How To Do Ura Nage: Step-by-Step Guide

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Ura nage or rear throw is a judo throw used essentially to counter hip throws, although many consider it as the judo version of the suplex in wrestling, it is not performed exactly as a suplex.

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In this article, you will learn:

  • How to do Ura nage (Step-by-step guide)
  • Variations of Ura nage

How to do Ura nage (Step-by-step guide)

1. Ura nage as a sacrifice throw

Before getting into the details of how to do this throw, you should know that Ura nage is a sacrifice technique, which means that you will have to throw yourself with the opponent in the air and get to the ground with them, at the opposite of other judo throws where you can throw your opponent to the ground and stay standing “clean”.

It doesn’t always work in your favor, especially if you don’t master the technique, you may risk falling on bottom and your opponent on top.

2. Use it as a counter-attack

This is the first thing I teach to my students: Ura nage is a counter-attack by nature, it is not a proactive attack that you use to aggress your opponent, although sometimes it can work as a proactive technique, but it will always be more effective in countering.

Why:

The majority of judo throws rely on the hips as the main axis of the throw, that is why it is extremely effective against all hip throws.

On the other hand, wrestling has a lower stance where hips are put away from the opponent, that is why suplexes in wrestling are used more as a proactive throw instead of a reactive throw.

Here are some examples of using Ura nage to counter Uchi mata

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Ura nage as counter to a failed Ouchi gari

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Ura nage as a counter to Osoto gari

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Ura nage as a counter to Ko Uchi Makikomi/Ko Uchi Gake

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3. What grip to use (Kumi kata)

Kumi kata is the base of all judo throws, the way you grip your opponent will play a big role in the success of the throw.

But it is not the case for Ura nage, if you do judo long enough, you will realize that Ura nage can be executed from many ways of gripping.
It is completely different from throws like Ippon seoi nage, where you must have one grip on the sleeve and another grip on the lapel, then release the lapel and wrap your arm around the shoulder.

One arm around the opponent’s waist, always

Things get very chaotic in a judo match, especially after your opponent launches an attack. My advice to my students is to use whatever grip your opponent has given up when they launched their attack, you can even wrap your arms around your opponent in what they call in wrestling a “bear hug” and go for your Ura nage.

  • Just remember, the most important thing for a successful grip in Ura nage is to have one arm wrapped around the waist of your opponent to be able to lift them. Don’t go below the waist or you will be facing a penalty from the referee, grabbing below the belt has been banned by the International Judo Federation (IJF) since 2010.
  • The other arm can control the lapel, the sleeve, etc.

With that being said, here are a couple of grips to use for Ura nage:

One arm around the waist the other hand gripping the sleeve

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One arm around the waist the other arm around the neck

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One arm around the waist the other hand gripping the lapel

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One arm around the waist the hand gripping the tricep

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4. You must control the back or the side of your opponent

For a successful Ura nage, you have to be positioned either behind your opponent or at their side.
As explained in step number 2 “use it as a counter-attack”, when your opponent attempts a hip throw, they automatically give up their back or side, that’s when the opportunity presents itself.

5. Lower your hip level

This is a crucial step for a successful Ura nage, you must drop your hips to be lower than your opponent’s hips.

Why:

The hips are the center of gravity, you must control your opponent’s center of gravity by going on a lower level with your own center of gravity. This is a basic rule in judo that you must use in the majority of the throws.

How:

When you lower your hips, make your stance wider as if want to squat or sit on a chair.
This will give you more leverage to lift your opponent with the help of your glutes and quadriceps.

Notice how low the blue gi judoka went, also, notice the squat.

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Obviously, you don’t have to go that low for your Ura nage, but you still must have your hips lower than your opponent’s hips.

6. Trap the opponent’s leg

When you do your squat from the side, put one leg behind your opponent and the other leg in front of your opponent. This will make your opponent’s leg trapped between both your legs.

Why:

This tactic will prevent your opponent from escaping or doing anything to counter your upcoming Ura nage.

It goes without saying that when Ura nage is executed from a belly-to-back position, it is useless to transition to the side and use that technique.

Notice how the blue gi competitor stepped to the side and trapped his opponent’s leg between his own legs

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Obviously, this is not an obligatory step, you can get a successful throw without doing it, but I always push my students to perfect their tchniques as much as they can. You might face a situation where your opponent shows resistance to your Ura nage, that’s when this type of detail comes in handy.

7. Don’t leave any space

Don’t leave any space between you and your opponent, you must be completely glued to them. Your hips should be touching your opponent’s body.
If not, you will not have full control of your opponent’s body and you will be having difficulties lifting them off the ground. These are the laws of physics, use them to your advantage.

8. Lift your opponent

Now is the time to initiate the lift:

  • Don’t lift using only your upper body, hit your opponent with your hips under their hips. This will put them off-balance and help decrease any resistance.
  • Keep a straight back as if you are doing a deadlift. A round back will risk getting you injured
  • Use your quads, hamstrings, and glutes as the main muscles for the lift
  • Use the arm you have around your opponent’s waist. This is the main mechanism of securing the lift.
  • Use your other grip (Sleeve, lapel, etc.) This is your supporting mechanism
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9. Make a turn in the air

Ura nage is not a suplex as you see in collegiate wrestling and WWE, you don’t have to arch your back and pin your opponent’s shoulders on the ground and do a spectacular suplex.

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There is a golden rule in judo, use the least amount of effort for the maximum amount of efficacy.

  • A good way to do Ura nage is to turn and face your opponent while you are both still in the air.
  • Make sure to land on top of your opponent in side control
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10. Don’t do it the old way

Like in all sports, judo techniques have evolved through decades of trial and error. The old Ura nage consisted of tossing the opponent before you both hit the ground.

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This is considered as a mistake in modern judo, don’t release your opponent while you are both in the air, maintain your grips and keep controlling them until you hit the ground and secure a dominant position

11. What if your opponent does the famous counter?

If you face a high-level judoka and manage to wrap your arm around their waist for an Ura nage, they will see it coming from miles away and counter you with a famous technique that may prevent you from finishing the throw, this technique is the leg hook.

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The leg hook consists of hooking the foot around the leg of someone who wants to execute Ura nage. The hook will prevent you from throwing the opponent in the air.

Notice how the blue gi comptitor tries to hook his opponent’s leg, he failed because the attempt was too late as he was already in the air

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How to counter the counter?

Now we are speaking high-level judo, just like chess, you counter the counter and you stay always one step ahead of your opponent.

When your opponent applies a hook on your leg, kick with that same hooked leg as high as you can as if you want to do a bicycle kick in soccer. Your kick will elevate your opponent’s leg and their hook won’t be of any use to them and will not prevent you from finishing your Ura nage.

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Variations of Ura nage