32 Games for Judo Coaches to Use
32 games for judo and for judo coaches looking to make their classes fun and engaging.
Looking for games for judo beginners?
Do you want some ideas for advanced uchi-komi drills?
Or what about some new newaza ideas?
We have you covered, read on…
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Judo games for juniors
All 32 of the judo games in this post were first printed in the Koka Kids Junior Judo magazine. There are new drills in each edition of the magazine to challenge the reader and to help them progress.
Judo drills also feature in our judo books.
32 Judo Games
Why do we use judo games?
One because they are fun. But also they play an important role in helping judoka progress.
How to use these judo drills?
Create your own judo lesson plan using the judo games in this post. Add them into the warm-up. Use them in circuit training. Or use them to support a main technique.
Here are 6 Ways To Ensure Your Judo Lessons Are Fun and Memorable with visuals
Use this Osae-komi game during a warm-up to improve agility in newaza. While uke tries to escape, tori must move from one hold down to the next either in their own time or on Sensei’s command.
Teach your judoka to attack in all directions with Kakari Geiko. Move from a central point towards the right and attack with a technique that is appropriate to this movement (kouch-gari) and return to the central point.
Move forwards and attack again. This time use the forward direction attack in that direction (eg. osoto-gari). Next move to the left, attacking again in alignment with the movement, and lastly move backwards and attack.
For more exercises that help teach movement see these four judo drills.
Judo Kuzushi drill
This drill teaches judoka how to break uke’s balance. Pull uke onto their tip toes and hold them there for a count of five, before allowing uke’s heels to touch the tatami again. Repeat the Kuzushi drill as you move down the mat.
Harai-Goshi to Osoto-Gari
The ability to link two judo moves together marks a huge progress step for any judoka. Can your judoka can link together harai-goshi and osoto-gari? For this drill to work, uke must react appropriately blocking the first attack.
Judo warm up games
A great judo game for a warm up or for a station during a circuit – this is an exercise that builds leg power as well as improves control in newaza. Tori sits, taking hold of the belt, and placing their feet against uke’s thighs. As they roll back, they must lift uke clear of the mat and hold uke off the ground for three seconds or as long as possible.
Judo Footwork Drills
A great drill to improve footwork. Uke must be ready to lift their foot out of the way (bending at the knee) as tori attacks with Okuri-ashi-barai. Then counter with Tsubame-Gaeshi. Make sure you judoka don’t look at their feet!
Introduce shuttle sprints to increase stamina and fitness. Shuttle runs are short sprints and ideal for the quick-fire bursts of energy during a judo match.
Sprint from one side of the mat to the other, touch the end of the mat with one hand and shuttle back to the beginning, tap the hand of your partner who then does the same. Keep going for one minute, building to four minutes for advanced judoka.
Judo Games for juniors
This game is great for teaching juniors how to “feel” when it is the right moment to attack. Tori covers or closes their eyes. Uke keeps theirs open and acts as a guide to make sure the pair don’t bump into anyone or anything in the dojo.
Starting slowly, tori and uke begin to move around the mat with tori attacking with a variety of judo techniques relying on their intuition and the feeling of the movement through their arms and body.
Change from Tate-Shiho-Gatame to Kuzure Tate Shiho-Gatame.
Harai Goshi Drill
As uke runs around tori in a half circle, tori spins in for Harai Goshi (or any forward throw). A great drill to improve footwork, timing and movement. Allow uke to move first, then tori aims to spin and catch the movement up.
Judo Games for beginners
A great game for judoka of all ages that requires a cooperation from both judoka to work. One judoka stands like a “tree” with their arms out. The other judoka climbs on the back, then attempts to climb all the way around the “tree,” without putting a foot down on the mat.
A Renraku-waza is two (or more) throws that have the same direction, like this example of Uchi-Mata into Harai-Goshi. Make sure your judoka understand they are trying to make uke move so that the second attacks continues the direction of the first waza.
Counter Attack drill
Use this drill to teach your judoka how to turn movement to their advantage. Tori attacks with Ouchi-Gari. Then uke turns the attack to their advantage, pulling down on the sleeve, and twisting tori’s body as they reap out the leg with Kosoto-Gake.
Ouchi Gari Drill
Improve power and direction by throwing into a crash pad that is placed vertically up against a wall. Attack with Ouchi-Gari, driving uke back and upwards. Attempt to pin uke’s shoulders against the crash pad for a couple of seconds. Really drive off the support leg and use the grip on the collar to achieve this.
