Teaching Beginner Judo Players

Teaching Beginner Judo Players

For this post, I will be covering the beginning to technique introduction for both Tachiwaza and Newaza. 

Learning Judo in the beginning, regardless of a student's age, can be very overwhelming. The way a new judoka has to learn to move their bodies, rotate their hips, and use their hands is a new experience and unlike any other sport or activity.

So when I teach it is with the goal of developing skills to learn advanced judo in the future.

For example, before I would never let my students participate in randori, it is crucial that the student is comfortable taking falls before participating in randori. Ukemi has to be one of the first judo skills a student learns to truly enjoy their experience on the mat and ensures a healthy and safe Judo career.


When I teach Tachiwaza techniques, I start with one forward throw and one backward throw. The forward throw is to help students learn how to turn their body 180 degrees. I personally prefer Tai Otoshi or Seoi Nage. Along with turning their body, each of the techniques help with different types of Kuzushi skills. These skills being developed early help establish a strong foundation for future learning.

For backward throws, I teach Osoto Gari because it helps introduce different foot positions, leg positions, and balance. The sweeping of the leg while pointing the toe while balancing on one leg helps with developing Ashi Waza and will be a healthy challenge for new judoka.


Newaza is as equally as important as Tachiwaza, the two pins I start with are Kesa Gatame & Kuzure Kesa Gatame. When teaching Kesa Gatame I explain the importance of grabbing the sleeve and hooking your other arm around the head to turn their partner onto their back and similarly for Kuzure Kesa Gatame. These pins and turnovers seem very simple but it helps reinforce fundamental judo skills.

Technique Development was the topic of our coaches call this month but as always, I will be open to questions and other topics as well. We will be adding video examples on how to develop a technique and what the end product should look like. 

It is my hope as Head Coach at the American Judo System that we can bring coaches together from all levels, dojos, and the country to share the knowledge we have. Our team is full of coaches who are eager to grow the sport from the basic level to the elite level. We are also unique in the fact that Jimmy Pedro and I, have experience in coaching all the areas aforementioned (day one to Olympic podium) and we are excited to share our experience and systems with you. I also hope that you will share your knowledge and experience with us because if we are going to grow judo we must work together!

Thank you for your time and I look forward to working with you! 

See you on the tatami! 

Steve Cohen

US Olympian & US Olympic Coach

Head Coach, American Judo System

  1. Please email me at Steve@americanjudo.com with any questions, comments, or topics you may want me to cover.

About Steve Cohen

Steve Cohen has been doing judo for over 60 years. Starting judo at the age of 5, Steve had a long successful competitive career ending in 1988 at the Seoul, Korea Olympics. Steve along with his brother, Irwin ran a successful judo program in Illinois producing the first Olympic Silver Medalist and first Junior World Champion for the United States. They also had many athletes on Pan American Games Teams, World Teams, and Olympic Teams. Throughout the years they ran local, regional, and national tournaments. Every Summer, they held a camp where the best youth and junior judo athletes in the country would come to learn and develop, and the best senior judo athletes would attend, teach, and train. Many of those young athletes that attended went on to great success as competitors. Steve became the National Coach for the United States in the 1990’s becoming the Head Junior National Coach for 4 years and following that became the Head Senior National Coach which included being named the Head Coach for the 2000 US Olympic Team. Steve is still active in coaching and developing athletes out of Illinois and works with athletes all over the country. 

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