Hooks instead of grips in judo

So, I mentioned in a previous article that in my humble opinion, the gripping phase of a judo throw comes pretty late in the action - like after kuzushi and tsukuri almost concurrently with kake.
Here's another little secret - On many koshinage, I dont even do grips, at least not with my hands.  I tend to use my elbows like meathooks, putting them in as I'm turning in for a throw (tsukuri).  I look at it like this...
Have you ever seen a small child carrying a heavy plastic grocery bag?  They don't have the grip strength to hold it by their side with a straight arm, so they bend their elbow and hook the bags over the crook of their elbows.  By moving the load right up to the fulcrum of the elbow, they get much better leverage on much stronger muscles (biceps beats finger flexors every time).  Turns out the same trick works very nicely for an adult trying to grapple or pick up or throw another comparable-sized person.
There are just a handful of configurations that you need to be able to use in order to be able to do all of the koshiwaza and some of the ashiwaza...
  • elbow hook around uke's waist - any koshinage
  • elbow hook under uke's rear arm - sodeTKgoshi
  • elbow hook around uke's neck - kubinage
  • elbow hook under uke's lead arm - seoinage
  • elbow/armpit hook over uke's lead arm - makikomi
I recommend trying using hooks instead of grips, and putting them in relatively late - as in during tsukuri.  I have gotten a lot of mileage out of this.
Patrick Parker