Uki otoshi is a hand throwing technique in judo, it is one of the most basic throws that beginner students learn in the first couple of months of judo.
It is worth mentioning that there are two versions of Uki Otoshi. In this article, we will break down both versions:
1. Standing Uki otoshi
2. Kneeling Uki otoshi
Also, in this article you will learn:
- How to do Uki otoshi in a step-by-step guide
- Variations of Uki otoshi
Why is it a fundamental throw for beginners?
I often introduce new students to Uki otoshi in the first month of learning because it displays the principle of Kuzushi very well.
Kuzushi is the principle of off-balancing the opponent before every throw, and especially before hip throws (there is a full section in this guide below dedicated to how to do Kuzushi )
How to do Uki otoshi (The standing version)
Important notes: 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. Use the standing Uki otoshi in competition
Although Uki otoshi is practiced in Nage-no-kata with one knee on the ground (Kneeling version), I always like to teach the standing version first to my students.
The standing version of Uki otoshi is the more effective and the most used one in competition. It displays a great amount of power and it has a high success rate.
The kneeling Uki otoshi is good for understanding the principles of the throw, but it is not that effective in high-level competition. That is why you will rarely see anybody using this version in competition.
2. Use momentum
Uki otoshi is a throw that relies heavily on momentum, it is not a throw that you execute on a static target. Your opponent has to be moving in the same direction you are going to throw them to.
A. Footwork is your ally
You have to lure your opponent into walking with you towards the same direction you want to throw them to. For that, you are going to have to use footwork.
Don’t make the mistake of using footwork to only one direction, this will make your opponent feel your intent and see the throw coming a mile away.
Dance with your opponent left and right, forward and backward, go along with them to all directions, then hit them with a solid Uki otoshi.
B. The inverted reflex
There is a fundamental principle in judo called “The Inverted Reflex”, this principle translates to this: If you want your opponent to go somewhere, always force them in the opposite direction.
If you want your opponent to go forwards, always push them backward and vice versa, if you want your opponent’s head to pop up for you, just push it down and your opponent will respond by popping up their head. This goes for all directions.
This is a law of nature, it is not just in us humans, it is a reflex that all mammals have.
3. The direction of the throw
Uki otoshi is a backward throw, which means that your opponent must be going forward and you must be going backward, then use their momentum to throw them to your back.
Don’t attempt it on a static opponent, it has very low chances to work.
There are some variations of Uki Otoshi that could work on a static opponent like the Azerbaijani variation, but that’s something we are going to see later in the variations chapter below.
The classic Uki otoshi, takes its strength from using momentum and throwing the opponent backward, that’s what makes it highly effective.
4. Use it as a counter-attack
Uki otoshi can be used offensively, as explained in step number 2, but it can also be used defensively as a counter-attack.
One of the best throws to use Uki otoshi against is Osoto gari.
When your opponent attempts Osoto gari they will push forward and their whole weight will shift forward, all you have to do is to turn your hips and capitalize on their momentum, then throw them backward.
5. Kumi kata: How to grip?
Now that you know all the theoretical basics of Uki otoshi, let’s get to the practical steps, what grip should you use?
As we will see in the variation chapter, each variation has its own grip. But for the classic standing and kneeling Uki otoshi, here is the grip you should use:
- With one hand, grip the lapel of your opponent
- With the other hand, grip the sleeve of your opponent
The lapel grip can be replaced by a grip behind the shoulder or a grip from the upper back.
6. Kuzushi: Put your opponent off-balance
Kuzushi is extremely important in Uki otoshi, you have to set your opponent up for the throw by putting them slightly out of balance.
A. The goal is to put your opponent on their toes and take their heels off the ground as high as possible.
B. Use the lapel grip to push your opponent upward. Tighten your grip on the lapel and make a solid fist, press your forearm against your opponent’s chest.
Now push your opponent upward as if you want to deliver an uppercut. This motion will automatically force your opponent on their toes and will take their heels off the ground.
C. Use your sleeve grip to pull your opponent’s arm upward and towards you at the same time. Turn the palm of your hand to the outside, the back of your hand should be inside.
The motion has to look as if you want to lift your arm up and check your watch. This will force your opponent to lean forward on their toes and will make them more vulnerable to be thrown completely out of balance once you initiate the throw.
7. Turn and toss
A. The toss shouldn’t be initiated unless you feel that your opponent has built enough momentum towards you.
B. The toss has to go on the side of the sleeve grip, not the lapel grip. So if you are gripping the lapel with your right hand and the sleeve with your left hand, you should turn left and toss your opponent backward.
C. Take a step back with your left foot and turn to your left side (The side of the sleeve grip as explained in point B).
D. Now use the sleeve grip to pull your opponent to your back and use your lapel grip to push them to your back.
The sleeve grip is for the pulling and the lapel grip is for the pushing. They work simultaneously as if you are handling a steering wheel.
It may sound complicated to you, but if you do the steering wheel motion with both your hands it’ll become clearer.
E. Now turn your torso backward, your torso must face the opposite direction, you should make a 180° pivot.
In other words, if before the throw you were facing north, after the throw you should be facing south.
F. Your opponent must fall in front of your left foot’s toes.
Congrats! Your throw is a success.
Variations of Uki Otoshi
1. Kneeling Uki otoshi
Keep in mind that all the principles mentioned above in our guide are valid for this version of Uki otoshi except that it finishes by putting one knee on the ground.
Here is a good video explaining it