A Conversation With Double Olympian Nathan Katz

A Conversation With Double Olympian Nathan Katz

Nathan Katz represented Australia at the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games in the -66kg category.

Nathan won a Bronze medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Amongst his other accomplishments, Nathan is a 3 time Senior Oceania Champion, 2 time Senior Australian National Champion and medalist at numerous World Cup events.

During our conversation, we discuss his journey to the 2016 Olympic Games, what it’s like to be an athlete in 2021, how the Olympic qualification process is different this time around and his work with Australian Charity Life Line.

*This episode was recorded and uploaded April 2021, before Nathan had competed in the Tokyo Olympic Games or the 2022 Commonwealth Games*



A Conversation with Judo Coach Danny Harper

A Conversation with Judo Coach Danny Harper

Danny Harper hails from the world renowned Kendal Judo Club where he learnt his craft as a High Performance Judo Athlete and then later as a Judo Coach.

Danny is a former Great Britain Team representative, winning numerous National and International titles.

Following his competitive career, Danny set up the incredibly successful Craven Judo Academy (https://cravenjudo.co.uk) in the North West of England and is currently the North West of England Area Manager and a coach for the England Judo Team.

During our conversation, we discuss his journey from athlete to coach, the joys of making weight for competitions, what it takes to run a highly successful Judo for Schools business and the new skills required for a Judo coach in 2021.



A Conversation With Australian Judoka Abigail Paduch

A Conversation With Australian Judoka Abigail Paduch

Abigail Paduch is an Australian Judoka, how won a Bronze medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Abigail was the 2019 Junior -78kg Asian Champion. She has won multiple Australian National Championships and Oceania Champions Golds, has numerous Junior European Cup medal’s and at the time of recording this episode, is ranked number 2 in the World for her age and weight.

During our conversation, we discuss her training program, aspirations of competing at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games and her mental preparations on the day of a competition.

*This episode was recorded and uploaded in March 2021. Since then, Abigail has overcome injuries and fought her way to a Commonwealth Games 3rd Place in the +78kg category at the 2022 Birmingham Games*


A Conversation with High Performance Judo Coach Michael Horley

A Conversation with High Performance Judo Coach Michael Horley

Michael Horley represented the Great Britain Judo Team for a number of years, with career highlights including competing at the 2010 Tokyo World Championships, ranking number 1 on the European Ranking list in 2013 and winning numerous European Cup medals, including the prestigious German Open.

Following his competitive career, Michael transitioned into coaching Judo athletes.

Initially at Judo Scotland, were he worked as part of their High Performance Programming, working closely with the Cadet (U18) and Junior (U21) athletes.

Michael now lives in Canada where he works as a High Performance Coach for Judo Saskatchewan.

During the conversation we discuss his competitive Judo career highlights, how he prepared mentally for competitions and how this has helped him be a better High Performance Judo Coach.

How To Throw with a Sode Tsurikomi Goshi “Twitch” into Osoto Gari

How To Throw with a Sode Tsurikomi Goshi “Twitch” into Osoto Gari

After initially gripping both of your opponents sleeves, as if you were going to throw them with Sode Tsurikomi Goshi, perform a “Twitch” movement, as if you were going to throw with Sode Tsurikomi Goshi, to get your opponent to react.

Once your opponent has reacted, change direction and throw them backwards with Osoto Gari instead, maintaining a grip of both sleeves.


What is a “Twitch”?

A Twitch, Switch or Faint, depending on where in the world you are, is the name given to the action of pretending to do a certain throw to elicit a reaction from your opponent and then throwing them, usually in a different direction, with a completely different throw.

As the name(s) suggest, the action is only a partial movement, a twitch of the hands, feet, head and/or body and not a complete entry and usually performed with no physical contact, to allow for the quick change of direction into a different throw.


How to do Sode Tsurikomi Goshi.

If you are not familiar with Sode Tsurikomi Goshi, I recently uploaded an article that explains how to execute this throw.

There is an accompanying coaching video that will give you all the information you need to learn and integrate this throw into your arsenal.

The article can be found here!


How to do Osoto Gari.

Osoto Gari (Large Outer Reap) is an Ashi Waza (Foot/Leg Technique) that is usually executed by gripping your opponents sleeve and lapel, stepping to the outside and bringing your other leg through and behind your opponents leg and reaping it back, driving through the lapel to throw them directly backwards.

There are many different competition variations of Osoto Gari, using alternative grips and entry points.


How to do a Sode Tsurikomi Goshi “Twitch” into Osoto Gary.

Once you have your Sode Tsurikomi Goshi and Osoto Gari dialled in, it’s time to bring them together in a saucy fashion. After taking hold of both sleeves, you proceed to execute your well timed “Twitch/Switch/Faint” causing your opponent to react, typically by bringing their inside leg forward to block.

As this is beginning to happen, you change the direction of your attack, bringing you leg and body across for the Osoto Gari, whilst pushing one arm across and pulling the other towards you, causing the arms to cross.


Some Final Thoughts on a Sode Tsurikomi Goshi “Twitch” into Osoto Gari.

Before attempting this style of combination, it is very important that you first learn how to do Sode Tsurikomi Goshi and Osoto Gari and then also learn how to apply them proficiently.

This is essential so that you can “sell the lie”.

If you are unable to execute a convincing Sode Tsurikomi Goshi and therefore create a “threat” for your opponent to react to, the chances of them reacting to allow the change of direction for the Osoto Gari diminish.

