by Elie A. Morrell, Hachidan

In the official number of the Kodokan Nage Waza there exists throws in each of the throwing sub-groups contained in the Tachi Waza and Sutemi Waza that are similar in some ways during execution. Very often,even trained judo practitioners will mistake one technique for another while watching one player throw the other. For example, the throw Ashi Guruma can easily be mistaken for O Guruma. Unfortunately, there are occasions where the Tori unknowingly performs either of these two throws and thinks he/she has performed the other.

When the Tori commits the error just described, it is generally because in the above case, a sound knowledge of how to make use of the non-supporting leg for either of these two throws may be lacking. Ashi Guruma and O Guruma will be discussed in subsequent paragraphs. A brief discussion of how to perform these throws will be covered. Only those areas where similarities in the execution of the throws is evident will be discussed in detail. To that end, only six pairs of throws with strong similarities will be discussed in detail in this paper with the intent of presenting a clearer understanding of the difference of the similar aspects of the two throws in question.

The six combinations of throws are represented from the throwing groups of Te Waza, Ashi Waza, Koshi Waza, Ma Sutemi Waza and Yoko Sutemi Waza.

The paired throws include Uki Otoshi and Sumi Otoshi, O Guruma and Ashi Guruma, Uki Goshi and O Goshi, Sumi Gaeshi and Hikikomi Gaeshi, Yoko Otoshi and Uki Waza, and O Soto Gari and O Soto Otoshi. For consistency, Tori and Uke will be assumed to be grappling from the right natural posture.

1. Uki Otoshi and Sumi Otoshi

For the standing version of Uki Otoshi tori lifts and breaks the Uke’s balance to the right front corner while pulling down and throwing Uke to the right front corner. Note: This throw when performed in the Nage No Kata has the Tori kneel down on one knee.

For Sumi Otoshi the Tori lifts and breaks the Uke’s balance towards the right rear corner.

In both of these throws when the Kake phase is reached, the Uke is finally thrown in a large circular arc. In Uki Otoshi the Uke is thrown around the tip of the right foot, whereas in Sumi Otoshi the Uke is thrown around the right heel as the point of rotation.

Tori is in somewhat of a defensive posture during the Kake phase of both of these throws. For Sumi Otoshi Tori is facing the Uke head on to execute the technique. In Uki Otoshi when the Tsukuri is completed, Tori is facing the Uke head on then must pivot about one hundred and eighty (180) degrees to face in the opposite direction. Uke is then thrown in a large circle.

The turn in Uki Otoshi constitutes one of the major differences between the two throws. To an observer the two throws look the same during the Kake phase to mat impact by the Uke.

2. Ashi Guruma and O Guruma

These two throw are very similar during execution. From the standpoint of observing either of these two throws being performed, only a trained observer could readily tell one from the other. This is because the only significant difference between the two throws lies in the placement of the right leg. Both throws utilize the right leg as the fulcrum that the Uke is rotated around. The Uke is essentially thrown forward. It would be very difficult for even a trained observer viewing either of these throws at ninety degrees off the throwing axis to tell which throw was made. There is no waist contact for either throw.

In the Ashi Guruma the Tori places the back of the ankle diagonally across Uke’s leg on Uke’s right knee. Some players place the ankle just below Uke’s knee.

In the O Guruma the final position of Tori’s right leg is with the calf at the top of Uke’s right thigh and the thigh (Tori’s) in the front of Uke’s left hip. It should emphasized that the entry for this throw is far more complicated than that for Ashi Guruma.

The Kake phase of Ashi Guruma and O Guruma has the Uke rotated over the fulcrum of Tori’s right leg.

3. Uki Goshi and O Goshi

When properly executed, Uki Goshi is perhaps the fastest hip technique. The Uke is not loaded on Tori’s hip as in O Goshi. Instead, the Uke prior to Kake is pulled tightly so that the front of Uke’s hip makes contact with Tori’s right hip. Uke is thrown by a vertical twisting action around the fulcrum of the back of Tori’s right hip. At the onset of Kake, Tori is pulling Uke’s right sleeve with the left hand while the right hand is at Uke’s right pelvic area with the forearm along the rear waistline. Tori pulls Uke so that Uke’s body is tight against the right side of Tori’s body. It is very important to note that there is virtually NO lifting action by the Tori.

