Can You Learn Judo at Home Without An Instructor?

Can you learn judo at home?

If you’re just starting out as a novice of judo, you might be wondering if you truly need to find a dojo or a private instructor. After all, those can be expensive, and you might not be sure if they’re worth the investment. The truth is that a knowledgeable judo instructor is crucial to learning effective judo.

While you can learn judo at home with videos, it’s not the same as learning from an instructor. To master the martial art technique, you will want to find a proper judo instructor. If you don’t get outside coaching, you have a high chance of developing a poor technique that’s hard to shake.

This article will explore why you should ultimately learn judo from a mentor or teacher. It will also give you tips on how to optimize your at-home judo training routine for the times when you just can’t make it to the gym!

Why You Need a Judo Instructor

A good judo instructor might seem unnecessary in the age of the Internet, as you can find many videos online that claim to be able to teach even the complete beginner judo without the need for an instructor at all. You can even find lists of judo moves with instructions on how to perform them through free content or paid instructionals. 

While these resources can be helpful, relying solely on online guidance would be a big mistake.

Coaches serve many important functions in learning any new sport, but in martial arts, it’s particularly important to find a teacher early on. You won’t make much progress until you have someone to point you in the right direction.

There are several important reasons you won’t want to train in judo all by yourself, at least not when you’re just starting. Here are some of the reasons you’ll want to find a judo instructor before trying to learn judo at home. 

Trying To Learn Judo At Home Without An Instructor Could Lead To Injuries 

The biggest danger for judo practitioners working without a coach or instructor is that they may get injured because judo involves lots of swings, throws, and fancy footwork moves. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew, but self-guided judo practitioners are much more likely to trip themselves up and find themselves with an embarrassing injury.

Even if you don’t injure yourself in training, you might not know when you’re ready to take on a competitor without the right guidance. Competing with a coach backing you up can help you with your confidence by making sure you don’t pick a fight you can’t win and keep you from getting hurt.

If you are practicing by yourself, watch out to make sure you don’t hyperextend any limbs by stretching before a workout. Avoid taking on any moves that are too complicated and try not to exhaust yourself! 

A good coach will make sure that you take several breaks in your workout, so you should too.

Developing Improper Technique

The benefits of a coach aren’t limited to the new techniques and moves they can teach you. In fact, the most important thing a teacher can do is tell you when you’re doing something wrong.

If you don’t get started perfecting your technique early on, it’ll be difficult to unlearn the bad habits you develop later on. Judo fighters who don’t have their technique mastered are much easier to defeat, and you’re much more likely to get hurt if you’re performing the moves wrong.

Having an Opponent

Finally, the most obvious advantage of working with an instructor is the ability to spar with somebody else. The only real way to get better at judo is to fight someone with more experience than you, and when you’re isolated in your own home, you’re not going to get that chance.

Even if you’re planning on working with a friend or novice judo practitioner at home, you are going to want to learn from an experienced teacher who can likely beat you in the ring with ease. A judo teacher can correct bad form and prevent injuries, while a fellow beginner probably cannot.

Those are the reasons you’ll want to invest in a judo instructor. Once you have one, you’ll find that your home workouts become much more effective since you can develop your skills off of the base that your instructor provides you.

How To Work Judo Techniques at Home

Even if you have a judo instructor or regularly attend a dojo, if you want to develop past a certain skill level, you’re going to want to practice at home. If you’re following your instructor’s direction, you can use your solo practices to improve and perfect your technique. 

Try the following tips in between classes.

Use a Mirror and Create Enough Space to Practice Judo At Home 

Set up at least 200 sq ft (18.58 sq m) of space in your home or garage as a practice area. You are going to then need to get some judo mats to set up in this space. Especially if you are going to be fulling executing techniques on a judo dummy or training partner. 

Give yourself the space to jump around a little without fear of knocking a lamp over or kicking a hole in your wall.

If you can, set a mirror up on one wall and perform your practice routine facing the mirror. It’ll feel a little awkward at first, but growing used to seeing yourself go through the judo moves will help you match your body’s alignment to the proper judo form.

Try Shadow Uchikomi

Shadow Uchikomi is essentially judo’s form of shadowboxing. Uchikomi means to repeatedly practice a throwing motion right up to before the execution. Use Uchikomi to warm up before each match, either with another person or by yourself.

If you’re working Shadow Uchikomi alone in your house, you can perform the move without any other person or tools. Visualize a target and get comfortable throwing yourself in the same spot repeatedly, which will give you a more defined target to hit.

This YouTube video demonstrates how to practice Solo or Shadow Uchikomi:

Learn Judo Techniques At Home Online But Show Your Sensei 

You won’t want to practice anything too complex on your own for the first time. Instead, when you find new judo move you’d really love to learn, write down the name of it and take it to your teacher. They’ll be able to tell you whether that move is a good fit for your skillset and teach you how to perform it if it is.

You can learn moves online for free on youtube or from paid instructional that you can purchase online. Some of my favorite instructional to purchase online are from Shintaro Higashi such as his Judo Basics Program.

You can find a ton of judo instructionals online at In fact, I have already created a cheat sheet on the best judo instructionals to get started with!

Of course, once you really got a good grasp of judo you can certainly learn judo at home through videos and books. But where it is really dangerous is if you do not have a foundation in judo at all. If this is the case I would suggest not trying to learn judo at home at this point. 

Final Thoughts

While you can certainly improve your judo practice by working out at home, you will eventually want to train with a judo instructor. An instructor will help you avoid injury, perfect your form, and is also a skilled sparring partner. Ultimately, training completely on your own will slow down your progress.

To find a judo instructor, locate the nearest dojo in your area, or ask any other friends you know who practice judo. Finding a good mentor for your judo journey is the first step to becoming great at this fighting style.

Joshua Paul

Joshua Paul is a BJJ purple belt who lives in Austin, Texas. Joshua loves all forms of grappling and when he is off the mats he is likely spending time with his wife and son.

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