Thursday, 27 January 2011

Slicing a traditional throw in half

This is one of two exclusive posts written to christen the start of this blog, the other is Silver Bullets.

It’s only natural to want to emulate our idols and when it comes to Judo this usually means copying the signature throw variation of a highly successful Judoka. When a highly successful Judoka bursts onto the scene whether a new or unusual variation of a canonical technique there will follow a craze of copying that throw amongst us mortals involved in recreational Judo. Usually the start of this craze is closely linked to the release of a Fighting Films dvd...

In this entry I will examine and seek to dissect two of the most famous Judokas of recent years technique’s. Toshihiko Koga’s Ippon seoi nage and Kosei Inoue’s Uchi mata. 

Inoue's Uchi mata

I'll examine Inoue's Uchi mata first because its one I feel is mechanically easier to get your head around.
As with any throw we should remember first principles about spacing - the triangle and correct breaking of balance

As these are all observed in Inoue's version of uchi mata.

Lets examine Inoue's uchi mata

Inoue first demonstrates the canonical hikidashi entry method whereby he first steps in with his right foot and then brings in his left foot as a supporting/pivoting foot and his right leg sweeps through uke.

The canonical hikidashi first step:

Inoue's oikomi Uchi mata first step:

Inoue 'slices the traditional Uchi mata in half' in the words of Neil Adams. As he enters with a single Oikomi entry step.

Here we can see Inoue preparing for his entry, weighting his uke:

Inoue then enters, the foot is either placed horziontally to the line of uke's toes or horizontally:

Inour still observes the triangle with his initial step and applies a strong tsurikomi action to effect kuzushi as can be evidenced by his uke being on his toes.

The space observable between Inoue's hips and his uke's as a result of observing the triangle are vital as it allows space for his uke's balance to broken forward and his own hips to fit into:

The combination of expert tsurikomi and kuzushi throughout the tsukuri phase means Inoue's uke is completely loaded onto his hip allowing Inoue to sweep the leg through to effect the Uchi mata

A perfect ippon scoring technique:

Inoue's method of  entry can be applied to other throws on a retreating opponent and a static one

At this point the throw can become a Harai goshi, Tai otoshi, Ashi gurma, Koshi guruma, Tsurikomi goshi etc...

Koga's Seoi nage

This video shows Koga's seoi nage in application in a kenka yotsu situation. However, it reveals some fundamentals about the entry that are applicable to both kenka and ai yotsu.

Koga starts in a kenka yotsu situation.

His first step observes the correct spacing and the triangle principle

Similarly to the Inoue stepping pattern the first step is not with the normal right foot, but rather with the left.

 Koga's initial step observes the triangle and allows himself space to break uke's balance forward and insert his hips, which comes with the next, deep step.

Crucially here Koga performs a tsugi ashi style step

Before stepping deep with the right foot.

From a different angle and in a dynamic situation it looks like this:

Koga uses his extraoridnary tai sabaki and movement skills to position himself perfectly for the entry.

Observing the triangle with his initial step, he inserts the other leg deeply, because of the space he has given himself.

And the throw is completed in a picture pefect manner:
The main error seen when people try and copy Koga's seoi nage entry and indeed in many normal seoi nage is that they get to this position:

And then attempt to reverse into uke to effect the throw:

However, what you should be aiming to from this position is to project uke forward as much as possible whilst manouvering your hips under their centre of gravity.

The disrupting of uke's balance through forward projection and movement of your hips under their centre of gravity is what effects this devastatingly effective throw.


  1. Isn't this Inoue's tobikomi uchimata? I understand oikomi looks basically like a normal uchimata with a normal entry and a sweep attacking uke's right leg. Tobikomi is the one he leaps in and throws iirc. Sorry if I mixed up

  2. As I understand it there are 4 conventional entry methods hikidashi, oikomi, tobikomi and mawarikomi.

    Hikidashi being the standard entry method and meaning 'drawing out'. Oikomi being the method I talk about in post meaning 'dashing in'. Tobikomi meaning 'jumping in' and Mawarikomi meaning 'spinning in'.

    As I understand it tobikomi is the same footwork as hikidashi except that it is done on a retreating uke whereas hikidashi is done on an advancing uke.

    This is just me going off what is in my copy of Best Judo. I don't know if this is definitive or if there has been a translation error.