I am 6 foot 2 inches and weigh about 90Kg - I find it very difficult during randori to get a full turn in for (for example) O Goshi.

My instructors are always telling me that I need to get lower and bend my knees more - but I find this very difficult, especially when my legs are tired from a long class.

Should I be doing squats (or something similar?) to help my endurance with bent legs? Or is it more likely that my technique isn't correct and therefore I'm using more energy than I should be?

  • I've cleaned up the wording and improved the title. In my opinion, this is much better than the original question so I'm reopening it. Feel free to make any other little changes as needed.
    – user15
    Jun 22, 2012 at 10:58
  • @MatthChan Thanks for your help Matt - I'm used to using stack overflow, where asking technical, direct questions is imho much easier :)
    – Nathan
    Jun 22, 2012 at 11:09
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    @Nathan: Super. +1, this is (now) a good question. Jun 22, 2012 at 12:57

3 Answers 3


I would like to provide the correct answer and ask you to discard the chosen answer completely. It's already a bit late to do that, but maybe it's not too late.

Reason for the correction: In Judo, you DO NOT, in any way, need the muscle to CARRY your opponent, because you simply NEVER carry your opponent in Judo in any way. This excludes being mounted on the ground.

The reason you are unable to turn in correctly, and the reason you are feeling your muscles so much, is because your technique is completely wrong.

Why? Because you are supposed to redirect your opponent instead of lifting your opponent. To do that you need to make sure there's momentum. This requires pulling your opponent towards you while turning in and bending through your knees. While your opponent is this in motion, you pull him down in front of you, instead of pushing him up.

If anyone told you that you throw someone harder by pushing him up, that person is dead wrong. To throw someone harder, you can either increase the starting momentum in the pull, decrease momentum when your opponent is falling, or increase momentum gradually from pull to downward movement.

Back to turning in correctly. When you turn in, you do pull your opponent up a bit, but this is done just before the turn in. It's part of the pulling out of balance and by no means part of the turn in, it just happens almost simultaneously. While your opponent is moving towards you, by means of the pull, you are already turned around with bend knees. From there on your pull your opponent forward and downward. This does in no way put a lot of strain on your muscles.

If you use the correct technique the whole training long, you do not get tired legs. This only happens when you do exercises as warm-up. And even then you should be able to throw your opponent without exerting your legs.

Remember this for the future, because you will need it. If you keep learning to throw with muscle strength, you will never be able to throw opponents you can't carry, or it will make you unnecessarily tired.



  • Welcome to Martial Arts! Thank you for your answer. The person who asked the question can always change the accepted answer if he/she thinks a new answer is better. Also, you'll find that the more people think your answer is good, the more votes you'll get and the higher your answer is listed on this page. So if you wait a while we will see if people agree with.
    – THelper
    Oct 11, 2013 at 7:50
  • I just happened to find this thread from Stackoverflow in the Programming section. And I saw this thread, and saw that the chosen answer is completely wrong. I just had to correct it even if it's a 4 year old thread.
    – Sjana
    Oct 11, 2013 at 15:26
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    I completely agree with this. In our dojo we learn to throw using technique, and we test this by throwing someone twice our size or twice our weight. When you use the right technique you'll have no trouble throwing a way larger person at all. I am 6'2" and I weigh 59 kilograms. Using the technique I was taught I easily throw someone of 6'11" weighing more than 100 kilograms. And I don't feel it in my legs at all.
    – MilanSxD
    Oct 16, 2013 at 13:28
  • "To thow your opponent harder, decrease momentum while your opponent is falling". I don't think everyone understands what she means by this. It's the same as the whiplash effect. You move the whip up, and pull it back down rapidly, creating a strong whiplash. The same happens in Judo. When your opponent is near the ground, you pull him back and he hits the ground like a whiplash. This doesn't require any strength since you simply rotate his body to create the whiplash. That's redirection, not use of force.
    – MilanSxD
    Oct 29, 2013 at 11:19
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    Two years and much more competitive experience later, I can see that you're absolutely right :) Of course, strength can help when the technique isn't quite right (let's be honest, how many people get their technique perfect every time!!?)... but your point stands.
    – Nathan
    Aug 28, 2014 at 10:27

I had this exact problem, at the same point in my progress at judo.

Things that didn't work for me

I tried doing uchikomi slowly and deliberately. This usually ended up with me hunched over in a full squat, unbalanced, unable to stand back up with the throw, without any kuzushi applied to my uke.

I tried uchikomi for speed, whipping into each rep. Doing ogoshi or seoinage fast ended up one of two ways: not bending my knees at all (and thereby ingraining a bad habit), or bending my knees too much and ending up like the slow and deliberate reps (just faster).

I tried doing more reps, not really fast and not really slow. This just made me tired, and increased the number of bad reps I got in. Remember, "practice makes perfect" is a pernicious lie. It's "perfect practice makes perfect."

I tried doing drop seoinage and makikomi ("wrapping", falling onto one's partner) variations during randori. This worked...a little...sometimes...against weak players...in randori but not shiai. It didn't develop my technique, and was only a temporary poultice.

Things that did work for me

Squats. Heavy. Barbell. Squats. A bunch of other strength work (deadlifts! blessed deadlifts, plus power cleans, and presses and chin-ups) helped as well. After I was able to squat a barbell weighing as much as I did multiple times for reps, with ease, going back and putting in my uchikomi and nagekomi and moving nagekomi reps helped tremendously. I still have a long way to go, but the difference was like night and day.

