Inside Control to Ouchi Gari with Yarden Gerbi
The foundations of a martial art serve you whether you are at the start of your journey or you’re a long way down the road. It always pays to learn and develop the fundamentals of your game by deepening your knowledge and application of high percentage winning strategies and techniques. In these next two videos Olympic medalist and World Champion Judoka Yarden Gerbi gives us both a concept and fun gripping drill to take and maintain the inside grip and then gives us her own game changing details to drive home a powerful Ouchi Gari!
Here we see that once Yarden Gerbi gains inside control on the lapel she wants to keep that dominant grip by not allowing her opponent to either 1) Gain their own dominant grip by going high and gripping around Yarden’s collar or by 2) Reversing the grip fighting by coming down to the inside and gaining the inside grip on Yarden’s lapel.
When her opponent tries to move over the top of Yarden’s grip and gain dominance of Yarden’s collar we see Yarden move back to create distance and also protect her collar by raising her shoulder, closing any gap her opponent has to reach through to the collar. When her opponent moves down and inside we see Yarden block off her opponents entry with her own elbow and take control of her opponents center line and the gripping side of their body.
If we look closely at Yarden’s gripping hand we can see she maintains both strong gripping strength and also great flexibility in the wrist and elbow, allowing her grip to be fluid and adjust to the changes her opponent makes. How does she do this?
In many Japanese arts there is cross over between different arts and there is certainly a relationship in this regard between Judo and the Japanese Sword. Listen to what Japan’s most famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi says about gripping in his seminal text ‘The Book of Five Rings’
“In wielding the long sword, the thumb and forefinger grip lightly, the middle finger grips neither tightly nor loosely, while the fourth and little fingers grip tightly. There should be no slackness in the hand.”
This way of gripping in both the Japanese Sword and in Judo connects the grip of the hand to the underside of the arm and lat muscles while maintaining fluidity in the wrist.
Yarden then explains how to employ this grip to not just grip the lapel but to control the entire shoulder and therefore arm and body of your opponent! This is such a crucial detail in winning a grip fighting exchange and setting us up for the next video where Yarden shows her own unique approach to Ouchi Gari.
Now we can see once Yarden is controlling the inside grip by getting a collar and sleeve grip she’s using her forearm and elbow to pressure and control her opponents centre of mass through the chest. Yarden isn’t breaking her opponents balance (kuzushi) here by either off balancing them forwards or backwards, but instead rooting them to the spot with downward pressure through her dominant gripping.
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Instead of the normal footwork for Ouchi Gari Yarden is driving her knee between her opponents legs to gain a deep leg penetration and maintain her own centre of balance. This is crucial; you don’t want to go through all the hard work of setting up a throw only to lose it at the last moment by giving up your own balance!
After gaining this deep leg penetration Yarden points out a common mistake with the attacking leg of Ouchi Gari moving upwards. Instead the attacking leg should move downwards against the opponents heel and your leg locks against their knee to give you control of the throw and stop your opponent escaping or countering. The last detail is correct placement of your own head to the opposite side than you are throwing to maintain your own balance and direction to throw.
If you want to deepen your understanding of the foundational building blocks for your whole Judo game then check out Fundamental Judo Mastery by Olympic medalist and World Champion Judoka Yerden Gerbi here!