Judo Warm-ups

EJU Championships TV commentary position

EJU Championships TV commentary position

Preparing to compete is a physical and mental act. Before you compete you need to get into the correct physical and mental state.

As a Judo athlete you need to be aware of the level of preparation that suits you and your sport. Your mental and physical level of arousal is a personal thing that you need to explore. Some need to be hyped up and raging, others chilled and relaxed.

In standard texts, warm-up requires getting a rolling sweat. In most clubs I have ever attended, the warm-up consists mainly of running around the mat, and is something we also see at events.


Judo athletes need to realise that the warm-up of the clubs and the textbooks, are not the ones of the elite athlete or even the regular Judo competitor. Your warm-ups have to match the reality of the sport.  If you are a high level Judo athlete, you will be unable to get warmed up in the way the courses describe.  The reason is because in Judo we have Judogi control and the delays of other matches to contend with.  The time between leaving the warm-up area and going on the mat will likely be between 15 and 30 minutes, which is mainly spent queuing, therefore running around in circles is out.

Even at lower level events, you will find that the warm-up area (if there is one) will be jam-packed and more than likely you will be crowding around the mat you are competing on, just straining to hear your name being called. If you are fortunate, you will have a skilled/experienced coach who will stay near the table for you, allow you to secure a corner and to prepare safe in the knowledge that he/she will get you at the right time. Although running around in circles around the mat is out.

The most running around you will see is well in advance of the start of the competition and that is mainly about getting a feel for the day and the venue. Watch any event on http://ippon.tv and you’ll see athletes relaxing into the event, jogging around the mat.

In the real world of Judo as a sport, your warm-up will be in two phases.  The first being the initial warm-up and the second is the per match warm-up. The initial warm-up will probably include a little jogging, if you want and if you have space. It will normally involve some mat time. The Japanese team is well known for the warm-up their international teams use. It is done in a very small amount of space on the tatami and could be done anywhere. It can also, with some variation, be used for both the initial warm-up or just prior to going on the tatami.

Although many other warm-ups exist and are worth exploring, I can recommend following the example of the Japanese, until you find a better warm-up. That said, you might want to be careful deviating from it for quite sometime, as after all, the Japanese teams have a much better record than you, your club coach or even you national coach… unless my readerships is much more impressive than I previously understood it to be. 😉

So with no more delay; let me describe the Japanese warm-up for you (video will follow at a later date).
All the following exercises are carried out for 20 seconds, at a time, before changing immediately onto the next exercise.
  1. High wide Burpee.
  2. Feet shuffle run
  3. Running on the sport
  4. Tuck jumps
  5. Side to side jumps
  6. Side steps
  7. Static Bear Crawls
  8. Mini-pushups
  9. Crunches
  10. Back arches

Perform these exercises twice through.

More details:

1. High-wide burpee.
This exercise consists of placing hands wide on the floor and legs wide a little away from your hands. Jump feet towards your hands, touch your shins/knees with you hands. Put your hands back on floor then jump your feet back. It is only a movement of approximately 30-40cm.

2. Shuffle run
This is running very fast on the sport, barely lifting feet off the floor. Balls of feet may not leave the floor at all.

3. Running on the sport.
High knees standard running on the spot.

4. Tuck jumps
As you would expect

5. Side to side jumps
This is as if jumping side to side over a line in the tatami, feet are together and jumps are low and moving 40cm or so.

6. Side steps
Legs wide, skip/jump to the left, then immediately back to start, then skip to the right and back. There are three positions left, right and centre. quickly moving centre, left, centre, right, centre. Feet remain wide at all times. Feet barely come off the floor.

7. Static bear crawls
dropping to the floor in press-up position, bring left foot and knee towards left hand. While moving left leg back to straight, bring the right leg towards right hand.

8. mini-press-ups
Some call these press-up pulses. in pressup position with hands under shoulders lower chess to just off the floor. The pressing up and down quickly, moving only 10-15cm up and down. Keep body straight.

9. Crunches.
Roll over onto your back, do crunches/sit-ups. DOn’t sit all the way up, just crunches.

10. Arches.
Roll over onto your front. With your arms bent at 90 degrees (like in a “hands up” position) lift your feet and chest off the floor and relax, repeat quickly.

… and back to the burpees.

The Japanese team will repeat this twice or more, take a short break (maybe jog a little) then repeat twice (or more) again. After this they will typically also do uchi komi.


What is notable about this warmup is that it is rather static, is is done is a small space and can be done anywhere almost. It is also known by all the teams. Senior athletes have their own models but I am sure they all know this from their cadet and junior team days.


I hope to expand on this subject, but before I do I want to look forther into this warm-up and others. I encourage you all to try this warm-up in your club a few time and see how you feel afterwards.

Please let me know how you find it. Is it harder than your existing warmup? Easier? More intense, more relaxing? More structured?

Please drop me an email ( lw@judocoach.com ) or leave a comment on this page.


Comments (3)

dafootOctober 15th, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Thanks for sharing, some interesting stuff to experiment with there.

DanielDecember 9th, 2014 at 9:22 am

Thank you!

Judo Warmup | Mossy Creek DojoJanuary 20th, 2015 at 5:40 am

[…] to see if this wheel had already been invented. I cold not find much information. I did find this link which describes the Japanese national teams warmup which seems very dynamic and heart rate […]

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