Sukui nage or the scooping throw is a judo throw that consists of taking down the opponent by grabbing both their legs.
Sukui nage, amongst other judo techniques, has been banned from judo competition by the International Judo Federation (IJF) for being a leg grabbing technique. Attempting such a technique would result in a Shido (light penalty).
Although it is a banned throw by the IJF, I still teach it to my judo students for self-defense situations as it is very effective in taking down an aggressor and eliminating the threat.
Also, many other disciplines such as sambo, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA are still using it extensively in competition.
In this article, you will learn:
- How to do Sukui nage (step-by-step guide)
- Variations of Sukui nage
How to do Sukui nage (step-by-step guide)
1. In this guide, we have broken down this throw into several steps. This does not mean that you have to execute each step separately, sometimes you have to execute several steps simultaneously.
2. This guide breaks down the standard Sukui nage (as illustrated in the video at the beginning of the article). Other versions of Sukui nage will be broken down in the “variation chapter” below (Keep reading).
1. Understand the mechanism of the throw first
Before getting into the details of the throw, you should first have an idea about the mechanism of Sukui nage and how it works exactly.
The main mechanism of Sukui nage is the trapping, you have to trap your opponent between your upper body and your lower body. Your opponent should be standing in-between.
- Both your legs should be behind your opponent’s legs and your shoulder should be in front of your opponent’s chest or stomach. This way, your opponent gets trapped in-between.
- Then all you have to do is to push your opponent’s upper body backward using your shoulder and push their legs forward using your own legs, then lift them upward.
Now that you have a solid idea of the main mechanism of the throw, let’s get into the details.
2. Practice it without using your hands
Although the grip is important in Sukui nage, I always teach my students to master the mechanism first (as explained in step number 1).
Once you master the mechanism, you will be able to do the throw with all the different grips and variations.
You may be even surprised if I tell you that you can throw your opponent successfully without even having to grab them with your hands.
There is a throw in karate called Kuzushi waza, this throw has an identical mechanism as Sukui nage, except that it doesn’t use any grip.
Kuzushi waza relies 100% on the concept of trapping the opponent between your upper body and your lower body.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion and Karate master Lyoto Machida is very famous for using this technique on his opponents.
3. How to enter?
The biggest challenge of Sukui nage is the entry, it is very easy to take the opponent out of balance once you have them trapped between your upper and lower body. But the problem is how to get there.
A. The retreat entry
One of the most used entries for Sukui nage is the retreat trick, this is how to do it:
1. Retreat once or twice to lure your opponent into advancing forward
2. Once your opponent steps forward, take a step forward and place your leg behind your opponent’s legs.
B. The Kuzushi waza entry
This is the entry they use in karate, obviously you can’t use it in judo, but I’m still going to list it here for MMA practitioners and self-defense situations.
This is how to do it:
1. Fake a punch with your rear hand (a cross). The goal is not to land the punch, the punch is only to blind the opponent and hide the entry.
2. While faking the punch, take a big step with your rear leg forward and place it behind your opponent’s legs.
3. Place the arm you used for the punch in front of your opponent’s chest or belly
4. Go deep behind your opponent
The deeper you go behind your opponent the more control you will have and the more successful the throw will be.
Being completely back-on-belly with your opponent is not a vital condition for the success of the throw, sometimes in competition, things get chaotic and messy and you don’t get to have a perfect position.
In this case, it is okay to be content with controlling the side and having only one leg behind your opponent.
Once you are behind your opponent don’t stay standing, widen your stance and squat.
You are about to lift a heavy grown person, you need to squat to activate your quads and glutes and have leverage.
6. Leave no space
When you squat, don’t leave any space between your leg and your opponent’s near leg.
For example, if you used your right leg to step behind your opponent, you should press it against the back of their left leg.
Your quadriceps area should be glued to your opponent’s upper hamstrings.
7. Keep a straight back
Have you ever seen a professional powerlifter doing a deadlift with a round back? Of course not!
Keep a straight back to exploit all the back muscles for the lift you are about to do. A straight back will also prevent you from injuring your discs and risking a hernia.
8. Exert two opposite pressures
Press your opponent’s legs (or leg) forward using your leg, and press their upper body backward using the back of your shoulder.
9. Now lift
- Grab your opponent’s pants by the knee area and lift the legs up. If you are doing sambo or MMA where competitors wear only shorts, you can grab the back of the knees or the hamstrings.
- While lifting the legs up, push with the back of your shoulder backward against your opponent’s chest or stomach. This will put your opponent off-balance.
- Throw your opponent behind you
- Congrats! Your opponent is now on the ground.