The Informed Coach




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"Click on each chapter" to access excerpts from the "Training for Competition, Coaching Strategy and the Science for Success" Certification Manual.


Chapter: A Family of Techniques

A Family of Techniques




Kiyoshi believed that one should have a Tokui waza (favorite technique); one that would work no matter what defense your opponent might choose.  For the most part, whenever he would execute his seoinage (shoulder throw) against anyone at the dojo, he would easily throw them.  The more he did the throw the better his timing got. It was easy. All he had to do was move his opponent to his right then swing his left foot quickly in a counter clockwise motion. His right elbow automatically moved across the opponent’s chest and under the armpit.  It was like magic. That is until he met up with Jimmy again.  Jimmy had lost to Kiyoshi a year earlier but had been studying Kiyoshi hoping for a rematch.


Kiyoshi could sense there was something different from the Jimmy of previous years. Back then he was able to get his hands on Jimmy and move him right.  This time Jimmy was moving in the wrong direction for Kiyoshi and attacking as he took his grip.  The first attack by Jimmy scored a yuko, with a left ouchigari (inside major reap).  In quick succession, Jimmy applied a second ouchi then switched to a kouchigari (inside minor reap) that caused Kiyoshi to twist to his belly as he went down. Kiyoshi was trying to regroup as he got up thinking, “Hmm, maybe I’d better lean forward a bit more since he’s trying to get me going backwards.  Another kouchigari was met with resistance to the front side, which in turn was met with a follow-up technique, this time in the front direction. It was a taiotoshi (body drop) for ippon.  The match, in all, lasted but a minute.  What happened? Kiyoshi was stunned.  Unbeknownst to Kiyoshi, Jimmy had been dojo hopping and practicing his “family of techniques” in different combinations under different conditions with many more partners. Once at home he would review his practice and take notes on what worked, what didn’t, and what needed to be worked on.




 In today’s judo is it difficult to compete with just one favorite technique?

 What is a family of techniques and why is it important to have one?

How do we go about developing a family of techniques?

What did Jimmy do that allowed him to neutralize and win over Kiyoshi’s judo?

What types of techniques can best be included in your family of techniques?

Building a Family of Techniques

       Current competitive judo practices involve the use of multiple techniques in order to defeat an opponent.  To a degree, the more techniques one can execute at a high degree of excellence, the better the chances of winning.


Grooming is where one goes from simple tasks to complex tasks in graduated and planned progressive increments. Carl Lewis didn’t begin running in the Olympics straight from the womb. He first learned to crawl before he took his first big step. Then he walked before he ever thought of running, racing, or winning Olympic gold. All along the way, it is the coach and the athlete that should map out the strategy of how best to get to the goal.


The Principle of Primacy (Doing It Right, Doing It Left, and Doing It from the Start)


The principle of primacy holds that whatever an individual learns first is usually what he uses as his base of understanding.   For example, many left-handed instructors who demonstrate a throw left handed will often find many of his beginning students mimicking his actions with left-handed techniques, even if they may be right-handed.


United States Judo Federation

National Teachers Institute

Mitchell Palacio, Chairperson

United States Judo Federation

P.O. Box 338

Ontario, OR 97914-0338


Phone: 1-541-889-8753

Fax: 1-541-889-5836