Purple Belt Uprooting Throws

Uprooted throwing involves lifting an opponent from the ground, raising them upward, and then returning them to the ground in a somewhat different orientation. This type of throwing can require (depending on the throw and how it is executed) significant strength, precise timing, good setup maneuvering, and bearing some or all of your opponent’s body weight.

The advantage of these throws is they can result in a very hard impact for your opponent. This is in part due to the increased elevation from which the fall begins, but also because you might provide additional energy as the opponent falls to increase the impact forces experienced by the opponent.

It is important that you remain rooted (this is not always true for more advanced versions of these throws) and maintain sound structural integrity throughout the throwing process. If you are off balance or not rooted during any part of the throw then it increases the chances that your opponent may pull you over as well. Should that occur you are now both on the ground in an unexpected manner.

Uprooting throws are widely used in Judo and Jujitsu. These throws comprise the largest body of throws used in those arts. They are also commonly used in most grappling styles and Mixed Martial Arts styles. These Nage might be thought of as pulling a rooted vegetable from the ground. The opponent is lifted or taken off of their feet in some manner (separated from the ground), and is then returned in a perhaps not-so pleasant manner back to the ground.

Some of the throws will lift a person directly off of both feet concurrently. Others will attempt to sweep an opponent’s leg or legs out from under them. Nearly all of these throws require practice with setting up the conditions to enable the throw, the mechanics of the throw itself, and the timing necessary to capture the opponent out of structure or off balance at exactly the right moment. This is often not easy and usually requires a good deal of practice before you begin to feel comfortable with any given throw.

One common characteristic of many uprooting throws is that they involve taking on body mass. This means that at some point during the throwing process you may support some or all of the opponent’s weight. In Tensoku Ryu we consider this to be less than ideal. However, there are benefits to these types of throws and you should learn to do them well. They are also the most common types of throws done by other martial arts styles so you should be intimately familiar with them. Over time you should learn how to perform, avoid, thwart, and counter these types of throws.

This type of throwing can be hard on a Karate Gi. While a normal Gi will suffice in most cases, if you expect to practice these throws extensively then you may wish to purchase a heavy-weight Karate Gi top. These tops are more expensive than a middle weight top, but ripping and replacing multiple Karate Gi tops adds up too. If you expect to throw or be thrown extensively then a heavier Karate Gi (which is usually 50% to 100% heavier than a normal Karate Gi) may be warranted. This choice is purely your own. Just ensure any Gi you purchase does not have extensive labeling or advertising on it.

Listed below are the first five uprooting throws that students initially study. These throws are studied by students who have achieved the Orange Belt ranking. Eventually practitioners study nearly all of the throws commonly practiced in Judo and Jujitsu. These throws are studied throughout the Mudansha ranks beginning at Orange Belt.

The throws discussed below are Judo throws but are also widely used by Jujitsu and Mixed Martial Arts practitioners. You are likely to encounter these types of throws if dealing with someone who has practiced any of these styles. You should learn to recognize these throws by noticing the steps necessary to set up the throw and the mechanics of delivery. Later you will study ways in which you might circumvent or prevent these throws. For now, learn how you might use these throws yourself.

Deashi Barai

This throw involves a sweep of your opponent’s front foot just at the moment they are transferring their weight onto that leg. You will often find this throw spelled as De Ashi Barai, De Ashi Harai or Deashi Harai as well. Harai is simply an alternate spelling of Barai. Barai is probably technically more accurate in this context, but you will readily find this throw listed under any of these names. “De” means at the location of, “Ashi”, in this context means foot, and “Barai” means sweeping action. So this throw involves sweeping of the opponent’s foot at or near the ankle.

This throw involves the following concepts and movements:

  • Your weight is transferred onto your back leg as you are sweeping, rooting you on your back leg.
  • Your front leg remains essentially straight and you sweep (not impact) the opponent’s ankle using the sole and bottom of your front foot. The sweep is executed primarily using abdominal muscles and not the percussive force of the leg muscles.
  • You must be off to the side of your opponent so they do not fall into you and so that you have the best angle for initiating the throw. Ideally you will be at 90° to your opponent. This position is usually adopted as part of the throwing process just before the sweep is executed.
  • Assuming you are sweeping with your left leg, your hands will be positioned as if you were holding a steering wheel at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions (angles 3 and 4 on the vertical octagon). At the moment of the throw you will move your arms as though you were making a hard left turn (swiftly moving your hands to angles 1 and 2 on the vertical octagon). Your left elbow moves down and inward briskly to initiate the throw.
  • The arm rotations can scribe a circle of nearly any diameter. This will be somewhat determined by the opponent’s size, but can be controlled by you to a large degree. A larger circle takes less effort but requires more time. A smaller circle requires larger effort, but develops more rapidly. This is simple angular velocity and lever arm physics.
  • You must remain erect during this throw or you will be pulled down by your opponent. Do not lean forward as you initiate the throw. Remember that you are standing on one pedestal leg.

