FightingArts Home Connect to the FightingArts Forums! Explore the FightingArts Knowledge Base in the Reading Room Shop the FightingArts Estore
Free Newsletter
Estore Martial Arts Products
Forums

Throws in Karate?

by Joe Swift

The mere mention of the word "karate" conjures up many images to the listener, the most common probably being that of two combatants fighting each other with kicks and punches. However, this image seems to stem from the training methods and practices adopted by modern karate, and is not necessarily a true representation of the older Okinawan methods. In fact, karate is more of a complete self defense system than most non-practitioners realize, incorporating not only strikes, punches, and kicks aimed at the body's most anatomically vulnerable areas, but also joint locks, takedowns, throws, strangulations, restraints, etc.

This article will focus its attention to one all-but-forgotten aspect of karate application, namely throwing techniques.

Specific mention of throwing techniques in karate can be found as far back as 1922, in the first known published book on the art, Funakoshiís classic Ryukyu Kenpo Toudi. This book nominated eight throws, with specific mention that at least two of them were applications from kata described in the book. Funakoshiís next two books, Rentan Goshin Toudijutsu (1925) and Karatedo Kyohan (1935), also contained examples of throws and takedowns.

One other book worth taking a look at is the 1938 collaborative publication entitled Kobo Kenpo Karatedo Nyumon by Mabuni Kenwa and Nakasone Genwa. In addition to describing many throws and takedowns, Mabuni also states that the karate that was introduced to Tokyo (Mabuni lived/taught in Osaka) was only a single portion of a larger whole, and that the fact that people in Tokyo viewed karate as a solely striking and kicking art only served to point out their overall lack of awareness of the complete nature of karate (Mabuni et al, 1938).

More often than not, throws are not implicit in the kata techniques, but serve more as follow ups or "exit techniques" after the necessary set-up, or "entry technique" has been established through strikes. One general rule of thumbs for throwing in general is to first damage the opponent with strikes, so as to lessen the chances for resistance (Kinjo, 1991).

Senior American karate teacher Dan Smith, who has spent considerable time learning karate at the "source" in Okinawa, from numerous teachers, recently observed the following:

"The question was why didn't the kata show the full follow through on throws in the kata. I asked the question while on Okinawa of several senior teachers. Their unanimous answer was that the throws in Okinawan karate are not meant to throw the opponent anywhere but the ground. Secondly, it is not appropriate to think you can throw someone far when you have already struck them and at the point of throwing or tripping them to the ground they should already be headed that way. . . If you follow the bunkai of the kata the throws are proceeded by striking techniques, which should eliminate the ability to off balance the opponent and use their momentum to throw them very far from where you are." (Smith, 1999)

Let us now take a look at some specific throws found in karate kata.

From Kusanku, Passai, Pinan Godan, Seiyunchin, Chinto, etc.

This particular throwing technique that can be utilized in response to many types of attack, including a straight punch to the facial area, a wrist grab, an attempted lapel or throat grab, etc. Thus, as the method of entry depends upon what type of attack is being defended against, this description will not cover a specific entry into the technique, but rather explain the actual technique itself.

This technique is actually an application of a position found in most, if not all, versions of Kusanku, as well as in Passai, Chinto, Pinan Godan, Seiyunchin, and several other kata. This posture goes by many names, such as Manji-gamae, Tettsui-gamae, Ura-gamae, etc., and comes in many variations. It is represented by one hand in a low position in front of the performer and the other hand raised up either above the forehead or behind the head. Some kata use an open hand, others a closed fist, and the stance also often changes between kata and/or variations. However, the fundamental principle remains the same.

Photograph 1. The application of the posture. The right hand pulls the opponent's right hand to break his balance as the left hand strikes into the lower body. Possible kyusho targets are denko (GB-24) or inazuma (Liv-13). The idea here is to inflict damage on the opponent before throwing.
Photograph 1. The application of the posture. The right hand pulls the opponent's right hand to break his balance as the left hand strikes into the lower body. Possible kyusho targets are denko (GB-24) or inazuma (Liv-13). The idea here is to inflict damage on the opponent before throwing.

Photograph 2. Step in front of the opponent's right leg, and slap the testicles with the left hand to inflict more damage and to get the opponent to bend forward.
Photograph 2. Step in front of the opponent's right leg, and slap the testicles with the left hand to inflict more damage and to get the opponent to bend forward.