Judo Crash Pad Drill
Teach movement with this half-circle crash pad drill. Uke moves in a 180 degree circle around tori. Tori follows the movement, catching uke’s leg with an Ouchi-Gari just before the final step.
Arm Power Drill
Use this drill to exaggerate the movement for kuzushi. It also builds up strength in the upper body. Maintaining a good back posture at all times, tori pulls uke from a sitting position to standing. Once upright, tori completes the drill by throwing backwards with an Ouchi-Gari or Kouch-Gari.
Fun Newaza Game for Beginners
A fun drill to fit into a newaza warm up. Tori starts holding both collars, sitting on uke’s back. On “Hajime!” uke stands up, while tori attempts to roll uke over to the side.
Advanced judo reaction drill
This is a drill for advanced judoka. It requires good timing and control from tori and spatial awareness from uke to be able to fall safely. Uke walks or runs at tori, who is stood with their back to the crash pad. As uke advances, tori must grip up and quickly turn in for a throw.
Tai-otoshi footwork exercise
Practise footwork for Tai-Otoshi with this judo game. Lay two belts in a cross on the mat. Uke stands with one foot on each belt, as shown. Tori turns in for Tai-Otoshi aiming to place their feet in front of the belt. Tai-Otoshi requires a space to work, and this exercise gets judoka used to creating this distance.
Tai-Otoshi into Uchi-Mata
Work on reactions with this advanced nage-komi drill. Tori attacks uke’s second leg with a stabbing Tai-Otoshi. The aim is to create a reaction, and as uke reacts lifting their leg, tori follows the movement into an Uchi-Mata.
Judo belt games
How fast can your judoka tie their belt? Can they tie it up correctly even with their eyes shut? Who is the fastest in the class? Make sure your youngest judoka can tie their own belt with these drills. Sure, you can come up with many more…
Improve technique with this line-up drill. Each judoka must throw five others with the same waza, making sure each throw is better than the last. By the time they get to the end of the line, the objective is to be throwing clean, stylish ippons. This is not a speed drill, but rather the emphasis is on perfecting technique.
Use a book, or a magazine or anything similar. Judoka must move around the mat, without bumping into one another, doing shadow judo without the book falling off. This drill improves posture and awareness of other judoka on the mat.
Kouchi-Gari into Ippon-Seoi-Nage
Attack pushing backwards with Kouchi-Gari to create a reaction. Tori then must use the reaction to change the direction and throw forwards with Ippon Seoi Nage.
A drill to improve balance
This warm-up drill improves balance for techniques like Uchi-Mata or Osoto-Gari. Stand on one leg and gradually swing the other leg forwards and backwards. With each swing make the movement bigger. Make this more difficult by doing the drill in slow motion and still aim to keep perfect balance.
There are hundreds of uchi-komi drills, and this is one of the best that can be adapted to any technique. Judoka attack alternatively with Ippon Seoi Nage working on entry and balance. As judoka improve this drill can be put “on the move” with the judoka attacking alternatively as they move all over the mat.
Another Ouchi-Gari drill
Starting at one end of the tatami, one judoka hooks in for Ouchi-Gari, lifting uke’s leg off the floor forcing uke to hop backwards. Then both tori and uke must move backwards in a series of hops for the length of the tatami.
Push and Pull
Tori pushes uke backwards, until uke pushes back (or until Sensei shouts Push Back), when tori uses the reaction and throws forward with Tai-Otoshi. This drill can be reversed with tori pulling uke until uke pulls (or Sensei shouts Pull Back), and tori again using the reaction throws backwards.
Speed up Turn Overs
The speed turnover is a fun judo game that improves the speed at which your judoka will find their grip for a turnover. Tori kneels by uke’s side. On the command of “Hajime” uke attempts to stand up, and tori aims to get their hands in and turn their partner over into a hold down.
A good ukemi drill for judo beginners that builds confidence rolling backwards. Once the judoka can do a backward ukemi, then see if they can roll backwards and use the momentum to roll back and onto their feet, again.
Teach the art of escape
Judoka work together to roll from being held down with Yoko-Shiho-Gatame to holding down with the same technique. Repeat infinitely with both judoka helping one another to keep the roll going.
Advanced throwing technique
This final drill is one for advanced judoka to help them learn to adjust their body position mid attack. Tori picks uke up and walks or runs to the edge of the crash pad. To finish the throw, without putting uke down, tori will need to adjust their position and throw for ippon.