The Art of Judo Combination Footwork

One of the biggest problems that Judoka have with combinations - is the placement of the driver leg, ie; the leg that is still on the ground, and providing the most force for the throw.  Even if you have both feet on the ground, such as in a right sided Seoinage, both legs do not equally provide power, in this case, it would be the left leg which is the driver leg.

The most frequent mistake made by white belts, and indeed up through the ranks, is a poor placement of that driver leg.  For example, in a textbook Taiotoshi, a common combination is Taiotoshi - Ouchigari.  So when Uke steps over your blocking right leg, you simply turn from a forward Taiotoshi, to a backward Ouchigari.  The problem, of course, is that left leg of yours... In Taiotoshi, it's generally (depending on exactly the direction of your throw) going to be placed in front of Uke's left foot.  It should be accurately placed - for Ouchigari, about a foot or two over - nearly in front of Uke's right foot - so you have an angle of attack that is to Uke's left rear corner.

So how do you solve the problem?  With a hop... when your Taiotoshi is defended against by Uke stepping over - you hop to your right, then turn to face Uke while reaping his left leg.

A similar situation came up in last night's class... we were working on Sasae Tsuri Komi Ashi - and I demonstrated how wonderful this throw is as a followup to Osotogari.  If you attack with Osotogari on the right side - Uke has several defenses possible - one is to step back the attacked leg - this allows a great entry into Ouchigari.  So some Judoka have taken to 'jamming' your attack, by pushing forward to stop you from getting deep enough for the Osotogari.  They will throw their right shoulder into you - stopping your attack... this however, sets you up very nicely for a left-sided Sasaetsurikomiashi... but here's the trick, your driver leg will almost invariably be in the wrong place, so you must hop it over... but another critical point is where are your toes pointed?  If you attack in a textbook Osotogari, you'll have your toes pointing directly forward (toward Uke's back) - but the twisting to your right, which is critical for Sasaetsurikomiashi - will destroy your left knee if you don't turn your toes to point toward Uke's attacked left foot.

Try it and see... stand normally, then try to spin dramatically to your right on only your left leg... pop goes your knee joint.

So when you're training with combination techniques, look at the requirements of each throw - the lead in throw will take care of itself most of the time - but the followup throw in many cases will need you to reposition your driver leg... and not just reposition it, but change the direction your foot is pointing.