Judo Techniques: Names or Not?

When it comes to the “names” of most Judo Waza (技), there is one fact that is extremely important to memorize, most Judo Waza DON’T HAVE NAMES! Radical idea to some, but for those who know what these “names” translate to it becomes extremely evident that most are just generally agreed upon descriptions of the techniques.

Let’s break down the Gokyo no Waza (五教の技), starting with Dai Ikkyo (第一教).

  1. De Ashi Barai (出足払)
  2. Hiza Guruma (膝車)
  3. Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi (支釣込足)
  4. Uki Goshi (浮腰)
  5. Osoto Gari (大外刈)
  6. Ogoshi (大腰)

Before we delve into the techniques lets look at Gokyo and Dai Ikkyo. (Skip this paragraph if uninterested.) Many will translated Gokyo into something akin to “Five Groupings,” but I’m going to propose another translation. Go (五) does indeed mean five, however Kyo (教) is teachings or doctrines. So “Five Teachings” or “Five Doctrines,” would be a more accurate translation. As for Dai Ikkyo (第一教), “Dai Ichi” (第一) is “first” or “foremost,” (literally, “number one”) but you’ve probably noticed it is “Dai Ikkyo” instead of “Dai Ichi Kyo.” This is again due to blending and devoicing of sounds mentioned in a previous post. Same way that when referring to the rank system, 一級 is “Ikkyu” instead of “Ichi Kyu.” (We’ll cover this more in depth in a later post.)

Now on to the techniques.

Lets start with De Ashi Barai (出足払). Already people are thinking to themselves, “Matt, my dear simple chap, don’t you mean, De Ashi Harai?” The answer is, no. When we take the kanji, 出足払, and break it down into its phonetic characters (Hiragana) we get, であしばらい.

出 is で (de) and means several things, but in this case “protruding” or “put out,” are the pertinent translations.

足 is あし (ashi) and in this case means foot, though a legitimate argument could be made that in this case it means the whole leg as well.

払, shortened from 払い, is ばらい (barai). If you have been keeping up to date on these language posts you’ll remember we talked about Rendaku, Dakuten, and Handakuten; a changing of the consonant sound based on where it is in a compound word and the markings used to represent such. In this specific case, because Harai is later in the compound word it is pronounced Barai. The Ha (は) becomes a Ba (ば). And Harai/ Barai is the adjective form of the verb, to sweep.

Putting all that together we get “Protruding Foot Sweep” or, as it is more commonly known as, “Front Foot Sweep.”

Hiza Guruma (膝車) is far easier to translate. Hiza (膝), very specifically refers to the knee joint. Guruma (車), like Barai and Goshi has a Rendaku. When presented alone, or at the beginning of a compound word, this Kanji is pronounced Kuruma represented in phonetic characters as くるま. However since it is later on in the compound the K softens to G getting us Guruma (ぐるま). Kuruma/ Guruma is Wheel. Many who have started learning Japanese in classes or with a tutor will argue that it actually means “car,” but this is a half truth. You’ve probably noticed by now I will say “a kanji means many thing, but in this case…”. In this case Kuruma/ Guruma is wheel.

Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi (支釣込足). This one has more character than anything else we have dealt with, but don’t let that discourage you. We got this! I hope… Lets break this one down like we did with De Ashi Barai.

支, is short for 支え (Sasae), which is again short for the verb 支える (Sasaeru). This verb means, to check. Not as in to look, but as in to hold back or hold at bay.

One might think 釣 or 釣り (tsuri) is next, but that’s not quite right. Inside the compound word 支釣込足 (sasae tsurikomi ashi) we have another compound word, 釣込, which is short for 釣り込み (tsurikomi). This is why Tsurikomi is often represented as a single word when put into Romaji (ロマ字) or Roman Characters. This means “to take in” or “to attract” or “to lure.” (Bonus Word will be given at the end.)

足, as we already covered, is referring to the foot.

So we are luring in the other Judoka and checking their foot. Some say Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi is very similar to Hiza Guruma, but many will point out that it is less of a Wheeling technique.

Uki Goshi (浮腰) is another easy one to translate. Uki (浮) is floating. Goshi (腰) is Koshi, which means hip.

Osoto Gari (大外刈) is also relatively easy, so lets make it harder just for fun!

To start with, I always think it is important to look at 大 in its phonetic form, as it is an odd one.

In Japanese an U or O sound can be extended. There are two ways to go about this. We see one way in the word Judo, itself.
Judo is 柔道 or じゅうどう.
じゅ is Ju.
う is U, which continues the sound.
ど is Do
う is U, but only represents that the O sound in Do is extended.

In 大 we see the second method. Instead of adding an う to extend the O sound we simply add another O. So in Hiragana 大 is おお. And of course it means “big” or “major.”

Soto (外) is Outside.

Gari (刈) is a shortening of 刈り, but this also has a Rendaku. When represented by itself or at the beginning of a compound word, it is Kari, which is from the verb Karu (刈る). Either was it still means “reap.”

Ogoshi (大腰) is probably the easiest because we already covered both Kanji up above. O (大) is Major. Goshi (腰) is hip, with rendaku.

Bonus Word:
Due to the fact this is the internet I wanted to include a slang meaning of Tsuri (釣り). Tsuri is a fishing term in general. It can mean fishing, angling, and trollings. And just like the English slang for Troll and Trolling refers to someone online who writes deliberately inflammatory posts, unlike this post, Tsuri means the same thing.

Published by mattskaratecorner

A martial arts student and instructor. A school teacher and researcher. A curmudgeon with a lot on his mind.

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