Smaller Opponent Controls The Match, Let’s Try Harai Goshi


Almost everyone had an opportunity to fight versus a fighter who is a lot smaller than him and harai goshi, the Judo hip throws that we introduce today will be one of the most useful weapons.

Judo Throw Harai GoshiJudo Throw Harai Goshi

In Judo, or even other grappling sports, such as MMA, BJJ or wrestling, there is a dilemma, height needn’t mean anything.


Smaller opponents generally have a lower center of gravity and they are extremely stable.

In fact, it leaves them vulnerable to hip or neck throws, but you need to be warned.

But in reverse, when it comes to popular Judo techniques such as  tomoe nage or any gari technique, smaller fighters definitively have an advantage.

It is a lot easier for them to kick you out of balance or perform a throw if their arms are going to the level of your belt.

So what would you do if a smaller opponent controls the match?

The answer is simple – harai goshi!

Use his neck against him and show him who the boss is! This is an attacking technique by its nature.

What Is Harai Goshi?

Harai Goshi Gif - 1

Harai Goshi Gif - 1

#1 – Harai Goshi in basics

Harai goshi is also one of Jigoro Kano’s throws.

Known as sweeping hip throw and hip sweep, it can be seen in wrestling, Sambo, Sanshou, and UFC.

In the world of mixed martial arts, this is an awesome way to surprise a wrestler who constantly clinches up with you if you stand in the same stance.

The idea of this throw is not to go hard, you should basically focus on using the error of your opponent against him.

  • Unlike other throws, there is no need to squat here at all.
  • You should just control your opponent and lift him off the ground on your hip and perform the throw.
  • NOTE: That is the reason why harai goshi is very often used if the height differential is bigger than 4 inches.

#2 – Harai Goshi in modern martial arts systems

The technique is a part of Kodokan Judo and harai goshi is also a part of Kar-do-Jitsu-Ryu martial arts system (one of the first American mixed martial arts created by Shidoshi John F. Manniel III).

Teddy Rinner is a perfect example of the master of harai goshi.

And here are the reasons – he is 204 centimeters tall and he competes in the heavyweight bout.

Let’s see a brief analysis here: 

  • However, many fighters are usually smaller than 190 centimeters. That means the height differential is usually 4 inches or more.
  • Riner has longer arms, which gives him a better opportunity to grab the opponent’s neck and force him to go in the air.
  • Despite he is very powerful judoka, he mostly waits for the error of the opponent, grabs his neck and finishes the fight via stunning harai goshi.

This video below says it all.

The throw may look very attractive since the legs of your opponent can go very high in the air.

You can perform the throw in every weight bout, but height differential is desirable if you want to increase the chances of success.

Harai Goshi, How to?

FIRST STEP – Lure your opponent to a trap

The technique is used in the situations where you need to finish the match via one surprising throw. Experienced fighters use this throw as soon as the opponent makes a mistake and goes under the level of their chest.

The most important thing about this throw is trapping the opponent’s neck. You need to reduce the chances of escaping to the minimum. Is there a better way for that from trapping the weakest part of human body?

Here is the description of this technique with the demonstration video or you can also see our animation images below.
harai goshi

harai goshi

Read more:

1. Step 1

  • Both tori and uke stand in guard.
  • Tori keeps his left hand on the uke’s right sleeve under his elbow, while the right hand is on uke’s shoulder.
  • Both fighters should assume the same stance.
  • However, harai goshi is possible if the fighters stand in different stances too.

2. Step 2

Harai Goshi Gif - 2

Harai Goshi Gif - 2

Tori steps forward counterclockwise, decreasing the distance between him and uke.

At the same time, tori places his right hand on the rear part of uke’s kimono in the level of his rhomboid muscles, maintaining the contact with his right sleeve all the time.

The hip of tori should initiate the contact with uke in the level of his belt.

During this phase, tori rotates his right foot 90-degrees counterclockwise.

Important note:

  • You can place your right hand under the opponent’s arm.
  • This is more MMA or wrestling style, but it is equally effective , especially, in the situation when your arm is stuck, this is a great solution.
  • Your right arm can be trapped, and you can end the fight via surprise!

3. Step 3

  • Tori rotates his left foot 180-degrees counterclockwise and steps backward, turning his back towards the opponent.
  • At the same time, he rotates right foot additional 90-degrees counterclockwise.
  • Tori wraps his right arm around uke’s shoulder, placing it on the rear part of the right deltoid muscle.
  • Body contact has to remain tight throughout the whole throw.

4. Step 4

  • Tori sweeps backward with his right leg (the same movement like uchi mata, but you must sweep to the outer side of opponent’s right leg, not between his legs) keeping opponent’s neck trapped all the time.
  • When uke is launched in the air, you should release his kimono as soon as his legs are in the level with your right leg.
  • Uke should fall on his back.

After the throw

  • When it comes to the judo fight, this throw will mostly finish the fight cause the opponent falls straight on his back.
  • However, if the opponent falls on the side or stomach, you can grab his arm and attempt a submission or you can go for a choke.
  • The point of the throw is – you are ending in the side control position and there are many various ways to finish the fight from here.
  • When it comes to MMA, you can continue to punch or elbow him. It can even be a world-class slam knockout!

Other important things

If you perform an MMA style harai goshi, there are 2 differences – your hand should go under the arm of your opponent & you should perform a step back.

  • If your hand is at the level of the neck, the throw is possible, but there is a risk opponent’s arms will slip.
  • If you perform a step back and push your hip towards the opponent, you will lessen the chances for the opponent to escape.
  • Here is a demonstration video, look it thoroughly!

It is an excellent technique in the MMA if the opponent constantly clinches up with you.

  • If one of your arms is on his hand, and the other under his arm, this is your chance.
  • Don’t try to perform it if your opponent is on the fence, you can hurt your arm easily.

The best way to apply this technique is to use feints and various setups.

  • At the end of this part, you can find a good video tutorial of how various types of setups can lead to more success.
  • Before you learn these setups, make sure you mastered ko uchi gari, osoto gari and uchi mata.
  • There is no better way to surprise the opponent if you feint uchi mata – try for another leg and move your right hand higher!
  • Knowing of an arm drag is a big plus too!

Countering harai goshi

The best counter for harai goshi is harai goshi gaeshi.

  • As soon as your opponent tries to throw you, move explosively to the left if he uses right stance.
  • Make sure you wrap your left leg around his knee.
  • Grab his kimono and rotate sideways, using the moment when his right leg is in the air and throwing him on the back.
  • This counter is very difficult but very effective.
  • Your opponent has to risk and turn his back towards you.

You can also jump on his back and attempt standing rear naked choke before he is able to sweep with his right leg.

  • Jump on his back, place the arms on his neck and wrap your hands around his body.
  • Try to maintain the position as long as you can. Your opponent will have to tap out if you wrap around him properly.

Harai goshi as a Counter Attack

There are few throws which can be countered by harai goshi:

The technique is excellent for any type of fighter who works on your legs or hips a lot.

If his head is constantly on the level of your chest or belt, you can catch his neck before he even realizes what happened.

Wrap It Up

If you learned basic throws, harai goshi will make you one of the most dangerous judokas in your weight bout.

You will be able to defeat smaller and bigger opponents and your repertoire will be huge.

Any type of the opponent will have problems with you.

Remember, attempt this technique quickly! And make sure to try it versus smaller opponent – you will increase your chances of ending the fight!

Enjoy some excellent harai goshi examples from Judo and MMA!

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