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Ukigatame - the floating hold

In judo we tend to practice in phases. For instance, we might practice some gripfighting sequences to move from a free-movement phase into a clench phase.  Or (more often) we might allow the partner to take his grip and we practice throwing with tori remaining standing. Or we might start on the ground and practice some newaza.  It's fairly rare in this sort of class to practice the entire range of skills from grip to clench to throw to groundwork.  There are a couple of benefits to practicing with this separation of phases:
  • Safety - It's harder to practice standing judo while others are rolling around doing newaza.  People fall on top of other people or trip over them. 
  • Concentration - This type of practice also lets us to concentrate our time and effort on specific phases of combat (free-motion, clench, newaza, etc...)
But this type of practice in separated phases mostly fails to address the transition from one phase to the next. We try to minimize this problem by having most all nagekomi (throwing practice) techniques end in ukigatame (the floating hold, A.K.A. knee-on-belly) and many of our groundwork exercises begin in ukigatame. Thus, ukigatame is the transition between standing judo and newaza.  And as we saw in a previous post, since ukigatame is a core element of several aikido holds, ukigatame also represents one of the links or transition states between aikido and judo.

Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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