How To Do Sumi Gaeshi: Step-by-Step Guide

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Sumi gaeshi is one of the most spectacular throws in judo, many think that this throw can only be applied in movies and scripted shows, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

As we will see in this article, Sumi gaeshi is a high-success throw, it works against high-level judo players in the most prestigious judo competitions around the World.

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In this article, you will learn:

  • How to do Sumi gaeshi (Step-by-step guide)
  • Variations of Sumi gaeshi

How to do Sumi gaeshi (Step-by-step guide)


Important note: 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.

1. This is a sacrifice throw

Before attempting a Sumi gaeshi on your opponent you should know that this is a sacrifice throw.

What does a sacrifice throw mean?

A sacrifice throw means that in order to execute it successfully you will have to put yourself in a disadvantaged position, in this case of Sumi gaeshi you will have to go on your back to throw your opponent.

You make a sacrifice by going down on your back to gain a great prize which is throwing your opponent on their back, it is a sort of compromise.

With that being said, you shouldn’t attempt a Sumi gaeshi unless the odds are all in your favor and you are 100% sure that the throw will be a success. If not, don’t make that sacrifice, go instead for another throw that doesn’t require putting yourself in a disadvantageous position.

2. Set up your opponent

Sumi gaeshi relies extremely on a good setup, it is almost impossible to execute a successful Sumi gaeshi without any kind of setup.

Although setups are a must for all judo throws, but still there are many throws you can successfully execute without any kind of setup. This is definitely not the case with Sumi gaeshi.

How to set up Sumi gaeshi?

Here are a few tricks:

A. Fake a Ko uchi gari

Judo is a game of deception, especially at the highest levels, you must feint, fake and bluff until you make your opponent react and fall into the trap you’ve been setting up.

When you fake a Ko uchi gari, your opponent will automatically counter by stepping away from your sweep and by consequence they will widen their stance, that’s when the opportunity for a Sumi gaeshi presents itself.

If you don’t know how to do Ko uchi gari, we have a full step-by-step guide on it.

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B. Fake an Uchi mata

Uchi mata is also a good setup for Sumi gaeshi, when you fake an Uchi mata, your opponent will automatically lean on you to counter and put their hips away from you, that’s when the opportunity presents itself for a good Sumi gaeshi.

If you don’t know how to do Uchi mata, we have a full step-by-step guide dedicated to it.

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3. What grip for Sumi gaeshi?

If you are a high-level judoka, there are a couple of different grips you can choose from depending on what your opponent gave you in the match.

But the standard grip for Sumi gaeshi is this one:

  • With one hand, grip the sleeve of your opponent
  • With the other hand grip your opponent from the back using the material of their gi. You can also grip their belt.
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Here is an example of a belt and tricep grip

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4. Break their posture


Gripping your opponent from their back is no easy task. No judo player will let you get a hold of their back easily, you will have to be smart and tricky to get what you want.

One good and easy trick is to use the double lapel grip.

How:

  • With both hands, grab one lapel
  • Break your opponent’s posture by pulling explosively with both hands towards you and slightly downward. Your pull will have a significant strength since it’s executed with both hands.
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5. Direction of the throw

Sumi gaeshi goes backward, if you want it to be a success you have to make your opponent walk in the same direction of the throw, or at least lean in the same direction.
You can’t do a Sumi gaeshi if your opponent is going in the opposite direction.

Look how easy this Sumi gaeshi is. The white gi judoka noticed that the blue gi judoka was going forward in a fast pace, so she capitalized on the momentum and executed an easy Sumi gaeshi

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Obviously, it’s not always that easy. sometimes you have to use tricks to make your opponent go in the direction of the throw.

Use the principle of pull & push, if you want your opponent to go towards you, push them back, and their instant reaction will be to go forward, if you want them to go backward pull them towards you and their instant reaction will be to go backward.
This is a basic human instinct and it is a fundamental rule in judo

Use this principle combined with the setup techniques in step number 2.

6. Step in

Assuming that you are grabbing your opponent’s back with your right hand:

  • Take a step with your left foot towards your opponent’s right foot or to the centerline between their feet
  • Go deep with your step and leave only a couple of inches between your left foot and your opponent’s right foot

Notice the step with the left foot

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7. Make a hook with your foot

Always assuming that you are grabbing your opponent’s back with your right hand:

  • Use your right foot to make a hook around your opponent’s left knee or lower thigh
  • Your opponent’s knee must be trapped between the instep of your foot and your lower shin

8. Slide, don’t drop

When going under your opponent don’t just drop on your back like a sack of potatoes. You should sneak in and slide like a missile under your opponent.

This is the old Sumi gaeshi. High-level judokas don’t do it this way anymore

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Here is a modern and very effective Sumi gaeshi. In this example, the white gi judoka replaced the “step in” with a knee slide.

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I recommend trying both techniques, stepping in and knee sliding, then see whatever suits you. 

Just avoid dropping on your back like in the old school Sumi gaeshi.

9. Roll

Remember, this is not a pickup throw, it is a sacrifice throw.
Don’t try to lift your opponent with that hook you have around their knee, that would be useless.

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This is what to do:

  • With that slide we broke down in the previous step you will be able to create good momentum
  • With your back against the ground, you will have a solid base to push against. Now push your opponent with the hook you have around their knee.
  • Your push must be upward and slightly to your back
  • With the grip you have on your opponent’s back, pull their upper body towards you, to the ground.
  • The goal is to pull the opponent’s upper body to the ground and lift their lower body in the air and throw the lower body to the back.

Obviously, you must execute all these steps simultaneously.

Variations of Sumi gaeshi

We have selected for you the best videos for variations of Sumi gaeshi

Sumi gaeshi for wrestling and no gi grappling