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  • Writer's pictureJosh Hagen

Preparing For Opponents in Judo!

I often get asked about the time needed to prepare one individual athlete for a particular opponent.

There is an almost infinite number of possibilities as to who my student can face in any given event. So it seems rather inefficient to prepare for one opponent in particular because you are forgetting about the rest.

I can see how this may be your thought process initially if you have never done preparation in this way before, but it is easier and more efficient than you think. Athletes fight in patterns, they look for specific situations, grips, or movements to pounce and and use their technique. Many athletes create these situations some wait for you get tangled in their spider web. Why it is inefficient to prepare for one particular opponent is because no athlete is an island. Any way that a judoka competes has been done before and other athletes are probably currently doing it, or something very similar. Athletes fall into categories based on the techniques that they utilize.

So when you prepare for an athlete that utilizes uchi-mata, you are preparing for all uchi-mata based fighters. The same goes for other techniques. You create models of opponents such as drop seoi nage specialists, uchi mata, sode tsuri komi goshi etc. The preparations you make for one translates to the other opponents as well.

When it comes to Kumi-kata there are a finite number of possible grips that you can take in a match. Some like a cross grip, come high over the back or korean grip. Having a strong understanding of your opponents gripping sequences is a crucial step in the preparation process. Just like judoka fall into categories with techniques, they similarly do so with grips, and often the two are connected. Sode Tsuri Komi Goshi requires you to hold the sleeve where you usually grip the collar. So you aren’t just preparing for one opponent, you are often preparing for all opponents that fall into the same group.

Going in blind just won’t cut it anymore!

Athlete Analyzer helps me as coach to easily identify which opponent types my Judoka needs to prepare more for. After just a just few clicks I know exactly which grips and techniques my judoka has lost most points to. I also have access to video clips of each lost point that I can study in detail to create a plan to adress the issue in training.

​The Direction chart shows which directions my judoka has been thrown during competition

​The Grips chart shows which Grips my judoka has been thrown from

Your opponent knows you, they may in fact know your judo intimately. Pretending that your opponents aren’t training hard, or preparing for you is setting yourself up for failure. It may seem egotistical to think that your opponents are planning how to beat you and being humble is important, but being prepared is the most important thing as a judoka. You cannot possibly be too prepared.

Finally, this isn’t EXTRA WORK, this is just work. There are approximately 40 million people in 200 countries practicing judo. Of which many have dreams of being the best judoka in the world. The term AMATEUR gets thrown around a lot because judo is an Olympic sport, but to be clear international judoka are professional athletes! If you have the slightest desire to become a player at the international stage you better prepare like one.

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