Gari and Gake: Confusing But ImportantThere is little doubt that the concept of Gari and Gake is confusing to new Judo students. The simple explanation usually given is that Gake means to block and Gari means to reap as in a semi circular action with the foot. But as with most word translated from Japanese to English things are never that simple.
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Of course the question remains just how important it is to know the difference?
I Think It Does MatterI think it does matter, at least to some degree. Understanding the meaning of the name of a throw can often mean the difference between a good execution and a poor one.
On the other hand a name is a just a name if the execution of the throw is explain properly by the Judo instructor.
A Good Name Is An Aid To Learning And UnderstandingStill a good name has always been an aid to learning and I have found that students remember the movements of the throw more easily if they understand the name.
There is one other reason for learning the names and their meaning and it became very clear to me when I had a new student come to me who had done a significant amount of training with another school that had no interest in teaching the name of throws. Instead of names they used numbers. That is: Throw 1, Throw 2 etc.
This system was a great help to the student who struggled with learning another language(Japanese) but made my communication to him much more difficult. This is because there was no way of me knowing which throws were numbered what. And despite being quite advanced a Judo student he had no idea of what I was asking him to demonstrate until I taught him the names.
Basically a very compelling reason for learning both the names of the throws and there meanings as best as you can is to make sure there is good universal communication between students and instructors.
In short I think that it is well worthwhile to learn the difference between Gake and Gari. As well as every other name of the throws.