Nanatsu-no-kata, Endo-no-kata, and Joge-no-kata ―A pedagogical and qualitative biomechanical evaluation of Hirano Tokio’s kuzushi (unbalancing) concept as part of skill acquisition for throwing techniques in Kodokan judo


  • Carl De Crée Ghent University



Hydrodynamics, Jigoro Kano, judo, kata, kinematics, kuzushi, martial arts


Professor Attilio Sacripanti, PhD, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Mori Osamu, Hirano Kiyo, Dr. Llyr C. Jones, Drs. ir. Stijn Coertjens, MEng, Department of Chemical Engineering (CIT), Catholic University of Leuven.


Hirano Tokio (1922-1993) was a talented judo champion who developed his own pedagogical approach towards teaching and practicing kuzushi (unbalancing) and tsukuri (preparation), two critical skills for successfully applying judo throws. In his approach, Hirano emphasizes the use of rotational unbalancing preceded by strategic movements that mimic water waves. No biomechanical analysis of Hirano’s wave system has previously been attempted. The purpose of this paper is to provide a detailed survey of Hirano’s didactic system comparing it with traditional Kodokan teachings, and to assess its biomechanical foundations. The fluid dynamic modeling of the several kinds of waves proposed by Hirano is mathematically complicated and heavily relies on Boussinesq differential equations. Given the involvement of numerous parameters in determining the hydrodynamic behavior of water (depth, period of waves, saliency, temperatures, currents, shape of the coastal line, water density, wind) which are absent in the surroundings of a pair of two judoka moving indoors on a tatami, Hirano’s system appears limited to a mere visualization and metaphysical interpretation of judo. The lack of empirical and experimental data available obtained in large groups of students taught according to Hirano’s approach make it so far impossible to conclude whether it facilitates kuzushi and tsukuri skill acquisition. Ultimately Hirano’s wave-based kuzushi/tsukuri does not alter the biomechanical analysis previously proposed by Sacripanti, as it still is all about general action invariants aimed to close the distance between both opponents, to break the opponent’s symmetry, and to apply one of the infinite options to achieve this.


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Author Biography

Carl De Crée, Ghent University

Author's biographical data

Carl De Crée is a Senior Research Professor in Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, who at the time this manuscript was written, was affiliated with the University of Rome. Currently at Ghent University, Belgium, he is also a senior scholar in Chinese and Japanese Studies, which he efficiently combines with his expertise as an exercise physiologist and sports medicine specialist. Having conducted research on judo since 1981, he has established a reputation as one of the foremost judo scholars. He is one of only a few technical judo-experts holding an EJU Level-6 Specialized Judo Teacher & High-Performance Coach qualification and a Master’s degree in judo from the University or Rome. He also holds a Trainer-A in judo qualification from the Flemish Trainer School, an International Judo Coach qualification and a Judo Master Teacher Class A Certificate from the United States Judo, Inc. He is research-active in all aspects of judo including medical, physiological, historical, philosophical, technical, nutritional, and pedagogical. He is a former international judo competitor and his expertise has been sought by world elite-class judo athletes. He currently holds a 7th dan black belt in judo and the title of kyoshi, and is the Instructor-in-Chief of the Royal Judo & Karate Academy Bushido-Kwai Mechlin, Belgium’s oldest judo club.



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How to Cite

De Crée, C. (2014). Nanatsu-no-kata, Endo-no-kata, and Joge-no-kata ―A pedagogical and qualitative biomechanical evaluation of Hirano Tokio’s kuzushi (unbalancing) concept as part of skill acquisition for throwing techniques in Kodokan judo. Revista de Artes Marciales Asiáticas, 9(2), 69–96.