Kouchi Gari, with Shintaro Higashi
Everyone knows that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the best of the martial arts. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t or shouldn’t sample another martial art, as well.
And no martial art pairs as well with Jiu Jitsu as Judo. While Jiu Jitsu will help you survive once a fight goes to the ground, Judo would help you get the fight to the ground on your terms.
One useful Judo takedown that we can use in competition is the Kouchi Gari. In this video, Shintaro Higashi breaks it down for us.
Higashi is a sixth degree black belt in Judo and also holds black belts in Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, and karate. He’s the head instructor at the Kokushi Budo Institute in New York City, and he also happens to be Bernardo Faria’s Judo instructor.
Higashi begins by breaking down Bernardo’s ideal position and attack. Since he’s leading with his right leg, Bernardo will want to use his left hand to establish his first grip on Higashi’s sleeve.
Higashi explains that if Bernardo were to lead with his right leg and also reach with his right hand, Bernardo’s attack would be easy to counter.
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Ideally, as Bernardo leads with his right leg and reaches with his left hand, grabbing Higashi’s sleeve, he would push that arm down. Then, he would reach around Higashi’s head, establishing firm control over Higashi and limiting his takedown options.
Knowing what Bernardo will attempt, Higashi’s pulls his right arm back as Bernardo reaches for it. As Bernardo chases his right arm, Higashi uses his left hand to cross his body and catch the bottom of Bernardo’s sleeve.
Once he catches Bernardo’s sleeve, Higashi uses both hands to bring Bernardo’s hand across to Higashi’s left side with Bernardo’s wrist tightly held over Higashi’s left wrist.
By dragging Bernardo’s arm across his body, Higashi has opened up Bernardo’s left side to attack.
Higashi’s first option would be to look for a Sumi Gaeshi, reaching around Bernardo’s back to grab his belt while sitting down and hooking Bernardo’s right knee with his right foot, and flipping Bernardo over while he rides the momentum and ends up on top.
Of course, since Higashi has taught Bernardo, he assumes that Bernardo is too knowledgeable to fall for this basic takedown.
That’s why, this time, Higashi only fakes the Sumi Gaeshi and instead goes for the Kouchi Gari.
He begins in exactly the same way, dragging Bernardo’s arm across his body and making Bernardo’s left side open to attack.
Then, Higashi again grabs Bernardo’s belt. However, he does not sit down. Nor does he plant a hook behind Bernardo’s knee.
Instead, he raises his takes a small stutter step forward with his left foot and raises his right knee as though he were about to attempt the Sumi Gaeshi.
The fake needs to be convincing enough to make Bernardo defend the takedown by pulling back. In fact, that backward momentum is exactly what Higashi is hoping for as he plants his right foot behind Bernardo’s right leg, forcing him to lose his balance and fall backward.
As Bernardo points out, this technique is a simple one, but its effectiveness comes from the fake that confuses an opponent into leaning in exactly the direction that you want him to fall.
Because Bernardo’s momentum was already moving him backward, it takes Higashi very little effort to trip Bernardo and send him to the ground.
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