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Hiza-Guruma - A Judo Throw For Wheeling Knees

Hiza-Guruma - A Judo Throw For Wheeling Knees

Sometimes the name of a throw is the real key to learning how to do a throw. Hiza-Guruma is one of those throws. Popularly translated as "knee wheel" it is just what it says. I wish someone had told me that when I did it wrong for all those years.

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When I first learned this throw, despite the best efforts of my coach, I was convinced that the correct way to do it was to place your foot behind the knee and effectively collapse the knee to cause Uke to stumble. Thus causing them to fall. All you had to do then was to take them to the ground.

What surprises me is that almost all my new students have to have that same action taught out of them. I have no idea what it is but it seems to be something in our bodies that makes us feel the need to put the foot behind the knee instead of directly in front of it.

You can see clearly from the video attached that Tori's foot is placed in front of the knee effectively stopping further movement rather than causing Uke to stumble. Thus this is much more a knee block than a trip.

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Let's follow the steps:
Uke's knee can either be lagging or advancing. Both are Hiza-Guruma and both work equally as well. But for this example, let's stick to the lagging knee that is in the process of advancing, as in the video.

  1. You must make sure you are out of the way of Uke's forward movement
  2. Remember the wheel part of the name? you have to wheel your way out of the way. There are a variety of ways to do this but the important thing is that you cannot be directly in front of Uke. If you are:
    1. You will be forced to bend your knee and not be able to properly place your foot
    2. You will interfere with the forward motion of Uke, hindering their fall

  3. Tori draws Uke forward, causing them to try to take a step forward with their lagging leg in order to maintain balance
  4. This is critical as without this drawing there is no Kuzusi (breaking of the balance).

  5. Tori raises their leg and us firmly placing their foot directly above the knee
  6. The foot has to be directly on top of the knee cap (or as close as possible) because any lower would potentially allow Uke to step over and any higher means you would be placing your foot on the upper leg with all its power potentially forcing it's way forward to regain balance.

  7. Tori turns their head to look in the direction of the throw
  8. Without the turning of your head the upper body works against the lower body reducing the power of the pull through. You should always look where you are going not where you are coming from.

  9. As Tori's head turns the pull that you started the kuzusi with is continued without change of direction and without reduction in force
  10. There is a temptation to pull down as you are trying to complete the throw. This is a mistake and totally unnecessary. If you pull down the momentum is reduces and you take the risk of pulling Uke onto their own feet thus defeating the throw. Besides pulling down means you cannot wheel around.

There are all sorts of variations to this Hiza-Guruma but they are primarily different in their entry only. The core remains more or less the same as the above.

The biggest danger you face when doing this throw in Sheai (competition), is being too enthusiastic in placing your foot and kicking Uke, resulting in disqualification. Only quality practice can avoid this.

This in principle is a simple throw to teach but in practice, getting people to stay out the way of Uke's forward movement can be a challenge for beginners. This too only quality practice will solve.

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