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Self-Defense Tip #33 — Stand-up grappling drills for striking skills — Large inner reap

This self-defense tip continues the subject of grappling drills that transfer well to many techniques. In this tip I describe technique and drills for Ouchi-gari (Large inner reap).

Practice of Ouchi-gari develops awareness of opponent’s footwork, balance shifts, and the best time for shooting straight to his center.

Ouchi-gari and its drills. Description for a right-sided technique:

1. Stand face to face with your partner. Hold his right sleeve outside and below his elbow with your left hand. Hold his left lapel at chest level with your right hand. Both your arms are slightly bent. Your partner has the same grip on you.

2. Make your partner step with his left foot toward his left and forward. To do so do not strive with your arms but just step to your left and forward (along an arc) as if to circle your partner. The weight of your body attached by your arms to your partner’s jacket (and his need to keep facing you) will cause him to move as if around a circle. As he does, extend his movement by gently pulling his left shoulder up and to your right, then with his reaction using your right arm press back at about 45° forward and right (you look in the same direction, over his left shoulder), and then as his shoulder is on its way down press or pull down (depending on the grip of your right hand). During this whole action your left hand presses his elbow toward his floating ribs, pointing his elbow inward, toward his centerline.

If your your opponent does not follow your arc he will set himself up for some different throw—sooner and usually harder on him. So, if in practice your partner tries to act “smart” (tries not to move at all or moves unnaturally) use it against him and let him feel the brunt of his “smarts.”

3. Nearly simultaneously with these arm actions make slide steps (as many as it takes—one, two, or more) leading with your right foot so to glide it inside and behind his left heel. The end result is that your partner’s weight is mostly on his left heel and his back is arched back and to his left so his left shoulder is pressed down towards his left heel. The reap is done by sliding your right foot along an arc to the outside and toward your back while your upper body presses 45° forward right and down (but you do not need to finish the technique in the drill). This form of the Ouchi-gari is the Kodokan standard so if my description is unclear you can ask a Kodokan-certified Judo instructor to show it to you or you can view it on a video such as Judo Kodokan Nage Waza.

After getting this simple form of the Ouchi-gari fit-in make it more difficult—try attacking when your partner moves not on a circle but backwards and forwards, then use a single hand grip (either sleeve or lapel) during setup, and eventually practice attacks (fit-ins) without a preliminary or constant grip—maneuvering around each other. Soon you will notice that you sense when your opponent is in mid-step and can be struck, punched, or kicked with impunity.

Self-defense tip from Thomas Kurz, co-author of Basic Instincts of Self-Defense and author of Science of Sports Training, Stretching Scientifically, and Flexibility Express.

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