Friday, January 2, 2015

Takato's Utsuri-Goshi

Utsuri-Goshi is a Kodokan technique. So, in that sense, it is a classical technique. But it is not a throw you see many Japanese players specialize in. In fact, it's not a common throw among players of any nationality and until recent years, is rarely seen in competition.

A few European players are known to have incorporated it into their repertoire. This includes Ilias Iliadis from Greece, Krisztian Toth from Hungary, Georgii Zantaraia from Ukraine and Kim Polling from the Netherlands.

The only Japanese player I know of who does this regularly is Takato. In fact, it is one of his tokui-waza (the others being side takedown, kouchi-gari and sode-tsuri-komi-goshi).

I think the reason this throw is not so common is that, on the surface, it looks to be impossibly difficult to execute and seems to require a tremendous amount of strength to pull off. It's also a complex throw that requires two separate movements in different directions. This probably discourages many players from trying it.

Utsuri-goshi starts off as an ura-nage type movement, where you lift up your opponent as if you were going to throw him to the rear. But instead of throwing him backwards, you "switch hips" while you have him in the air and suddenly throw him to the front with an ogoshi type movement. It wouldn't be inaccurate to consider it a combination attack starting with ura-nage and ending with ogoshi -- with the switch happening while the opponent is hoisted off the ground!

Indeed, the players who specialize in it -- Iliadis, Toth, Zantaraia and Polling -- are all incredibly powerful players. This would lead one to naturally assume it's a technique only for power players. But Takato is not a power player. He's a small, agile, nimble player. Watch him execute his utsuri-goshi with apparent ease.

Interestingly, although he is a left-handed player, Takato does this technique to his right (just as he does with sode-tsuri-komi-goshi).

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