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Judo Training in the Martial Arts: Knee Wheel and Major Outer Reap

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Judo Training in the Martial Arts

Knee Wheel and Major Outer Reap

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Hiza-guruma is a technique which relies on excellent timing and body movement. It is similar in feeling to sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi which it closely resembles, the main difference being that the attacking foot makes contact much higher up, blocking the knee rather than the lower leg. Correctly timed, this prevents uke from defending by bending his knees and sinking his hips.
The crucial thing to develop is a large, open movement; hiza-guruma is not a power technique in as much as it cannot be forced. The throwing position is not a mechanically efficient one if the opponent is stationary; it is vital to get him moving and for tori to build up a fluid, powerful movement of his own, emphasizing the change of direction and the twisting action of the waist and shoulders.

From an orthodox right-handed grip tori must take a large step on his right foot, placing it about 12-18in (30-46cm) to the right of uke’s left foot. At the same time as he steps, he must pull uke’s right sleeve up to shoulder level if possible and place the sole of his left foot against uke’s right knee, just below the kneecap. The throw is completed by turning the hips, twisting at the waist and steering uke over the outstretched leg with both hands, causing him to fall to his right front.

When practicing hiza-guruma it is very important to concentrate on fully extending the left leg and hip, to develop a smooth transfer of power as the hips turn. Some coaches describe the action of the hands as being like turning the steering wheel of a car. It is more helpful to imagine a larger steering wheel such as is found in a tractor, and to imagine it as being horizontal rather than vertical. The hands pull uke around, whirling im over the out-stretched leg, they do not pull up and down to tip him over as in sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi. The supporting leg ought to bend as tori steps into the throw and straighten as uke’s balance breaks. The action of the head is also very important. Tori should be looking to his right as he steps into uke and as the left foot makes contact with the knee he should spin his head to the left.

Hiza-guruma combines extremely effectively with osoto-gari on the opposite side and harai-goshi on both sides, as either the starting or finishing technique in the combination. It can also come off spectacularly if an opponent has become used to stepping over a sasae-tsuri-komi-ashi and tori switches the height of his attack from ankle to knee.


Osoto-gari is one of the major throws in judo and is characterized as an all-or-nothing type of throw, mainly because it tends to succeed spectacularly or be countered spectacularly. It is a rearthrow and can be performed equally effectively whether uke is moving forwards or backwards.

From the orthodox right-handed grip tori steps forwards on his left foot, so that it is parallel and about 9in (23cm)  to the left of uke’s right foot, and keeping the left leg bent at the knee makes contact with the right side of his chest against the left side of uke’s chest. A good visual check is for the front of tori’s right shoulder to meet the front of uke’s left gi shoulder. Tori must pull uke’s right arm out away from his body and then down so that uke’s forearm is pulled into tori’s waist. Tori’s right hand should draw uke’s weight onto his right leg. Tori swings his right leg through in a big reaping movement, the power being generated by the combination of the step in and the hip action. The side of tori’s thigh makes contact with the side of uke’s thigh as tori’s right leg reaps down, the back of his upper calf making contact with uke’s right leg just below the back of his knee. he reaping leg scythes away uke’s leg, lifting it clear of the ground and tori controls uke’s upper body with both hands as he jack-knifes at the waist and dips his head, hurling uke to the judo mat.

Once he has got in for the throw tori should try to look at uke’s left heel as he reaps the right leg away and imagine he is trying to take his forehead to the mat as he completes the throw. Dipping the head as the upper body bends forwards adds considerably to the force of the throw and reduces the possibility of being countered by osoto-gari done as a counter to osoto-gari.

Like Judo in general the timing is very important particularly if tori is attacking uke’s advancing leg, when it resembles the timing for de-ashi-barai. Many osoto-gari experts regard the rear leg to be a safer option, even though the distance that has to be covered is greater.

A good osoto-gari is a devastating throw to have in your arsenal of techniques, but it is not a throw for dabblers and cannot really be used without full commitment and good kuzushi as it exposes tori to the danger of being countered with the same technique. Harai-goshi, uranage and sukui-nage are other possible counters. The classic counter is one of the seventeen techniques not in the go-kyo that were officially recognized by the Kodokan in 1985 – osoto-gaeshi.

On the plus side, it combines well with other ashi-waza, hiza-guruma and a number of other major throws such as harai-makikomi, o-uchi-gari and uchimata.

About Tony Hackerott

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