How To Do Tani Otoshi: Step-by-Step Guide

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Tani otoshi is a judo throw and one of the most important throws I recommend for my students to have in their arsenal. The reason I teach it to beginners in the first 2 or 3 months is because it is the perfect counter against all hip throws.

It often happens that your opponent attempts a failed hip throw and they get away with it without paying the price of their failed attempt, they shouldn’t get away without being countered, and Tani otoshi is a great way to throw them to the ground.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to do Tani otoshi (Step-by-step guide)
  • Waki otoshi as a variation of Tani otoshi

How to do Tani otoshi (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. Set up your opponent

All judo throws rely on a proper setup and Tani otoshi is not an exception. There are many ways to set up this throw, here are a few:

A. Fake an Uchi mata

One of the best ways to set up your opponent is by faking an Uchi mata.
When you fake an Uchi mata your opponent will instantly shift their weight to the rear by putting their hips away from you to avoid getting thrown to the front, that’s when you can go for your Tani otoshi and throw your opponent to the ground.

Notice how the blue gi competitor faked an Uchi mata which caused the white gi competitor to react and  open himself for Tani otoshi

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Another example of a fake Uchi mata

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B. Circle then get behind your opponent

Another way to set it up is by using footwork and circling, once you notice that your opponent is following your footsteps, get behind them and initiate your throw.


Here is an example of how to do it

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C. Fake a Sasae tsurikomi ashi

Another trick to do is to fake a Sasae tsurikomi ashi with one leg then go for your Tani otoshi with the other leg.
When you fake a Sasae tsurikomi ashi, you don’t have to engage your full body in it, after all, it is just a bluff, keep your body mechanisms ready to execute Tani otoshi.

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D. Fake a Hiza guruma

Hiza guruma has almost the same mechanisms as Sasae tsurikomi ashi, so apply the same instructions as in the previous trick.

E. Use it as a counter

As I have mentioned in the introduction, Tani otoshi is a great counter for all hip throws, if you have the eye to see hip throws coming, you will be able to counter them easily with a Tani Otoshi.
When someone attempts a hip throw, they automatically give up the back, if you anticipate the throw, you will be able to move slightly to the side and counter with a perfect Tani otoshi.

In this example, the blue gi comptitor attempts an Uchi mata then the white gi competitor makes him pay for it with a beautiful Tani otoshi counter

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2. What grip to use for Tani Otoshi?

Unlike other judo throws, Tani otoshi doesn’t require a specific grip to work.
Uchi mata, O goshi, Ouchi gari, etc. are all very strict in the type of grips to use, but since Tani otoshi works more as a counter, I just teach my students the mechanism of the throw and leave them free to use whatever grip available at the time of the counter.

But still, for an educational purpose here is the standard grip to start with:

  • With one hand, grip the sleeve of your opponent
  • With the other hand, grip the collar behind the neck or the upper back by the gi material
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If you are taller than your opponent and have a long arm reach you can use an overhook, which means grabbing the back with your arm above your opponent’s arm as in this example

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If you are shorter than your opponent, you can go for an underhook, which means grabbing the back with your arm under your opponent’s armpit as in this example

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There are other interesting grips

A. The neck and sleeve grip

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B. Grips from both sleeves

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C. Tani otoshi can work also with one sleeve grip only

This is a variation of Tani Otoshi called Waki otoshi (We have dedicated a whole chapter to it, keep reading)

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3. Flexibility

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Tani otoshi requires you to trip both legs, sometimes the opponent adopts a wide stance which makes it difficult to trip both legs.
That’s when flexibility comes in handy, you must have flexible legs to reach all the way to the second leg.
If you want to master this move I recommend doing a lot of flexibility training.

Here are a few exercises that will help your flexibility for Tani otoshi:

A. Standing Hamstring Stretch

B. Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch

C. Front & side split

4. Your position regarding your opponent’s position

Regardless of how you entered your opponent’s range, the most important thing is to control your opponent’s side.
Let’s assume that you have a grip on your opponent’s back with your right hand, in that case, you will have to step to your opponent’s left side and control it.
You have to end up facing the left side of your opponent at a 90° angle.

Notice how the white gi competitor steps to the left side of his opponent

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Needless to say that if your Tani otoshi is a counter, you don’t have to take that step to the side, because your opponent will be giving up their side to you, all you have to do is to seize the opportunity.

5. Head on the chest

Always assuming that you will step to the left side of your opponent, you must rest the right side of your head on your opponent’s chest. Your head will serve, along with your sleeve grip as a pushing mechanism to make your opponent trip over your leg.

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6. Leave no space

When you are at your opponent’s side, your groin area must be glued to your opponent’s hip. Don’t leave any space in-between.
You won’t be able to control the upper body of your opponent if you are far away from it.

Also, you will need every single inch to reach the second leg of your opponent and trip it (their right leg in our example). If you are standing far away from your opponent, you might not get to reach the second leg, especially if your legs aren’t long enough.

7. The trip

Now that you have set up your opponent for the throw and you have followed all the necessary steps, it is time for the easy and fun part, the tripping.

  • Reach with your leg as far as you can until you get it behind both legs of your opponent
  • You can go behind the ankles, the calves or even behind both knees, just don’t go above knee level.

8. Push the upper body

Remember step number 5 “head on chest”?

  • Now use your head to push your opponent on their back against your tripping leg
  • Use your sleeve grip to push to the same direction
  • If you get caught in a chaotic position where you don’t have the same type of grip I showed you in this guide, just hold on whatever part of your opponent’s torso and follow the same direction of the throw, which is forcing them to trip on their rear side against your tripping leg.
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9. Use your supporting leg

Your supporting leg is your pillar for the push, don’t just twist your opponent’s upper body with your arms. Use your supporting leg to push your opponent on their back.

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10. Follow to the ground

Tani otoshi isn’t the type of throw where you put down your opponent and stay standing, you must follow your opponent to the ground and fall on top. Drive your opponent to the ground with all your body weight.

Waki otoshi as a variation of Tani otoshi

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There is a throw called Waki otoshi. This throw is actually a variation of Tani otoshi.

The old Waki otoshi consisted of grabbing the upper leg, but since 2010 the International Judo Federation (IJF) banned leg grabbing, so you can  do it now legally by grabbing the hips.