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Judo Hiza Guruma (Knee Wheel) Throw: Mechanics and History

Hiza Guruma: Unveiling the Mechanics and History of the Knee Wheel Throw in Judo

Judo, the Japanese martial art known for its throws and grappling techniques, boasts a rich tapestry of moves that have intrigued practitioners and enthusiasts for generations. One such technique is Hiza Guruma, the knee wheel throw, renowned for its intricate mechanics and historical relevance. In this article, we delve into the details of Hiza Guruma, exploring its fundamental mechanics, historical roots, and tactical adaptations.

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I have discussed this throw before but I particulaly like the circular motion discribed here. When getting students to train for this I often turn it into a bit of a game. Getting the student to start nominating Tori and then get both players to spin around. when both students have are ready Tori raises the trowing leg and complets the throw. This is a lot of fun but you do have to monitor that judoka don't get over enthusiastic and spin too fast to be safe.

The Mechanics of Hiza Guruma

At its core, Hiza Guruma is a foot technique that involves unbalancing an opponent and strategically utilizing the knees to execute a throw. The throw initiates with a gripping exchange, often from a traditional right-handed grip. The practitioner then creates a dynamic circular motion, drawing their opponent slightly to the outside of their foot. This off-balancing, known as "kazushi," sets the stage for the throw.

The key to a successful Hiza Guruma lies in the precise execution of the circular movement. As the thrower swings their hips around, the opponent's weight is shifted forward, causing them to stumble. This delicate maneuver positions the opponent's knee at a vulnerable angle. To prevent the opponent from countering or collapsing, the thrower may strategically block the knee or use their body weight to lock it, rendering it temporarily immobile.

Historical Significance

Hiza Guruma's historical significance is intertwined with the martial arts lineage of its originators. Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, developed the technique after being inspired by his close friend, Takamatsu Sensei, a master of traditional jiu-jitsu. Kano Sensei incorporated Takamatsu Sensei's favorite technique into Judo's curriculum, preserving its essence and passing it down through generations.

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Tactical Variations

Hiza Guruma offers practitioners a versatile canvas for tactical adaptations. One such variation involves countering an opponent's Hiza Guruma attempt by disrupting their circular motion or neutralizing their balance. By walking into the circular path of the throw, an adept defender can effectively cut off the technique's momentum, preventing a successful execution.

Additionally, the technique can be modified for a more competitive context. Practitioners can exploit openings created by their opponent's Hiza Guruma attempt to transition into other throws or takedowns. For instance, countering an opponent's knee wheel with a swift o-soto-gari can catch them off guard and lead to a successful takedown.


Hiza Guruma, the knee wheel throw in Judo, exemplifies the intricate fusion of technique, history, and adaptability that characterizes martial arts. Its mechanics, grounded in precise circular motion and strategic knee manipulation, create a captivating spectacle of balance and skill. As practitioners delve into the art of Hiza Guruma, they connect with a lineage that stretches back through time, honoring the legacy of its originators while embracing the evolution of tactical variations.

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