Tai Otoshi With Jimmy Pedro
Tai Otoshi translates as Body Drop, “Tai” meaning Body and “Otoshi” meaning Drop, and is classified as a Te Waza (hand technique) as the hands play the central role in executing the throw. As Tai Otoshi is one of the original 40 throws developed by Jigaro Kano, and belonging to the second group (Dai Nikkyo) of the Kodokan curriculum, it is a staple forward throw in the Judo arsenal and a high percentage technique.
Who better than to demonstrate Tai Otoshi than 4 time Olympian, Bronze medal Olympian and coach to the likes of Travis Stevens, Kayla Harrison and more, Jimmy Pedro?
In classical Judo Tai Otoshi is practised by first taking an orthodox sleeve and collar grip, which is used for kuzushi (breaking balance) by pulling our opponent forward to their own right front corner and onto the balls of their feet. From here tori (the one who executes the technique) steps their right foot past uke’s (the one receives the technique) right foot and then uses the action of both hands to throw over that right foot. The right hand gripping the collar is used to push and the sleeve hand is used to pull. Successful execution of Tai Otoshi can rapidly switch the momentum of a match with either an ippon or place us in a strongly dominant position for groundwork.
Jimmy recommends that when we first learn tachi waza (standing technique) we have our uke stand in a neutral stance with their feet along a single horizontal plane of balance. This gives us a simple, straightforward base to learn the technique. As Jimmy is a left hand oriented Judoka his grip is the opposite of the traditional right collar grip and so instead Jimmy grips his opponents collar with his left hand and has his left foot forward. The grip that Jimmy takes is a dominant inside grip, meaning that his arm is on the inside of his opponents arm. Jimmy’s right hand grips his opponents’ sleeve, making sure there is no slack in the gi so that positive control is gained of his opponents wrist and arm.
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From this grip kuzushi is now gained by pulling both hands upwards and towards ourselves. Jimmy’s right arm, the sleeve grip, extends and pulls upwards as if he is looking at his wristwatch. This movement extends Jimmy’s uke along a diagonal line and forwards onto the balls of their feet, leaning to the side of the sleeve grip hand. The left hand grip Jimmy has on his opponents collar now pulls upwards and towards Jimmy, and he makes sure that his wrist comes up by uke’s ear while Jimmy pulls his arm into his own body. When Jimmy pulls his collar grip upwards by uke’s ear he takes the slack from the gi, moves his opponent towards him and also creates space for his forearm so that his elbow and forearm are active against his opponent and he has a strong frame for the throw.
Now having broken his opponents balance Jimmy steps his left foot forward so that his foot and his opponents two feet make a triangle. Jimmy’s back foot then comes around to the outside of his opponents foot and his lead foot at the top of the triangle now steps across to the outside of uke’s weight bearing foot. Jimmy’s leg here is slightly bent and engaged with his opponents shin and there is space between Jimmy and uke.
A key detail here is Jimmy’s posture. Jimmy is now at the point of beginning to move his opponent into the throw and he notes that it’s crucial he maintains his own strong, balanced, upright posture. To finish the throw from here Jimmy pulls the sleeve grip in a circle and drives forward with the collar grip hand. It’s this detail of using the hands that places Tai Otoshi in the te waza (hand technique) category of throws, so this is a crucial detail to pay attention to and get right for a successful Tai Otoshi.
Jimmy notes that the arm that seems to give most people problems with Tai Otoshi is the collar gripping arm. A lot of people push their opponent away from them with the collar grip arm or sometimes ‘chicken wing’ the arm, which causes them to lose all the power of the dominant inside collar grip. To correct for this Jimmy collapses the collar grip arm to bring his opponent towards himself, remembering to get his opponents collar up by his ear to leave enough room for the collar gripping arm. Once his opponent is pulled in against Jimmy this gives Jimmy the power and leverage to turn his opponents body with his own body and not with his arm alone.
A small but important detail here is that if we look closely at Jimmy’s collar gripping hand the most active fingers are the little finger and the ring finger. This is sometimes counterintuitive for some people as we are often used to gripping things with all four fingers in a baseball bat grip, but doing so takes a lot of flexibility out of the wrist. Gripping with the little finger and ring finger we can see Jimmy has great range of motion in his wrist on the collar, which allows him to whip his opponents collar and move it around a large effective area.
When finishing the throw Jimmy sees a lot of people bending at the waist too early, which we want to avoid as we lose the power of our posture. The only time Jimmy bends during Tai Otoshi is when his opponent is actually going over the outstretched leg. A useful detail for the outstretched leg is that it remains in flexion at the knee but the knee can be pushed back at the last moment of the throw to add extra force to the leg, which is acting as a fulcrum against our opponents shin. With this successful completion of Tai Otoshi we have a wide range of dominant transitional options for ne waza (ground technique) such as juji gatame (arm bar), kata gatame (scarf hold) and many more besides.
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