Friday, November 11, 2011

Different bullets for different beasts

Some of my buddies posed a judo question onour FB group last night about koshinage.  Basically, they wanted some specific hints about applying hip throws - particularly ukigoshi and particularly against larger and heavier opponents.  I thought, having taken the time to put my thoughts together on this, I'd post them here for everyone to laugh at (ahem) I mean, benefit from...
First, different beasts need different bullets.  You wouldn't want to go hunting a bear with a .177 spring-air rifle, and you wouldn't want to shoot a squirell with an elephant gun.  In the same way, not every judo throw is meant for every opponent.  I know, it's tempting to want to develop such exquisite mastery that you are able to throw anyone at any time with any throw of your choice - to be able to just have your way with anyone you come across.  But not only is that not the way the real world works, it is also an unhealthy ideal.
Just as you will eventually have a handful of throws that you feel super-confident that you can throw nearly anyone with (tokuiwaza), you will also probably always have a handful of throws that are of no use to you at all - throws that youve never been able to throw anyone with. Most throws will likely fall inbetween these two extremes, meaning that different throws are more useful against different people at different times.
There may be people that you will never be able to throw with ukigoshi.
But you'll never know which throws are your tokuiwaza and which are useless to you until you try them out in randori, so with all that said, you asked for some specifics about variation and direction and grip, so here's what I usually try...
  • I find it easiest to teach beginners to turn into shoulder and hip throws when uke is stepping backward and tori chases him down, stepping across and through, throwing about 90 degrees to the side of uke's path of travel.  Not only is this the form of hipthrow that I prefer to teach beginners, but it works nicely against larger folk, because youre throwing them off their heel, which often makes it easier to get larger opponents down.
  • As for grips, for an ukigoshi I will often hook his left shoulder with my right elbow (sort of like a hip toss in rasslin), or hook his head with my elbow for a ukigoshi-flavored kubinage.  I usually want my left hand as far up his right arm as possible- definitely above the elbow, and maybe as deep as his lapel.
  • Somebody in the thread mentioned understanding teaching ukigoshi as a concept, but had problems doing it in randori. I think that's okay - to sort of categorize ukigoshi in your head as a theoretical sort of thing that you have to learn before you get to the cool stuff, because a lot of the later cool throws are just variations of ukigoshi that are created when you can't quite get ukigoshi, or when uke resists certain ways - throws like haraigoshi and hanegoshi.
So, keep working on ukigoshi but don't obsess about it.  Try it every so often in randori, and sort of keep it in the back of your mind as an ideal or theoretical version of the later one-legged hip throws like haraigoshi and hanegoshi.
Patrick Parker
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