Uchi mata or inner thigh throw is one of the most popular throws in Judo, you can’t attend a judo event without seeing somebody attempting an Uchi mata. In this article, you will learn everything about this amazing throw.
Before getting to our step-by-step guide, enjoy this beautiful compilation of Uchi mata
Step-by-step guide on how to do an Uchi mata
1. Positioning first
Before thinking about executing an Uchi mata you should work for a dominant position first, if you are not in a dominant position do not attempt it, you will be countered easily.
What is a dominant position for Uchi mata?
Check the following step.
2. Grip (Kumi kata)
There are several entries for Uchi mata, judo players around the world have invented several grips to initiate it.
This is the most used grip:
- One hand must grip the gi under the elbow. Gripping the sleeve is also correct.
- The other hand must grab the lapel of the opponent
Many judo players prefer gripping from the back, it’s still effective but we don’t recommend it for beginners. Gripping from the lapel has its own advantage, read step number 3 to understand this advantage.
3. Elevate the arm
- The hand controlling the sleeve must pull the opponent’s arm upward
- At the same time rotate your hand to the exterior as if you want to look at your watch. The back of your hand must be facing you and the palm must face away.
- Your head must also rotate. Your wrist is your anchor point, just keep your eyes on your wrist while it’s moving up and your head will be in the right position.
4. Put your opponent on their toes
- Your lapel hand must pull your opponent forward in order to put them a little bit out of balance.
- In addition to pulling towards you, use the lapel to push upwards. How? Stick your forearm against your opponent’s chest and make an upward motion as if you want to throw an uppercut.
- In that uppercut motion, use your elbow to create more leverage to lift your opponent up.
- Place the tip of your elbow under your opponent’s shoulder.
Your supporting foot must land just in-between your opponent’s feet.
Let’s assume that you want to throw your opponent to their right side (the side you are grabbing them from the sleeve).
- Make the first step with your right foot to close the distance between you and your opponent
- Now pivot on that right foot and turn to face the same direction your opponent is facing
- Now with your left foot, take a step and place your left foot between your opponent’s feet
- Remember to place your left foot deep between your opponent’s feet, do not place it outside your opponent’s feet and do not leave it too far out. The deeper you are under your opponent the more effective your throw will be.
The sweeping motion must start in the middle axis between the opponent’s legs.
6. Leave no space
Your back must be glued to your opponent’s stomach, don’t leave any space in-between. You must form one entity with your opponent in order to manipulate their weight as if it’s part of your own weight.
7. Drop your hips
The center of gravity of your opponent is their hips, if you control the hips you control your opponent. Your center of gravity must be lower than theirs, drop your hips down below your opponent’s hips.
That’s when step number 2 “elevate the arm” comes in handy. When you elevate the arm the body follows, your opponent’s hips become higher than yours automatically, all you have to do is to drop a little bit especially if you are taller than your opponent.
8. Toes pointed
The toes of the sweeping leg must be pointed, this will help flex the whole posterior muscles of the leg. You must use every ounce of your leg muscles to make the throw successful.
9. Finalize the throw
In the basic Uchi mata, most of the throw motion comes from the hips, the sweeping leg just assists the throw.
- Your hips must go fast and hard against your opponent’s groin
- You should literally hit them with your hips. That hit will take the legs from under your opponent and make them lay on your back
- Your sweeping foot will assist you in that, now kick high with it
- Make a corkscrew motion with your upper body to drop your opponent on the ground
Where to hit with the sweeping leg?
When kicking with the sweeping leg you should be targetting the upper inner thigh area, just below the groin.
Use your upper hamstring for the kick.
Congrats! Your opponent is no longer standing on their feet.
Ken ken Uchi mata
Sometimes the opponent doesn’t lose balance and you get stuck in what it’s called Ken ken Uchi mata, “Ken ken” means “hop hop”.
If you are stuck in a ken ken position you should wrap your sweeping leg around the back of your opponent’s knee and lift their leg as high as possible while pushing their head to the ground.
Keep in mind that ken ken Uchi mata needs you to hop on your supporting leg in order to keep balance while your sweeping leg is kicking your opponent’s leg up and pushing their head down.
If you are stuck in a ken ken Uchi mata you can always switch to an Uchu gari, this is a high rate success combination.
Setups for Uchi mata
Now you know the correct way to do an Uchi mata, but you are not fighting a statue, your opponent is there watching you and analyzing every step you are making.
In order to surprise your opponent, you need to set them up for your upcoming Uchi mata.
There are four setups for Uchi mata:
1. Snap down
One of the easiest setups is to snap the opponent down, this will put them a bit out of balance and will incentivize them to adjust and get back up. When they are adjusting, that’s when you can surprise them and hit them with an Uchi mata.
When the opponent is adjusting to get their posture back up, use that momentum they created upwards and help them get up even further, then get under them with an Uchi mata.
You can also throw a fake Uchi mata to see how your opponent reacts, once you have an idea on their method of defense, you are all good to go for a real Uchi mata.
3. Create an angle
One clever way to set up your opponent is by taking a sidestep to create an angle for your upcoming Uchi mata.
Judo is all about creating angles, top players are experts in that matter, whoever can create more angles is the one who has more options.
The last way to set up your opponent is by doing combinations, for example, one of the most used combinations is faking an Osotogari then hitting a real Uchi mata.
When faking an Osotogari, you already know what your opponent’s reaction will be, they will simply put their leg away, that’s when you hit them with an Uchi mata.