10 Devastating Judo Throws


Judo, or the “gentle way” is a martial art based on leverage and off-centering your opponent’s balance in order to perform a takedown and submit them. A form of Judo was used by the Samurai with the theory being that armor protected the enemy to the extent where punches and kicks would be ineffective. A throw however, would shock the system enough to where it provided time for a knife to be drawn and put into the weak points of the armor in order to kill, and believe me, if you get thrown with some of these bad boys the knife isn’t really necessary.

While knives and killing are generally frowned upon (depending on what sport you’re into), the power of a well- executed Judo throw is still more than enough to paralyze and even cause death. Even when done properly, injuries happen as they are wont to do when you’re in the habit of throwing people.  Though there are 67 throws of the Kodokan and all of them are pretty devestating in their own right, here are ten of them that have taught me a new lesson.  A lesson taught my Mr. Painfulasallhell.


This throw is part of “ashi-waza” or “foot technique”. Ashi waza is important in judo in that it gets a bigger opponent moving. When that happens, it sets the stage for you to use their momentum to your advantage. What is fantastic about ashi-waza, is that it can be extremely effective in ending the match if timed just right.

With deashi harai, your goal is to catch your opponent coming in, and a split second prior to their foot hitting the mat, you take it out from under them. While this doesn’t necessarily sound like it’s a powerful throw, the surprise feeling that comes with your foot not being where you expect it to be can cause for some awkward –and very painful – landings.

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE: Go jogging and inadvertently step on a roller-skate.

BODY PARTS USUALLY INJURED: Knee, ankle, shoulder


Ippon seoinage is the throw that you see in a variety of horrible fighting movies. You can think of it as the throw that people do when they are being choked from behind, but more realistically it looks like this.

While innocent and very basic looking, it’s important to remember that the person throwing (Tori) usually front rolls on top of you when completing the throw. Watch a few videos of Toshihiko Koga who is arguably the best practitioner of the seoinage to see how powerful this throw can actually be.

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE: Crouch down, then explode into the air and try to front flip, but fail. If you get up making that weird sound with an open mouth because your wind is knocked out of you, you have done it correctly.



O Goshi is a hip throw unlike most in judo. In order to perform the O Goshi, the tori must get very low in order to bring the uke’s (person being thrown) body forward over his center. If this is done properly, it is incredibly effortless and extremely surprising.

While O Goshi is probably the easiest throw on this list to learn, it doesn’t detract from the permanent damage that can come from such a technique. Imagine if this O Goshi at 0:26 had been done on hard ground instead of a mat.

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE: Walk down the road while texting and trip over a bike rack that is just above knee-high.



Ura nage is commonly seen in professional wrestling as a “German suplex”, but without all the…well, professional wrestling. Ideally you want to be on the side of your opponent with your legs split equally on each side of them – then you more or less haul them up and over your back. Obviously there is more to it than that, but the injury factor on this one is huge regardless of how you get them over.

In practice it’s best to do this throw with someone that has superb technique, otherwise the potential for neck and shoulder damage is a very real threat.

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE: Standing on the edge of a pool and someone walks by and pushes you in…except the pool is empty

BODY PARTS USUALLY INJURED: Elbow, neck, shoulder


This is what is typically known in wrestling as a “fireman’s carry”. Standing facing each other, tori will duck their head under the uke’s right arm while dropping to their knees as close to the uke as possible.   The tori then takes their right arm between the uke’s legs and brings them up and over the shoulders. It’s so-named in wrestling for the position being similar to that of a fireman carrying a person over their shoulders…without the whole dropping-them-to-the-ground part.

What differs about this throw in judo, is that it used to be done standing up, which means by the time the tori drops you, you could be as much as 6 feet in the air. That’s a pretty hefty fall for being on a mat let alone on the concrete. This throw has also been outlawed in international judo competition due to the habit of attacking the leg in order to initiate the throw. This kata guruma at 0:22 shows you the potential for bad things with this throw.

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE: Sleeping on the top bunk when you have issues falling off of your bed.

BODY PARTS USUALLY INJURED: Neck, back, shoulders


While not as powerful as a kata guruma, the sode tsurikomi goshi is dangerous in another aspect, and that aspect is that you control both of the sleeves of the opponent. That’s important because the opponent has very little resources to stop the throw, let alone land safely.

The way I remember this throw is to think of the Statue of Liberty. Facing the opponent and grabbing their corresponding sleeves, turn your back toward them while stepping in. At the same time, raise your right hand and lock it out over your head – this where you should resemble the Statue of Liberty pose. Once here, lean forward and bring your locked arm to the ground. Again, this is a very basic explanation and it happens very, very quickly.

One of most dynamic parts of this throw is that if it is failing halfway through, the tori can let go with one hand, reach behind them and hook the uke’s leg. While in this position, the tori is able to essentially front-flip onto their opponent. Here is an example of both in competition.

