With this system throwing all becomes homogeneous. That is to say, a simple
takedown is not really much harder to do than throwing uke in some very odd way,
burying him a couple of inches deep in the mat. What sets off basic from advanced
throws is not how are they are to do for the thrower, but how much work the receiver
must do to land from them. Some of the nastiest throws so thoroughly compromise
uke that there cannot be any effective resistance. As mentioned earlier, advanced
throwing means advanced landing too. Advanced practitioners can be thrown in virtually
any position and simply land like a cat. We usually give out throws piecemeal at
the start of one's training. A couple of hip throws, a reap or two, a sweep, etc.
These are so that the student has a good basis for more advanced throwing and feels
completely comfortable with it. Of course, these are also the most likely throws
to use in a real life encounter too. Students are discouraged from varying the throws
much, at least while early in their training because we want to keep training as
safe as possible.
Studies on injuries in throwing (serious injuries,
such as broken legs and arms or paralyzing spinal injuries, not training contusions)
has been done for judo. While judo lacks a good many of the throws in jujutsu, it
is instructive to keep aware of the major reason for throwing injuries: resisting
the throw. Of course in judo being a sport, a single good throw will win a match,
so there is incentive built in to the rules to resist mightily. Usually it is uke
who is injured by resisting, and the three main ways to get injured are (1) reaps
or sweeps, since an enormous amount of torque can concentrate on the knees, (2)
body throws from which uke is very stiff and rigid so that the throw cannot be completed:
the landing is then incorrect (e.g. stiff-arming the ground rather than tapping
or uke lands on his head or shoulder) (3) any throw that uke impedes, causing tori
to loose balance land on him or her. When tori is injured, it is due most often
to trying to force an uncooperative opponent over, violating the most basic principle
of the art, yielding. In such instances where tori is fouled up, it is not uncommon
for both participants to be injured. There are many, many great counters to bad
throws, but a good throw -- which is defined as the one that actually launches you,
regardless of form -- has only ukemi as its counter.
Falling, or ukemi is the most basic exercise
that can be done to prepare for falling and throwing. Unlike many martial arts techniques
where it is unlikely that you will use them more than a couple of times in your
life (and it is sincerely hoped you never have to use them), falling can be required
at almost any time. Since the Banana Peel of Fate may reach any of us in the guise
of a patch of ice, and unexpected curb or a bike accident. What's more, falling
cultivates an excellent sense of balance and it is known that the elderly usually
fall in the following way: They detect that they are off-balance, then overcompensate
attempting to right themselves thereby causing themselves to fall. In effect, by not knowing
when they are at the point of no return for a fall, they over-react and throw
themselves. One study showed
the teaching the residents of a retirement home some basic falling caused the incidence
of falling injuries to drop drastically in this group. The reason is that the inner
ear gets trained as to what constitutes an actual versus a false fall.
Many students resist being thrown, thinking
that they are being more practical in their training. "After all, if someone
tried to throw me," they reason, "I would certainly thwart it." This
is good for a sporting situation, but you are most likely to get thrown the same
way as your opponent, viz., you are sure you have the kill shot, commit yourself
to it totally, and something goes wrong.
One of the first things
you learn in a martial art is the grave consequences of over-commitment to an
attack. Therefore, martial artists usually don't commit much until they are
quite sure they have a clear advantage. Not so for untrained fighters.
In a street situation the attacker will
likely be coming at you with everything he has. Many martial artists simply get
flattened because they do not expect a powerful attack.
Dealing with momentum is the heart of ju.
The other side of the coin for practicing falling diligently is landing
on hard surfaces. Many people get badly injured in street
encounters because they do not know how to land. If you are tori and
your partner always resists every throw, this does you no good and you will probably end up on the
floor in a fight because you never have had
to deal with too much momentum. If you as uke practice resisting when thrown, you will
never develop good enough falling to land well on concrete, because you will not be
positioning your head out of harm's way. Falling is all about timing
and advanced falling is very much about timing your lower body to get into a position
to do most of the work. You can stomp your feet for hours a day with no ill effect,
but not bounce your head off the floor more than once or twice. Actually, one very senior
jujutsu master flat out stated once that there is no throwing in application,
in the sense that the untrained will resist and in doing so will end up landing
on their head. This is why you should make every effort to practice your ukemi
when you are being thrown.
The first step is to control position and grapple, being sure that power
comes through the grapple at all times, so there are no "dead" spots.
