Sunday, October 12, 2008

Helpful handful: hizaguruma

Dave commented on a post a couple of days ago that he wasn't ever able to get hizaguruma to work against resistive guys. Here's a handful of hints that might help.
  • If you check out the Kodokan Judo book, hizaguruma is shown on page 61. I think the actual action of the throw takes place between photos #11 and #12, concealing the secret of the throw, which is you have to do it on the rear leg instead of the front leg. (as in the video above) Sometime after photo #11, tori touches uke's rear knee, causing him to begin roataing (thus the name of the throw - knee wheel). By the time photo #12 is snapped, uke has already rotated some, giving the impression that tori actually propped uke's front knee. Check out photo #16 for the wrong way to do it and photo #17 for the right way to do it.
  • Mifune, in his book, Canon of Judo, demonstrates the technique on pages 48-49. If you check out the accompanying text, I think you'll likely agree that whoever translated the Japanese probably screwed it up because he talks about doing this technique to "the back of the knee" (pure nonsense) when he probably meant "the back knee." Mifune demonstrates it done both ways (front and back leg) but I've never seen anyone who can reliably throw anyone with the front-leg hiza and I've never seen someone who can reliably resist a rear-leg hiza.
  • The time for this leg prop is the instant the moving foot hits the ground. Get in synch with any forward step and slip to the side so that your standing foot is lined up with both of uke's feet. Prop his rear leg and pull him 90 degrees to the line you are standing on.
  • It helps to think about brushing uke behind you. As he steps forward, you slip to the side, push behind the near elbow and pull the far collar as if just brushing uke behind you - but then trip him onto his face!
  • It helps to pair this thing up with a couple of techniques that set it up, like deashibarai and osotogari. The harder they resist hiza, the easier they make it to do osoto. If they resist osotogari strongly, they make hiza more likely.
The following are six books that I recommend as essential reading for judoka. The first three, in particular, reference hizaguruma - check them out!


  1. What you said about hiza and sasae is interesting. I'm finding that my sense of timing still isn't good enough for hiza. I think that's why it's considered so advanced. I can pick up the timing near the end of the step for sasae much easier.

    Oh well. Keep working on it. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Sure. No prob...

    The funny thing to me is it is really not considered advanced - it's the second thing in both Kano's and Mifune's gokyo. You'd think it ought to be easier to get working than it is for a lot of folks.

    Keep working on it. Good luck.

  3. In my dojo, the only guys that can make it work are the 6th dans. None of the lower belts I can think of use hiza.

    It may be at the beginning of the gokyo, but my impression is that it's there because it teaches ukemi?

    I don't know it this idea holds water or not, but I read on that hiza is the first technique in the gokyo because it supposedly teaches a throw that is easier to fall from. Does that make sense to you? Seems iffy to me.

    Also, my first judo school didn't even teach hiza because they said it was too easy to kick someone's knee out in a tourney. That was back in the States.

    Don't know why, but hiza has some funny ideas around it.

  4. Interesting points, Dave. Hiza does have some screwy ideas surrounding it, but it's not alone. Maybe I should make a post out of "techniques that people think wrongly about."

    What other techniques have you noticed strange thinking about?

  5. Umm...kani basami? :)

    Actually, one group of techniques that is mis-understood and needs clarification is the standing armlocks. As an aikido guy, you should have much insight into these.

    I asked about the judo standing armlocks and why we don't see them much in tourneys over at a judo forum. The answers I got clearly pointed out that they were TOTALLY legal. Yet, they are very, very rarely used in comps. I did find some clips of their usage in tourneys on youtube.

    I would love to train those, especially as defenses against stiff arming. But no one in my dojo teaches because they think they aren't allowed in competition.

    If you have insights on how to train those and possible tourney use of them, I would love to read about it.


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