Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Wrist Throw

ll the self defense techniques that I’ve written about have been fairly basic. My idea was to introduce techniques that were –simple, direct, easy to use and adaptable to a variety of situations.

I realize too that there are folks reading this blog every day who are also martial artists. Some of you may already have many years of training behind you.

You may also come from a martial arts background different from mine and you may be interested in the variations I teach.

So today I’d like to discuss a more sophisticated technique, one that’s shared across the martial arts world from Okinawan Karate to the martial art of Pentjak Silat from Indonesia.

It’s called the wrist throw. In Japanese Jiu Jitsu the technique is referred to as Kote Gaeshi.

There are many variations of the wrist throw. For now, I’ll stick to a primary one.


Let’s take a typical self defense scenario –

1.  An attacker grabs your lapel with her right hand. Place the thumb of your left hand on the back of her right hand.  Your palm sits on top of the thumb side of her hand and wrist. Your fingers curl around the base of her thumb and wrist. Your fingers are touching the lower part of her palm and the inside of her wrist.

That’s the basic grip.

A strong grip close to the abdomen

2.  As you hold her right hand in this grip, I suggest that you strike up under her nose with the base of your right palm… or poke into the hollow of her throat with your right index and middle fingers combined.

Doing so provides you with both the wrist throw grip and an immediate counter attack.

Your entire body is connected to the throw

3.  I now advise placing your right thumb beside your left on the back of her hand. Wrap your right hand around her hand the same way as you ‘ve wrapped your left hand.

You now have a double-handed grip.

4.  Using this grip, push her hand down – hard – in front of your abdomen. I always advise keeping the opponent’s hand in close to you, close to your core muscles and your centre of gravity. I like to have my elbows and the insides of my forearms touching the sides of my abdomen as well.

Doing so means I have control over her hand and wrist with my entire body!

5.  I now push the back of her hand down – hard again - while pulling the inside of her hand toward me. This is a small, vicious little circle that you see so often during throws and joint locks.

At the same time, twist her hand out low toward your left. That’s the throw.

A variety of controlling techniques can follow the throw
 6.  I like to step out to the left or backward to the left while performing the throw.

In Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, Aikijitsu, Hapkido, etc., the wrist throw is considered to be a major throw. As I’ve already mentioned, there are many variations of the same throw. The following are just a few –

THROW WITH ONE HAND ONLY  while you continue to push into the hollow of her throat with the other. Caution – you do require some wrist and hand strength to accomplish a one handed throw. And your technique has to have good timing.

IF YOU THROW WITH ONE HAND  you can also push down hard on top of the attacker’s wrist with your other hand…just before you execute the throw. My Jiu Jitsu teacher showed me this, and it works!

KUNG FU SYSTEMS such as Eagle Claw or Praying Mantis may use a light “slap” to make initial contact with the back of the opponent’s hand. It's really more than a slap. The lightness of touch allows for – speed, a good flow of energy and a quality of contact that’s similar to the “iron hand”. The sound the strike makes and the quality of touch at the point of contact are both razor sharp.

REDIRECTING AN ATTACK is a special nuance of any wrist throw. In fact, the wrist throw seems to be especially designed for this. Let’s say an attacker pushes you with his right hand. Grasp his hand and wrist with your left hand while stepping backward with your right leg. Once you feel his balance compromised, step back with your left leg, twisting your body to the left. Throw him with a double handed wrist throw grip to the left.


Aikijitsu, Kenpo, Jiu Jitsu, etc. perform redirecting techniques using beautiful, complex spirals that are in practise a joy to execute…and to receive!

Please be careful when practising the wrist throw. Sometimes it doesn’t take much strength to injure the wrist of a practise partner. Start off slowly and carefully. Your partner should be relaxed and ready to fall. In the early stages, your partner should never resist!

I’ll touch on some more variations in future posts.

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