For a martial art that literally means “gentle way”, some of the techniques aren’t all that gentle. Since it’s humble beginnings in Japan around 1882, the sport has gathered a lot of international attention.
The competitive nature of Judo along with it’s high-impact throws and takedowns make it a fun sport to watch, which is probably why it’s an official Olympic sport. The popularity of judo throughout the ages has also made it the perfect foundation for other martial arts to grow from, such as sambo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
While we acknowledge that there is a lot more to judo than just throws – pins, chokes and joint locks for example – we want to focus on the throwing element. Even by limiting our scope to throws, there are still at least 67 of them, which is why we’re going to pick our favorite 12 for this particular list.
Without any further adue, here are 12 throws you can use to sweep your opponent off their feet, and if they aren’t that effective – you could always try and buy them some flowers, whatever works!
1. Leg Wheel – Ashi Guruma
If there’s only one judo throw you’re going to recognise, it’s this one. The leg wheel is probably one of the first things you’ll learn when you take up the martial art, apart from maybe how to fall properly – a surprisingly useful technique!
This technique is easy to learn and even if you’re not a martial arts practitioner, it wouldn’t hurt to learn this technique for a time when you might need to throw someone down before running like a madman.
2. High Lift And Separate – Daki Wakare
This technique is a useful one to use if your opponent tries to throw a leg wheel and ends up facing away from you. With your arms around their waist, you can then use their mistake against them.
Ideally though, it’s best when your opponent in on their knees on the floor and you to throw them into a weaker position where you can for the pin or submission. You can even run into this one which is pretty cool – granted you won’t be given this opportunity if you’re against someone with any kind of training.
3. Forward Foot Sweep – Deashi Harai
This judo throw is great, as you’ll see from the video it requires very little exertion of energy or movement to pull off. You just hook the foot and take away your opponents center of gravity completely. It can be so quick you opponent won’t know what happened half the time.
4. Spring Hip Throw – Hane Goshi
Another fundamental move found in judo. A lot of people try to pull this move off by turning into their opponent and twisting their upper body to generate power. This normally just results in your opponent looking confused while you try and grind your backside into them – or muscle strains depending on how hard you try.
The power comes from pushing the hips up and pulling your opponent off the ground enough to make the throw easy, watch and behold!
5. Sweeping Wraparound – Harai Makikomi
This is a nice variation on the spring hip throw – or at least it starts off in a very similar way – using the weight of your body to pull down on the opponents arm and bring them to the floor.
Maybe you’ve only got one trick in your book, which happens to be the spring hip throw. If that’s the case, learning this could give you a way to surprise people in competitions, and give you less chance of being countered every time.
6. Pulling-In Reversal – Hikikomi Gaeshi
This is the first of our “self-sacrifice techniques, meaning you’re going to let yourself fall or be pulled in a certain direction to execute this move. For the pulling-in reversal you go to your back, throwing you opponent over you.
From the starting position you can probably tell this would be useful if someone tries to go for a two-handed takedown on you but gets stuck. It puts you in the perfect position to grab their belt and take the high position on the ground, nearly always the place you want to be.
7. Shoulder Wheel – Kata Guruma
The shoulder wheel is the perfect throw for using someones momentum against them. If you’re faced with someone running at you and you’re able to think quick enough, this technique will put them down with very little effort on your part.
Just to show you a few of these techniques in competitions, here’s a compilation video of shoulder wheel action. Bear in mind that some of them can only just be called shoulder wheels due to how they’re executed, but there are plenty of clean executions in there as well.
8. Belt Drop – Obi Otoshi
The belt drop isn’t a very flamboyant move, but then again you’re trying to be effective, not impressive. In the off-chance you ever end up in a street situation that requires putting someone to the floor, it’s nice to know most people these days wear belts.
You could only be really unlucky if end up in a scuffle with some scruffy fellow who’s never found the need for a belt, in which case, start racking your brains for an alternative.
9. Lifting Pulling Ankle Block – Sasae Tsurikomi Ashi
If this move isn’t hard enough to say, you won’t be too thrilled to hear that it’s also relatively difficult to pull of as well. Trapping someone’s ankle with your foot while in a competition situation is a lot like trying to thread the eye of a needle, but if you can manage it, then pull off the rest of the move, you’ll certainly get a lot of praise from all your friends watching.
10.Valley Drop – Tani Otoshi
This an excellent counter for any technique used against you that throws the hip into the move. If you can see/feel it coming and you have the reaction times, dropping your body and leaning into the opponent with a carefully placed leg will do the trick. You’ll know you’ve done it right when your opponent and the floor seem to be much better friends than they were a few seconds earlier.
11. Rice Bale Reversal – Tawara Gaeshi
This is another self-sacrifice technique that carries over really well to MMA, which is why this video is taught by an MMA instructor and not a judo master, apologies to the purists.
If you get hit with a double-leg takedown, or are just about to get hit with a double-leg takedown, this is the move you want to try and throw. A lot like the pulling-in reversal, this technique is slightly more versatile because you don’t need a place to grab like someone’s gi or belt. Just give them a big hug around the waste and make them regret the takedown attempt!
12. Swallow’s Flight Reversal – Tsubame Gaeshi
This judo throw requires perfect timing and should probably isn’t going to become your new favorite move, but what would a list be without one super-difficult but impressive item to keep your working hard at your craft.
As with most of the best techniques, it’s harder than it looks.
That about covers it, in our opinion, some of the best judo throws and reversals the martial art has to offer. Tell us which one was your favorite, or maybe even tell us about another favorite technique that wasn’t on the list.
Either way, get involved, leave a comment or share the list with your friends so we know you care.