Mastering the High Flying Throws of Judo

by Tom Reynolds on March 8, 2011

One of the best things about Judo is the beauty of the throws. One second a guy could be standing there and the next he is five feet in the air. Becoming good at these throws isn’t easy. 

What separates the people that launch their opponent’s in the air from those that fall on their face is some natural talent and a lot of quality repetition.

The Secret Weapons

Without a doubt, the secret weapon to mastering Judo throws is learning how to set your opponent off balance properly then getting your body in position.

  • Judo Simplified = Off-Balance Your Opponent -> Use Footwork to Get in Position

Uchikomi (Beginners)

This is the absolute best quality repetition for beginners to get good at taking someone off-balance then throw them. Basically someone will practice entering any throw several times, nine is common, and on the tenth entry they will throw their partner.

This works so well because your partner isn’t getting battered ten times in a row, and you get to practice the most important part of the throw.  Below is a great example of Uchikomi:


Dynamic Uchikomi (Intermediate)

While standing in place and practicing setting up throws is great for learning the entry to Judo throws, adding movement to Uchikomi (Joku soku geiko) is even better.  You can enter the same amount of times and throw on the last entry, but have your partner add a small enough amount of resistance to force you to move.

Make sure that if you are the one being thrown (uke), that you aren’t predictable.  Move in different angles and circle occasionally. By adding movement, you’re forcing the person throwing you (tori) to make small changes in how you are off-balanced and how they enter for the throw.

The Uchikomi Train (Advanced)

Three people are required for this drill.  You can develop a tremendous amount of power from practicing your Judo throws with this.

This is just like basic uchikomi, but with the uchikomi train this, a third person holds the person you are throwing down on the ground.  That way, you can enter with full power and try to launch your opponent each time.

There are several ways to do this.  The most common way is to have the third person act as an anchor to the person being thrown. They sit down with their feet behind the heels of the uke while pulling down on their belt.

Below is another way to anchor for this.

Add this to your practice. If you want to truly get good at throwing people, the most important thing is to master the setup to a few throws. Start with one throw and add different types of throws in different directions as you become effective at each.

Stephan Kesting applied this same technique to sweeps for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  I posted the video on the Facebook page. Check it out on the right.

Thought I’d end with the best Judo highlight video I’ve ever seen:

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  • Luigi

    I’ve been grappling for three years and I have never heard of this type of drilling. Thank you again

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