Uchi mata sukashi is a throwing technique in judo, this throw has been created for the sole and unique purpose of being a counter-attack to Uchi mata.
It is worth mentioning that there are two versions of Uchi mata sukashi. In this article we will break down both versions.
1st version of Uchi mata sukashi
2nd version of Uchi mata sukashi
Since Uchi mata sukashi is a counter-attack of Uchi mata, you have to learn Uchi mata first. If you don’t know how to do Uchi mata, we have a full guide dedicated to it, check it here.
1st version of Uchi mata sukashi
The first and most used version of Uchi mata sukashi is the one where you dodge your opponent and let them execute their Uchi mata in the air, then use their own momentum to throw them down.
1. Time it perfectly
Like all other judo counter-attacks, Uchi mata sukashi relies extremely on perfect timing. Even if your technique is right, you won’t be able to execute a successful counter if your timing is off.
Notice how the blue gi judoka used footwork and kept dancing with her opponent until she detected an Uchi mata coming, then she timed her counter perfectly.
Timing is like any other skill in judo, you can develop it with drills and practice until your timing becomes razor sharp.
One useful trick you can use to learn how to time your Uchi mata sukashi is by sparring excessively with partners who rely heavily on Uchi mata in their game.
Every judo player has a set of 3 to 5 favorite throws that all their judo game revolves around. They build patterns and setups leading to their favorite throws. Choose a partner who has Uchi mata in their top 3 favorite throws.
Being exposed to Uchi mata excessively will sharpen your sense of feeling it coming miles away. Feeling a throw coming your way is a skill that you develop through countless hours of practice and sparring.
2. Dodge your opponent’s leg
This is the most critical step in Uchi mata sukashi, you must wait until your opponent pivots and initiates their Uchi mata, then dodge their leg by going outside.
The dodging has to be well-timed and lightning-fast. If you dodge in a sloppy fashion, your opponent will be able to see it and they will adjust and succeed in countering your counter.
In order to build speed and explosiveness, you have to do agility drills on a regular basis. One of the best exercises for this is the agility ladder, this exercise will build explosiveness and the ability to bounce in your calves and your legs in general, also, it will help train your nervous system on precision.
3. Lean against your opponent
Once you have successfully dodged your opponent’s Uchi mata get back in and lean against your opponent.
Don’t try to take your opponent down by staying far away.
4. Use momentum and push the upper body
The fact that your opponent has thrown an Uchi mata in the air will make them lose balance automatically, their leg is already kicking high in the air without hitting anything and they are standing only on one leg.
Now all you have to do is to capitalize on the momentum your opponent has created and use it against them, then take them down by pushing their upper body to the ground.
2nd version of Uchi mata sukashi
This version of Uchi mata sukashi is a little bit different from the first version.
Sometimes the opponent manages to get their leg between your legs for Uchi mata. This version will get you out of your opponent’s Uchi mata even if they succeed to initiate the leg reap.
Obviously you shouldn’t be waiting until your opponent wheels you on their hips, because once they lift you on the hips, there isn’t much that you can do about it.
So as in the previous version of Uchi mata sukashi, timing is key.
1. Not for short-legged judokas
This version of Uchi mata sukashi is not meant for judokas with short legs. If you have a long torso and short legs, this version is not for you, especially if your opponent is taller than you.
Short judokas won’t have enough distance between the ground and the groin area, therefore they won’t have enough leverage.
So know your morphology and adopt the techniques that go with your body type.
2. It requires high flexibility
Sometimes defending Uchi mata with Uchi mata sukashi becomes a flexibility contest between you and your opponent.
Your opponent will kick their leg as high as they can, and your job will be to lift your leg up even higher than your opponent while still maintaining your balance on one leg.
You will have basically to do a split in the air! obviously it is not a full split as in taekwondo, but you will have to be fairly flexible.
Notice the flexibility of the blue gi judoka, he outclassed his opponent in flexibility which resulted in a successful Uchi mata sukashi
Here are a few exercises to do in order to gain flexibility for Uchi mata sukashi:
1. Straddle stretch
2. Side lunges
3. Butterfly Stretch
4. Standing split
5. V stretch
3. Be like a flamingo
This is the third challenge for this version of Uchi mata sukashi, as mentioned above you will have to lift one leg up in the air, but at the same time you have to keep your balance on one leg in order to be able to take down your opponent.
This is not an easy task, it might look easy but I assure you it is not!
Here is a small test for you, try to stand on one leg while bringing the other leg’s knee to your stomach.
Do it for 30 seconds and see for yourself. Half of my judo students can’t maintain balance at this position for more than 60 seconds without wobbling left and right.
If you want to build a sharp Uchi mata sukashi you have to transform into a flamingo, you must learn to maintain balance on one leg while handling weights and doing different things with your upper body.
Don’t underestimate that! Uchi mata is the most used throw in all judo competitions, at every competition match you will face someone who will attempt an Uchi mata on you. Not learning how to defend it will be a negligent attitude from your part.
Here are a few exercises to do to gain flamingo skills:
1. Single-leg deadlift
2. Pistol squats
3. Wobble board
4. Finalize the throw
If you have mastered the previous skills, which is no easy task, finalizing the throw will be the easiest step of them all.
Once you have outclassed your opponent with timing and flexibility, the easy thing will be to push their upper body to the ground.
As explained in step number 3, you will have to manipulate your opponent’s upper body while you are still standing on one leg.
If your flexibilty exceeds your opponent’s flexibilty by far you will even manage to get back on both legs as in this example.