Monday, May 18, 2009

Uki Waza Defined

Uki Waza - floating techniques

So I guess I have been leading up to this question for a few days - what does it mean to float? Every definition I have examined I thought is too limiting. But let's go through the classical definition.

I believe the classical view is that a Uki technique means you are raising the uke on their toes. You might even say you are raising, or floating, the center of uke. The toes are really a by product of this center raise.

I am pretty cool with this definition...except....except that if raising the person on the toes becomes dogma, it becomes weird. People use leverage on elbows, use extreme joint locks...etc. to cause a rise in uke's center.

So let's go back to the poetry idea I had a few blog's ago, to really capture the spirit rather than bio mechanics.

What if floating meant...

to rest or remain on the surface of a liquid; be buoyant, drift along, to move lightly and gracefully, to be free from attachment or involvement, to move or drift about: to float from place to place, to be launched

Sounds more like a spirit than just saying "put uke on their toes"

So I put this question to my Judo teacher Matl Sensei - what is uki waza?

Matl in his thick Czech accent responded "It means it is supposed to be easy."

Hot damn.

That's it. Easy and effective. Maximum efficiency with minimum effort. That is truly the meaning of all we do.

Uki waza are supposed to be easy.

I will write more on defining these throws later. But I think, "they are the easy throws" needs to soak in. Using this as my intent, rather than floating the person's center, really transformed the effectiveness of my technique. Maybe it can do the same for you.


  1. sweet answer from Matl Sensei-- to me the rise does not require the extreme form of "bringing them on the toes" with any sort of crank or torque, but rather more generally to execute kake from uke's body rise (always avalible as the feet close togeather in the foot cycle or as the body pivots) which is feels easy (light) and so in this sense we are saying the same i think

  2. Cool point you're coming to, but it seems to me to bring the topic back around to my question of a while back...

    Isn't every throw, by this "easy" definition supposed to be a floating throw? Kotegaeshi, for instance, is a floating throw. Gedanate and hikitaoshi work much the same as the officially-named floating throws (just different body positions) They are all easy throws.

  3. well put Pat-- I am beginning to think that original line of thinking in the kata development, when things shifted from the 15 to the 17 and when the uki waza were born, was to show(what was at the time) a marked contrast-- the creation of uki waza, the highlighting the exploiting of body rise that we all take for granted, was at the time in sharp relief to the more standard ways of doing tekubi -- namely planting and cranking ie.-- by these standards we all float and do it "easy" so the distiction is blurred