Nage is the art of throwing an opponent. This is often a skill that students find concurrently frustrating, obscure, rewarding, invigorating, and cumbersome. Some throwing skills are easy to learn and master, while others are quite difficult indeed.
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 was accomplished and what activities may be necessary to establish the circumstances that enable the throw to be executed effectively. Learn as many different throws and throwing strategies as you can.
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 is theoretically capable of experiencing a fall without significant risk of injury. But we also realize that these students are still learning and are not yet tremendously experienced at this skills. We therefore have a general rule that a person with a Yellow Belt can and should be thrown when it is relevant to training, but they should not be thrown hard or in what might thought of as unusual ways. But it is important that Yellow Belt students learn these skills so they understand how to minimize their risk of injury from falling awkwardly.
Students who have earned the Orange Belt ranking are thought to be generally capable of handling most falls and rolls. These students will experience throws from two perspectives. Firstly, they will continue to be thrown with some regularity as part of their evolving skills development. Secondly, these students will for the first time begin to throw others. We teach a great 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 simply an event in a conflict. It should not (normally) be considered a conflict termination event. Every time you are thrown in a class you have an opportunity to practice two things.
The first is how to fall in that situation without suffering an injury. Each throw requires a somewhat different landing methodology. 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.
Since many throws will take you completely off your feet you will want to use your legs to assist with reducing injuries to your torso. You will also want to learn how to seek out the ground and to attack it with your arms and legs as it approaches. This requires some experience and practice, but learn to attack the ground as you fall. It will help you cope with the numerous falls you will eventually encounter.
The second is how to strike at your opponent as you are being thrown. In Tensoku Ryu we want to always be in a position to strike at or compromise the structural integrity of an opponent, even if we are being thrown. As you are thrown observe where an opponent is vulnerable immediately before, during, and after the throw. Learn how to strike at these various times in a manner that will enable an escaping, thwarting, or destructive movement. Learn how to strike or inhibit an opponent before or during a throw. Learn how to immediately strike or retaliate against an opponent upon landing. Do not land without some immediate response that might destabilize or injure an opponent. In a real conflict your life could depend upon it.
Here is some terminology definitions that may help you in your studies of Nage. Most of these terms can also be found on various Judo, Jujitsu, and Karate sites. You may wish to view many of these sites to gain additional perspectives about these various terms and their usage.
- Ko – This term is seldom used alone, but is used as part of the name of a throw. It means small or minor, and generally refers to the amount of movement or effort employed to accomplish a throw.
- O – This is used similarly to Ko, but means large or major. Again it refers to the amount movement or effort involved in the throw.
- Barai or Harai – This means sweep or sweeping
- Gari – This term means reap. Like a sickle cutting wheat, it refers to the circular and inward movement designed to separate one thing from another. In Nage, it generally 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 accomplish 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 can be accomplished by positioning the Uke so they must fall, or by initiating the Nage such that you drop and subsequently pull the Uke down, in a controlled manner, also.
- Goshi or Koshi – refers to a throw which uses the hip extensively.
- Guruma – this refers to a wheel and often suggests the Uke will move in a large circular manner as though they were attached to the circumference of a wheel.
- Makikomi – Makikomi refers to wrapping, as in wrapping yourself tightly against your opponent to better facilitate some form of Nage.
- Gaeshi – This term refers to a countering movement. Uke has attempted a throw but is slightly out of position (or not) and you have an opportunity to throw them instead.
There are many other individual terms used in Nage and you are encouraged to research these on your own to discover other conceptual elements involving Nage. The terms listed above are by far the most commonly encountered, however, and will provide you with an excellent conceptual introduction to Judo, Jujitsu, and Tensoku Ryu Nage.
Within Tensoku Ryu we practice a large number of common Judo and Jujitsu throws. Many of these throws are what we refer to as Uprooting Throws. In this method of throwing a person is lifted or otherwise forcefully separated from the ground. They are then returned to the ground in a brisk manner.
An even larger area of exploration within Tensoku Ryu is the study of Rooting Throws. There are an infinite number of these throws; limited only by the imagination and creativity of the practitioner. Students who become skilled at these methods are usually able to throw another person with little or no effort. These throws rely on pressing a person downward so they are firmly rooted into the ground. In many ways these throws are a directly opposing methodology to that employed by Uprooting Throws.