Judo throw: its major classification types and application

In Judo throw is a technique to unbalance opponent.

Throws in martial arts are expected to be the most spectacular techniques. And part of them is.

Some classifications also distinct throw from take-downs: in throw you count the flying phase while contact with the ground is lost and in take-down contact with the ground kept at all times. This is a reasonable distinction that has one problem: same (but not all) techniques can be executed at one time as a throw and at another as a take-down, depends on your opponent movement and tactical situation. In this case designation as throw or take-down based on most common and most refined version. Look this link for potential problem, it can create. 

In self-defense rules of sport Judo throw grading aren’t applicable: plain take-downs may be as effective as high amplitude throws and throwing side or face-down as good as putting your attacker on the full back. 

Anyway, initial introduction of any throwing technique to a student should be done in its most refined sport version. This is the starting point from which each judoka will customize it for himself up to the level of a crown technique (ideally – if he’ll see it fit) and/or convert it to the self-defense version. Not all techniques fit all individual judokas. It’s nothing wrong with leaving something that not fit you aside. However, try it first and work on it until you can make this decision with open eyes. As time get by and you’re getting better, you may come back to something, you rejected earlier, and it’ll work on the second try. Even if it won’t happen, you need to know your art technical core as you may need to defend against it.

All Judo throws can be divided into several overlapping groups by number of unrelated criteria:

  • Part of tori body that plays most visible role in the technique (most important are always hands/arms):
  • throws over back
  • throws over shoulder(s)
  • throws over chest (suplex)
  • throws by lifting with leg
  • throws by block with leg
  • throws by foot swipe
  • throws leg(s) grab
  • etc.
  • Direction of the (primary) movement (vs. uke position):
  • Forward
  • Backward
  • Sidewise
  • By tori throw ending position:
  • Retaining standing position
  • Simi-knelled
  • Knelled
  • With a fall (sitting or roll)

This is a very coarse Judo throw grouping. Each individual technique will inevitable fell in one group in each category. However, many throws, especially non-standard throws that results from adaptation of a standard technique by individual masters, may fell in more then one group in each category and may “change” its classification attributes depends on the specific tactical situation while retaining in full all its technical elements.

In Judo throw can be executed in two tactical situations:

  • Tori and uke are in firm grip contact with each other and acting as a whole physical object with shared center of mass. If mutual grip will be broken, both will be unable to retain balance without changing posture.
  • Tori and uke both maintained their own balance and have no firm grip (or any grip) on each other

First situation is typical for sport Judo fights and can accrue in real-life combat in non-striking attack (when tactical goal is to get submission – police arresting, as example).

In this tactical environment throw can be performed ether on tori support position or on uke.

Performing throw on tori support requires shared center of mass to move firmly above tori support platform formed by his feet. In plain terms tori needs to lift uke. This are typically forward throws (vs. uke – tori needs to get him close; however, it can be any direction based on tori tactical preparation steps) used in attack and ending position can be any, with preference to standing or semi-knelled.

Performing throw on uke support means tori shifting his weight in a way to move shared center of mass outside of support platform formed by feet of both, tori and uke. When both, tori and uke, became unbalanced tori performing/completing throw to end-up in winning position. Typically it means that tori “hang up” on uke or “pushing” him. Such throws can be performed in any direction and typically end-up with uke’s fall or in knelled position. However, tori may regain self-balance before completion of a throw and remain in standing.

It’s not always easy for outside observer to identify how throw has been performed, on tori or on uke support, but it’s very important for instructor and his student to be clear on how it should be done as weight distribution is a critical element of every throwing technique.

Second situation is more typical for self-defense.

When firm stable grip contact between tori and uke not established a throw technique more often performed as a defense against some non-throwing, more often – striking, attack. This scenario is typical for Aikido. It’s also base tactical scenario for Chinese Fast Wrestling.

As been in its core defensive, non-grip throws can be used in fast run-and-strike-grip-throw attack when strike-grip can be performed with hand, upper arm, elbow, or shoulder.



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