Monday, February 10, 2014

Mechanics of throwing

Last week I went back to my hometown for my Dad’s birthday [happy birthday Dad] and to watch a wrestling quad ( a competition between four teams as opposed to a wrestling meet or tournament).

The purpose of the quad was to raise money for a former football and wrestling coach of mine Bill Durbahn.

Bill is recovering from Leukemia and the proceeds from T-shirt sales went to help pay hospital costs and medical bills.

Good luck Mr. Durbahn you are in my prayers. 
The reason I mention it besides to praise the Mankato area wrestlers for doing something cool for a genuinely  good guy is a couple things from the quad and some recent training got me thinking about the mechanics of throwing

At the quad I saw Don Krusemark, who was the head wrestling coach back in my day.  He asked if I still had that killer double leg.  I said I am still taking people down but now I use different methods.

I took my daughters along.  Before the quad I realized that they had never seen wrestling before.  We watch WWE every now and then so I thought I better explain that it is very different.

My oldest watched for a while then  asked me, “why doesn’t he just hit him?”
I responded that you can’t hit in wrestling.
She shot back when we wrestle you, you always hit us.
Now you may be asking, why does Kasey hit his little girls.
1 – Hitting little girls is fun
2 – I really like to win
3 – I’m the kind of “feminist” that refuses to let being a girl be treated like a learning disability
I rough house with them the same way my brothers did with me.  The same way I would if they were boys.
Why?  Like last blog hard hands I want them to know getting hit especially in the face isn’t the end of the world.
I never want them to hit someone (other than me) but if they ever have to I want them to be able to do it well.

Females traditionally are socialized very differently.  They are told never to hit.  They are not rough housed with.  Then they don’t learn the rules of violence social or otherwise.  If they ever hit they are punished, or the hit is responded to with a higher level of violence (educational beat down).  So they are taught violence never works, comes with penalties, and will only get you hurt.

This conditioning may prepare them on how to deal with some forms of social violence, but is victim grooming for asocial violence.

I hope my daughters follow career paths that make them happy and they make oodles of money so they can take care of me in my old age in the manner I have become accustomed to.

I don’t want them to become Operators  - professional users of force.

However, we have a lot of fun playing / preparing to become superheroes




If they learn something of value while we play so much the better.
I would much prefer they had this knowledge and never had to use it, than need this knowledge and not have it because they played Prince Charming is going to come and save them.

Side note  - for an excellent article on women learning to use force and better ways to teach women to fight please check out:

I told my daughter that  I use the word wrestling as a generic term for any kind of fighting, but this is the official sport of wrestling
She said - Sure would be easier if you could hit him.
Yes, yes it is and that brings me to the point.

Sporting applications are great.  Wrestling truly is the sport of kings.  Two individuals of equal size test their skill against each other by attempting to take the other down and hold him down while the opponent  does everything he can to stop you, and do the same to you.  No judges, no one to help you, no one to blame just you and him.  Very true / pure form of competition.

Outside of sport, outside of a display of skill, what is the purpose of throwing ?

Sure Law Enforcement and Military need to capture and control people, putting someone on the ground to limit their mobility so they can somehow bind them makes sense.

Do take downs have any logical place in personal protection?
If you have no need to control the enemy are throws an appropriate force option?
When there are no weight classes, ref, mats, do throws make sense?


Fade to black roll credits great blog see you next week.

Yes, that is it, just yes?

Oh, allow me to explain.

Although I am a wrestler, I feel that striking is the simplest, most gross motor response to violence.
I like to think of strikes like Lego blocks.  Meaning anything more complex than a strike will be made up of strikes.

So, outclassed in size and strength, I’m not going to waste motion establishing my favorite Judo grips.
If you force me to put my hands on you, it will cost you.  I should be like a buzz saw or an electric fence.  Every time I touch you it should cause damage.

If in the course of causing you damage I knock you off-balance and you give me an opportunity to hit you with the planet it only makes sense to take advantage of that opportunity.

With this philosophy in mind Karate has some great throws and throwing application to movements performed in kata, sadly few Karateka are taught this.

Watching the 170 lb. match the kid from Mankato West kept getting pushed back.  In a brilliant move he held him tight in an under hook  and opened (what I call opening) like a bullfighter  letting  his opponent’s push go past him.  He pulled and fell on his chest.  Because of the under hook the opponent landed on his back.  The kid from West pinned him.

Got me thinking - How else are throws viable for personal protection?

Sacrifice throws.  In the realm of personal protection there is a phrase for when you are losing.  It is called getting your ass kicked.  Not losing by points, but having things broken.  If you are losing you have nothing more to lose by increasing chaos.  You may not be able to stop the enemy from moving you around, or throwing you to the ground.  But, you can do things to make sure they hit the ground first and you land on top of them.

Do throws make sense?  I have been wrecked by a throw.

