By Joshua Hagen
I understand that some people are wondering why this is even a topic for discussion. Having practiced judo since the age of 3 at more dojos than I can count, I can honestly say that I have personally done power uchi komi at every club that I have trained at, save one. It's common practice in dojos across the board: Power Uchi Komi is something that is passed down from sensei to student without question.
So what is Power Uchi Komi? By power uchi komi I mean when uke is assisted by another athlete holding his belt and the collar of his gi to prevent the athlete from being thrown, allowing the tori to perform throws as hard as possible, with extra resistance. In theory this seems to make obvious sense- won't the extra resistance help develop power (especially strength) in your techniques? This may even be true. I completely agree that being a real athlete is incredibly important for high performance judoka. Being physically strong, fast, explosive and having a strong cardio is a requirement for success. My issue is that I believe power uchi komi is building that strength at the cost of technique, and ends up giving athletes very bad habits. When you perform power uchi komi, you can not help but change your technique to deal with the additional stress consciously and/or subconsciously (but probably both). Your entry is often slowed, to prepare to lift that additional weight. As regards your Kuzushi, there is almost no breaking of your partner's balance initially, as they are being held back, so to ensure that you are able to lift your opponent, you change the position of your body. Anyone that has practiced judo for any period of time knows how long the process can be to develop strong technique, so anything slowing an already sometimes tortoise-paced progression is completely counterintuitive to me. Building muscles to be strong, powerful, and fast is not unique to judo. This is something that has be done in any high level sport. Building muscle can be accomplished in many ways. Why not do sprint circuits, lift weights or kettle bells instead? These activities are completely independent of your judo training, meaning that you are mimicking many of the same movements to strengthen your body that you use in judo, without adversely affecting the technique that you work so hard to fine-tune.
Muscle builds faster than technique. Let's ditch this costly way of increasing strength forever, and protect our hard-won technical skill by building muscle in just about any other way.
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