For the most part, Brazilian jiu-jitsu is about fighting on the ground. But that raises a big question. Namely, how do you get an opponent down there in the first place?
Whether it’s in a sport competition, mixed martial arts or a street fight, that’s an important question you need to answer and having no answer is bad. Very bad.
One way to get around the issue entirely is to pull guard.
Just get ahold of whoever you’re fighting and sit down to pull them between your legs. Congratulations. You’re on the ground. Now you can move on to sweeping them to get on top or finishing them off with a submission.
But pulling guard isn’t always the answer…
Maybe you’re in a streetfight and don’t want to end up on the bottom. Maybe you’re standing in a river and pulling guard would lead to your drowning, or maybe you have a chocolate bar in your back pocket, and sitting down would ruin your pants.
For whatever reason, sometimes you need to throw your adversary and land on top for things to go your way. So, once again, how can that happen?
To answer this question, Brazilian jiu jitsu has borrowed quite a few techniques from other arts which specialize in takedowns, such as judo.
So, that leads to another question: Which are best judo throws for jiu-jitsu people to borrow?
Here are a few Judo throws to keep in mind if you practise BJJ…
O-Soto-Gari (Major Outer Reap)
Often, this is the first throw you will learn in a judo club. And rightfully so. After all, it’s easy to do regardless of body type, and is especially effective if someone is just standing there without defending themselves against it.
How is it done?
Essentially, you grab the person at the collar and sleeve and then make them lean towards the leg on the same side as the sleeve grip. You do this by leaning heavily on them. Then you step past them and swing your foot up like you’re kicking a field goal in the NFL. As your leg swings back down, your calf connects with theirs and they are thrown hard onto their backs.
In judo, that would be an ippon or full score and you’d be the winner.
In BJJ – the IBJJF at least – you would score 2 points and land in either a headlock or knee-on-belly.
And in a streetfight on concrete and an opponent unfamiliar with how to land on the ground… well… let’s just say that a throw like this can often end the fight entirely.
Ko Soto Gake (Minor Outer Hook)
The minor outer hook, or Ko Soto Gake, has played a big part in the growth of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Early on, it was a go-to throw in mixed martial arts. When used against an opponent with a striking background, it allowed a jiujitsu fighter to get a fight to the ground without suffering any damage in the process.
How is it done? Well, it begins off an upper body clinch. You’re hugging them with both arms around their torso and you’ve moved slightly to the side so one of their legs is between yours.
From there, you hook their calf with your own in order to lift their outermost leg. Then lean them in that direction, so they have no choice but to fall into their butt.
Is it the heaviest impact throw in the world? Absolutely not. But being able to gently put your opponent down is a sign of great skill.
Plus, when done properly, you land in either a mount position on your opponent or, at worst, half guard from the top; very close to the mount. In a real fight, you have just put your opponent in a very bad spot.
O Ouchi Gari (Major Inner Reap)
Often, people in jiu jitsu matches stand bent over with their legs wide apart. You see it a lot because people plan to pull guard, but it leaves you wide open for many different throws.
O-Ouchi-Gari, or the major inner reap, might be one of the most effective throws to use against an opponent in this position.
How is it done?
Generally, it’s done from a collar-and-sleeve grip. Then you collide with your enemy and drive them back. But you’ve hooked your leg behind one of theirs, so they can’t keep their balance and have to sit down.
Yes, you land in their guard much of the time. But that is not always bad. After all, if they wanted to be there, they could’ve pulled guard. Now they’re on their backs under your terms, and you have already begun to pass to get a better position.
De Ashi Barai (Advanced Foot Sweep)
Doing De Ashi Barai, or the advanced foot sweep, is all about proper timing.
When is the best time? When your opponent is standing upright and has not bent over. In terms of your grip, you want to get their sleeve near the elbow on one side and the lapel on the other side.
Once you have this grip, you use your foot under the elbow grip to sweep their foot across their body, and simultaneously pull down on their elbow while lifting their lapel. Think about turning a big wheel with your hands while your foot brushes a feather off the floor.
Ideally, you do this when your opponent is light on their feet and taking a step. If done properly, they will fall to the floor and you will land in a knee-on-belly position.
Tomoe Nage (Circle Throw)
In case you haven’t noticed, pulling guard has become very popular in sport jiu-jitsu; so much so, you can see entire divisions go by without anyone doing a throw.
And why not? After all, throwing can be a risky business and sometimes it’s better to play it safe, sit down and go straight to your guard; where you’re very comfortable.
But imagine if there was a way to pull guard and throw your opponent immediately. Now imagine no more. It’s called Tomoe Nage, and it works very well in jiu-jitsu (as long as you do it before your opponent pulls guard).
