Bowing for life

Sydney University Judo Club

Do you know why we should bow to your partner/ opponent?
There are 2 main bows: RITSUREI and ZAREI.
Ritsurei (standing bow). The judoka stands with arms straight down and hands on the outside of the thighs. Heels are together with big toes about 3 inches apart As the judoka bends forward at the waist, the hands move down and forward to the front of the thigh above the knee. As the judoka returns back to upright posture, the hands move up and backward back to the outside and side of the thighs. Throughout the bow, the head keeps in line with the back, but the eyes always look forward.

Zarei (kneeling bow). The judoka stands with arms down. The judoka slowly drops to the left knee, then to the right knee, then crosses the feet and sits back on the heels. For males, knees should be two fists apart. For females, knees should be together. Hands rest on the front of the thighs. The left hand should make a circular motion out in front of the judoka and rest on the mat in front. The right hand follows similarly. As the hands go down, the judoka bows at the waist about 60°, keeping the head in line with the back, but with eyes looking forward. The judoka then rises in reverse order.

Another important thing is UKEMI.
Judo inherently involves throwing and being thrown. Learning how to fall safely and under control is very, very important. A considerable amount of time will be spent learning Ukemi (“oo-keh’-mee”, breakfalls). Ukemi are specific methods of safely falling backwards, to each side, forward like a log, and forward rolling. Judoka need to learn to trust their bodies, rolling in a controlled fashion, not try to catch themselves, slap the mat with the palms of one or both hands at a 45° angle to the body (to release energy), and keep the head protected. When your child performs front rolling ukemi, look for a fluid circular motion, with the head looking back at the trailing foot, exposing the forward shoulder. The judoka rolls from the forward shoulder along a line diagonal to the waist on the other side of the back. The roll should not be over the head nor should it be a log roll side over side. The trailing leg should remain straight and point toward the ceiling halfway through the movement.

Your child might not think much of learning how to bow, stand, sit, walk, or fall. However, each is very important to the respectful, safe and proficient practice of judo.

~Yuki Uemura (Sydney Uni Judo Coach)