A fit-in is a way to practice this. It is done by bringing the receiver to the kake
point, but not throwing. The receiver is then out back down and the fit-in is repeated.
Fit-ins are especially useful as a conditioning aid and a good workout is for a
smaller person to simply do several fit-ins on a larger one. These are not techniques,
but drills and are to foster good body sense.
At the basic level, all throws are designed
so that uke ends up in one of the characteristic positions for ukemi. This should
be borne in mind during practice and will add to the safety all the way around.
Students should not attempt to throw in an awkward position, but should check to
see that uke is in the correct posture. Control is the key.
We start in what we refer to as standard position,
meaning that the partners (no opponents at this point) are facing each other. The
thrower then takes the grapple. It is important to enunciate that several things
are going on at this point.
At this point, the receiver should not in any way shape or form resist,
but play the role of an ergonomically correct weight. This is especially crucial
initially. When a person is learning how to throw, it is expected that their throws
are lousy. It is easy to counter such a throw, but there will never be improvement
if the thrower can't develop some body sense and flow for the technique. Also, many
people who take up a martial art need to condition their bodies for the stresses.
Therefore, static practice is extremely important at building body sense and the
strength to control the throw no matter what. Part of practicing is to throw people
of very different sizes and shapes to see how the technique needs to be modified
or perhaps even to exclude a technique. For instance a small, light-boned woman
probably won't have much luck doing a powerful hip throw on a 300 lb. man and it
is better to understand this viscerally in the training hall rather than having
to discover it the hard way elsewhere. If the receiver stops the throw, the thrower
is under obligation to cease and desist with the assumption that something was amiss
and query accordingly.
All throwing is really done dynamically, but few things are quite as terrifying
as having a rank beginner launch you full bore and completely screw it up in the
middle, leaving you to your own devices in midair. So, doing throws statically removes
the need to blend motion and avoid an attack, but as long as we are aware of this
and why we do it at this stage, is fine.
Before the thrower starts adding power, the receiver should be allowed
to practice landing safely. This is done by having the thrower start the motion,
then letting the receiver control the landing, simply having the thrower follow.
The receiver should not be thrown until there is surety of a safe landing. This
is teaching the receiver the correct counter to the actual throw. Now throwing can
begin in earnest and many repetitions should be done.
Finally, in as much as possible, the thrower should see how to sap all
power from the throw. For instance, for a head throw (kubi nage) this might consist
of tori straightening the grappling arm to "catch" uke's shoulders. For
a stomach throw (tomoe nage, in judo) this will consist of keeping the foot planted
as long as possible. This is essential for practicing uchi komi at a higher level
so that the thrower can get a feel for having real power in the initial phase of
the throw, but not simply plant the receiver willy-nilly. This is also a safety
issue in case someone is thrown and something goes wrong: a good partner should
have enough control to help you if need be.
As for the conditioning aspects of static throwing,
it is a great idea to spend some small amount of time at the beginning of class
to do this as part of a warm-up. It is excellent at building stronger muscles and
joints and has a practical payback in terms of technique, unlike simple weightlifting.
Moreover, falling is excellent conditioning too. In taiso training for stamina,
one particularly exhausting drill is to throw uke as powerfully as can be done safely,
sapping all power from the throw, then deadlifting uke back to his feet for another
throw. This builds power like nothing else and a conditioning program could easily
be devised that simply uses basic throwing and falling.
The next phase of this is to have each party take a couple of steps before executing the throw. It is important to concentrate on smoothness here, so that uke suddenly finds himself airborne rather than sensing that someone has ripped him off the floor.
Here is a typical example using a rear sweep
(o soto gari) and the circle throw (kaiten nage). As uke attempts
a punch, tori
jams it with both arms on the punching side of uke's body and attempts o soto gari.
Uke senses this and roots himself to the floor, resisting the backward motion. Here
is the crucial point - when tori feels the resistance, he should immediately change
direction, yielding to uke. All tori really needs to do is drop his arms and body
weight and follow uke. This is an extremely good combination and embodies just what
we need to practice in these: Some technique is resisted, so tori switches to another.
If there is a weight commitment, a throw is in order. The feeling should always
be of following uke's wishes, as it were.
At the advanced level, concept driven practice with lots of combinations and counters should be the order of the day. While of course, you should practice counters against good throws, so you partner does not practice bad throwing, it is also quite illuminating to sometimes practice them against lousy ones too.