Tai Otoshi With Ugo LeGrand
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 Ugo LeGrand, who secured his 2012 Olympic Bronze medal victory over Korea’s Wang Ki-Chun with Tai Otoshi?
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.
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Unless our opponent is naive however they will likely read the orthodox set up for Tai Otoshi and so we need to use deceptive tactics in order to make our opponent susceptible to our attack with Tai Otoshi. One simple version of a deceptive set up to Tai Otoshi is simply pushing into our opponent in order to get them to push back against us, which then creates the momentum for us to throw them forwards.
Ugo LeGrand shows us a variation against a more skilled opponent that will not react to trickery alone but instead needs to receive a genuine and full attack in order to respond in a way that will set up a successful Tai Otoshi.
Ugo begins with a dominant inside sleeve and collar grip and attacks with Uchi Mata. This Uchi Mata attack forces the opponent to step their lead leg backwards over your attacking leg and brings their balance onto a straight horizontal line, which is ideal for the following Tai Otoshi attack.
To execute the Uchi Mata Ugo first steps his back foot in behind his lead foot and his lead foot then drives forward so that its behind his opponents lead foot. At the same time Ugo is using a ‘steering wheel’ motion to push into his opponents collar and pull his opponents sleeve. The pull on the sleeve uses a ‘look at your wrist watch’ rotation of our hand so we fully control our opponents arm. This steering wheel motion is already breaking Ugo’s opponents posture down and creating the perfect situation for Tai Otoshi.
To take full advantage of this kuzushi (broken balance) Ugo again brings in his back foot to his lead foot and this time takes his lead foot directly across his opponents’ lead foot. As this is happening the collar grip hand is used to push while our sleeve grip hand is used to pull, remember Tai Otoshi is called a “te waza” or hand technique, and this completes Ugo’s Tai Otoshi.
As the footwork is so key for this Uchi Mata feint to Tai Otoshi throw Ugo gives us the perfect footwork drill so that we can chain our attacks quickly and smoothly. We create an imaginary square that we are stepping to each corner of, each time taking our lead foot to a corner and then bringing our back foot to our lead foot. Ugo reminds us that it’s very important we remain on the balls of our feet throughout this drill, neither being flat footed or on the heels of our feet as this makes us either rooted to the floor or breaks our balance backwards, leaving us open for counter throws from our opponent. Throughout the drill remember the shape of your legs for the Tai Otoshi throw, which is somewhat like a shallow Kosack Squat motion; one knee is bent into a shallow squat and the other leg is extended away from us to act as the fulcrum for the throw.
At this vital finishing stage of the throw Ugo reminds us to maintain our own balance and at the same time maintain positive controlling kuzushi of our opponent. If we lose our balance or allow our opponent to regain their balance and posture once we have committed our leg to throw with Tai Otoshi we become vulnerable to the throw not working or even worse to being counter-thrown by our opponent. Once again, the kuzushi, set-up, and timing are vital for successful completion of Tai Otoshi, which is why drilling this great sequence with a partner will be incredibly helpful to your standing game!
As with many Judo standing techniques Tai Otoshi offers incredible positive transitions and control to ground work positions. With a successful execution of Tai Otoshi we have passed our opponents’ guard before we even get to the floor and can land with a very strong side pin or kesa gatame (scarf hold), which has even been shown to be a powerful submission hold in its own right.
To finish this blog we have the video of Ugo beating Korea’s Wang Ki-Chung at the 2012 Olympics to secure his Bronze medal!
If you want to improve your standing game with game changing sequences of attacks then check out Olympic medalist Ugo LeGrand’s dedicated course here!