The significant similarities of Uki Goshi and O Goshi are the position of the Hiki Te and Tsuri Te just prior to the Kake phase of either throw. No other physical attribute of the Tori is quite the same at the Kake phase of O Goshi as it is for Uki Goshi. During the execution of O Goshi the significant differences are the placement of Tori’s feet, the well bent knees and the placing of Tori’s full back to Uke’s front. The straightening of the legs by Tori supplies the lift necessary to make the throw.

Even with the noted physical differences between the two throws, one is often mistaken for the other. It is difficult for an untrained observer to see any difference between the execution of either of these two throws.

4. Sumi Gaeshi and Hikikomi Gaeshi

These two Ma Sutemi throws are very similar in their method of execution. Both of these throws are performed with both players starting from a defensive (Jigotai) posture. Some of the differences between these two throws can be somewhat vague making it difficult to differentiate one from the other.The Tsukuri is similar in both throws but the Kake phase differs mainly due to the placement of Tori’s right hand.

For both of these throws we will only consider the case where the Tori inserts the Hiki Te (left arm) through Uke’s right armpit to grip the shoulder blade. Other variations of the Hiki Te could include maintaining the sleeve grip for Sumi Gaeshi or using both arms to control Uke’s right arm for Hikikomi Gaeshi.

When the Tori utilizes the armpit grip for either of these two throws, the only other major difference between the two throws is how Tori makes use of the right hand (Tsuri Te). The normal procedure for Sumi Gaeshi is to grip Uke’s back and for Hikikomi Gaeshi to grip the back of Uke’s belt.

Under the conditions noted above, if an observer did not have a clear view of Tori’s right hand grip, it could be a guess as to which of the two throws was actually performed.

If the Tori dropped to the side body (Yoko Sutemi) for Hikikomi Gaeshi, which is another method of performing this throw, an observer would easily discern that it was not Sumi Gaeshi.

5. Yoko Otoshi and Uki Waza

During both of these throws the Tori sacrifices his body by falling on his side. To the observer the Tori looks the same at the completion of either throw. The Uke appears to be thrown in the same manner for both throws.

Less obvious to the untrained observer is the direction in which the Uke is thrown as it relates to his spatial orientation. In the case of Uki Waza, Tori breaks Uke’s balance to the right front corner, drops to the left side and throws Uke in the same direction towards the right front corner. In Yoko Otoshi, Uke’s balance is broken directly to his right side. Tori drops down below Uke’s right side and throws Uke directly to his right. The direction in which the Uke is thrown determines which throw has been executed. For both of these throws the Tsukuri and Kake directions are the same.

6. Osoto Gari and Osoto Otoshi

The Tsukuri phase is similar for these two throws. However, the Kake phase is very different for each throw. Even with the differences in the the Kake phase for each technique, the throws are very similar.

In Osoto Gari Tori uses the right leg that is raised past the right the right leg of the Uke, followed by a swinging (reaping) action such that the rear of his right knee contacts the rear of Uke’s right knee. The reaping action continues in a large semi circular motion which throws the Uke backwards.

In Osoto Otoshi Tori makes contact with the back of his right and the upper rear right thigh of the Uke. Tori slides his right leg down to the mat while maintaining good leg to leg contact. Tori pushes Uke back so that he falls to the mat.

Other Considerations

The throw Osoto Gake is not one of the sixty seven throws recognized by the Kodokan. More often than not, it may be seen in competition resulting from a failed attempt at Osoto Gari! Also, on numerous occasions it is called Osoto Gari!

If Osoto Gake had been one of the recognized throws, it would have paired with Osoto Otoshi. Needless to say, distinguishing between these two throws would be extremely difficult because their similarities are so great.

Like Osoto Gake, Ouchi Gake is not one of the Kodokan sixty seven recognized throws. Viewing this throw in the competitive environment, it often occurs as the result of a failed Ouchi Gari.As in the case of Osoto Gake, it is sometimes erroneously called Ouchi Gari! The similarities between these two throws are not as great as the preceding two throws because one is a reap while the other is a hooking action.

Although Osoto Gake and Ouchi Gake are not officially part of the Kodokan syllabus of throws they are certainly recognized for scoring purposes in competition.

This paper is written as a reminder that many of the judo throws when compared to others have very similar qualities in their makeup. It is up to the serious student to study those techniques so that the similarities between throws are easily discernable when viewed in practice and in competition.