The Uchikomi

The Uchikomi

For this post, I will be covering Uchikomi.

Always remember that judo is difficult so when you are teaching and developing judoka always show the correct way first. Then, the incorrect technique but give the learning process time. Your students progress will vary but if you are diligent your students will eventually be successful.

My warmup drills always include ukemi practice, ashi-waza practice while continually stressing the importance of good judo posture. If ukemi is not correct take the time to practice longer. Hopping on one foot in different directions. (Soon I will write a letter on beginning judo drills).


Judo is a global sport and knowing how to communicate and learn requires you to know the language judo is spoken in globally.

"Uchikomi" (Repetition training) is the repeated practice of a throwing motion up to the point where the throw would actually be executed (the simulation stops at that point).

Hiki-te" (Pulling hand) refers to the pulling hand that grasps the opponent. In a right natural posture with a right-hand grip, this hand is the left hand, and generally grips the opponent's sleeve area.

The right hand is the "Tsurite" (Lifting hand), and it generally grips the opponent's lapel area.

Uchikomi is a critical exercise in learning your techniques. It will develop your form and create the necessary muscle memory needed to apply your techniques correctly. Like most judo drills it is required that uke play an important role when doing uchikomi. Uke should be aware of the technique tori is practicing and make himself/herself positioned correctly and gently flow with the movement. As you get more advance uke can give important feedback to help tori improve.

Tori must pull sleeve as the first step begins. It is a common error in uchikomi practice to pull on the second step. This error, if not corrected, will affect your technique in randori (free practice) and shiai (Judo competition). Your lifting hand must also be active on first step.

Uchikomi Exercise. Pair off your students and start with 10 uchikomi each. Do this 10 times for a start. Choose the techniques you are working on to practice and watch closely to make sure they are doing it correctly. We will be including uchikomi into our regular workout schedule.

Check out the video below from the American Judo Systems very own, Travis Stevens, on how to properly execute an ippon Seionage uchikomi.

Technique Development will be the topic of our coaches call 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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