How To Improve Your Osoto Gari By Neil Adams 9th Dan

Osoto Gari is one of the most powerful techniques in Judo and is often one of the first taught to any Judoka.

And, we see Osoto Gari used at almost all levels of Judo. From our children and adult beginners all the way up to the elite level Judoka.

However, despite its use, we see people train Osoto Gari in a biomechanically inefficient manner, leaving most of the potential power for the throw, out.

So, in this article, I am going to give you my views on training Osoto Gari and how to have more success with the technique in both Randori and competition. 

What Is Osoto Gari?

Osoto Gari is a major outer reaping throw.

Or that's the way it is explained as. 

However, I think that the important thing that we need to point out is that it's not just about major outer reaping, it's about a change of direction, change of balance and readjustment of balance.

It is these key details that make the throw a success. 

Where People Go Wrong With Osoto Gari

When we see Osoto Gari demonstrated, we always see it with a straight line and taking our partner directly back. Everyone's standing straight up and they just swing the leg.

Believing that the more they swing the leg, the more powerful the reaping action will be.

It is the head that plays a massive part. 

It's like the whole body is a pendulum. As the head goes forward, then the reaping action of the leg is coming in the opposite direction. As the head goes down then the leg comes up. 

However, even with the pendulum part, a lot of people think the higher you kick up, the more you've got going back, but that's not the case. 

It's more like a horse kick to the back. You're using your hamstring to power the technique and not necessarily the upward swing of the leg.

It's a little bit like a big punch being thrown. If you take the arm right back you lose the power because a lot of power comes from the whole body working together. 

And sometimes, short movements can get more power than these big swings.

I also think that it's really important that the hands and the legs and the body are projecting in the direction that we want it to go, all working together. These are the key elements of increasing the power in Osoto Gari.

Learning From Competition Examples Of Osoto Gari

If you see Osoto Gari executed in competition, it is either right to right situation or it's an opposite situation, right against left. 

So obviously, if it's against the opposite, if it's a right-hander doing against a left-hander, then you have more space to fill. 

You have to cross space in order to close the gap, in order to get the reaping action and also to readjust the support leg. 

The support leg has to come forwards and you have to fill space.

Now the really most important thing here with any Osoto Gari done against a left-hander or right-hander is a readjustment of balance. 

The support leg always plays a key element. 

If it's crossing over that balance line, then you're going to be in danger of getting countered in the opposite way with the Osoto. 

A readjustment of balance with the support and driving leg, the leg that we're going to drive off, it's really important that it's just behind the balance line or in parallel with the balance line, not over it. 

If it is over it, then there is a big chance of being countered.

Hooking Osoto Gari

There are some Judoka such as Nicholas Gill that employ a hooking style of Osoto Gari 

He reaches, and normally we would say, "Don't reach." If you reach then there is a good chance of you being countered.

But if you do hook the leg, then you've got to readjust into position. This may look like a hop into position of balance. 

What Gill does (and why he was so successful) is, he'll catch the leg and just behind the knee, but then he readjusts his balance, with everything coming forward, 

He pins the partner's weight over the leg that's been swept. 

So what he'll do is hook round, then he'll readjust his back leg in order that he can drive off it, and then you've got the hands and the body and the legs all going in the same direction. So the catch is very, very important. 

That catch of the leg is important, but you've got to make sure that you follow up very, very quickly with the rest of the body if you prefer this style of hooking Osoto.

The Importance Of Kumi kata with Osoto Gari

The success with your Osoto Gari is directly linked with your Kumi kata (gripping).

As with all throws, if you aren’t dominating the grip, then the throw will fail.

And with Osoto Gari, it is essential that you are able to dominate the grips before you try and attack.

(A big thanks to Paul Ajala and Harrow School Judo for hosting this seminar, you can find more about the incredible Judo at School project by clicking here)


So there you have it.

My views on Osoto Gari.

With all throws, you need the hand, feet, body and head working together to make them a success.

Yet, with Osoto we so often see people trying to develop a more powerful reaping action when this reaping action we see so often in Uchikomi has little resemblance to how the throw is performed under resistance.

So, by breaking down Osoto Gari and looking at what makes the throw successful, we see that there are multiple areas we need to work on and not simply focus on swinging the leg as high as possible or lifting our opponent up onto their toes. It is about correct breaking of balance and pinning the weight correctly. 

To learn more about Osoto Gari check out our products Judo Excellence and Essential Judo.

Both are packed with training advice on this powerful throw.

Thanks for reading.

Neil Adams MBE

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