In oshitaoshi, tori controls uke’s wrist and elbow from a shikaku position and pushes uke into the ground. Hikitaoshi is pretty much the direct opposite, in which tori controls uke’s wrist and elbow from an omote (front) position and pulls uke into the ground. Hikitaoshi is one of the first techniques used in the followups to the wrist releases to illustrate the kito principle in a front-back manner – the idea that if pushing isn’t working then uke may be susceptible to a pulling attack. So, in the chains, hikitaoshi is often used as a backup for pushing techniques like oshitaoshi and udegaeshi. In this context it is important to be able to smoothly and safely transition from an ura/pushing position to an omote/pulling position by moving down the line of uke’s arm and applying shomenate during the transition.
Hikitaoshi was the favorite technique of my first student and he taught it to his three year old daughter. Whenever things did not go her way she would convincingly threaten the offending person with “I’ll number-eight you!” She frequently number-eighted the cat.
Overzealous hikitaoshi was often the specific reason that the big bad judo guys in our club didn’t like to do aikido – because being off-balanced, whipped face first into the ground, and dragged across the tatami into an armbar was too un-nerving for folks who were used to being planted in the mat on their side or back. Of course, the aiki guys often hated being planted in the ground by judo folks too.