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Kouchi Gari with Shintaro Higashi

Kouchi Gari with Shintaro Higashi

We’re really excited at Judo Fanatics to soon be bringing to you a tutorial with the excellent Judoka 6th Dan Shintaro Higashi. 

Shintaro has a really rich background and is incredibly well placed to teach us, having a degree in Psychology and an MA in Education. Shintaro was also an All-State wrestler as well as twice National Judo champion, three times World Cup medalist and attaining the 43rd place in the Worlds rankings.

Bernardo Faria trained with Shintaro when Bernardo was living in New York and many times Bernardo’s goal to get better at Judo with Shintaro was simply not to let Shintaro throw him. Considering Shintaro’s background if you can avoid being thrown by him, you’re doing pretty well! 

The concept that Shintaro would deploy against Bernardo however was the concept in this video, which is feigning attacks in order to unbalance our opponent, and leave them vulnerable for a throw. 


A core concept within Judo is retaining one’s center. The foundational posture of Judo is Shizen Hontai, or Natural Posture, and has connotations for both the Judoka’s physical posture as well as their mental equilibrium. 

In the textbook for Kodokan Judo by Jigoro Kano Shizen Hontai is one of the first lessons given. It looks simply like someone standing upright so is easy to overlook, but the word Shizen has many layers of depth to it within the Japanese language.

Shizen is a concept within Zen meaning something that is natural and without pretense or falsehood. In the Zen context this has links to phrases like “Natural Mind is the Way” and so is evocative of enlightenment, or someone who has spent a long time cultivating their body and mind.

What Bernardo explains in this video with Sintaro is that due to Shintaro’s continual attacks he would get completely out of balance not just physically but mentally, and then Shintaro would be able to throw Bernardo. This is an example of how Judo can disrupt an opponent in a way that makes them lose their center, their Shizen Hontai, or therefore be vulnerable to throws.

The technique Shintaro is showing here to apply this concept is faking a Sumi Gaeshi to provoke a defensive reaction and then using that defensive reaction to further attack with Kouchi Gari. 

Sumi Gaeshi translates as Corner Reversal and is a rear sacrifice throw. It is one of the original forty throws developed by Jigoro Kano.

As always with Judo the kumi kata, or grip fighting, is incredibly important to set up a throw, and Shintaro takes us through his kumi kata sequence to set up for Sumi Gaeshi.

Shintaro explains that as Bernardo is leading with his right leg Bernardo doesn’t want to begin his gripping by extending his right hand. If Bernardo does attempt to grip with his right hand first this leaves him really open to attacks from Shintaro. 

The typical approach will be for Bernardo to begin gripping for his opponents sleeve with the opposite hand to his lead leg so that once he’s trapped that arm he can now more safely get a lapel or collar grip. 

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Having achieved sleeve and lapel grips Bernardo has both shut down his opponent from throwing and placed himself in the ideal position to begin his own attacks.

Shintaro however doesn’t want this, and is setting up his own Sumi Gaeshi, so what does he do when Bernardo is trying to grip his sleeve and shut his movement down? He feints an opening to lure Bernardo.

As Bernardo reaches out for the sleeve grip Shintaro is already anticipating this and moves his arm back while bringing his other arm across and secures a sleeve grip of his own. Notice Shintaro’s grip is with his little finger, ring finger, and middle finger, which means now he has that grip on the sleeve it’s really a challenge to remove it.

Once Shintaro has this grip he brings his other hand back into play to move Bernardo’s wrist across his body and creates more tension with the sleeve grip. 

Now Bernardo’s arm is going across his body this opens up a space for Shintaro to reach around for Bernardo’s back. Bad news for Bernardo!

Once Shintaro has the grip on Bernardo’s back we can see Bernardo’s posture is beginning to be broken down and his weight is coming forward. The ideal situation for Shintaro to use Sumi Gaeshi by placing his foot or shin on the inside of Bernardo’s thigh and rolling through to land past Bernardo’s guard in ne waza, or ground technique. 

Shintaro notes however that if he just goes straight for this technique Bernardo is too good to have it work. Shintaro needs to chain attacks together in order to successfully throw Bernardo. 

So threatening with the Sumi Gaeshi will cause Bernardo to defensively pull his weight backwards, and now Shintaro can reverse the direction of his attack from Bernardo’s front corner, to backwards, in the direction that Bernardo is already pulling himself.

To go backwards from the Sumi Gaeshi feint Shintaro takes a stutter step. Bringing his back leg forward and hopping his front knee upwards triggers Bernardo into thinking the Sumi Gaeshi is an immediate threat.

From here however Shintaro changes direction of attack into Kouchi Gari. As Shintaro’s lead leg comes up Bernardo takes his weight back and now  Shintaro drives his lead in behind Bernado’s lead foot to sweep for Kouchi Gari. 

This video is arriving before an entire series we’ve filmed with Shintaro Higashi, who as well as being a really high level Judoka and All-State wrestler is also a great educator. 

We’re really excited to be bringing out Shintaro’s foundational series on Judo to you soon so keep your eyes open for when that’s released! In the meantime check out the JUDOFANATICS  collection!