Judo Mindset: 3 Things Every Judoka Should Know

Let's face it. Throwing someone is hard, especially when they don't want to be thrown. Judo is an art with an unforgiving learning curve that can make us feel like we are not improving. While there is no shortcut to learning judo, there are certain things we can keep in mind to help us continually grow everyday in our abilities. These are three things every judoka should know.

Judoka refers to one who studies judo.

Beginner's Mindset Is Crucial

A beginner's mindset "refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would".

As we learn judo, we naturally start to create solid ideas in our minds on how things should be done. Over time, these biases will come back to slow our judo growth as we close our minds to the other possibilities that could make us better judoka. For example, finding better setups to throws, gripping your partner in different ways, or even incorporating ashi waza to create opportunities to attack. The possibilities are endless.

Ashi Waza refers to foot/leg techniques.

The more we know about judo, the more we realize we don't know.

Challenge your understanding of a technique. Be okay with saying "I don't know". Always be in the pursuit of refinement. Keeping these principles in mind will allow us to always grow in our abilities as we continue on our judo journey.

It's Okay To Be Thrown In Randori

Randori refers to free practice/sparring in Judo.

Often when we are in the early stages of learning judo, we are overly focused on not getting thrown in training. This is a natural response. The idea of being thrown by your partner can be both scary and/or frustrating, so we become defensive to minimize the possibility of being thrown. 

This approach to randori, while it may prevent us from being thrown, actually hurts our growth in Judo. The reason for this is simple. Randori is our time to learn how to apply the techniques we have been drilling in a controlled, realistic situation. Being purely defensive defeats the purpose of randori as both partners lose the chance to learn what works. Randori is meant to be a mutually beneficial activity and being overly defensive does not benefit either partner.

By being offensive in randori, you increase the amount of situations where you need to react in "the moment". This tricks your body and mind into learning on the fly and helps overcome that learning curve.

Judo naturally has some level of risk that should be embraced. Whenever you attack, there is always the chance you will be countered. On the other hand, when you defend there is always the chance you will be thrown regardless. By recognizing this concept, we can continually grow as judoka.

Overall, judo requires a fine balance of offense and defense that will take time. As an ongoing conscience effort, it will undoubtably become easier over time.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast

If you can’t do it slow, you can’t do it fast.


Whenever we are in the process of learning a new technique, we often want to try and practice that technique at full or near-full speed too early in the learning process.

This is a mistake.

When learning a new technique it is best to practice uchikomi's at a slow pace from the beginning. Once our technique feels like second nature, we can gradually build up our speed while maintaining the same level of smoothness. Before we know it, we are able to perform the technique at full-speed and be smooth in its execution.

This approach to practice is nothing new, but it builds an effective understanding of a technique. Incorporating this concept of training can sometimes feel boring or monotonous, however the results it produces are outstanding.


Hopefully we have helped you look at the judo journey in a different perspective. The learning curve and plateaus can be very scary, but with the right mindset Judo can be incredibly fulfilling. The feeling we get when we perfectly execute an effortless throw makes the difficult training worth it. 

What was your favorite point? Did we change your perspective in some way?

Let us know!


  • Lakea

    Very true on the mindset on Judô

  • Sterling Craig

    Great article! I’m such a fan boy!

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