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE: Put your hands in your pockets and try that stationary front-flip thing again.



For those that follow MMA, jiu jitsu or judo, this throw should be somewhat known to you. One of the best practitioners of the O-soto gari in judo was Masahiko Kimura. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the reason we now call a shoulder-lock a “Kimura”.

Masahiko would practice the O-soto gari for hours a day against trees (yes, trees). He became so proficient at it that opponents would actually ask him not to use it prior to fighting him for the sole reason of his reputation for knocking people unconscious with it. This reputation was so strong that when Kimura was challenged by the father of Brazilian jiu jitsu, Helio Gracie, Kimura’s game-plan was simply to try to “knock him out” with O-soto gari. Prior to the fight, Masahiko noticed the mats were softer than usual which aided in Helio avoiding the knockout, but he was eventually submitted by a reverse-ude-garami…commonly known now as the kimura.

Here is Kimura fighting Helio in 1951, and his insanely powerful O-soto gari at the 0:12 mark

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE: Have someone tackle you at chest-level from the front and calf-level from the back at the same time.

BODY PARTS USUALLY INJURED: Ribs, knee, head, neck, soul


The uchi mata is considered one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult throw in judo to master. The reason that it is relentlessly studied and practiced by judoka the world over is that it’s also one of the most effective. One of the reasons for its practicality is that it’s a great throw to “get in” on someone that is keeping away from you.

There are more or less two versions of the uchi mata. The first version can be seen here, where Kosei Inoue demonstrates his version where the uke is lifted with the hip on the far leg. The second version is normally what you see in competition where the leg is hooked, which helps get under the uke’s center of gravity enabling the tori to complete the throw. The feeling of uchi mata is similar to straddling a log, then being pulled forward until you roll off to one side.

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE: It’s similar to straddling a log, then being pul…you know.

BODY PARTS USUALLY INJURED: Surprisingly few. This throw can cause paralysis and death when performed on a hard surface due to the power and rotation of the body. That force is generally on your torso which lands flat when thrown properly which promotes the spreading of pressure throughout the body. To put it simply, on a mat you should be fine, on asphalt, you’ll have a damaged spine, knee, shoulder, head, spleen, you name it.


A harai goshi is different to an uchi mata in a couple of ways – the first being that you are blocking both of the uke’s legs when throwing them, creating more of a dropping effect while keeping the torque of the body the same. The second difference is that this one hurts even when it doesn’t. What I mean by that, is when you’re thrown with a really good harai goshi, you land hard. Judoka know how to break-fall which cushions the force of the throws, but that’s all it does, it cushions, not eliminates.

Here is a proper harai goshi. Notice the force that the uke hits the ground with…also notice how they get up slow even when they know what’s coming. Hell, imaging what would happen if you didn’t know this was coming – like this guy that loses by harai goshi knockout.

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE: Gravity increases by 1000 and you fall backwards in your chair

BODY PARTS USUALLY INJURED: Pride, equilibrium, ribs and back


Let me clear something up before digging deeper into this one. The term “makikomi” refers to wrapping or “rolling up”. To put it in its most simple terms, if you put “makikomi” after the initial part of the throw, you are more or less reaching over the uke’s head and onto the opposite arm, then pulling them behind you as you complete the throw. For example, here is an o-soto makikomi and here is the harai goshi version – a harai makikomi.

Of the makikomis, hane makikomi is by far the most destructive.  I say this because one of my judo coaches, Bill Closs, loves them – believe me, you can feel the love as you crash into the mat.  It’s a version of a hane goshi which is a spring hip throw. Just look at this thing. Just watching that throw makes every part of my body hurt.

The thing about this particular makikomi, is that the tori uses the outside of his knee to spring your lower body into the air – which essentially just elevates you to a good four feet into the air. Then there is downward pressure on your upper body that is continuous until earth stops you. When was the last time you’ve ever had something feel good when it ends in “until earth stops you”? Exactly.

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE: The Incredible Hulk kicks you into the air then Ironman grabs you and flies you back into the ground where your little frail body sits in its own private crater.

BODY PARTS USUALLY INJURED: Shoulder, ribs, anything related to fetal positions and a bunch of internal things.

Categories: "Top" lists, EVERYTHING (in no particular order), Humor, Jiu Jitsu and Judo

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7 replies

  1. CTRL+F = no Kane Basame


  2. Uchi mata is the effective you know

  3. No Kani Basami experience? That’s one of my favorite ones to perform and can be very devastating.

  4. How would you rate the training that’s being offered by the International Judo Federation with the training that’s being offerded at the Kodokan Institute?
    Master Ken Keith
    Chicago, Illinois



  1. 10 Devastating Judo Throws | Utah Martial Arts and MMA

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