Judo Specific Throwing Exercises

By Tom Crone

Tom Crone

This is the beginning of an 18 page Ebook. If you like what you see, at the bottom of the page is a link to purchase the remainder of the Ebook with all the specific exercises shown in detail.

Improve Every Throw You Do &
Learn Every New Throw Faster


How does a locomotive move hundreds of tons of train? Master judoka Kyuzo Mifune knew, and applied this principle of physics to judo.


These five basic warm-up exercises will help you to achieve these judo and physics based results.

What are Judo Specific Exercises and

Why Should I Want to Use Them?

Two significant benefits result from doing these judo-specific exercises.

1. PHYSICAL ENHANCEMENT: The body becomes both stronger and more injury resistant because the muscles are being both strengthened and warmed up in areas directly related to the demands and stresses of throwing.

The judo idea is to use strength as needed to make efficient application. It is not to get to a point where suddenly one needs to make a gargantuan effort to achieve completion. That can happen to the best of throwers, and when it does, once again the hope is that the body parts involved are strong enough to withstand ones own force. Better to have strength flow throughout the application.

2. SKILL ENHANCEMENT: Judo-specific exercises relate directly to the movements best suited to major throwing movements, and thereby both train the body to move in a functional manner, while giving the student and sensei a common frame of reference for perfecting technique application of kuzushi, tsukuri and kake .

I have had first class ever students do these exercises, then later that session learn a judo throw such as seoinage; and, with references made to the exercises, accomplish the throw to a skill level that a sudden observer would swear required hours of training.

The biggest concern at this point is that the new student starts to think judo is “easy” to learn. constantly point out to all my students that the purpose of judo is not to learn judo throws, but to use throws to learn judo.

It does not matter if you are a judoist or some other brand of grappler, nor if you are a beginner or advanced practitioner. These simple exercises will make a powerful difference in your throwing ability.

Judo-specific exercises are based upon movements used in judo. Pushups are not. Running is not. Jumping jacks aren’t. The question is, if you can do an exercise which strengthens your judo, conditions your judo reflexes, and also helps to perform throwing in a judo-efficient way, might it be more beneficial than one that doesn’t? Is stretching good for judo? Is endurance building good? How about strength enhancement? To the degree these are judo specific, they are good. Strength, speed and endurance are universally important to athletic performance. That is not the issue. The idea is to gain maximum efficiency via minimum effort.

Once, at a National Olympic Junior Training Camp, the head coach sent the kids on rigorous early morning runs. Every day, a dozen or so young judoka were sidelined with shin splints. They were unable to benefit from the techniques and judo drills taught later in the day. Many dojos pride themselves in the rigorousness and intensity of their warm-up sessions. I know the great Kimura was legendary for his push-up regimen. He also did a monumental amount of step-in practice, and many a famous Japanese judoka took the bark off trees that became their ukes for uchi komi.

You decide. You only have so much time in the dojo. Do you want to get stronger or improve your technique? Both, you say? Judo specific exercises do that.

It is important to note that the vast majority of judoists will never compete beyond the local or regional level. This is not so much because they are stopped by stronger competitors, but because their goals are just that. They do not need to do the thousand push-ups per week, and if they want to, there are better venues for that. They simply want to do good judo.

These presented are just five out of many, yet they are the most important ones. They relate to judo throwing techniques. The throwing techniques are arguably the most difficult judo skills, the most challenging to both learn and teach. These exercises directly relate to physical movement that enhances throwing, and are also designed to eliminate the most common and challenging problems.

The actual exercises begin on Page 8. It makes sense to understand the concepts behind the exercises in order to perform them more efficiently.


There are many “judo secrets”. Most are not intentional secrets. They are things “people don’t know they don’t know”, or sometimes things “people don’t know they do know.”

Between the mind’s copying the wrong input, and the body taking the path of least resistance, common errors occur. These exercises help eliminate them and enhance the throwing endeavor.

Secret # 1. Throwing someone is not judo.

Applying the principles of judo to a technique that throws someone is judo.

Secret # 2. The human body/brain does not comply with what it needs to do to make judo throws work best.

The body/brain does not always do what it thinks it is doing.

The body/brain does not always do what you tell it to do.

