My Top 10 Throws for Karate 1

Funakoshi Gichin demonstrating Ude Wa (Arm Ring), a basic double-leg takedown

Karate is typically recognized as a striking art, but there is plenty of evidence proving that it also incorporates joint manipulation, strangulation, and takedown techniques. According to Genbu-Kai Florida, karate is not a grappling art, either, and it’s grappling methods can be fairly crude. In the old days, that was fine because most karateka also participated in tegumi (hand fighting), which was the native grappling art of Okinawa. These days, we need to branch out into whatever grappling systems are available to us to enhance our karate. Unfortunately, many people do not have the time, money, or inclination to train at two (or more) locations to learn karate AND a grappling art. This topic was brought up for discussion on a karate forum that I frequent, and it prompted me to make this list. If you learn nothing else from a grappling art, I feel that these techniques can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your karate, as well as your understanding of some of the movements in kata.

Me, executing Harai Goshi with a double-overhook grip during a multiple attacker drill

Despite this being a “Top 10” list, the throws are not listed in any particular order. Since my grappling background is in judo, I have provided the judo terminology for each technique, although the same (or similar) techniques can be found in many other grappling arts. These are simply my recommendations for those who cannot devote themselves to learning a grappling art in its entirety, but want to pick up some useful techniques. You may find that some of these do not work well for you, and that’s fine–I encourage you to seek out techniques that fit you better!

Deashi Barrai (Advancing Foot Sweep)
Ko-Uchi Gari (Minor Inner Reap) or Ko-Soto Gari (Minor Outer Reap) depending on your position
Hiza Guruma (Knee Wheel)
O-Soto Gari (Major Outer Reap)
Koshi Guruma (Hip Wheel) or Harai Goshi (Sweeping Hip) if you need a boost
Tai Otoshi (Body Drop)
Ippon Seoi Nage (Single Shoulder Throw)
Morote Gari (Double Reap)
Kibisu Gaeshi (Heel Trip Reversal)
Sukui Nage (Scoop Throw) or Obi Otoshi (Belt Drop) if you can’t grab the leg

Three of the items on my list are actually two techniques, but because the movements are so similar I feel that they can be grouped together. I believe that if you know these techniques, practice them on resisting opponents, and learn how to defend against them, you will be able to integrate them into your karate and be more fully prepared to defend yourself. One of the key features that all of these techniques have that makes them ideal for self defense is that fact that, although they are classically done wearing one, they do not require a gi. Each one can be modified very simply with the use of arm hook grips (overhook/underhook) and head and neck grips (collar tie/headlock) so that the gi isn’t necessary.

All of that said, I would be remiss to tell you that these are the only throws that you should practice! I highly recommend that you find what works for you, and do your own research on throwing techniques. As I mentioned above, many karate masters of old practiced tegumi, and would have learned throwing techniques that way. Tegumi no longer exists, at least in the way it was practiced back then, but a modernized belt grappling sport called shima does still exist in Okinawa. In the video above you can see some techniques that are similar to the ones I listed above, and some that are rather unique. Compare these methods with those demonstrated by Funakoshi (Jesse Enkamp did a great write-up on these) and you can get a feel for some of the original throwing methods of karate.

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About Noah

I began training in karate (Shuri-Ryu) in the Summer of 2006. Subsequently, I started training in judo, kobudo, and iaijutsu within the next 6 months. During my training there, I earned the rank of Sankyu (3rd Degree Brown Belt) in Shuri-Ryu, Gokyu (Green Belt) in judo, a certification in the use of the bo, and passed proficiency tests for the four tachigata of Shinkage-Ryu iaijutsu. I moved to Arizona in the Summer of 2008, and continued training and researching karate at home. I continued regular training in judo at a local club until 2010, when I was able to start training in Shorin-Ryu with Sensei Richard Poage. I have been training with him ever since, and currently hold the rank of Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in Shorin-Ryu under him. In addition, I began studying KishimotoDi under Sensei Ulf Karlsson in 2014.

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