I was bigger, stronger, and more skilled than the guy that did that to me.  That happened in a “friendly” randori session at a new Judo school I was checking out about six years ago.  My opponent trapped my foot to the ground and fell, pulling me on top of him.  I dislocated my foot and broke my leg.  

My point being if I could be wrecked by accident, throws can be used to disable on purpose.

So should everyone reading this go down to the local high school and start roiling with the wrestling team?
It would be cool if you could, and they would let you, but it is unnecessary.  

You don’t have to be a wrestler or Judoka to throw people.  People slip and fall, people trip over things all the time.  So if the planet and inanimate objects can throw people, it should be easy for folks smart enough to read this blog.

Part of my own training lately has been a mental game.  I have spent over half my life gaining the skills I own and I have the scars to prove it.  
How can I transmit that knowledge to others better?
How can I get them proficient faster?  

The mental game I have been playing is assuming the role of William Fairbairn in WWII.  I have to prepare someone to be able to use violence to take someone apart behind enemy lines as fast as possible.  

Or the role Ra’s Al Ghul, someone has come to me with the need to be proficient in the use of force.  I don’t have time to pass on an art or tradition.  I have to instill in them the fundamentals so that they can spontaneously improvise the best methods and tactics for them and the circumstances they will be in.

What are the fundamentals of throwing?

Like joint locks, if you go into a violent encounter with a Rolodex of throws you are going to try to do, you will have a very low probability of success.  However if you understand how throws work and are able to recognize opportunities to improvise throws you can take advantage of the “gifts” the enemy  may hand you.

What makes throws / take downs work?

  • Off Balance
  • Leverage
  • Placing an obstacle in path
  • Removing Structure
  • Slaving / Sacrifice
  • True throw
    • Half entry
    • Full Entry
Off Balance

It is hard to use one’s strength without balance.  Imagine your best dead lift.  Now try doing that same weight on a frozen lake, or while wearing roller skates.  So taking someone’s balance robs them of much of their strength.

If you’ve been attacked, it’s because they figured they could take you.  Bigger, stronger, meaner, are not qualities predators look for in prey.  So it is safe to assume that they are or believe themselves to be Bigger, stronger, and meaner than you.  They only way a throw will work against an enemy like that is if they lose their balance or you take it from them.

If you can move someone’s head or hips outside “the cone of balance”

They will fall over or they will need to step to reestablish a stable base


Using part of their body as a lever arm to move them out of the cone of balance.
An example of a lever throw would be Irimi Nage or Ago Ate Nage for Aikido
I couldn’t find a video to illustrate so imagine a palm heal strike to the chin that rocks their head back out of the cone of balance, then continuing to drive their head to the ground before they can regain balance.  You use the spine as one large lever arm to move the body.

Placing an obstacle in path

There are only so many ways a person can move to regain a base.   When you take their balance, but they do not fall, if you put something where they will need to step to regain balance they will fall.

An example to illustrate the point would be tai otoshi

Removing Structure

In the course of off balancing someone you may load all of your and their weight on one leg.  Temporarily immobilizing them.  If you kick the weight bearing support structure out, then they have to fall.

An example to illustrate the point would be osoto otoshi

Slaving / Sacrifice

If you latch on to them, make yourselves conjoined twins as I like to say, and drop, they have to come with you

To see what this might look like I like to use osoto makikomi as an example

True throw

After you have off balanced them you use your structure like a catapult or a trebuchet and throw the enemy over your hip.

These are usually broken down into half and full entry throws.  For personal protection it is dangerous to give the enemy your back so I prefer half entry such as O Goshi

Clearly I used a lot of Judo after I said you don’t need to study Judo.  The point I am trying to make is if you understand the principles that make those Judo throws work you know how to throw someone you don’t need to memorize 100’s of throws. 

If you memorize things, that knowledge gets stored in the wrong part of your brain and will be difficult if not impossible to access in violent confrontation.

Ingrain principles and you will be able to improvise throws under pressure.

Understand a hand full of key concepts and you know every throw in Judo.

On the flip side don’t take this as a dig on Judo.  Kano’s Randori – playing, training against resistive partners, these methods pushed the boundaries of martial arts training.  That wired the information to the part of the brain available in conflict.  Sport Judo today is not the same.

If Judo or any majority throwing art is the basis of your own personal system that is great.  That is a solid foundation. Throwing  is viable for self-protection.   Just be aware that you will need to subsidize your skills with other training to make sure you cover the gambit of use of force skills. 

Chin up, just as folks who don't train in a throwing art can acquire throwing skills by mastery of principles. 
Throwers can master the principles of other aspects in the use of force spectrum to incorporate those skills into their own personal protection method.

Train Hard, Train Smart, Be safe.

Here is a shout out to all the strong women in my life I am proud of you, and I am better for having known you