Yesterday I was coaching the Cadet National Team at the Welsh National Judo Centre. I decided to tell them about the judo tree.
I learnt about the judo tree from Norito Katabuchi from Tokai University. The eldest of three Katabuchi judo brothers.
The trunk of the tree is your tokuiwaza. The branches are your combinations into and out of the technique(s). The roots are the things that make up your preparation; condition, attitude, lifestyle, training system, etc. The flowers are the spectacular techniques that lead nowhere, perhaps a sutemiwaza.
The trunk should ideally consist of one of four techniques, around which you can base a players technical strategy; Osotogari, Taiotoshi, Seoinage or Uchimata. Some great players, actually have two or more of these techniques in their trunk.
Often, the branches will include kouchigari or ouchigari.
A player who has a tokuiwaza which is not a major technique may find that their repertoire is limited, and they struggle to develop a series of renrakuwaza and renzokuwaza around their tokuiwaza. There judo tree will be feeble and not grow in a balanced way to produce strong branches.
Think about the trees of the players you work with. I suggest that all cadet players should work hard on the four major techniques. Even if they do not use them, they will understand them, and be better able to deal with attacks from their partner.
What we do as coaches is plant an acorn. Plant it in fertile soil, feed the roots, nurture the tree, talk to it, prune it occasionally, and you will have a strong healthy tree, with a powerful trunk, strong branches and beautiful flowers.
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