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The Four Elements Of A Judo Throw

The Four Elements Of A Judo Throw

The Four Elements of a Judo Throw
In order to become proficient at a sport like judo, it’s not enough to embed the techniques into muscle memory, it’s also crucial to understand the concepts behind the throws.

There are four elements to a judo throw.  First and foremost, a judo throw requires the establishment of a strong grip. The process of getting this grip is known as Kumi-Kata.  The second conceptual element is Kuzushi or off-balancing one's opponent. The third element is getting into position for the throw, otherwise known as Tsukuri. The fourth and final element is the execution of the actual throw, known as Kake.

While there are instances where one (or more) of these elements is less important or not necessary, fundamentally these elements are far more prevalent than not. Through analysis of these elements and how they impact a particular technique, a judoka can improve their understanding and performance.

Let's look at these four elements in more detail with the help of some video resources:

Establishing the Grips (Kumi Kata)

As two judokas face off in randori or in competition, typically a grip fight begins as each athlete works to secure the most dominant grip. An offensive gripping strategy can help keep uke on their heels both literally and figuratively. Not having a solid plan for your grips can leave you vulnerable and at the mercy of uke.

Olympian and renown coach Jimmy Pedro believes that gripping is one of the most important aspects of a judo player’s strategy but unfortunately it’s often one of the least practiced skills. Pedro believes athletes should have different gripping game plans for different opponents. 

Check out this video from JudoFanatics.com in which Pedro breaks down the difference between offensive and defensive gripping, and how having a plan ahead of time can help guide one to victory.


For more from multiple time Olympic Medal Winner and Coach Jimmy Pedro specifically on the topic of securing grips, check out his GRIP LIKE A WORLD CHAMPION 2.0 available from JudoFanatics.com.




Creating The Off-Balancing (Kuzushi)

The best judo throws often look of almost effortless and the uke often reacts with a mild look of surprise as if they don't even realize what had just happened.  

While no techniques are actually effortless, good use of kuzushi can make a technique appear to be so. If the off balancing is not present, the throw most likely will not happen, or it will require a tremendous amount of strength to force it to work. But when it’s present, at the right moment, the throw will appear to be seamless. 

In the next example we have for you, Olympic medalist Israel Hernandez shows how he utilizes an effective snap-down technique to off-balance his opponent in order to do a throw.

For more on how Cuban superstar Hernandez uses movement to create kuzushi, check out his aptly titled video CREATING KUZUSHI available from JudoFanatics.com.

 For more on how Cuban judo superstar Israel Hernandez uses movement to off-balance his opponents and maximize the aspect of Kuzushi when finishing a technique, check out his instructional CREATING KUZUSHI available from JudoFanatics.com.


Achieving the Position (Tsukuri)

Once strong grips have been achieved and the opponent is off-balanced, the next step is the setting up of the throw, also known as tsukuri.

It's important to drill these set-ups in order to lock in the muscle memory so that the movement will be fluid and seamless. Only after doing hundreds upon hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of repetitions will you be able to achieve this. 

In the video below, excerpted from his new Osoto-Gari video, three-time Olympian Travis Stevens demonstrates a break-down of fundamental throwing mechanics that can be drilled to help ingrain the movement. Check it out below.

For more from Stevens and his AMERICAN JUDO SYSTEM:  OSOTO-GARI ENCYCLOPEDIA, check it out here from JudoFanatics.com.


For more from Travis Stevens and his AMERICAN JUDO SYSTEM:  OSOTO GARI ENCYCLOPEDIA, check it out here from JudoFanatics.com.


The Execution of the Throw (Kake)

After kumi-kata, kuzushi and tsukuri has been achieved, the last step is the kake or the execution of the throw. Proper execution typically gets performed with an explosive movement that combines both power and speed to finish the throw and score the ippon.

The goal of a throw is to put uke on their back while maintaining control. The presence of all these four elements will increase your chances of success. Some missing elements may increase the chance of failure. So, always try to get all four elements in there.

But, what do you do if your throw doesn’t work or doesn’t quite score ippon? You could always follow up in groundwork. In the video below, French judo exponent Nicolas Brisson demonstrates a newaza technique that you can use when uke is on the ground. 

For more from Brisson check out MOBILE AND EFFECTIVE THROWING TECHNIQUES available from JudoFanatics.com.


For more from Nicolas Brisson check out MOBILE AND EFFECTIVE THROWING TECHNIQUES available from JudoFanatics.com.




By isolating each element and working drills and techniques to improve gripping, off-balancing, set-ups, and execution, judokas will be much better prepared for randori and competition. And as always, Judo Fanatics is your resource for the best instruction focused on improving your judo.