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Judo/Atemi waza in Judo


Mr. Ohlenkamp,

I would like to know how should I practice the atemi waza in judo. We practice atemi waza in the katas and in self defence classes (but in a very static way). What I really would like to know is the type of exercises that we can do to practice atemi waza like teatched by Jigoro Kano and where can I find comprehensive information about it? The information of atemi waza and atemi waza training in every judo book I know comes down to 1 page or less.

I practice Judo and I'm now begining to practice Krav Maga.

Thanks a lot for your time.

Best regards,
Alfredo Pinto de Oliveira

Atemi waza in judo is generally only practiced in kata and for self defense as you are doing. There were famous judoka who proposed greater emphasis on atemi training including a form of randori. Kenji Tomiki, for example, helped devise the Kodokan goshi jutsu and proposed a training course for using atemi in randori (see

Atemi waza in judo was used as a form of kuzushi to unbalance an opponent, as well as to weaken him by striking vital points. Tomiki says, "The atemi-waza control an opponent by hitting, thrusting into or kicking the physiological weak points of the body (the vital areas), and the kansetsu-waza control an opponent by inflicting a sprain or dislocation on a joint. That is to say, these techniques were divised with the purpose of maiming or killing.
   The atemi-waza topple an opponent by grasping the mechanical weak points of his body (the principle of kuzushi, breaking balance) and pushing him in one direction, while the kansetsu-waza restrain an opponent with a minimum of force by utilizing the limits of joint movement."

Jigoro Kano wanted judo to incorporate all aspects of martial arts, and he was very supportive of the early development of karate and aikido. Karate grew to be the predominant form of training for striking and over time the atemi waza in judo was de-emphasized to the point of being almost lost for most people who practice judo. As far as I know, he never developed a method of training in atemi outside of what is in the Kodokan kata.

The best resource I know for you is at The author does not necessarily reflect the teachings of Jigoro Kano, and he was trained in jujutsu, but it gives a good rundown of the status of atemi waza during the early development of judo.

I hope this helps.  


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Neil Ohlenkamp


Mr. Ohlenkamp can answer any questions about Judo having practiced it since 1968. Author of a best-selling book on Judo and a 7th degree black belt, he compiled a comprehensive web site ( to provide the information to everyone.


Mr. Ohlenkamp has been practicing judo continuously since 1968, as a student, athlete, competitor, teacher, coach, referee, leader, and author.

United States Judo Association, United States Judo Federation, Nanka Yudanshakai, United States Ju-Jitsu Federation, Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo, Japan, Encino Judo Club.

As a pioneer in promoting martial arts around the world through the internet, Mr. Ohlenkamp created one of the first web pages devoted to Judo. Since 1995 his Judo Information Site at has been the most highly acclaimed, most popular, and most comprehensive Judo web site on the internet. He runs several other Judo sites like,, and He has authored a best selling book on Judo, contributed to other martial arts books, and had articles published in most major Judo publications. The U.S. edition of his book is Judo Unleashed (2006, McGraw-Hill) but is also available under other titles in the UK, Germany, Russia, and The Netherlands.

Mr. Ohlenkamp is a 7th degree black belt and has been nationally certified as a Judo instructor, coach, and rank examiner. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Child Development with a specialty in recreation from California State University, Northridge.

Awards and Honors
US Judo Coach of the Year-1999, U.S. Team Coach at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, Korea, the 1989 World Championships for the Blind in Manchester, England, and the 1990 World Championships and Games for the Disabled in Assen, Netherlands, and member of the International Blind Sports Association Judo Technical Committee from 1988 to 1993. 6th degree black belt in USJJF jujitsu.

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