukri is the phase of the throw where you fit your body in place to execute the throw, Kake is the actual throw, and Kime is finishing off.tsukri-2

Kuzushi is, in fact, more than just breaking the balance of a static and cooperating Uke. Tori must get the correct grip, control Uke’s relative position, control Uke’s movement and break Uke’s balance. In static uchikomi, there is, by definition, no movement. The other problem is that the throw stops at the end of the Tsukri phase. So the danger is that you are training your ‘muscle memory’ not to throw! However, the 4 stages of a throw are not separate, rather they are linked seamlessly.Kame

Many instructors aim to overcome these limitations by quickly moving from static uchikomi to practice on the move, and completing a set of drills with an actual throw, rather than stopping at the end of the Tsukri. Many coaches now believe that traditional uchikomi has many limitations, and prefer drills where the complete throw is practiced repetitively, preferably moving. Use of crash mats can make this less wearing for Uke.kake-2

Uchikomi has other limitations. There are many throws where it is simply impractical to use the practice. How do you do tani-otoshi uchikome? What about tomoe-nage, uki-otoshi or many more throws?

What can be used in place of uchikomi? The answer is drills involving a complete throw, and controlled randori. Controlled randori may seem like an oxymoron, as the term randori means free practice, so how can you have controlled and free practice? Yet often randori is seen as a mini contest. It is perfectly normal to impose limitations on the freedom of the practice so one player is nominated as Tori and the other Uke, and Uke’s degree of cooperation or resistance is varied according to Tori’s training needs.

It would be logical to move from teaching a throw’s kuzushi and tsukri while static, through static drills practicing the whole throw, to drills on the move, then onto controlled randori before employing the throw in randori and contest (shiai).

Certainly repetitive practice has a major part to play in skill acquisition. However, the repetitive drills should involve the complete throw and realistic movement.

One of the great advantages of judo over many other martial arts is that we can complete techniques without risk of serious harm to Uke. We should make use of that advantage in training.

Further reading:

Geof Gleeson    Better Judo                        Available on Amazon
Geof Gleeson    Anatomy of Judo             Available on Amazon
Elie A. Morrell    The Value of Uchikomi in the Development of Judo Skills                   

Judogi Care Instructions

Budogis are made from the finest 100% pre-shrunk cotton materials. If cared for properly, they should give years of service. Follow the care instructions.

Wash after each use.  Avoid storing your gi after use, unwashed, in an enclosed space such as a sports bag.  If left damp mildew may permanently mark light materials.


For best results machine wash warm (40°C).  Wash colours separately.  Although it is made from pre-shrunk cotton, your gi may shrink a little more (1 to 2%) after the first couple of washes.  If you wish to shrink it further you may wash hot (60°C+) and/or tumble dry hot.  Use any good detergent, but for best results use powder bio-detergent.  Fabric conditioner is not necessary.  Stains may require additional treatment with stain remover.  Bleach is not recommended.  If you do use bleach make sure that it is diluted.  Do not use bleach on coloured garments and be aware that embroidery may be affected by bleach.


For best spread out flat and dry naturally, or smooth out and hang to dry.  The product may be tumble dried on low temperature, but further shrinking may occur if tumble dried high.


100% cotton garments will wrinkle and may be ironed with a hot iron.


Fold and store flat or hang.


* Judo gis can test your washing machine’s performance to its limits.  If you find you get dark scummy marks on white gis, follow these steps to improve the condition of your machine:

  1. Avoid non-bio detergents. Despite popular belief, bio detergents are fully bio-degradable and safe to use, even with septic tanks or other waste systems.  Reserve non-bio detergents for non-colour-safe washing only.
  2. Avoid liquid detergents.  Powder is best.  In a recent Which? magazine survey the best performing detergent was Aldi Almat Bio; it’s also quite cheap!
  3. Do not over-load your machine.  Fill the drum about ¾ full for best results.
  4. At least once per month do a hot wash (60°C+); towels are best washed hot.  Consider putting about 30ml of vinegar in the hot wash (don’t worry, it will not cause your washing to smell).
  5. Avoid using lots of fabric conditioner.
  6. Occasionally wipe around the inside of the door seal and empty the filter.
  7. Leave the door ajar after use.

If you have not been treating your machine in this way, it may take several washes to remove the scum and residue.  To speed the cleaning process up, do a couple of hot ‘maintenance’ washes without clothes in with a small amount of detergent and some vinegar.  Once you have the machine clean, following these instructions will extend its life, reduce your maintenance costs, and improve the washing results; so your judo gi will no longer suffer from scummy marks.


Judogi is the formal Japanese name for the traditional uniform used for judo practice and competition. It is actually derived from traditional articles of Japanese clothing. Jigoro Kano derived the original judogi from the kimono and other Japanese garments around the turn of the 20th century and, as such, the judogi was the first modern martial-arts-training uniform. Over the years, the sleeves and trousers have been lengthened, the material and fit have changed, the traditional unbleached cotton is now usually bleached white, and blue judogi have become available; nevertheless, the uniform is still very close to that used 100 years ago. Other martial arts, notably karate, later adopted the style of training uniform that is used in judo.

A judogi comprises three parts that are usually cut from different fabrics: a very heavy jacket (uwagi) which is made from two different types of fabric, lighter canvas trousers (shitabaki), and a cotton belt (obi). Though similar to the shorter styles of kimono, an uwagi will invariably be made from heavy-weight cotton or cotton blend. All but the cheapest and most lightest uwagi are cut from woven cotton, similar to, but much more tightly woven than, terrycloth. More expensive competition and judogi will often weigh several kilograms when finished. Due to the nature of judo practice, they commonly have heavier stitching and double-layered knee patches to provide durability. The obi’s different colours denote the different ranks in judo, sometimes with the addition of coloured tabs, or mons, to denote smaller steps in grade.

In most competitions, judogi sizes and fit are strictly defined by the International Judo Federation (IJF) rules of judo. These rules define sleeve and trouser length as well as the looseness of the fit; in competition, the referee can disqualify a competitor for wearing an ill-fitting judogi that may be used for advantage. The IJF rules also cover such matters as the attachment of commercial, club and team/national patches and competitors’ names. All competitive judogi must be clean and free of holes, tears, or excessive wear.

In official national or international competition only white or blue judogi are allowed. In major competitions, competitors must have available both colours of gi available because the first contestant in each match is designated to wear a white gi while the other wears blue. Both competitors will wear an obi coloured appropriate to their grade.

In regional competitions, both competitors will wear white gi, in which case the first called competitor wears a white obi and the second blue (or sometimes red) irrespective of their grade.

Most judo classes will permit students to wear either colour of gi, although white is the traditional colour and is often preferred as it fits in better with the traditions of judo and Japanese culture. An inexperienced judoka wearing blue might be seen as a little pretentious. Very occasionally other colours of gi are worn, although it would be unwise to wear a non-standard colour without good reason.

The left side of the gi must cross over the right one.

Budogi supply the highest quality Judo and other martial arts suits (Gi) direct to the public and to clubs.  Our gis are of the best quality, and are available in more sizes, making them fit for champions.