Journal of Combative Sport, July 2004


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Ne-waza (Groundwork) and Atemi-waza (blows) in Judo

By Gunji Koizumi

From the Budokwai Judo Quarterly Bulletin, July 1953, pp. 13-15, 20-21. Reprinted by permission. Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved.

Ne-waza (Groundwork)

The most important and interesting parts of Ne-waza are not so much the actual application of holdings or locks, but the ways of changing the position of the body and using the limbs, connected with gaining and retaining the position of advantage or control over the opponent, and extricating oneself from adverse positions. According to individual style and ideas various ways and manners of effecting the objectives of these movements may be developed, but the following basic principles underlie them all. As to the factors of efficiency, subtleness of touch, astuteness of action and reaction are matters which can be acquired only through personal experience and sustained training.

1. The Position of the Body

As has been described in the previous chapters on holdings or locks, the position of your body, related to the opponent's, is of vital importance. Therefore, when the opponent attempts to disturb the conditions of position required for your purpose, by moving his body, or pushing or pulling yours, you must be prepared to counter his efforts, by adjusting yourself to a new suitable position. For minor changes, lift your hips off the mat and "walk" in successive steps. For major changes, take wide "steps" and "run", moving one leg over or under the other, at the same time, if required, change the point of bearing the weight of your body on the opponent by turning or twisting your body with a rolling movement.

When your opponent succeeds in pushing your hips away from him, lift your hips up beyond the effective reach of his hands, by supporting yourself on your hands and feet, and "run" round in a circle, pivoting on your hands, to reach a position from which another form of attack can be made. On no account should you try to cling on to the lost position.

To extricate yourself from a position of disadvantage, if under the opponent, firstly separate your hips from the opponent's body by moving them away; to do so you must stop the opponent by following your action by pushing his hips, with straightened arms. If held with your back on the mat, to be able to move your hips away, you must turn your body on one side; to do so, bridge your body and, supporting the opponent's weight on one hip, draw back the other. If placed between the opponent's legs, grip the opponent's belt with both your hands and slide your body downward flat on the mat.

In all cases of changing position, you should not try to move the opponent's body but keep it in the same spot, and move your own. When any part of your body is held with a hand or hands, spin around pivoting your body on that part. In so doing you should be careful not to resist the opponent's force or move the position of the opponent's hands.

2. Detachment of the Body

When the opponent tries to use his body against yours, in an attempt to turn you over from the position of holding or riding, detach your body from his, to annul the effect.

3. The Centre of Gravity of the Body

In attack or defence, the active power should be derived from the abdomen, the centre of gravity of the body, and directed against the opponent's abdomen. To do so, you must keep the small of your back concave and keep fulness at the abdomen.

4. The Trunk and Limbs of the Body

In controlling the opponent's body, regard the trunk as an oblong board, and the limbs as attachments. The board, to raise itself upright from a lying position, must start to raise one or two of its corners. So, watching the opponent's movements, push or bear the weight of your body on the corner which is raised, and control the limbs at their roots, close to the shoulders and hips.

For defence, elbows and knees should be kept close to the body; they are frontal defensive weapons.

5. Two Ways of Using the Body

To localise the opponent's force and to use the bodily weight, relax your muscles and lie over your opponent like a wet towel. To centralise the weight of the body on one spot, arch up your body forward on your feet resting your shoulder or head on the opponent's body.

6. Hands and Wrists

In pushing or pulling, the wrists should be slightly bent and turned with a screwing action. When the hands are used on the opponent's chest or throat, do not stretch the arms. If you do so, you given an opening to the opponent for an arm lock.

7. The Head

The head should be kept slightly tilted back, for if it is caught bent forward and pulled down in a curve, it is impossible to resist and the whole body becomes powerless. It is particularly important to observe this rule in applying neck locks from in front of the opponent.

Atemi-waza (Blows)

The nerve centres where blows are delivered in Atemi-waza are called Kyusho or vital points. There are many such spots where a blow is traditionally regarded as deadly. The nature of Atemi-waza being what it is, it cannot be said or proved scientifically that the effect is as claimed, but in the light of modern knowledge, some claims are reasonably acceptable while many traditionally deadly blows seem to be merely the means of effecting a shock. I have selected here those which I consider to be most useful. However, I must emphasise again that the efficiency of Atemi-waza depends on correct timing, bodily action and the sharpness of action with which the blow is delivered.

In order to achieve velocity, blows should be delivered with a sharp "recoiling" action and muscular contraction.

The use of the fist for delivering a blow should be combined with the retraction of the fingers, and the bending and turning of the wrist, the point of the middle joint of the middle finger or the first joints of the fingers being used as a spear head, the elbow being kept close to the side of the body

The side of the hand, the part of the first joint of the little finger, should be used like the cutting edge of a chopper, keeping the fingers straightened but not stretched.

In delivering a blow with the elbow, the action should be like driving the point of the elbow into the opponent's body, not like patting, and the forearm should be turned so that the palm of the hand faces upward.

The knee also should be used as if to drive its head into the opponent's body, when possible accompanied by sharp downward pressure on the opponent's shoulders with both hands.

When the foot is bare, the ball should be used for kicking but with a shoe, the point of the toe-cap.

For hardening the parts used for Atemi and developing speed, one may practise giving blows to objects, starting on a soft surface and gradually replacing it with harder substances.

The following are Kyusho and the parts of the body used for the blows:

1. TENTO (heavenly knock out). Position: The middle of the crown of the head. Blow: Downward with the fist.
2. UTO (the sun and the moon). Position: The roots of the eyebrows. Blow: With the fist or knee.
3. JINCHU (centre of man). Position: The base of the nose. Blow: With the fist, side of hand or knee.
4. GWANTO (the head of rock). Position: The point of the chin. Blow: Upward or downward with the fist, knee or foot.
5. KASUMI (mist). Position: Temple of the head. Blow: With the fist or side of the hand.
6. SUIGETSU (watery moon). Position: Solar plexus. Blow: With the fist, elbow, knee or foot.
7. DENKO (lightning). Position: Right floating ribs. Blow: With the fist, knee or foot.
8. TSUKIKAGE (shadow of moon). Position: Left floating ribs. Blow: With the fist, knee or foot.
9. MYOJO (bright star). Position: About 1-1/2 inches below the navel. Blow: With the fist, elbow, knee or foot.
10. TSURIGANE. Position: Between the legs. Blow: With the knee, foot or fist.

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JCS July 2004