Foot sweep drill, part 4

Having looked at 3 throws off of catching uke's foot with an initial deashi harai foot sweep from 3 scenarios (uke pulls his foot back, he pulls it out of the way and you miss, and he braces against you or even pushes you back), it's time to look at a few other possible entries that several of us have been playing with. At this point, these ideas become more and more nebulous; I'm not going to claim that anyone of them (or even the ones I've presented previously) will work all the time (or even a majority of the time). This is all, mind you, simply experimental.

But as long as we keep with principles, I think we'll find ourselves wandering down a good path.

First, we return to the idea of uke stepping back, pulling his foot free from ours.

With the first set of throws from this condition (tori sweeping with his left foot), we let uke pull our foot with his until ours landed near his back foot (as a reminder, I'll post the original illustration).

Now we're going to play with letting our foot land on the line somewhere in between uke's feet. We're not taking as large a step as we did in the first set, although uke is still taking a large recovery step because we've disturbed his stepping pattern with the initial foot sweep. In other words, rather than ride his big recovery with a big movement of our own, we're going to step a little short (which puts our foot in between uke's).

1) In the first instance, our foot is turned parallel to uke's in order to set up harai tsurikomi ashi. We can actually get it two ways, here, we found. The first is with the typical sort of "wrist flick" we would normally do (both of my wrists pop up and back, a quick "on-off" motion) which brings uke's shoulders forward as his recovery foot is going back. Simply reach out with your left foot and tough him and you'll have it.

The other variation we played with had to do with a different arm action (the foot placement was the same). This time, our collar grip slips down to the outside of uke's left elbow and as his recovery foot moves, we push his elbow into his hip at the same speed (don't rush it). When it works, you'll often get such a smooth reaction that you'll likely "sweep" uke without every touching his foot.

But here's the downside to that one (so far). If uke is playing loose (his elbows moving about freely), then sure, it's easy. If, however, he's playing a little more, shall we say "stalwart" (not strong, not jigotai, just more "disciplined" in the way he holds himself and isn't waving his elbows around willy-nilly but holds them more securely at his side), you may be able to disrupt his posture a little, but the sweep will definitely require a foot. And it may still not work at all because, while I have control over one side of his body (the one with the hand on the elbow), I'm not really doing much to the other side (it's a little far away). I prefer to be fairly equal when disrupting uke's posture; if I pull my right elbow up for hiza guruma to bring uke's shoulder forward, for example, I like to use my left to prop under his other elbow in the same direction to help along, like turning the wheel on a bus. That's just me...

2) If I let my foot land in between uke's, toes pointed at him, perpendicular to the line of his feet, I can start kouchi gari. I'll need to get my right foot underneath me very quickly to allow my left foot to snag uke's trailing left foot.

A couple of things to remember. If I turn my hips and shoulder at the same time as my foot as I'm entering, uke will likely spin me around and dump me backward. I have to turn my foot and step, but keep my hips and shoulders mostly forward. Once I connect with uke and fit in, I can start my hips and shoulders turning (because we're connected, chest to chest, I will turn him, too). Secondly, the angle is perpendicular to uke's foot; I'm not trying to throw him straight back. There's definitely a turning action happening.

3) This one's a little more dynamic. Also, I would start this one with a right-footed deashi harai simply because I'm not good at throwing uchi mata on my left side (I'm barely capable of doing it on my right!). At any rate, I'm going to put my right foot down in between uke's, toes pointed at him (maybe not as deep as I would for kouchi gari, though). Then I let my left foot come in right underneath me, right next to my right foot, letting my left foot kick the right out from under me. If I catch the inner thigh right as uke's right foot (his recovery foot) is traveling, this is will come out fairly slick and effortless. I can't stop, though. I have to continue traveling back, through uke's center, otherwise you'll get that classic uchi mata deadlock where both of you are standing on one leg, the other leg in the air, both heads dipped forward and nothing happening.

If I prefer, however, I can put my left foot—or the balls of the toes of my left foot rather—behind my right heel, and wait a tiny bit longer. As uke's recovery foot travels back, I'll use my right leg and catch harai goshi, a throw I'm a little more comfortable with.

The three foot positions look something like this:

There's a few fun ones when uke pulls his foot out of the way, and when uke comes back forward, we'll have a ton to work with, so stay tuned.