Before, it was a question of collapsing in the middle of the throw, or not being able to bend my knees, or being too tired to continue bending my knees after twenty reps. Now, it's a matter of ingraining good reflexes and instincts.


Technique requires physicality. Technique can overcome athletic people's attributes, but no technique can be executed without a minimum of strength.

I was weak. Many people who go into martial arts are weak. That's okay. The problem occurs when we tell these people that just training martial arts will fix the issue, that somehow strength will arise naturally, and that technique will always eventually overcome strength. That's certainly true for some people, but it's certainly not true for others of us. (Many men who got strong by training hard and frequently during their teenage years say this. They rode the wave of testosterone.)

The less genetically blessed need strength- and power-specific training. Barbells are by far the best implement known to man to achieve those two tasks. Bodyweight training, kettlebells, and dumbbells are all great tools too, but the barbell is king for getting stronger and more explosive as fast as possible.

I agree that you need to work on endurance and technique. However, those get plenty of work in class. Strength does not. Furthermore, endurance is dependent on strength:

In the absence of developed strength, strength training always improves work capacity [and endurance -Dave] by reducing the relative intensity of repetitive tasks. (Mark Rippetoe in his Starting Strength forum)


Keep doing randori, keep going to class frequently, keep developing perfect technique and posture, keep studying timing and kuzushi. But outside the dojo, get a copy of Rippetoe and Kilgore's Starting Strength, a barbell, and a squat rack, and start lifting. (The program they recommend--three days a week without other exercise--is not appropriate for you, but the instruction and advice is top-notch.)

Greg Everett's books would also be a good choice; his Olympic Lifting for Sports is probably exactly what you need, but having only read his more general Olympic Lifting for Coaches and Athletes, I can't yet recommend it with full confidence.

Gant Grimes' lifting program for judoka is based on Rippetoe's, and might be appropriate:

Here is a two-day per week lifting program. If you work hard on this for 6-12 months, you will be stronger than 95% of the people who spout silly things on this forum (the other 5% have already done something similar to this). Notation is sets x reps (3x5 is 3 sets of 5 reps).

A: Power clean 5x2, Squat 3x5, Bench 3x5, Chin 3x10-15

B: Power clean 5x2, Squat 3x5 (or front squat 5x3), Press 3x5, Deadlift 1x5

  • You do this. That's it. I'd recommend another day or two of agility work, complexes, and sprints/prowler work, but that's another topic.
  • You add a bit of weight to powercleans each week (not every day). It should feel a little lighter on B day. This is practice day.
  • You can back squat both days if you want (that's what I recommend starting out). If you feel tweaked, if deadlifting is hard after squatting, or if you just want to front squat, then you can alternate.
  • If you can do 3x15 dead hang chins, then you need to add weight to keep the reps between 10 and 15.
  • If you have extra time at the end, do farmers walks. Great ROI.
  • All work sets sets are "sets across" (same weight for each set). Do 3-4 warmup sets (always start with the empty bar) to get there.
  • Add ten pounds per week to squat, five pounds per week to your presses, and 5 or fewer pounds per week to power clean.
  • Once the weights feel heavy the gains slow, work for 3 weeks and deload for 1 week. E.g. for squats: week 1 405x5x3 week 2 415x5x3 week 3 425x5x3 week 4 225x5x3 (or go play soccer) week 5 435x5x3 (or 425x5x3 if you need to) etc.
  • When you record your workouts, it is weight x reps x sets. I'm not sure why this is, but it is.
  • Thanks so much for a wonderfully detailed answer... I guess I'll be looking for some weights on eBay!! :-)
    – Nathan
    Jun 23, 2012 at 10:07
  • @Nathan Craigslist can be good too, particularly for the squat rack. The books I mentioned also have very detailed notes on how to pick your weights, bars, and racks. Jun 24, 2012 at 15:58
  • great answer! i saw this question thinking i'd be able to contribute, but you and sardathrion pretty much covered it all!
    – Patricia
    Jun 26, 2012 at 16:36
  • @Patricia Thanks! If you even have different wording on the same advice, or can speak about your own experience, that would be a really valuable answer. Jun 26, 2012 at 17:51

I would suggest developing slow twitch muscles and flexibility in your legs and lower back. Your back maybe the thing that is giving way first, without you realising it. By stretching it correctly, you will increase the range of motion it has.

Slow twitch muscles will allow you to do more for longer -- think climbers. This will build up your stamina and thus allow you to feel tiered later.

As for not doing the technique correctly, that is quiet probable. Remember there is a difference between kata (teaching form and principles) and randori (application). It takes a long time to get good at kata then that knowledge can be applied into randori. Go back to your kata and see what is wrong there. If that's too complex, go back to the basic exercises you do: what can you improve there?

  • I didn't even think of flexibility in my back... I'm a software developer and sit in a chair all day... so my posture/lower back aren't great - I'll give that a try as a starting point - thanks so much!
    – Nathan
    Jun 22, 2012 at 14:38
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    ankle flexibility might be the problem as well, i suppose that is part of leg flexibility, but it's often overlooked. I've had trouble with squats in the past, and it was due to inflexible ankles!
    – Patricia
    Jun 26, 2012 at 16:36

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