Your opponent must really believe that you will throw them with the Sode Tsurikomi Goshi to get the reaction that you need.

It is vitally important to maintain tension through both sleeve grips, keeping your opponent’s arms crossed over, as you drive through with the leg for the Osoto Gari.

In Judo, specifically during randori training and/or in competitions, being able to create movement and open your opponent up is essential and using this style of entry is great way of achieving this.

Have fun playing around with these techniques and also this style of entry.

Train Hard…Throw Hard!!

Judo Grade System and Requirements

Judo Grade System and Requirements

The Judo grade system is one of the ways that you will be rewarded for your learning progress in the dojo.

The belt is a display of your knowledge and understanding of the different techniques, how they work and your ability to demonstrate them.

The requirements to progress grows with each new grade you attain; the closer towards your black belt you get the more that is required from you.

What is the Judo Grading System?

The Judo grading system is split into two main categories for adults, Kyu Grades and Dan Grades.

For children (under 16 years old), the system is called Mon grades.

Kyu Grades are considered “Leaner” Grades and are made up of 5 different coloured belts; Yellow, Orange, Green, Blue and Brown.

When you first start learning Judo, you will be given a white belt and from here, as your knowledge grows, you will start to progress to higher grades and will be awarded a different coloured belt.

The Mon grades usually follow the same colour scheme as the Adult Kyu grades. However, there might be some slight difference in certain countries, for example split belt colours, half yellow and half orange, for an incremental grade between full belt colours.

The Dan Grades are considered “Senior” Grades, and this is when you will receive your coveted Black Belt.

There are 10 Dan Grades in total, made up of three different variations; 1st-5th Dan Black, 6th, 7th & 8th Coral and 9th & 10th Red.

There are two main ways you will be able to achieve your black belt, as a competitive Dan Grade or as a Technical Dan Grade.

There is an age restriction on when you can be awarded your black belt, as there is the understanding that a person should have a certain level of maturity to hold this grade.

What is the History of Grading in Judo?

Dan Grades were first introduced in 1883, where Judoka were awarded their black belt once they were ready for their grading.

This system developed over the years and Kyu Grades were introduced. Initially, the Kyu Grades were structured:

  • New students: Light Blue Belt
  • 5th & 4th Kyu: White Belt
  • 3rd, 2nd & 1st Kyu: Adults wore a Brown Belt, Youths wore a Purple Belt

A monthly contest was held at the Kodokan, and students were awarded their grades based on their results.

The coloured belt grading system that you are more familiar with today, was first introduced in England in the mid 1920s.

This system of grading invented by Jigoro Kano has been so successful, it has been taken up by other martial arts and even other sports, who have adopted a ranking system based on the same concept.

This kyū/dan system is still the most widely used today.

If you want to learn more about the history of the grading system in Judo, the IJF have a very interesting article that can be found here

What are the Steps of the Grade System?

David Groom Tying a Childs Judo Belt

The basic steps of the grading system are based around you showcasing your knowledge, understanding and application of the different techniques.

You will have to learn the different throws, holds, turnovers, armlocks and strangles (the last two are only learnt and practiced by adults), how to apply them and then you will demonstrate them at grading in front of a qualified instructor.

For Kyu grades, this is usually done in your club by your instructor.

Dan gradings are conducted by the regional or even national grading authority and often require you to either compete, demonstrate technique, perform Kata or all all three.

What Are the Requirements for Grading?

Each belt requires you to demonstrate the new techniques and theory you have learnt as well as everything from the previous grade.

You can find how the requirements for each grade are broken down here.

How Long Does It Take to Move Up the Judo Grades?

With regular, focused study and training you should be able to complete the Kyu Grade system in 5 years.

You can achieve your black belt quicker, but it will depend on how much effort you put into your study, in and out of the dojo.

The time you must spend on each grade gets long the further you progress.

How Can You Get Help with Your Judo Grading?

As a Judoka, you have a lot to learn both in and out of the dojo.

This can feel very intimidating when trying to progress through the grading system.

This is why I created the Judo Way of Life Technique Library, specifically to help Judoka like you.

In the library, you will find easy to understand videos of the 40 throws in the Gokyo-no-Waza.

This includes Right and Left handed examples, turnovers, holds, armlocks and strangles to help ensure you sail through your gradings as easily and pain-free as possible.

Click here to learn more about how to crush your next Judo grading.

How is the Japanese Grading System Different?

The Japanese grading system still follows the same process of attending monthly contests and the three belt progression.

The majority of the Western World has adopted the coloured belt system to differentiate between the Kyu Grades and either use a contest system or technical system or a combination of both to monitor progress.

It is jokingly said that the reason for this difference is that Westerners require constant validation to feel good about their progress and stay motivated.

Final Notes on the Judo Grade System

It’s important to remember, a grading tests your knowledge of the throws and theory…where as a competition tests whether you are able to actually do the throw or not.

It is a great feeling when you are awarded a new belt.

It represents your continued dedication to learning and training.

In training, your partners grade is a visual indication so you can adapt to their level and they to yours.

The belt provides you with a moral code, that takes on philosophical dimensions, grounding you with respect and responsibility and prohibiting you from using techniques inappropriately inside or outside of the dojo.

However, you must remember that the belt is not an end in itself, but instead it represents the journey you have undertaken to commit to the pursuit and attainment of knowledge.

And don’t forget, if you want help with your next grading, check out my FREE technical course here