Setting Up Harai GoshiHarai Goshi is reputed to have come about because Professor Kano was having trouble using Uki Goshi, his favourite throw, on Shiro Saigo one of his top students of the time. In fact, this is said to be reflected in the order of the second set of the Nage No Kata.
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There is little doubt that Harai Goshi is a very popular throw both in Shiai (competition for points) and Randori (competition without points or training competition). But for the beginner, it can appear to be a very confusing throw.
The confusion stems from the fact that it looks like the leg that comes off the ground and extends past the hip, is sweeping Uke's leg and that is not the case. If it were it would be an Ashi (leg) and not a Goshi (hip).
Yes, the leg is extended and it does move back in an apparent sweeping action but it does so as a result of the motion of bringing uke over the hip, not as a distinct action. In other words, it moves as a result of the momentum of the throw.