Photograph 3. Controlling the opponent's left hand, apply pressure to the Golgi receptors at the back of the tricep tendon (kyusho name hiji-tsume, TW-11), and
Photograph 3. Controlling the opponent's left hand, apply pressure to the Golgi receptors at the back of the tricep tendon (kyusho name hiji-tsume, TW-11), and

Photograph 4. Turning the hips to the right, throw the opponent down. Possible follow ups can include a well placed strike or kick, a joint lock, or similar technique of subjugation.
Photograph 4. Turning the hips to the right, throw the opponent down. Possible follow ups can include a well placed strike or kick, a joint lock, or similar technique of subjugation.

     
From Kururunfa

This throw is actually described in Mabuni and Nakasoni's 1938 Karatedo Nyumon, page 208. It is an application against a full nelson hold from behind. Below is an English translation of the instructions, with accompanying line drawings from the book.

Ura-nage (Throw to the Rear)

When the opponent grabs you in a full-nelson by inserting his hands under your armpits, before he can get set, immediately bring both arms up, backs of the hands facing each other, and strike down with your elbows with all your strength (as if performing a descending elbow smash).

The opponent's grip should loosen, and you should then head-butt him in the face (if the opponent has gotten you in a deep full-nelson, your head-butt will probably strike him in the throat or the chest). Sink your body down, grab the back of his knees with your hands, and topple him backwards by striking again with the back of your head.

Note: Be sure to keep your mouth open when you perform the rear head-butt, as if you close it, you run the risk of numbing your eyes (temporary blindness ñ tr).

In closing, I would like to share a personal anecdote. Showing a copy of a Japanese translation of the Bubishi to my current teacher, we were looking at the 48 self defense techniques presented therein. After a few minutes, he looked at me, and said, "Letís get out on the dojo floor." He proceeded to demonstrate (on me!) several takedowns and grappling techniques that were almost verbatim from the Bubishi. I asked him where he learned them. His reply: "Jujutsu."

Bibliography

Funakoshi, G. (1922) Ryukyu Kenpo Toudi. Tokyo: Bukyosha (Reprinted edition, 1994, Naha: Yoju-shorin)

Funakoshi, G. (1925) Rentan Goshin Toudijutsu. Tokyo: Kobundo. (Reprinted edition, 1996, Yoju-shorin)

Funakoshi, G. (1935) Karatedo Kyohan. Tokyo: Okura Kobundo.

Kinjo H. (1991) Yomigaeru Dento Karate (A Return to Traditional Karate) Vol 3 (video presentation). Tokyo: Quest Productions.

Mabuni K. and Nakasone G. (1938) Kobo Kenpo Karatedo Nyumon. Tokyo: Kobukan. (Reprint edition, 1996, Naha: Yoju-shorin)

Smith, D. (1999) E-mail Post to Cyber Dojo

Photo Credits:
All old photographs in this article were provided by Mr. Takeishi Kazumi of Yoju Shorin Bookstore in Okinawa. I would also like to personally thank my dojo-mate Mr. Matsumoto, for posing in the other photographs, as well as my teacher Uematsu Yoshiyuki Sensei, for the use of his dojo when shooting the photos.


About the Author:

Joe Swift, native of New York State (USA) has lived in Japan since 1994. He holds a dan-rank in Isshinryu Karatedo, and also currently acts as assistant instructor at the Mushinkan Shoreiryu Karate Kobudo Dojo in Kanazawa, Japan. He is also a member of the International Ryukyu Karate Research Society and the Okinawa Isshinryu Karate Kobudo Association. He currently works as a translator/interpreter for the Ishikawa International Cooperation Research Centre in Kanazawa. He is also on the Board of Advisors for FightingArts.com.



Two of Mabuni Kenwa (from his 1938 book Karatedo Nyumon)
His partner in the photos is Taira Shinken.


To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

karate throws, kata techniques, bunkai, leg techniques


Read more articles by Joe Swift

Return to Karate

Return to the Main Reading Room

 

 

Advertising InformationFeedback
Home Forums Reading Room Estore About Us

Copyright © 2000-2012 FightingArts.com a division of eCommunities LLC.
All rights reserved. Use of this website is governed by the Terms of Use .

Privacy Statement



Action Ads
1.5 Million Plus Page Views
Monthly
Only $89
Details

Fight Videos
Night club fight footage and street fights captured with the world's first bouncer spy cam

How to Matrix!
Learn ten times faster with new training method. Learn entire arts for as little as $10 per disk.

Self Defense
Stun guns, pepper spray, Mace and self defense products. Alarms for personal and home use.

TASER MC26C
Stop An Urban Gorilla: Get 2 FREE TASER M26C Replacement Air Cartridges With Each New TASER M26C!

 

Unbreakable Unbrella