How To Do Osoto Gari: Step-by-Step Guide

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Osoto gari or major outer reap is one of the most popular throws in judo. According to the International Judo Federation statistics, Osoto gari is the second most used throw in judo competitions in the last decade.

In this article, you will learn everything about Osoto gari or O Soto gari as some like to spell it.

But, before getting to our step-by-step guide, enjoy this fascinating compilation of Osoto gari throws.

Step-by-step guide on how to do Osoto gari

1. Establish your grip (Kumi kata)

Start by establishing a dominant grip over your opponent. There are several grips you can use for Osoto gari, the most used grip amongst judo players is this one:

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  • One hand gripping the lapel of the opponent
  • The other hand gripping the sleeve from under the elbow

2. Direction of the throw

Although Osoto gari is a rear throw where you have to throw the opponent on their backside, the throw must be diagonal.

The direction of the throw must be in a line between the back and the side of the opponent.

3. Step outside

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Now that you know which direction the throw is going to be, take a step in this diagonal line outside of your opponent’s stance.

  • Don’t step too far away from your opponent’s foot, this will leave you exposed
  • Don’t step too close to your opponent’s foot, this will leave no space for your sweeping leg to enter between you and your opponent

As a general rule of thumb keep a distance of about a foot between your supporting foot and your opponent’s foot.

4. Break their balance (Kuzushi)

Breaking the opponent’s balance for Osoto gari is a little bit tricky. Each throw has its own way of breaking balance.
For example, for an Uchi mata you have to break the opponent’s balance by lifting them up and pulling them towards you.

For Osoto gari, it’s different, you have to:

  • Push your opponent in a diagonal line, the same line of the throw
  • Shift all their weight to the leg you want to reap
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Do not make the mistake of pushing the opponent backward, this will complicate your throw and will give them more power to resist the push with both legs.

5. Use your lapel grip for the push

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The main mechanism of the push in that diagonal line is the grip you have on your opponent from the lapel.

  • Push your forearm against your opponent’s chest as if you want to throw an uppercut
  • Now use your forearm and elbow to push in a diagonal line

6. Leave no space

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Make sure to lock your opponent’s body to your body, leave no space in-between.

In order to manipulate your opponent’s weight as if it’s your own wight, you should make one entity with both your bodies.

7. Do not touch the ground with your reaping foot

Many judo players make the mistake of kicking with the reaping foot, then they put it on the ground to regain balance, after that they reap the opponent’s leg. This is a big mistake!

If you put down your foot to regain balance it means that your throw is not going in the right direction.

Usually, when students need to regain balance it means that they have made the mistake of pushing the opponent straight backward.

The push must be diagonal to the outside, I can’t stress this enough.

8. Stiff leg, pointed toes and heel out

Your sweeping leg must be stiff like a stick and your toes must be pointed, this will help flex all your leg muscles for a strong throw.

Regarding the heel, don’t keep it straight, turn it to the outside.

9. Don’t bend over

When executing the sweep don’t bend over, this will reduce your momentum and leverage. Keep a straight back.

There is a trick that will help you keep a straight back, don’t look down while executing the throw, instead, keep looking forward.

Avoid doing this

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When should you bend over?

You should start bending once your sweeping leg has made contact with the supporting leg of your opponent.

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10. Kick forward

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In order for the throw to be effective, you should have a strong reap. You should kick forward with your reaping leg to gain leverage and build momentum.

Your kick must go as high as your mid-thigh or even the hips depending on the situation.

11. Hit the upper calf

Some judokas like to hit the upper calf, others like to hit the back of the knee. Both methods are correct, try them both and see for yourself which one suits you the best.

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12. Twist the upper body

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When hitting the upper calf of your opponent you should simultaneously twist their body and push it against your reaping leg.

The push has to follow the direction of the throw in the diagonal line we explained above.

13. Leg up, head down

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To finish the throw, kick with your reaping leg backward and go as high as possible.
At the same time, your head should go down.

14. Follow through

Once your opponent is down, do not make the mistake of letting them go. Maintain your sleeve grip and keep control of their arm. If you have them by the arm, you will have many options to go for like submissions.

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Watch Ronda Rousey teach Osoto gari

What are the specific muscles you need for Osoto gari?

If you want to have a killer Osoto gari you should build a strong posterior chain:

  • Erector spinae muscles
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves

How to be a good training partner for Osoto gari?

Obviously for practicing Osoto gari you will need a partner, and alternatively, you will serve as a training dummy for one another.

This is a list of tips to follow in order to be a good partner:

  • As a partner, keep your feet at your shoulders’ width or a little bit wider, do not stand in a narrow stance.
  • Be smooth: a bad partner will resist your throw and will make you use force instead of technique. Don’t be that training partner.
  • Don’t turn when your opponent trips you, don’t make it complicated for your partner, just fall down.
  • Don’t be afraid of falling down: a good partner will be willing to fall on the ground and stand up for as many times as you want to throw them.
  • Don’t push forward when your partner wants to execute an Osoto gari, stay relaxed and use a minimum amount of force.

Osoto gari variations

This library of videos has the best variations of Osoto gari. 

Don’t try to learn all the variations at once, just take a look at each one and experiement, then pick whataver variation seems good for you according to your morphology, height and arm’s length.

Osoto gari for wrestling and no gi grappling