A 2012 Summer Olympics Bronze Medalist, Ugo Legrand is one of the best French judokas of all time. In this video he walks us through the way he sets up the Kouchi Gari throw.
Grips and The Feint
The starting position for the Kouchi Gari throw is a same-sided grip on your opponent’s sleeve, as well as your opponent gripping your collar with his opposite hand. When the starting position is established, Ugo Legrand says that you first need to pummel over your opponent’s shoulder and then grab the Gi behind his back, just above the belt. As you do this, however, he emphasizes that you need to be careful of being countered – to prevent this, you need to preserve your balance by being a little bit back from your opponent.
After doing the previous step, instructor Legrand says that your opponent will most likely react by pulling his hips back a bit, as he sees that „something is up“. This is perfect, as you need this reaction to go forward with your next step – making a feint. Instructor Legrand says that your hip, knee, sleeve and head need to feint a throw into the same direction, in order to make your opponent shift his leg back. The goal is to get your opponent to not have both of his legs in the same line.
Using Your Support Leg Properly
Now, you can proceed with the actual throw. Instructor Legrand emphasizes the importance of using your support leg properly – he says that, in order to initiate the throw, you need to transfer all of your bodyweight on the supportive leg’s foot. Then, you need to hop off of it, landing on it again; coach Legrand points out that this is a much more useful step than its other alternatives, one that will give you better timing with the throw. He also says that you can make this step into a useful drill, which you can do by yourself in order to get the movement down.
Use Your Sweep Leg Properly and Go Through Their Hips
As you land on that leg, your sweeping leg will hook your opponent’s front leg in order to take him down. This sweep is done diagonally. And pay attention to the way instructor Legrand hooks his training partner’s leg – it is behind his heel. The sweeping foot must also not be flat when performing this movement, but it needs to make itself into a „spoon“ as Legrand says; in other words, the bottom of your foot needs to face his heel.
It is also very important that your hips go deeply into and through your opponent’s hips as you initiate the Kouchi Gari. For, if you leave them back, you might be countered.
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