Ura waza experiments part 3

We covered counters to waki gatame (#10) in some of the earlier techniques, and countering kote hineri seemed pretty much the same as oshi taoshi (although, if I've missed something, by all means, let me know!), so we moved on to kote gaeshi.

There are probably as many ways to counter kote gaeshi as there are ukes, but here are just a few that we've discovered.

Before we get into any of them, however, it's important to understand one fundamental element that relates to pretty much all of these (except maybe one). Actually, the first thing to remember is that, with any of these counters, if tori does everything right, you're pretty much toast, end of story. Remember that we're working under the presumption that tori goofed and maybe sped up or tried to force something to happen.

With that little caveat out of the way, let's talk about the base for all of these counters.

Changing the kote gaeshi angle
I like to illustrate this right up front with a little drill. Stand facing your opponent at ma-ai distance. Have one person, uke, grab your wrist in kote gaeshi. Go ahead and get both hands on there for this if you like (or if you have a relatively weak grasp).
Without either of you moving, try to straighten out your wrist. Unless you happen to be big muscle-bound brute and your uke is a petit little waif, you probably won't be able to do it. Even if you can, it will only work as long as you're dealing with someone smaller and weaker, so the probability of success is pretty dicey.

Now, while uke still stands in place, take a pre-turned step to your left side (if uke is holding your right hand). This should put you at about a 90 degree angle relative to uke. NOW try straightening your hand. Much, much easier, right? Just doing that much alone in motion has a very real tendancy to dump people on their heads who aren't expecting it. Establishing that angle as uke is trying to apply kote gaeshi is the key. That being said, there are a number of variations you could encounter.

1) Countering kote gaeshi with kote gaeshi
We'll start with the text book ura waza. This assumes, of course, that uke has both hands on yours and is trying to extend you out over your toes. Once you find that angle and you'll step a little further and extend the other guy. You'll also use your free hand to nab uke's left hand, step around and do kote gaeshi back to him.

2) Countering kote gaeshi with gyakugamae ate
It probably goes without saying that tori does, after all, have a free hand. There are a couple of things you could do with it. First off, let's say uke is trying to get you with more of a converging kote gaeshi, or in other words, instead of backing away or extending you over your foot, he's trying to collapse your wrist and arm back toward you (and a little off to the side). Not a common form, but usefull in certain circumstances. Or maybe, rather than take your balance, he's just trying to wrench your wrist off. In this case, rather than try and break the grip, you'll just go with it and curl your own wrist until your whole arm is sucked up tight against your body. Do that as you turn to the left and stick a hand (or arm) in uke's face and down he goes. The whole thing has a way of stretching uke apart, his hands going one way, his head going the other.

3) Countering kote gaeshi with kubi guruma
For a long time, whenever I felt kote gaeshi coming on in randori, and I had a free hand, it automatically went to uke's face. Which worked for a time, but with experienced players, or anyone who had upgraded, they quickly turned that into a waki gatame. Oops. After a while, my hand ended up, instead, on the side, slightly curled around the back of uke's head, as in kubi guruma from the Big 10 (at the same time, mind you, as the tight turning grip-break mentioned above).

4) Countering kote gaeshi with juji garami
Many times, uke doesn't have his second hand involved in the kote gaeshi. In this case, I like using my free hand to catch under uke's free elbow, which ends up getting his arms crossed like an X in a form of judi garami. (And you can always throw a leg in front of uke, if you're judo inclined.)

5) Countering kote gaeshi with kote taoshi
A form we found pretty devastating for smaller toris to use is, along with the usual grip-break, putting your free hand on uke's throwing forearm. But unlike the usual downward motion of kote taoshi, curl uke's elbow in towards his body as you back away (fairly remeniscent of the 3rd technique from goshin jitsu no kata in judo). If you have the pleasure of having a smaller person do this one to you, I would advise you to reeeeeally tuck your head, because the ground comes up fast.