Foot sweep drill, part 2

Only one other person showed up for judo this morning, which gave me the time and opportunity to review in my own mind (let alone with another person) the various aspects of this drill that I and many other explored during shochugeiko (a big old thank you to Scott Weaver for being such a willing guinea pig!).

As I mentioned in the last post, we've found a number of interesting possibilities stemming from these three conditions: 1) deashi harai where uke recovers by stepping back; 2) when uke pulls his foot out of the way; and 3) when uke pushes back forward). But to start with, I'm sticking with three basic throws based on three basic foot positions for each of those three situations.

The last post dealt with the idea that uke, once his foot has been caught, pulls it free and steps back. This time, we're working under the assumption that uke can see the foot sweep coming and attempts to pull his foot back to avoid tori's sweep. With the first situation, where tori actually does get a hold of uke's foot, it's a combination of two things that create a slight off-balance: 1) we've interrupted his normal step, obviously, which means his butt ends up past his feet (anytime uke's shoulder/hips/feet are out of line, we get a kazushi); and 2) the action of uke pulling his foot free to get it back under his butt is an exaggerated one, which puts his feet further apart than normal (which is a good thing for us).

This time, it's uke's own action that create a slight off-balance. Typically (though not always), when he pulls his foot back to get it out of the way of an oncoming sweep, he speeds his movement up and ends up in a wider stance than normal anyway. He also tends to straighten his arms a little to try and hold you out and away from his feet, which tends to pitch him forward slightly. Now, we're going to capitalize on that wider stance and defensive posture.

Let's assume that, for all three of these, that we're sweeping with the left foot for demonstration purposes. We sweep with the left and miss; uke pulls his right foot back. Our left foot is now hanging in the air, looking for a place to land. But we don't want to put it down just any old place. We'd like to continue our attack and not let uke off the hook by starting over.

1) If I put my foot down across the line, my left foot right next to uke's left foot (on the outside), I can continue my forward momentum, though turned somewhat at an angle perpendicular to uke's feet (to the rear), and use my right foot to catch ko soto gari. I also tend to switch my grip at this point: my right hand goes from the collar to cup uke's left elbow, and my left hand goes from uke's sleeve to his neck (on the right side). This tends to add a little extra bend to uke's spine in a lovely way.

2) If I put my foot down on the line (toes pointed at him), I can actually get a couple of things. My first thought was tani otoshi, a sutemi waza or sacrifice throw. Which will work, but I was informed that this particular throw has an unfortunate tendency to break legs. But there's another option which still works just as nicely, and still takes advantage of that perpendicular line to uke's rear, and is quite a bit safer for day to day practice.

I put my foot in the same place, but step behind him with my right foot, let my right arm slide in front of uke (I lift his elbow up and out of the way with my left-hand sleeve) grip, and gently sit down in a "nice" version of sukui nage. (The "not-so-nice" version is, of course, grabbing the guys knees and dumping him back on his head. The "sit-down" version is easier on everyone involved, and can tolerate more repetitions.) For all the aikidoka out there who practice judo as well, gedan ate is also a nice option here, and doesn't require falling down with uke.

3) For the last option, I put my left foot down across the line, put point in the opposite direction of the first throw. Now we're going to take advantage of the perpendicular line of uke's feet to his front. This is a weird way to step (unless you do the drills at the beginning of class that will help you walk like this!), but it sets you up for a nice entry into o guruma or ashi guruma (depending on where your foot and/or leg ends up) that should look a lot like the classical entry. I actually happen to have a video of this one (taken a long time ago, before I started thinking about these drills), featuring two wonderful judoka from Windsong dojo, Kyle Sloan sensei and Derek Hall.

The foot placement looks something like this (click to enlarge):

There's more possibilities here, of course, and hopefully I'll get to them soon. Stay tuned for part three!


  1. Your blog is truly becoming a wonderful stopping point on my internet training time. Thank you, and I look forward to throwing you sometime soon!

    Oh by the way, I just learned you are in the artist in Nick's book. Great stuff!

  2. more than just the book -- he'e one of the main aesthetic drivers for the whole place-- of it looks really cool around here there are good chances that it has Sean's fingerprints on it


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