If you do jiu-jitsu, wrestling or something else and you've never heard of uchikomi, here is a picture of one type. You can do it with an inner tube, rubber bands or whatever those pulling things Ronda has are called. Uchi komi is Japanese for "winding inside". So, you fit in to your throw and you come back out again.
The second way to do it is at practice with another person who stands there and lets you come in on them usually.
A third way is to do uchi komi with another person moving, and a fourth way is to do it moving with some slight resistance.
When I started judo at 12, we did uchikomi. Not a lot, maybe 40 -50 a night. I thought it was boring. But I thought history class was boring and they made me do that, too. Hey, I was 12.
I was a black belt and senior national champion when I moved to a new city and ended up at a club where uchikomi was considered along the lines of trying to improve your judo by praying to a piece of bubble gum. My judo got somewhat better while I was at that club. We did a lot of throws on the crash pad (believe it or not, a new innovation back then).
Then, I moved to Los Angeles, to Los Angeles Tenri Dojo, with Jimmy Martin, Miguel Tudela, Steve Seck, Tony Mojica, Blinky (Richard) Elizalde, Gokor Chivichyan , Diane Pierce Tudela, Dawn Beers and a ton of other tough players. We did uchikomi - probably 100 or more every night. My judo got WAY better when I was at Tenri. Honestly, I don't think the uchikomi had anything to do with it. It was having a good coach, good strength trainer and good training partners.
The argument against uchikomi is that it is stupid to go half-way into a throw and that if you practice going half-way in, you will do it that way in a tournament and stop. Maybe if you did thousands of them, but I don't really buy that argument at all.
The second argument is that no other sport does this. You don't see basketball players run up to the basket and stop. Wrestlers don't do uchikomi. I have not done a poll of all other sports, so I can't really say. I am not sure this argument matters. It makes me think of the movie, Cool Runnings, where the captain of the Jamaican bobsled team is smacking the other guys on their helmets an one asks why he's doing it and he says,
"That's what the Swiss team does, and they win."
to which one teammate replies,
"Yeah, well they make them little pocket knives , too and I don't see you doing that."
To argue that the other teams don't do something like uchikomi is somewhat worse of an argument, to me, than that most people who win in judo, the Japanese players, the world champions that I know, DO do uchi komi. Frankly, I think neither is a particularly good argument.
My opinion? I can see three reasons to do uchikomi, in small amounts:
- When you are teaching someone new. John Dewey (no, he didn't do judo, he was an educational theorist) was a big proponent of the Whole-part-whole method of teaching, the idea being that you showed the student how the whole thing should look, then you broke it down to simple parts and came up with ways to teach each, then you put the whole thing back together again. Dewey is called the father of modern education and his methods are used to teach everything from math to -well, judo. Jigoro Kano was a contemporary of Dewey's and also an educator. Completely random fact - Dewey also created the Dewey Decimal System that many libraries use to catalog books, replaced in many larger libraries by the Library of Congress system. This is the kind of fascinating and useful information 3 graduate degrees will get you.
- For strength training. This is what Ronda is doing in the photo above, doing her throw against resistance. When she was about 13 or so, Hal Sharp, from Gardena Dojo gave all the kids some rubber tubing to use to practice their throws at home. We tied it to the railing upstairs outside of her room and every time she walked by she'd grab it and do an uchi mata. When she got a little older, I got her ankle weights and she would fit into that uchi mata with 5 pound weights on each ankle. As you can see from the picture at right, she still does a pretty nice uchi mata to this day. Doing uchikomi with resistance, like with the bands, and weights on your ankles, builds the EXACT muscles you will use in doing those throws.
- For conditioning. I like to run, but some people, and Ronda was one of them, hate to run distances. For those kids, doing 100 uchikomis a night is less boring than running for 10 minutes and it builds up muscles in their arms at the same time. Personally, I'd rather run, but for the kid who hates running, it's an option.
Oh, just so you know, you ranting - that doesn't count as evidence.