The body/brain does what it believes it sees and is doing.

Secret # 3. The body/brain follows its own path of least resistance. I call this “Judo Gremlins”. It is yielding, but incorrectly doing so; the impulse is correct, but the response is wrong. More on this later.

This is why common mistakes exist. You can accurately predict what 90-plus percent of the people learning a new physical skill will do it wrong 90-plus percent of the time.

Soon, we’ll get to these strangely named exercises.


Understanding Gremlins is an important part of learning to learn.

A Gremlin is this imaginary creature that lives inside of you and does mischief. Everybody has them.

1. Gremlins mean well.

2. Gremlins are survival based.

3. Gremlins are really good at what they do.

4. Gremlins are persistent.

5. Gremlins can be tamed.

6. If you don’t tame the gremlins, you will never get it right.



Judo Specific Exercises help tame gremlins.

Gremlins are those things your reflexes do. Gremlins just happen. Everybody who has learned judo falling skills has tamed the Gremlin that wants you to stick out your hand, or reach back, or use your elbow and forearm to break your fall. A little Gremlin says, “It’s better to break your arm than suffer internal trauma.” Fear causes one to hold breath when falling. Holding your breath is the only way you can get the wind knocked out of you.

Your Gremlins aren’t going to give up easily. They want to help you and be your friend. They are “small” things, that create big problems, and you need to work on the little things that make big positives. That’s where the Judo Specific Exercises come in.

For example, if you see someone endeavoring to do any front throw, and there they are, bent over at the waist, standing with their butt sticking out one way, their head halfway to the floor going the other way, and their intended victim standing up straight behind them, you are seeing a common mistake. By the time tori is looking down, tori should be looking at a thrown uke, not the empty space on the mat. But no! Or should we say Butt no? A person will do this over and over, not taming that Gremlin.

Combine the Sunrise - Sunset exercise with the Swimming Chicken and you have Gremlin remedies at work for you. Plus, they are working for you at the basic core level of the throw.

mufune throwing

Mifune said that the proper way to throw was to use ones body like the rolling of a ball. When it encounters and absorbs force, it can roll in infinite directions.

flat tire

Since forever, the conversion of straight line force into circular force has been the way to accomplish far more tasks than we have time to explore. Judo throws are the conversion of straight line force into a circular one.

In almost all circumstances, tori’s head must make a rotation that is consistent with the overall circular motion of the throw. When this doesn’t occur, it is very much like getting a flat tire.




Just as the windmill converts straight line winds into circular power and the waterwheel does the same with a moving current, so the rotation of Tori’s head and shoulders, transmits the kuzushi of the throw into the tsukuri and kake.



If your judo throw efforts go into a “flat” mode, they will not work as well as if they are circular. The purposes of this booklet is not to tell you how to do your throws. If you believe judo throws are linear and flat, do them that way, and create judo warm-ups that will accommodate that style. If you desire to have a crcular rotation in your throws, then these exercises will be of great assistance. That said, my position is the one favoring circular throwing. That is the basis of all that is to follow.


Strange Names

When I first came up with the names for these exercises, analogies that visually described the action just sprung forth. These names can conjure up an image in the mind of the novice user. To watch the sun rise and set, to imagine a chicken doing the crawl stroke, watching hula dancers, seeing a horse pawing the ground, or to imagine having spring loaded knees, all simplifies activities otherwise requiring technical descriptions.


judo exercise

judo exercise

judo exercise

judo exercise

Sunrise / Sunset

This principle is so important to almost all judo throws, that failure to perform it stands on any list of the top three errors that cause a throwing attempt to fail. Yet, it usually goes unheeded.

It is also the most frequent physical movement needed to blend and accomplish the kuzushi, tsukuri, kake applications.

It is not a naturally occurring movement. When people turn to look at what is behind them, they move their heads as the soccer balls with the arrows, not the gold. Therefore, as both an exercise to create a muscle/mind familiarity, as well as create a useful learning frame of reference, this exercise is critical.


judo exercise

This soccer ball is throwing you over its right front corner.



judo exercise

As if watching the tip of the arrow, look up from the front and over the shoulder to the rear, as if trying to see something on your shoulder blade.

Come back on the same path (not on a linear turn to the front). Repeat on both sides.


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