Sunday, April 05, 2009

Tips on learning to throw

Pushing and pulling (together with lifting and dropping) supply the power to execute throws.  Here are some tips that I find useful to learn and develop my throws:
  1. Go soft and slow: By going fast all kinds of flaws are hidden.  In particular it makes it too easy to rely on brute strength rather than finding the effective levers to push and pull
  2. Be sensitive: Try to sense exactly where your partner's balance is and the moment at which -- prior to throwing -- it is lost (i.e. where you are supporting them).  That's the time to apply the final push and pull.
  3. Be gentle: With efficient kuzushi, positioning and leverage it should be possible to throw with little effort.  If you find that you are using a lot of force to try to make the throw work, that's a sign that something else is not right.  Find and correct!
  4. Visualize: Practice with an imaginary partner too.  Include details of all the pushes and pulls.
  5. Focussed awareness: Once you have a throw basically working focus your attention on one aspect of the throw at a time (e.g. foot placement, weight-shifting, hip movement, points of contact, etc., etc.) and observe what you do.  Trust our body to do the rest of throw.
  6. Smooth it out: Try to eliminate stops and gaps; execute the throw with a smooth, continuous movement
  7. Practice with lots of partners: Working with people of different shapes and sizes will teach you how to adapt the throw to make it work in different ways
  8. Compare with other throws: While there are principles that are common across throws, there are also points of distinction that the different throws allow us to practice.
  9. Add dynamics:  While I prefer to practice from a static position at first and initiate movement, incorporating an initial push or pull from my partner allows me to start to practice the throw in a reactive form.  Experiment with different directions for the initial push or pull.  What works?  What doesn't?  Try the throw while moving forward / backward / sideways / circling.
  10. Be a great partner: When you are being thrown, be aware of what your partner is doing and learn from that.  Don't jump for them.  Don't sabotage.  If you have reasonable skill and they are a beginner gently nudge them into good position (this is more challenging than being able to do the throw yourself!).
Hope that helps.  Let me know how you go.