Is there a system to the way judo techniques are named? Many techniques seem to share components of names (harai, guruma, gaeshi etc) - is there a standard uniform way these words should be interpreted as describing these techniques, or are they context dependent?

2 Answers 2


The Kodokan New Japanese-English Dictionary of Judo has entries on most verbs used in technique names:

Word Definition Examples
haneru (to spring/jump) A situation in which the powerful effect of a hane goshi or uchimata sends your opponent's body high into the air. hane-goshi, hane-makikomi
harau (to sweep) To throw by acting on your opponent's feet, legs, or trunk with a sweeping type motion. harai-goshi, harai-tsumikomi-ashi, de-ashi-barai, okuri-ashi-barai
hikikomu (to pull into) To pull your opponent into a particular position, particularly as a way of moving into mat-work (newaza). hikikomi-gaeshi
kaesu (to reverse; to counterattack) To stop an opponent's attack and then execute an attack or counterattack of your own. osoto-gaeshi, ouchi-gaeshi, kouchi-gaeshi, tsubame-gaeshi, hane-goshi-gaeshi, harai-goshi-gaeshi, uchi-mata-gaeshi

kibisu-gaeshi, obi-tori-gaeshi, sumi-gaeshi, hikikomi-gaeshi, tawara-gaeshi
karu (to reap) To sweep your opponent's feet, legs, or hips out from under him using reaping motions of your feet and legs. osoto-gari, kosoto-gari,
ouchi-gari, kouchi-gari
katameru (to pin; to hold down) To use a hold-down technique to pin your opponent's body, or a portion of his body, in such a way that his freedom of movement is controlled and he is unable to move. katame-waza
makikomu (to wrap) To throw in such a way that part of your opponent's body wraps around yours as part of your technique, a common element in many sacrifice techniques. osoto-makikomi, hane-makikomi, harai-makikomi, uchi-mata-makikomi, kouchi-makikomi, soto-makikomi, uchi-makikomi
nageru (to throw) In judo the use of the hands, hips, feet and legs in a coordinated fashion and in accordance with the principles of physics in such a way that you cause your opponent to fall or roll forward, backward, or to the side. nage-waza,

seoi-nage, sukui-nage, ura-nage, tomoe-nage
osaekomu (to hold down) To hold your opponent down on the mat from above so as to render him unable to move. osaekomi-waza
osaeru (to hold down) To face your opponent and hold him down on the mat so as to render him unable to move.
sasaeru (to support; to block) To use your feet, legs, or hips to block an opponent's attempts to move his body or a part of his body freely. sasae-tsurikomi-ashi
seou (to load something onto your back) To load your opponent onto your hips and/or back. ipponzeoi-nage, seoi-nage, seoi-otoshi
shimeru (to strangle; to choke) To apply pressure to your opponent's neck using your hands, arms, legs, or by manipulating his collar or lapel. shime-waza, hadaka-jime
taosu (to throw down) To throw down or otherwise defeat your opponent. kuchiki-taoshi
tsurikomu (to lift and pull) To use lifting and pulling movements of the sleeve hand (hikite) and collar hand (tsurite) in order to "float" your opponent forward. tsurikomi-goshi, sode-tsurikomi-goshi, sasae-tsurikomi-ashi, harai-tsurikomi-ashi
ukasu (to float something upwards) To lift and pull your own body or your opponent's body in a way that it becomes nearly weightless for an instant. uki-goshi, uki-otoshi, uki-waza, uki-gatame

Note that technique names usually employ the continuative tense of the verb (ending -i / -e), but the infinitive (generally in -u) is listed here.


In judo the application of the techniques is done with a preponderance of one limb. That is clear. The classification of the techniques accounts for that. So there are groups of main activity of applying fulcrums like:

  • Te waza, Ashi waza, koshi waza

or after the direction of falls:

  • sutemi waza, uki waza, makikomi waza

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