Hajime to Matte Model: Grip! (Part 1: Labeling the Parts)

You've moved forward.  You've gone ahead.  NOW GRIP IT!  GRIP IT GOOD!

I've been expounding on the Hajime to Matte model that Sensei Nick Lowe teaches (see here for the overview).  We've covered "move before you grip"), so the logical next step?  GRIP!

So before I get in to this, let me first give the disclaimer that I am probably the least qualified person to write about gripping.  Well, that's probably over-doing it... my 2 year old's Kumi Kata is terrible, *and* he doesn't know how to write.  But after him - me.

Before we get to the meat of the subject, I'd like to quickly cover the components of a grip.  In most situations, you will lay two hands on your opponent.  Lucky us!  There are Japanese names for these hands!
  • Hikite:  The pulling hand.  With a typical righty grip (right hand on their left lapel, left hand on their right sleeve), in a typical righty throw*, your Hikite is your sleeve hand.  It has the following functions:
    • Pulling for the initial Kuzushi (off-balance), as well as during the throw
    • Controlling the opponent's outside arm during a throw to prevent them from posting it
    • Controlling the opponent's "power hand" in Ai Yotsu (righty vs. righty, or lefty vs. lefty) situations*
  • Tsurite:  The lifting hand, or the "power hand".  In the typical righty grip in a righty throw*, the Tsurite is the lapel hand.  It's job is:
    • Moving the opponent's torso to break balance
    • Controlling the opponent's body during the throw (your power hand creates most of the "glue," and you need good Tsurite control to ensure your opponent lands on her back for the Ippon)
* It's important to note (well, not really that important in the grand scheme of things, but bear with me) that the throw determines which hand is the Hikite and which is the Tsurite.  That means, strictly speaking, I don't think that you even have a "Hikite" in a defensive situation, and that your Hikite and Tsurite can switch, without you ever changing your grip.  Take, for example, these throws from when you have the typical righty grip:
  • Right-sided Tsurikomi Goshi:  You turn to your left.  Your Hikite is your left hand (sleeve grip), your Tsurite is your right hand (lapel grip), as usual.
  • Left-sided Sode Tsurikomi Goshi:  You turn to your right (opposite of what is pictured).  This time, your "pulling hand" is the right hand on your opponent's lapel, and the sleeve hand becomes the Tsurite!
This framework is useful in two ways, IMO:
  1. You can now think about what roles your hand should be playing (though don't let this limit you - just remember that both hands should be doing *something*)
  2. We can now speak the same language when talking about gripping
Tune in next time for more ramblings on gripping!