Koshi Nage-The Hip Throw of Ancient Jujutsu

Dr. William Durbin

Many people do not understand much about the ancient styles of Jujutsu. What many people do not realize is that much of what we think of today as Jujutsu is greatly influenced by the great master and founder of Kodokan Judo, Jigoro Kano. In ancient times, martial arts systems were not nearly as organized or set in a definitive curriculum as we see now. This was one of the greatest contributions which Jigoro Kano actually made to modern martial arts.

The best example we can use in regard to the innovations given to modern Jujutsu by Jigoro Kano is the Koshi Nage, literally ‘hip throw’. Jigoro Kano studied fully two main systems of Jujutsu during his formative years, these were the Tenshin Shinyo Ryu and the Kito Ryu. He was also influenced by what is called today the Daito Ryu, which was the Oshi Ki Uchi of Shiro Saigo, one of the earliest teachers of the Kodokan. There is debate over where Morihei Ueshiba gained his techniques which formulate the foundation of his Aikikai Aikido, but since he studied two of the same systems Kano did, Kito Ryu and Daito Ryu, as well as, studying Kano’s Kodokan Judo, before formulating his system, it is feasible that he and Kano practiced many of the same techniques.

In ancient times, martial arts systems were not nearly as organized or set in a definitive curriculum as we see now. This was one of the greatest contributions which Jigoro Kano actually made to modern martial arts.
If one were to look at the techniques of Aikido, especially the Koshi Nage, while there are certain distinctive features, the Koshi Nage, which both Kano and Ueshiba would have studied under both Kito Ryu and Daito Ryu systems, is the foundation of many throws which Kano formulated. One important point which needs to be emphasized, is that neither Kano, nor the masters of the Kodokan, really ‘invented’ any of the throws of the Kodokan Judo system, but rather they developed variations which came from the techniques of the ancient systems upon which the art was based.

It might be best to explain exactly what constitutes a Koshi Nage, hip throw. In whatever manner you attempt to throw, it is important to place the hips in such a manner that the receiver is unbalance and pulled over the hips which forms the fulcrum of the throw. In the original Koshi Nage of the ancient Ryu, it did not matter what the hands did but rather that the person was thrown over the hips.

Kano, after having experienced much in his training in the martial arts, realized that many of his students might have difficulty remembering all the different Henka, that is variations, of the Koshi Nage. Being an educator, from which many of the innovations of the Kodokan derived, decided that the best way to help his students was to give a different name to each of the potential Henka of the throw. These variations included both two leg solid hip throws, as well as, single leg reaping and lifting throws which cause the person to be thrown over the hip/loin area of the body.

Some of the specifically Kodokan Judo variations of Koshi Nage include the Ogoshi, ‘major hip throw’, which takes the person solidly up on the hips before throwing them off by using the rotating movement of the grasping arm. In all hip throws, the arm holding on and pulling is used to help unbalance the receiver and control the fall, making it safe in practice and devastating in combat. It is believed that this throw in particular was developed for fighting while in armor.

The next derived throw is the Ukigoshi, or ‘floating hip’, in this throw the receiver is lifted by the hips in the same way as an Ogoshi, but the arm is directed upward at a forty five degree angle, so that the movement crosses the opposite shoulder blade of the receiver, making the body literally float over the hip in a smooth and devastating manner. This throw works especially well against larger opponents.

Tsurikomigoshi, which means ‘lifting pulling hip’, was designed for driving, an opponent pushing hard into you, up so that their own momentum throws them over your hip. Literally the harder they are driving into you the harder they are thrown. This particular throw uses the principle of Ju to it’s maximum effect, making full use of the attacker’s momentum in the execution of the throw.

A related throw to the last one is Sodetsurikomigoshi, which simply means ‘sleeve lifting pulling hip’, and adds the dimension of grabbing the other arm’s sleeve in the performance of the throw. This throw works best when a person is reaching violently towards your face or neck with both hands. This method allows you to drive the hands up, turning your hips in, and allowing you to once again use the powerful force of an attacker’s grab to throw them over your hips.