Here is one way in which you might initiate and execute this throw. For simplicity we will describe a throw using the left leg to sweep your opponent’s right front leg. You should experiment with alternate setup strategies and footwork so you can apply this throw from different initial positions and from both sides. You may also find the throw can be initiated by both your initial movement and a movement initiated by the opponent. Try some free-form exercises with a partner to explore different ways to initiate this throw.

The main goal is to get your opponent to step forward with the right leg and to place their weight on their new right front leg. You will sweep their leg just as they begin transferring their weight onto the right leg. It is important that you find a way to get your opponent to step forward, rather than pulling them forward. Their body structure will be different and uncooperative in the later situation.

You would normally hold your opponents clothing near their heart with your right hand and you would hold them near the right elbow with your left hand. The hands should be generally level with one another, but some small variance in this positioning is likely to occur.

As your opponent begins stepping forward you will step back slightly toward local angle 8 with your right leg. This places you to the side of your approaching opponent. Shift your weight onto your right leg and use your left leg to sweep the foot of your opponent toward your center. Your left leg should be generally straight and you will sweep with the bottom of your foot. The outside edge of your foot should stay near the floor throughout the sweeping motion. At the same time twist your arms counter-clockwise briskly. Your opponent should fall on their side in the general direction of your local angle 5.

Like most throws this involves a good deal of precise timing. It takes some practice to get the timing correct. When the timing is correct your opponent will fall with little effort on your part. If you find you must amplify your movements to get the throw to work then you are likely sweeping two early or a bit too late in the process. Experiment with timing until the throw feels almost effortless.

If you are the Uke then consider how you will react while being thrown. Your goal as Uke is to allow your partner to throw you. You should not resist the throw, but should allow your partner to learn the proper timing and mechanics of this throw. But once a throw has been initiated successfully you should practice counter strikes, counter throws, rolling, or other methods that will take your opponent off guard or prevent them from subsequently striking you while you are on the ground. Be creative.

O Goshi

This is an over-the-hips throw and is a classic Judo-style throw. You will take on your opponent’s full body mass during the course of this throw.

We will again describe a throw from one side. You should ultimately practice the throw from alternate sides so you can utilize it in any situation.

To set up this throw grasp your opponent’s right arm at the elbow by placing your left hand outside and on top of their arm. Position your right arm under your opponent’s left arm and slide the right hand around until it is near the middle of the opponent’s back.

Immediately step forward with the right and left legs so that your legs end up just inside the same legs of your opponent. This stepping is often done concurrently as a slight hop and turn maneuver that quickly places you directly in front of your opponent. You will have turned to face your original angle 2 and your rear will press back and into the torso of your opponent as you cinch your right arm tight against the upper middle portion of your opponent’s back. Your objective is to get your opponent to pitch forward slightly so that all of their weight is transferred onto the balls of his or her feet.

Now grasp tightly with your left arm and pull your opponent’s right arm concurrently down and inward as you project backward with your hips. Your opponent will be pulled forward, over your hips (primarily your right hip in this case) and then onto his or her back directly in front of you.

With practice you will be able to setup and execute this throw with great speed. You should only do the throw in this manner during practice with a training partner who is very familiar with the throw. An inexperienced partner may land incorrectly and panic in the middle of the throw which may result in injury. If your partner is inexperienced then practice the throw slowly until they have become accustomed to the sensations and landing that result from the throw.

When training with a partner it is imperative that you ensure their head does not contact the floor. You must ensure their head tucks in nicely toward your legs and that your partner lands on their back (preferably the lower portion of their back). It is incumbent upon you to ensure your partner never lands on his or her head or neck.

You will be severely pitched forward during this throw and must be aware that your opponent could easily pull you forward as they fall (assuming they are able to grasp some portion of your anatomy as they fall). You must structure yourself to ensure they do not pull you forward in much the same way you have just thrown them. Bend your legs, immediately straighten your torso, and limit the effect of any grasp they may have.

If you are the Uke consider how you might immediately counter or disrupt this throw. It is not hard, but it takes some thought. As always, experiment with how this can be done, but of course, allow your training partner to get plenty of practice doing the throw correctly and without resistance.

Okuriashi Barai

This is a Nage maneuver that typically requires your opponent to be in some form of sideways movement. The opponent moves one leg to the side and then moves the other leg in toward the first leg. As the legs come together we sweep both legs out from under the opponent using the bottom of our foot in a sweep reminiscent of the Deashi Barai. Sweeping occurs in the direction of your opponent’s travel.

