The Ultimate Judo Throwing Guide for Self-Defense and Sport

Judo, a martial art from Japan, made its way worldwide and became an Olympic sport in 1964. Judo does not involve striking or punching, unlike many other martial arts, making it a safer option. Instead, Judo throwing is used to subdue an opponent.


Throwing is the core of Judo, which uses an opponent’s momentum and leverage to lift them off their feet and throw them to the ground. Winning a match in Judo can be achieved by scoring an ippon, the highest score, resulting in an automatic victory. 


Throwing techniques can also be applied in real-life situations, especially against larger opponents, making Judo a valuable self-defense discipline. 

Stances

  • Natural stance: standing upright with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward
  • Right and Left Foot Forward stance: stepping forward with either the right or left foot with the front foot turned outwards and the back foot turned inward

Grips

  • Standard Grip: gripping the opponent’s gi with both hands on the same side, with the dominant hand gripping the collar and the other gripping the sleeve
  • Cross Grip: gripping the opponent’s gi with one hand on the collar and the other on the sleeve of the opposite arm
  • Lapel Grip: gripping the opponent’s gi on the lapel with one hand while the other hand grips the sleeve

Kuzushi (Off-balancing)

 

  • Breaking Opponent’s Balance: achieved through footwork, grips, or a combination, by pulling or pushing an opponent in a way that causes them to lose their balance
  • Importance of Kuzushi in Throwing: crucial in executing a throw effectively, a good kuzushi creates an opportunity for a throw and prevents the opponent from countering or escaping. It is essential to understand kuzushi and practice regularly to master Judo throwing techniques.
Judo O-Goshi throw

Basic Judo Throwing Techniques

Osoto Gari

  • Description: Major outer reap technique that involves sweeping an opponent’s leg while pulling their upper body backward
  • Execution: Off-balance the opponent, step back with the lead foot, sweep the opponent’s leg with the trailing leg, and pull their upper body backward
  • Common Mistakes: Failing to break the opponent’s balance properly, not stepping back far enough, and not sweeping the opponent’s leg forcefully enough

Ouchi Gari

  • Description: Major inner reap technique that involves sweeping an opponent’s leg from the inside
  • Execution: Off-balance the opponent, step forward with the lead foot, sweep the opponent’s leg from the inside with the trailing leg, and pull their upper body forward
  • Common Mistakes: Failing to break the opponent’s balance properly, not stepping forward enough, and not sweeping the opponent’s leg forcefully enough

Seoi Nage

  • Description: Shoulder throw technique that involves lifting an opponent onto your back and throwing them over your shoulder
  • Execution: Off-balance the opponent, step forward with the lead foot, drop the weight, lift the opponent onto the back, rotate the hips, and throw the opponent over the shoulder
  • Common Mistakes: Failing to break the opponent’s balance properly, keeping the weight too high, and not rotating the hips forcefully enough
 

Intermediate Judo Throwing Techniques

Once a judoka has mastered the basic throwing techniques, they can progress to more advanced techniques. Intermediate throwing techniques require more skill, timing, and practice but are more effective and versatile.

Harai Goshi: Sweeping Hip Throw 

Harai Goshi involves sweeping an opponent’s leg with your hip while pulling them forward. It requires good timing and coordination.

 

Execution:

  1. Off-balance the opponent by breaking their balance.
  2. Turn your hips and sweep their leg with your hip while pulling them forward with your grips.
  3. Use your body weight and momentum to throw them over your hip.
 

Common Mistakes:

  • Not breaking the opponent’s balance properly
  • Turning hips too slowly
  • Not sweeping the opponent’s leg with enough force
Judoka throw

Uchi Mata: Inner Thigh Throw 

Uchi Mata involves lifting an opponent onto your thigh and throwing them over it. It requires good timing and flexibility.

 

Execution:

  1. Off-balance the opponent by breaking their balance.
  2. Step forward with your lead foot and lift your opponent onto your thigh while pulling them on with your grips.
  3. Use your body weight and momentum to throw them over your thigh.

