What is this blurb?

Throwing is often simply taught as a disjoint set of techniques. That is to say, one has a specific grab for a specific throw and then the throw is made by attempting to overpower or overrun the opponent. What I have tried very hard to do here is give you not yet another list of throws, but a very powerful paradigm, or set of concepts and practices that embody the core of throwing. This will allow you to analyze your throwing to make it more effective. Moreover, the emphasis is on efficiency and ease of action, so that these techniques are not taxing. This will allow you to get an extremely natural way to throw and most importantly, you will have a method of training a huge number of throws relatively easily. This builds body sense and immediacy. Body sense is what is lacking when most people throw, but the type of dynamic I have seen in the best of the best is what I've tried to crystallize here.

The audience for this is anyone with at least some background in a throwing art. This is specifically from hakko denshin ryu aiki jujutsu and does refer to concepts from that art. It is most profitably read at or above green belt level. It would not be suitable as a very first text to read to acquaint oneself with throwing.

I am indebted to Tim Cartmell's book Effortless Combat Throws. He carried out a lot of analysis on throwing and it is strongly suggested that you read his book for more information.

Why throw?

This is the basic question everyone asks. Why not just hit the bad guy and have done with it? This sounds just great, but hidden in this are two assumptions that are untenable. First that you control the distance between you and your opponent so that he will remain far enough away to hit and secondly that a blow or two will stop him. Here is one common way for a fight to end up going to the floor: The attacker comes in swinging full bore and even if the defender wards off the blows, sheer momentum means they collide hard and are going to the floor. It is at this point that throwing should be done, so that the attacker hits the floor and the defender remains standing or at the very least lands on top. Another popular way to end up on the floor is from a close tackle. Most fights end up pretty quickly in grappling range. and it takes very little in the way of smarts to realize that once he has a hold of you, your striking won't work so well. Very often an attack is thwarted and the attacker starts to lose at which point a tackle occurs – often starting from less than a foot or two away. Throwing for us is not grabbing someone, ripping them off the floor and slamming them. This would mean that you could only effectively throw someone approximately your size or smaller. Throwing for us is guiding the attacker into the floor using his or her own momentum. Where there is movement and the distance is close, throwing is an option.

Another really good reason to throw is from several professionals that I really trust tell me that, in their experience, if you are up and your opponent is down, there is a good chance he will capitualate, because he realizes he can't get up fast enough to avoid an attack. They suggest always getting an attacker to the floor as a matter of course.

Throwing in this fashion, which I call defensive throwing also is aimed at keeping you on your feet. In other words, we throw to avoid a ground-fighting situation. Since all the rage now is offensive throwing which is the basis of sport (although the way it is done there often precludes much of its street effectiveness) as a lead in to floor-fighting, our attitude should be stressed.

There are other reasons as well. For one thing, there is a much lower training gap in throwing. Once you have mats, the throws you do in the dojo are exactly what you do elsewhere. No pulled punches, no bulky safety equipment that changes your striking. Moreover it is obvious your throw works, since you know if your partner is on the ground or not. In many striking arts, there is an insidious doublethink that goes on in which the practitioner has an impressive arsenal of strikes, none of which have been fully used on another body since they are too dangerous. This allows people the luxury of conceit that they are invincible at the same time they have nagging doubts if it will ever work.

Throws are also extremely effective. Even a skilled practitioner would not expect a single strike will disable a determined attacker and people can take quite a few solid strikes. This assumes that you can get a good, clean powerful shot at the attacker, which is a dicey proposition at best. On the other hand, the debilitating shock that a throw can induce can stun even the heartiest for long enough to do a follow-up. Indeed, if the receiver has no falling skills and the throw is done on a hard surface, chances are excellent that the receiver will not get up for quite some time.

Another good reason, even if you never intend on throwing anyone ever in a fight, is that there is a rising level of ukemi that occurs with throwing practice. This alone can justify learning how to throw. Anyone can go to the ground in a grappling situation and especially a self-defense situation where the terrain is uneven, slick, etc. Falling is how you control a landing and why incidentally why blocking strikes is lumped together with ukemi -- the receiving of techniques.

Finally, since throwing should be done naturally, i.e., with no undue effort, this can allow a smaller person whose blows would be ineffective to floor a larger opponent. As a matter of fact, many throws are considerably easier when the thrower is shorter than the reciever. Being shorter or smaller is, therefore, a height advantage in throwing.