Nage is the art of throwing an opponent. This is often a skill that students find frustrating, obscure, rewarding, invigorating, and cumbersome at the same time. Many throwing skills are easy to learn and master, while others are fraught with difficulty.
In Tensoku Ryu you will encounter hundreds of different throws and throwing methods. Each time you see or experience a new throw you should strive to understand how the throw works and what activities establish the circumstances that enable the efficient execution of the throw.
It is also important that you learn how to fall in a manner that will not incur injury and that will prevent you from incurring future injuries or difficulties. Within Tensoku Ryu we devote significant training for White Belt students on falling and rolling skills. Someone who has achieved his or her Yellow Belt ranking can experience a fall without significant risk of injury. But we realize that these students are still learning and do not yet possess adequate experience with these skills. We, therefore, have a general rule that a person with a Yellow Belt should only experience throws related to curriculum training. The throw should not involve hard landings or what one might think of as unusual methods. But we feel it is important that Yellow Belt students learn these skills so they understand how to decrease their risk of injury from awkward falls.
We consider students who earned the Orange Belt ranking capable of handling most falls and rolls. These students will experience throws from two perspectives. First, they will experience throws with regularity as part of their developing skills. Second, these students will throw others for the first time. We teach many throwing methods and explore throwing from multiple perspectives.
It is important to realize that a conflict does not end with a throw. A throw is an event in a conflict, nothing more. Every time you experience a throw, practice two things.
The first is how to fall in that situation without suffering an injury. Each throw requires a somewhat unique landing method. Students need to practice the falling strategies they learned in earlier belts in which the arms and legs are used to break a fall and absorb impact forces.
Because many throws will take you off your feet, you will want to use your legs to aid with reducing injuries to your torso. You will want to learn how to seek the ground and to attack it with your arms and legs as it approaches. This requires experience and practice, but learn to attack the ground as you fall. It will help you cope with the many falls you will experience.
The second is how to strike at your opponent as you are being thrown. In Tensoku Ryu we always want to strike at or compromise the structural integrity of an opponent, even if we are being thrown. During each throw, note Uke’s vulnerabilities before, during, and after the throw. Learn how to strike at these various times to enable an escaping, thwarting, or destructive movement. Consider how to strike or inhibit an opponent before or during a throw. Practice striking or retaliating against an opponent upon landing. Do not land without an immediate response that might destabilize or injure an opponent. In a conflict, your life could depend upon it.
Here are terminology definitions that may help you in your studies of Nage. You can find most of these terms on various Judo, Jujitsu, and Karate sites. You may wish to view many of these sites to gain added perspectives regarding these various terms and their usage.
- Ko–This term means small, or minor, and refers to the degree of movement or effort used to carry out a throw.
- O–This term is the opposite of Ko; It means large, major, or grand. Again it refers to the amount of movement or effort involved in the throw.
- Barai or Harai–This means to sweep or sweeping
- Gari–This term means to reap. Like a sickle cutting wheat, it refers to the circular and inward movement designed to separate one thing from another. In Nage, it often refers to separating a planted foot from the earth.
- Gake or Kake–This refers to a hook or hooking motion. For example, you might hook your heel or calf into the back of an opponent’s calf or knee to carry out a throw.
- Otoshi–The word Otoshi means drop, as in when you drop something. So in Nage, it refers to causing someone to fall by making them drop. This might involve positioning the Uke so they must fall, or by initiating the Nage such that you drop and pull the Uke down, in a controlled manner.
- Goshi or Koshi-refers to a throw that uses the hip.
- Guruma–this refers to a wheel and often suggests the Uke will move in a large circular manner as though attached to the rim of a wheel.
- Makikomi–Makikomi refers to wrapping, as in wrapping yourself against your opponent to better facilitate Nage.
- Gaeshi–This term refers to a countering movement. Uke has attempted a throw but is out of position (or not) and you see an opportunity to throw him or her instead.
- Sutemi-refers to a sacrificial movement. You sacrifice your standing position to get the opponent on the ground. You both fall as a result, but you maintain control after the fall. Sutemi Waza refers to sacrificial falling techniques.
There are many other individual terms used in Nage and we encourage you to research these on your own to discover other conceptual elements involving Nage. The terms listed above are by far the most common and will give you an excellent conceptual introduction to Judo, Jujitsu, and Tensoku Ryu Nage.
Within Tensoku Ryu we practice numerous common Judo and Jujitsu throws. Many of these throws are what we refer to as Uprooting Throws. In this method of throwing, you lift Uke or otherwise separate him or her from the ground. You then return Uke to the ground.
An even larger area of exploration within Tensoku Ryu is the study of Rooting Throws. There is an infinite number of these throws; limited only by the imagination and creativity of the practitioner. Students who become skilled in these methods can throw another person with little or no effort. These throws rely on pressing a person down or moving them so they root into the ground. These throws work in direct opposition to the methods used in Uprooting Throws.