The Importance of Stance And Posture

The Importance of Stance And Posture

Stance and Movement

Judo stance and movement are things that every judoka must know in order to thrive on the tatami. Remember that judo has many difficult positions that may seem simple for us as instructors but for beginners (young or old) they can be very challenging. We have to remember that when we are teaching a student who is in the developmental phases of their career we must focus on proper form first! Remember to be patient with mistakes in the beginning. With due diligence and discipline your students will find success.

Warming Up

When I start my class, regardless of skill level, my warmup drills always include a form of ukemi as well as a form of ashi-waza with a continual focus on stressing the importance of judo posture. During these exercises and drills, we must not forget the importance of correct technique, do not let the small things go and have them develop bad habits. Another drill I add once I feel the class is prepared is one-legged hops. I have them hop in all directions (forward, backward & side to side) and on both legs individually. In Judo, we must be able to stand on one leg with someone on our backs/hips - this drill is crucial. All of these skills and drills help build strong habits when it comes to stance. 

In the near future I will be writing a bunch of beginning judo drills!

Now let’s get into our main topic which is Judo Stance! 

The Proper Judo Stance

When practicing stance you must stand up straight with your head over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips with your back straight and your knees slightly bent. Feet should be shoulder distance apart for maximum stability and balance. To complete our proper stance we move our dominant foot forward one step with our hands up in front of our faces ready to grab as if we were holding a ball on our noses. 

Ways to ensure we are in the proper stance is by having your partner try to move you in different directions. When your stance is correct you should not be able to be moved off balance. 

Check out this video from the KODOKAN on examples of proper Ayumu Ashi & Tsugi Ashi.

Ayumi Ashi is a walking step while Tsugi Ashi refers to a stepping pattern in Judo where one foot replaces the other before that foot can move. This is how we maintain proper balance, posture, and stance when we are moving in Judo. 

Be sure to highlight students in your program who are excelling at techniques and drills and use them as an example for your other students to follow. This is easier when you have a more robust offering such as intermediate and advanced classes BUT if you are looking closely enough, you can for sure find your beginner students thriving. 

The next coaching call will be on Sunday, May 21st at 12:00pm EST

The topic of this call will be technique development 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

P.S. Please email me at 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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