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Judo Throws - Why Some Have Names And Others Are Variations

A Judo Throw By Any Other Name Is Still The Same Throw

I had a very interesting discussion online one time, with a bunch of Judo people and other martial artists about failed Judo Throws and Why Some Have Names And Others Are Variations.

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I had posted a video of a practical application of O Soto Gari that had been applied by a police officer on the reality TV Show "COPS".

It was a failed throw in that the officer did not complete the reap but he still took down the culprit. The thing that surprised me was how vehement was the discussion was that insisted that the throw was no longer O Soto Gari.

A Very Strange Way Of Thinking

This was and still is a very strange way of thinking. If every failed judo throw has to be renamed because it has failed we would have a very large collection of names for them.

The thinking also fails to take into consideration throwing variations. If failed throws should be renamed then so should variations.

Of course, there are those that would like to see just such a thing because they love to name every little change of hand, leg or body position but it really is very impractical and whats worse, means that there is a significant number of Judoka(judo students) out there that do not have a good understanding of what makes one throw different from another.

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The reason why some throws have their own names is because of Kusushi(breaking of balance). A throw is different from another throw and gets its own name when you have to break your partners (uke) balance differently from another throw. Otherwise, it is a variation.

For example; Lots of Judoka have difficulty understanding the difference between Tsuri Goshi and Uki Goshi. Many have decided that the difference is that you put you hand over uke's shoulder and reach down to grab the belt. The problem with this belief is that there is a variation of Tsuri Goshi that allows you to reach around uke's back as you would in Uki Goshi. The confusion is compounded because many grab their Uke's belt to perform Uki Goshi.

Grabbing Of Uke's Belt

In fact, it is the grabbing of Uke's belt that makes Tsuri Goshi different from Uki Goshi. The moment you grab Uke's belt you change the way you break the balance of Uke because you tend to be lifting with the hand that is holding the belt. In contrast, Uki Goshi should be performed without grabbing the belt because it is a different Kusushi.

So a Judo throw has it's own name if it breaks the balance of Uke, differently from other Judo throws. If it breaks the balance in the same way it is a variation of a throw. Hence an incomplete or failed O Soto Gari is still O Soto Gari.

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