Assume for the moment that your opponent or Uke moves their right leg toward their local angle 4 and then slides their left leg in and adjacent to their right leg. As weight is being transferred between the two legs we sweep both legs, starting with their left leg.

In this scenario we would want our right arm to be on the outside and over the Uke’s left arm in the vicinity of their elbow. Our left arm would be on our opponent’s right shoulder.

As the opponent brings both legs together we would use our right foot to sweep the opponent’s moving left leg into and through their stationary right leg. We would concurrently pull our right elbow down and inward. As the opponent begins to tilt toward their left we use our left arm to impart additional rotational and downward pressure to help direct the opponent’s upper torso toward the ground.

The Uke will normally fall on either their back or their side facing away from you. You can help them fall on their side by lifting upward on the right arm as they begin descending toward the ground. You might have the left arm assist in this activity. This can also be used to help break their fall and lessen the impact. This takes a little time to perfect so go slowly until you can reliably lessen the impact for a training partner.

Alternately you could ensure the opponent falls on their back by pushing down on their arm instead of pulling it upward. This may result in a somewhat more severe and potentially injurious landing.

As in all Nage you should consider what you would do after the throw is completed. Consider what escapes, controlling, thwarting or destructive movements might be possible and practice a great variety of these over time so that you have plenty of flexibility regarding these subsequent movements.

If you are the Uke think about what can be done to strike during or after the fall, how you might avoid a fairly obvious controlling maneuver facilitated by this throw, and how you could potentially destabilize your training partner.

Ko Soto Gake

This throw is sometimes called the small outside hook throw. With this throw we are relying on the opponent placing most of their weight on their front leg. As the opponent transfers weight onto this leg we will twist their structure so their weight is moved off to the side in a manner that precludes them from remaining upright.

There are several ways in which you will see this throw performed. For explanation we will assume the opponent has stepped forward with his or her right leg and placed the majority of their weight on that leg.

In the first method for performing this throw we would step forward with our right leg until it is just inside of the opponent’s right leg. We will then use our left leg to move outside of the opponent’s right leg and then hook back inward, allowing the heel of our left foot to impact the lower right calf of the opponent. We will also apply Jodan level backward pressure so the opponent falls backward. This is perhaps the most classic definition of Ko-Soto Gake. In this version there is a risk you will be pulled forward and down by the opponent as they fall.

Another method for performing this throw is to step in front of the opponent’s right foot with our right foot and then turn our center to face the opponent. We then place our left foot against the opponent’s right ankle and pull the opponent toward us as we rotate our center so the opponent falls in front of us. So here the Gake is used more as a rooting action rather than an actual hooking motion.

A similar method is sometimes used to root the opponent’s right foot from the front. Rotating your center to the left as you pull and twist the opponent inward causes them to fall forward over their front leg.

Another option you will see is when you are positioned to the side of the opponent and they have rooted themselves on the right leg. Shifting weight onto your right leg, use your left leg to sweep inward in a hooking fashion as you fall back onto your rear and pull down on the opponent’s torso. In this case the hook utilized by the left leg is moving more in a horizontal than vertical manner. You and the opponent will both fall so you will need to be able to handle the ground work that will ensue.

And as always, practice what you would do as Uke.

Seoi Nage

This is an over-the shoulder throw and is very similar to O Goshi, but there are a couple of differences that make it unique. The first is that a hand does not go behind the opponent and press into his or her back. Instead, this same hand tightly grasps your opponent’s clothing near the shoulder or high on the chest and this becomes part of the mechanism for pulling the opponent up and over your shoulder.

The second is that because of this alternate hand placement the opponent is less inclined to be pulled over your hip. They will instead more likely come over your shoulder area. This is due almost entirely to the placement of your hands which are now both pulling from the front, rather than having one hand press from the back and side.

As a result this tends to be a more violent throw. The opponent or Uke will land with substantially more force. The Uke will generally land on their side or toward their back.

As Tori you should ensure that Uke will not land on his or her head. This is done by pulling inward with both hands as the Uke begins to fall with their head down. This pulls the head inward and keeps it elevated at the conclusion of the throw. As Uke you need to ensure your head is tucked forward so that your body will land and not your head.

When first learning this throw do not actually complete the throw. Instead learn the mechanics of initiating the throw, but stop before Uke moves forward of your shoulders. As you and Uke become comfortable with the throwing mechanics you can progress, with your instructor’s approval, to a complete throw. We can’t stress this enough; be very careful to ensure Uke does not land on his or her head.

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