Kata Course – Women Coaches

Body language is a method of communication using non-verbal signals which makes kata the perfect way to both preserve and transmit the traditions and the basic principles of judo to players of all ages and grades.  The Nage-No-Kata is not just a random selection of fifteen techniques to be learned by memorization techniques based on repetition and performed with just the sole objective of progressing to a new grade.

This course presented by IJA Kata Head of Commission, Martin Savage, was one of the most memorable of the numerous Nage-No-Kata courses I have attended throughout my judo progression. It was scheduled to last two days and that would have barely been enough time to scratch the surface of this single kata, but reality took over and it was deemed safer in a world of Covid to restrict our interactions and to encourage Martin to condense his wisdom into a mere five and half hours.


Each kata course will always be different, the basic techniques never change, but my understanding of the application of the principles of judo, which underpin the demonstration always seem to evolve.  This is as things should be – judo is a living art. For me, in this particular session, Martin re-emphasised the necessity to invoke the “spirit of judo” into our practise. The “spirit of judo” is a mental attitude. It is a flow of energy between co-operative partners.  This makes absolute sense, the over-riding principle of kata is that of ‘Jita Kyoei -mutual prosperity’.


Martin managed to convey this to those who attended. We are, I believe, too used to relying on the Uke’s mastery of falling techniques to get us through a kata examination for grading purposes. Martin was adamant that one of his goals is to change this attitude to one whereby the Tori’s role in this collaboration is acknowledged as being as important an aspect of the demonstration as that of the Uke. This was the essence I brought home with me.  This is that which we, as coaches, must ensure we impart to the players in our clubs.

“In Kata is found the spirit of Judo, without which, it is impossible to see the goal”. Jigoro Kano.

With thanks to Antoinette Earl for organising the event and to Anderson Dos Santos for the use of Yoroi Dojo.

Report by Lydia Ritchie