Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Major throws on non-dominant side

Every so often someone asks me something about learning throws on their non-dominant side, or someone recommends to me or my students to learn to throw left seoi or left osoto or something. I have mostly resisted this because one of my teachers recommended some years back that we should learn a few small ashiwaza on both sides but probably not major throws like seoinage. He had a few reasons -
  • You will always have a dominant and a non-dominant side and regardless of how many reps you put into it, your non-dominant throws will not be as good as your dominant-side throws. 
  • It takes more than twice as long to learn a throw on both sides because you need some number of reps on your dominant side and maybe 2-3 times more reps on the non-dominant side just to feel competent. So, learning throws only on your dominant side lets the students progress mroe than twice as fast. 
  • You will not miss throwing opportunities only throwing one-sided because any opportunity for left osotogari (for instance) can be thrown by some other throw (right kosotogari comes to mind). 
But regardless, you should be able to throw some portion of your throws on the non-dominant side. There are reasons on this side too -
  • Kano intended judo to promote balanced physical development - to teach left and right actions both big and small. Learning to throw on your non-dominant side fits the spirit of judo (gentle, yielding flexibility) the same way that learning 40 ways to throw the guy down fits the spirit of judo better than only practicing 3 (dominant-sided) tokui fits that spirit of judo. 
  • It's good for our ukemi skills to be able to take falls on both sides with more-nearly equal facility. 
  • It's good for your brain to learn to work both sides of your body. 
Note I'm not saying necessarily that we need to learn to throw all 40 (or 67 or however many) throws on both sides. But for starters, Kano suggested 15 throws that should be learned on both sides (nagenokata)...
  • ukiotoshi, ippon seoinage, kataguruma 
  • ukigoshi, haraigoshi, TKgoshi 
  • okuriashibarai, sasaeTKashi, uchimata 
  • tomoenage, uranage, sumigaeshi 
  • yokogake, yokoguruma, ukiwaza 
I might add to that some throws from what I consider the kihon of judo...
  • deashibarai, kosotogari, hizaguruma, osotogari, ukigoshi 
  • kouchigari, ouchigari, ogoshi, seoinage, koshiguruma 
This would suggest that we should work perhaps as much as half of our throws bilaterally. As it is, my pre-nagenokata students mostly only work on a handful of throws on both sides ....
  • deashiabarai 
  • okuriashibarai 
  • hizaguruma 
  • kosotogari 
  • ukiotoshi 
I don't think I want to blow up my time-in-grade requirements right now by making my students practice half the gokyonowaza on their non-dominant sides, But I do think I want to expand our repertoire some this year. How about we start by devoting significant effort to learning/practicing the following on our non-dominant side this coming year...
  • ippon seoinage 
  • osotogari 
  • ukigoshi 
  • kouchigari 

Want to discuss this blog post?
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Patrick Parker


  1. Ippon Seoinage was only added to the gokyo in the 90's; where is your source for his recommended one learn it on both sides? Or did you mean to say seoinage (sans "ippon" prefix)?

  2. You're right. Although it is technically Ippon seoinage that is being thrown in Nage no Kata, it was not called ippon seoinage until much later. I should have wrotten 'seoinage.'


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