Posts Tagged ‘o uchi gari’

It’s The Little Things – Pt 4

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Recently a new student in our class has been learning the first group of throws in anticipation of testing for his first belt.  This fellow is not especially tall, but really muscular and strong. The throws which he favours involve big movements – o goshi, koshi guruma, etc. – and which do not involve the little movements of many of the others.

Just because yellow is the first belt level in judo does not mean that the throws are easy. Many of the yellow belt throws are complicated and some may be the last which a student manages to do well. De ashi harai, if done well, is performed when tori sweeps out uke’s leg in the fraction of a second before the foot hits the floor. The throws which require tori to step in closely to uke (o uchi gari and ko uchi gari, for instance) when performed statically involve arm movements and multiple small foot movements. Ippon seoi nage and o goshi must have tori’s body placement just so in order to execute the forward throw properly.

This new student has difficulty with the small foot movements (he compares them to ballet movements). To throw uke with o uchi gari, tori steps in between uke’s feet strongly with his right foot, while pulling himself into uke at the same time. He then brings his back foot up behind the front foot (tee-ing up) in order to become balanced forward. The front foot then reaps uke’s left leg to the right.

These minute foot movements were driving this student to distraction. His gut instinct was to move the front leg and leave the back leg where it was, resulting in a very wide-legged, off-balance stance. In order to sweep the leg, he was even more off-balance (not forward, but backward) and the throw was not strong. It mostly consisted of his pushing uke. Granted, uke hit the floor, but that wasn’t the throw we wanted.

During competitions, throws are not static. Even during class randori, once all the movements have been learned, variations of body position are taken into account and the throw may not be traditional. Even the “push” variation I mentioned above might garner a point.

But, as we are still a judo club, and teach traditional judo (along with variations), students who wish to advance to other belt levels must know the traditional movements for throws and all other techniques.

We have many repetitions to do in order to get this student to learn the correct movements, which do not come naturally to him. When he performed the throw with the correct movements, the throw was strong and powerful. He was also balanced properly after the throw. Unfortunately doing a throw once doesn’t constitute learning it.  Any body movement which is to become muscle memory must be performed many, many times, and then still worked on and perfected.

One of the reasons judo is still an effective martial art is that there is always more to learn. There are variations of techniques which people have developed and are still developing – Judo is constantly evolving. Sometimes these variations are out of necessity because of body type or ability. Sometimes they come from having worked out with someone else and finding yourself in an unusual position and managing to weasel your way out by doing something new.

One of the reasons we love judo, and love teaching, is that we get to learn new stuff, too.

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 3

ayjay

January 5, 2010

UFC 110

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

This UFC was the first of many, I’m sure, in Australia. The Aussies seemed to love MMA and the athletes.

The fight between Wanderlei Silva and Michael Bisping in UFC 110 had Silva successfully completing both a right-sided ko uchi gari and a left-sided version of the same throw in the following round.

Ko uchi gari is the minor inner reaping throw which involves taking your leg and reaping out the same leg of your opponent, so if you’re using your right leg, you’d reap out uke’s right leg. This throw uses the smaller muscles and is a smaller throw than o uchi gari (major inner reaping). Silva’s versions, though, looked strong: he caught Bisping’s left leg in the first throw, and reaped out Bisping’s right leg. By catching the leg, as opposed to grasping an arm or gripping around the neck, and then stretching his own leg for a small reap, he was able to stay out of danger himself and, yet, throw Bisping to the ground. In the second throw he caught the right leg and reaped out the left leg. Our video doesn’t show the leg grab, but the principle is the same: the leg is isolated and then is taken out.  The traditional version, showing gripping of the arm and lapel or collar, of ko uchi gari can be viewed here

During the bout between Stephan Bonnar and Krzysztof Soszynski, Bonnar attempted an harai goshi when the men were in the clinch. Harai Goshi (Sweeping Hip or Loin) involves turning your back to your opponent and sweeping out his leg, although variations of position could allow throws to the side instead of to the back. Here is the traditional version of harai goshi. I think Bonnar was positioned a bit too far past Soszynski’s body. When Bonnar swept his leg, he made no contact with Soszynski at all. This is a version of harai goshi for MMAin which Dave throws to the side.

There were few submission attempts in this UFC and the only submission I saw which resulted in a win was a knee bar (Chris Lytle in his win against Brian Foster). I had hoped to write about some beautiful submissions, especially from Soszynski and other groundwork specialists, but such is not the case this time around.

ayjay

February 23, 2010

…Little Things Pt 1 Addendum

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

We had our regular class yesterday.  The classes are usually small, but this was tiny – three seniors and a white belt who comes out regularly from the jiu jitsu club. Dave loves these classes because we do far more when there are fewer people: we can all work on the same thing and “study” techniques in greater depth.

Alex, our white belt, is gearing for yellow; however, there were a few throws he had not yet learned – sasae tsurikomi ashi, hiza guruma and  o uchi gari. We went into detail on each throw, way more detail than we teach if there is a larger group. 

While we were practicing sasae tsurikomi ashi (my doing uchi komi [practice throws] on Dave, Alex, on Chris), Dave suggested a different arm movement for the arm holding the lapel: basically I was to try to hoist him with that arm, pull his sleeve horizontally and then down with the other, while blocking his ankle. Also, I was to step more to the outside and beside his leg, less to the front. OK, I’ve done this throw many times over the last fifteen years, and watched and taped Dave do the throw many times as he worked for his black belt grading (and also videotaping for this website), but I’ve never done the throw like that. The throw has always felt feeble to me (i.e. my version).

This time, when I moved outside more – not too far since I am short – moved my right arm UP instead of horizontally and pulled on the other sleeve, the foot placement was incidental to the throw. The throw was so strong and easy. Chris and I just gaped at each other, saying, “We’ve done this throw how many years?” Why have I never done this arm movement like that before, or stepped out quite that way before? Who knew sasae could be so fluid and powerful?!

So after fifteen years doing throws, I learned a slightly different movement (a little thing) and, when I applied that movement, did a throw well and strongly. It was fun.

(A version of Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi for MMA is here.)

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 1

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 2

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 2 Addendum

Click here to go to It’s The Little Things – Pt 3

ayjay

December 13, 2008