Here’s how it works…
First, you get a grip on the other person at their lapel and tricep. Then, with a sudden tug, you sit down, put your foot on their stomach and haul them up over you. Continuing the motion, they’ve got no choice but to somersault over and land on their backs. If you are spry enough, you can ride right up to the mount. How awesome is that?
And here’s why it’s a good move for BJJ: Even if you don’t get the throw, you’ve landed in your open guard which, as we said earlier, is somewhere you feel very comfortable anyway.
Sumi Gaeshi (Corner Reversal)
In some ways, Sumi Gaeshi is like Tomoe Nage: It’s a sacrifice throw that has you sitting down and doing a backwards roll to come up on top of your opponent who’s just done a forward roll against their will and to their dismay.
But that’s about where the similarities end. Tomoe Nage has you suddenly sinking under your opponent’s centre of gravity while Sumi Gaeshi is done when they’ve shot under your arms to attack you with either a double or single leg takedown. From there, you grab their belt, quickly sit down with your shin between their legs and hoist them over. Usually, you’ll come up on top in either half-guard or, even better, the mount.
Since both single leg and double leg takedowns are now illegal in judo, you don’t see Sumi Gaeshi quite as much in that sport. But it is still prevalent in jiu-jitsu, where it works wonderfully as a defence against most lower body takedowns.
This is one of my very favourite throws, and here’s a video of me teaching it as a safe and effective way to get the match to the ground in a BJJ context:
O Goshi (Hip Throw)
The hip throw, or O Goshi, isn’t seen so much in sport jiu jitsu, as it’s fairly easy to defend against by just keeping your own hips away from those of your opponent.
That being said, you see it in mixed martial arts quite a bit, as you can force your opponent up against the cage and get your hips close to those of your adversary. Who did this the best? Look no further than Ronda Rousey.
To tell the truth, Rousey did a few different hip throws in the UFC. There was O Goshi, as well as its counterparts Koshi Guruma (Hip Wheel) and Harai Goshi (Hip Sweep).
But these throws have the one thing in common. Namely, you get ahold of your opponents upper body, turn to get hip to hip against them, and then bend them over to see them go flying. Rousey and, before her, fellow judoka Karo Parisyan did exactly this many times.
Hip tosses also work great in any self defence situations when your opponent is hugging you. Rather than trying to fight your way free, you hug them back, twist to your side and send them sailing to the ground.
Seoi Nage (Shoulder Throw)
The shoulder throw has only recently begun making an appearance in sport jiu jitsu. For years, no one did it so much as it involves turning your back to your opponent.
These days, though, we’re starting to see it. Especially among heavier black belts who are less likely to start a match by pulling guard.
Saulo Ribeiro has recently made the shoulder throw his takedown of choice. Or, at least, he’s doing it to all his opponents.
There are many ways to do this judo throw, but the most typical is to hold your opponent’s lapel and suddenly twist to get your bicep into their armpit. Then, you just scoop them up with your hips and over they go. Since it’s a very “up and over” movement, you might land in a north/south position. At the very least, you’ll get side control on a very surprised opponent.
While Seoi Nage takes time to perfect, it’s a throw worth knowing. Even if you have no plans to use it, you’re best off knowing it just so you can defend against being thrown into orbit
About the Author: Jeff Meszaros is a blackbelt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and also has black belts in taekwondo and hapkido as well as a brown belt in judo. He is also a frequent contributor to Grapplearts.com
Related Takedown and Throwing Articles on Grapplearts
1, The Top 10 Throws and Takedowns for BJJ. This title might suggest that the article contains almost identical material to what you just read, but that’s not at all true. This other article on my site includes takedowns and techniques that come from wrestling as well as some BJJ-specific moves you should also learn about.
2, Best Takedown against a Bigger Opponent? If a BJJ world champion like Brandon Mullins, who competes at 118 lbs, starts telling you which takedowns work best against bigger opponents then you should probably listen to him, right?
3, 4 Takedowns from the Rear Bearhug. Getting behind your opponent puts you at a huge advantage IF you know how to capitalise on the position. Here are 4 relatively simple ways to take your opponent down when you have him in the rear bear hug.
4, The 2 Easiest Takedowns for Submission Grappling and MMA. Friend, MMA fighter and former training partner Denis Kang joins me to discuss the two easiest ways to take someone down when there’s no gi to grab onto.
5, How to Throw Defensive, Stiff-Arming, Bent-Over Opponents. One of the frustrations people run into if they’ve been training in Judo is the bent-over and stiff-arming posture that BJJ practitioners tend to adopt. Here’s exactly how to deal with that posture!
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