Common Mistakes:

  • Not breaking the opponent’s balance properly
  • Avoiding lifting the opponent high enough
  • Not using the thigh as the fulcrum for the throw

Tai Otoshi: Body Drop 

Tai Otoshi involves dropping your body weight onto an opponent’s leg while pulling them forward. It requires good timing and precision.

 

Execution:

  1. Off-balance the opponent by breaking their balance.
  2. Step forward with your lead foot and drop your body weight onto their leg while pulling them on with your grips.
  3. Use your body weight and momentum to throw them over your leg.

Common Mistakes:

  • Not breaking the opponent’s balance properly
  • Not keeping the weight low enough
  • Not pulling the opponent forward with enough force.

Advanced Judo Throwing Techniques

Advanced throwing techniques are more complex and require more skill and experience. Experienced judokas often use these techniques to surprise and overcome their opponents.

Tomae Nage

Tomoe Nage, or circle throw, is a throwing technique that involves using your legs to throw an opponent over your head. It is a risky and dynamic technique that requires good timing and flexibility.

Execution: A judoka must first off-balance their opponent by breaking their balance. They then quickly sit down and lift their legs to throw their opponent over their head while pulling them forward with grips. Finally, they use their body weight and momentum to throw their opponent onto their back.

Common mistakes

 

  • Need to break the opponent’s balance properly.
  • Need to sit down quickly enough.
  • Not using the legs to throw the opponent over the head.
 

Sumi Gaeshi

Sumi Gaeshi, or corner throw, is a throwing technique that involves using your leg to hook an opponent’s leg and then twisting them to throw them over your shoulder. It is a quick and unexpected technique that requires good timing and coordination.

Execution: A judoka must first off-balance their opponent by breaking their balance. They then quickly step to the side and hook their leg behind their opponent’s leg. They twist their body and throw their opponent over their shoulder while pulling them forward with grips.

 

Common mistakes 

 

  • Need to break the opponent’s balance properly.
  • Not hooking the leg behind the opponent’s leg.
  • Not twisting the body enough to throw the opponent over the shoulder.

Koshi Guruma

Koshi Guruma, or hip wheel, is a throwing technique that involves using your hip to lift an opponent onto your back and then throwing them forward. It is a powerful and explosive technique that requires good timing and strength.

Execution: A judoka must first off-balance their opponent by breaking their balance. They then quickly step forward and lift their opponent onto their back using their hip. Finally, they use their body weight and momentum to throw their opponent forward.

Common mistakes

 

  • Need to break the opponent’s balance properly.
  • Avoid lifting the opponent onto the back with enough force.
  • Not using the hip as the fulcrum for the throw.

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Summary

Judo throwing is a fundamental component of the Japanese martial art of Judo. It involves using throws to off-balance an opponent and then using their momentum to throw them to the ground. Judo throwing techniques are not only crucial for self-defense, but they are also valuable in sports competitions.

In this beginner’s guide to essential Judo throwing techniques, we have explored the fundamentals of Judo throwing, including stances, grips, and off-balancing techniques. 

We have also discussed basic, intermediate, and advanced throwing techniques, including Osoto Gari, Seoi Nage, Harai Goshi, Tomoe Nage, and Koshi Guruma.

Judo throwing techniques are an essential aspect of Judo. They can be learned by anyone with the determination to learn and practice. With dedication and commitment, you can become proficient in Judo throwing techniques and improve your self-defense skills, physical fitness, and mental discipline.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Judo throwing? 

A: Judo throwing is a martial arts technique that involves using throws to off-balance an opponent and then using their momentum to throw them to the ground.

Q: Are Judo throwing techniques challenging to learn? 

A: Judo throwing techniques can be challenging to learn, but with the right instructor and practice, anyone can master them.

Q: Do I need prior martial arts experience to learn Judo throwing? A: You do not need prior martial arts experience to learn Judo throwing. However, having some basic knowledge of martial arts principles can be helpful.

Q: What are the benefits of learning Judo throwing techniques? 

A: Judo throwing techniques can improve your self-defense skills, physical fitness, mental discipline, and overall well-being.

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