Learn The Throws From The Pros

Judo, the traditional Japanese martial art, is a sport that involves grappling and throws. It's similar to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and wrestling in some ways, but quite a bit different due to its focus on using your opponent's force against him or her to throw them off balance. Judo throws rely on physics for success and are incredibly effective at taking down an opponent.

As you progress through your judo journey, you'll probably encounter most of the throws on our list. Technical throws are at the heart of this martial art, so here are 10 insanely effective judo throws to add to your skillset:

  1. Harai goshi
  2. Osoto gari
  3. Sumi gaeshi
  4. Ouchi gari
  5. Uki otoshi
  6. Drop seoi nage
  7. Hane goshi
  8. Tomoe nage
  9. O goshi
  10. Deashi harai

1. Harai goshi (Sweeping Hip Throw)

Harai goshi is one of the most common throws in judo, and it can be used to tire an opponent out. This throw involves grabbing your opponent's collar, pulling them over your hip, then throwing them down on their back. It's an effective way to show off your skills with a variety of opponents.

2. Osoto gari (Large Outer Reaping)

The osoto gari is a throw that is highly effective if you can get most of your opponent's weight onto one leg. To perform osoto gari, grab your opponent's collar (or neck with a collar tie if they’re not wearing a gi) and put your right shoulder against their right shoulder as you step in. While you’re stepping in, slide the toes on your right foot against the mat and kick your right leg out at a 45 degree angle to your opponent.

Throw your upper body towards the ground, and kick your right leg back against your opponent’s right leg in a sweeping motion. 

Osoto gari is a very versatile technique; it can be done from either side or from behind, though different grips will be required depending on which variation you choose to use.

3. Sumi gaeshi (Corner Reversal)

Sumi gaeshi is a throw that involves getting an inside-outside position on your opponent with your right hand over their left shoulder. Your left hand grabs their sleeve and as you move in towards them, you want to visualize pushing their left hand onto the opposite side of their hip.

As you slide through, they’ll roll over the top of you as you end up on top in a controlled position.

4. Ouchi gari (Large Inner Reaping)

The ouchi gari is performed by standing square to your opponent while grabbing their collar, then stepping in and bending your lead leg. While you step in (with your toes in line with theirs) you’ll bump chests and push your lead hand over your opponent’s shoulder.

As your lead hand pushes over your opponent’s shoulder, use your other hand to pull towards you. This will offset their balance.

Finish the move by stepping in with your rear leg and using your lead leg to hook and sweep just beneath your opponent’s knee.

5. Uki otoshi (Floating Drop)

The uki otoshi is a hip throw, which is performed by throwing the opponent over your hip. It's often used in competition and can be used to throw an opponent to the ground. The name literally means "floating drop."

This move can be done from either side of you, but it's most commonly performed coming from a front stance. As you move backwards while grabbing your opponent’s collar and sleeve, pull with the hand gripping the sleeve while stepping out of the way with your rear leg.

Finish the throw by simultaneously pushing with your collar grip hand.

6. Drop seoi nage (Two Arm Shoulder Throw)

When performed correctly, The drop seoi nage is a very effective throw in judo. Starting with a traditional collar-sleeve grip, try to pull your opponent up and onto their toes. 

Then, jump through landing on your knees. As you jump through and twist your body to face away from your opponent, they will end up on top of your shoulder.

As you extend your knees, your body will lift up and you will be able to throw them over your shoulder to complete the throw.

7. Hane goshi (spring hip throw)

The first step of hane goshi is to use the same footwork as the osoto gari. The main difference is that you’re lifting your opponent’s leg with a bent leg (rather than straight).

According to Rhonda Rousey, hane goshi is a great throw for beginners who are trying to learn and master the osoto gari.

8. Tomoe nage (circle throw)

To set yourself up for a successful tomoe nage, you want to be lower than your opponent. As you roll your opponent’s shoulders, your left foot goes to the inside.

Now, fall onto your back while you place your right foot (keeping your leg straight) on your opponent’s hip. Rolling through all the way will complete the throw and put your opponent on their back.

9. O goshi (large hip throw)

If you're new to judo, O goshi is a great place to start. It's one of the most common throws in competitive judo and can be used for a variety of purposes.

The O goshi is also known as "the hip throw" because you use your hip as a leverage point to throw your opponent into the air. Once you have both hands on your opponent’s sleeves, move one to the outside of their hip while your opposite hand holds onto their sleeve.

As you turn your body to face away from your opponent and place your hips at about thigh height, your opponent will be put off balance and fly into the air.

10. Deashi harai (forward foot sweep)

To perform the desi harai, you want to establish a good grip on the bottom of your opponent’s sleeve. Then, use that grip to throw their hand across their body as you step in behind them. 

Next, posture up and circle out. Once your opponent’s weight is on the opposite foot, bring your leg in to sweep it out from underneath them.

Bonus: Learn More From the Gokyo no Waza

The Gokyo no waza is a set of forty throws, broken down into 5 groups. The groups are: Dai Ikkyo, Dai Nikyo, Sankyo, Yonkyo and Gokyo.

These techniques seem simple, but it takes years to master them as each move has many variations and repetition is key. Being able to execute these techniques properly when in an actual fight situation adds yet another element to consider.

Is Judo Good For Self Defense?

Judo is a sport and way of life that's also one of the most powerful martial arts in the world. Judo is very effective for self-defense and can be lethal under the right (or wrong) circumstances.

Learning judo can be extremely rewarding, especially if you want to learn practical and proven self defense techniques without getting hit or get injured while doing it.

Judo is an incredible sport. It’s a great way to get fit, learn self-defense and have fun with friends. If you want to learn more about judo and how you can start training in your community, check out USA Judo’s website or find a local club near you!