Another hip throw which uses a specialized arm grip is Koshiguruma, which translates ‘hip whirl’. Originally Koshiguruma was known in some Jujutsu systems as Kubinage, ‘neck throw’, which emphasized the wrapping of the arm around the neck of the opponent. However, many students of Jujutsu accidentally injured their partners by stressing the pull of the arm around the neck, rather than the lift of the hips. Therefore, Jigoro Kano changed the name to Koshiguruma, so that the emphasis was placed on the placement of the hip, so that the stress on the neck was removed, and the concept of the whirl described the movement of the arm which turned the partner over the hips.

Two throws which have been misunderstood as shoulder throws, and thus have been executed wrongly over the years are Ipponseoinage and Moroteseoinage. Ipponseoinage translates ‘one point carry on the back throw’ and Moroteseoinage means ‘two hand carry on the back throw’. The Seoi aspect of the words, which can be translated ‘shoulder’ has caused people to pull up on the arm, as if trying to pull the person they are throwing up on the shoulder. However this tends to pull the thrower off balance and keeps the throw from being effective.

Seoi can also be translated, ‘carry on the back’, which when emphasized in the application of the two throws, simply means that the opponent is pulled solidly against the back, which allows the hips to do the work of lifting and throwing the assailant. In this way the opponent is firmly off balance, and the hips do all the work of lifting, making the throws easier to perform, and much more effective in combat.

Aikikai Aikido teaches Koshinage by the old name and includes in it’s execution many different variations. One of the most unique, not commonly duplicated in Kodokan Judo, is where the right arm of the thrower grasps the right arm of the receiver, using a leading technique to bring the opponent into contact with the hips, at more of an angle, causing the person to literally trip over them and into a very solid fall.

Two other type of hip throws used in many Jujutsu systems are the Jodankubinage, and the Ushironage. Jodankubinage literally means ‘upper level neck throw’ and refers to the fact that the thrower reaches up over their own shoulder to grasp the neck of the opponent, using that to hold the person firmly, while lifting with the hips to throw them solidly. Another variation is for both hands to be used to grab the head. Both throws are very effective.

Ushironage can be translated ‘rear throw’, and refers to the fact that you will be throwing the person from his rear. However, the essence of the throw is still in the hips. The easiest way to teach the throw is by having the thrower enter in exactly the same way they would to do an Osotogari, ‘major outer reaping’ throw. Once having entered at the side, instead of reaping the leg, step in deeper and lift the person with the hips. There are three aspects to this in regard to actually throwing. The person can be throw in a complete circle, landing on their face. In the second variation, the person is turned upside down for a lethal, neck breaking throw. Finally, there is a safe method of executing the throw in order to practice it class, and that is by sliding the hips out from under the lifted person so that they can do a safe breakfall.

The secret to any form of good hip throw is solid placement of the hip. The hips must be placed lower than the hips of the person you are throwing, so that they can act as a fulcrum, over which the assailant can be thrown. The legs do all the work, which means that you can use the incredible power of the legs, which are as much as six times more powerful than the arms, to lift the person being thrown. Finally, the hands, regardless of how they are placed, simply hold the person solidly against the torso, so that when the body moves, the person is levered over the thrower’s hips. Then the hands guide the assailant’s body through the air into a safe landing in practice, or a devastating fall in self defense.

Hip throws are among the most useful throws in Jujutsu. They can be used by people of all sizes, when performed properly. The more variations of a technique that you understand, the more applicable to the ever changing circumstance of self defense it will be. All of the throws shown in this article, while standard moves in Kodokan Judo, Aikikai Aikido, and many of the modern styles of Jujutsu; are really only variations of the ancient Koshinage, hip throw, of the old forms of Jujutsu.

Dr. William Durbin is the founder of Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei. He teaches at the Hombu dojo in Frankfurt, Kentucky.