Throws are used in most martial arts. They are taught differently throughout the world, but a common thing is that most students don’t fully understand what they are doing. This is an introduction in order for you to become a more enlightened practitioner or as a good complementing piece of text to refresh your skills.


The principle for the ”tight grip”

In a throw it is necessary that you do not leave air between yourself and the opponent. If the grip around your opponent is not tight the rest of the technique will not work either. One can conclude when a grip is tight or not by trying to move the opponent in any direction. If the grip is loose and bad, the opponent will move shortly after you have moved. If the grip is tight the movement is immediate. This lag should be minimized until it’s not noticeable.

Control the center of gravity

The next step is about gripping the opponent’s as close as possible to his center of gravity. A grip on the underarm will mean that you try to move the opponent’s body through the elbow joint and the shoulder joint. When it comes to hip throws you get a better control the closer your grip is to the hip.


There are almost limitless variations to grab your opponent. You can make use of his clothes when you grip but be aware that they can be ripped apart. If you want to be sure to have good control you should choose to grab his body parts instead. Some ways to grab your opponent could be:

  • Dual collar grip
  • Easy collar grip
  • Conversely collar grip
  • Collar grip with arm strangulation
  • Debt grip (shoulder)
  • Debt Grips (upper arm)
  • Debt Grip (forearm)
  • External debt grip (armpit)
  • Dual liabilities grip
  • Easy grip neck
  • Double neck grip
  • Conversely, the neck grip
  • Double Reverse neck grip
  • Hip Grip
  • High hip grip
  • Strangle hold
  • Arm bar
  • Neck bar

As you see there are several ways to grab an opponent. Use your creativity to find more ways and practise them along with the examples above to become a more flexible martial arts practitioner.

A basic rule is to always have a tight, firm grip and to have as much contact as possible. The closer you hold your opponent the less strength is needed to perform the technique.



It is imperative to always keep your balance. Practise your foot work with someone who is trying to push you out of balance. You will soon get used to keep your balance and when you have gotten this far it is time to make sure that the opponent loses his balance. When he is out of balance it is easy to throw him. When he is not, it would take too much strength to be effective. Work with the element of surprise. If he expects you to throw him forward, choose another direction. Use feints to manipulate him into a position of your choice. Then throw him decisively without hesitation.


Fundamental to all throw techniques is control of the throw. In order to gain control over your opponent, you can use a number of principles.


The principle of ”tight grip”
In a throw it is necessary to not allow air between yourself and the opponent. If the grip on the opponent is not tight, the rest of the technique won’t work either. One can determine whether a grip is tight or not by using the grip trying to move the opponent’s body in any direction. It is a bad grip, if the opponent’s body doesn’t move entirely in the direction which you really want it. Grip should be tight, and movement firm. This gap must be reduced until it is not noticeable.

Check focus
The next step is about grabbing the opponent’s centre of gravity as close to you as possible. It is a prerequisite that you grip and pull the forearm towards yourself before moving in for the through which goes through both the elbow and shoulder joint. With regards to the timber throws, you get better control the closer the hip is to the body.

Lifting tackle
In a lifting tackle you use your legs to lift the opponents hip, or the equivalent to bend the opponent and your upper body is used to pull and control the opponent.
With the help of their arms, join some sort of grip on the opponent.

The principle of ”unbalancing”

This principle is as valid for throws as for other take-downs. A correctly performed unbalancing makes your opponent more easily managed. The opponent can be forced to a position where he/she is no longer standing stable with both feet on the ground. This way the opponent have to work against their own body weight in order to regain balance and during this time you have the chance to perform a successful technique. The unbalancing can sometimes be enough to take down an opponent entirely to a lying position.

The principle of ”controlled lifting”

Avoid loading your spine, knees, neck, joints etc.

Try to lift your opponent below his center of gravity. A common mistake is that you use the strength of your arms to perform the lift, instead you should focus on using larger muscle groups. For instance in a hip throw you should work with your thighs and calf muscles. Generally you can say that the higher you grip the harder it is going to be to perform the lift. The same goes with supporting points such as your hip in a hip throw. The higher you place your hip in relation to the opponent the harder it will be to execute the throw. The best result is obtained if you have your hip (the supporting point) just below the opponent’s center of gravity. Even in a shoulder throw you can use the hips as a supporting point.

The principle of the ”sacrificing throw”

To sacrifice your position with your own body weight, in order to force the opponent into a worse position. This type of technique should not be used in self-defence. If used in self-defence is should be used as a last resort. When you sacrifice your own position you end up in a vulnerable situation. One should be aware of other persons who might be luring in the background, with intentions to harm you. Be aware of your environment and make sure you quickly return to your standing position where you are on guard. If your intentions are to grapple the opponent after the throw you should have a clear picture of which arm bar or strangulation you want to use right after the throw.

In a fighting situation the sacrifice throw could be a good alternative when the opponent has unbalanced you or gripped you in order to execute a throw. Precede him by falling before the throw is performed and by pulling him down with you. Avoid having the opponent landing on top of you so that you become a victim of a heavy throw.

Ex: The opponent moves in for a shoulder throw. Imagine that you make a front fall where you bring the opponent down before the throw has been completed.

Even in the sacrifice throw you need to find the opponents center of gravity. If you want him to fall past and over you nicely, you should add a support against his center of gravity to “help” him continue past you. Ex: Sacrifice throw with supporting leg.

The principle of ”technique before strength”

You can only use strength when performing the throw until you meet someone who is too heavy for you. There is a saying, “the heavier your opponent is the harder will he fall”. Technique is the key to win in a disadvantageous position. Use unbalancing, timing and angle.

The principle of ”changing direction”

When it comes to throwing techniques, distraction can be of great use. One should try to get the opponent to waste his energy on the technique you are performing. Push the opponent backwards in a standing position in order to get him to push back. When he pushes back the most you change your direction entirely and uses his movement to throw him.

Manipulating the joints

Twisted throws

Twisted throws differ radically form raising throws since they do not require any lifting. The technique is based on you grabbing the opponent in any way and the rotating around with your own body so that the opponent follows and finally ends up on the ground in a nice throw. The reason for why this works is because the opponent’s upper body moves faster than his legs, and since his legs does not keep up with the rotation he will lose his support on the legs and hence this will result in a throw. To increase the effectiveness of the technique the throw should be made slightly angled downwards instead of entirely horizontal. This way you will force the opponent into a much harder position to recover from. When performing a twisted throw it is important that you rotate further than the throw is intended. Stand in front of the person whom you are to throw, put your right foot in front of his back foot with your back against him, and then as you rotate you move your left foot towards his left foot. As you rotate you move your whole body and pull the opponent around you. Use your arms to drive the opponent downwards towards the ground so that he ends up in between your legs. Your movement should then continue so that you gaze over your left shoulder. What happens is that your movement becomes exaggerated and hence with an increase in efficiency. The same principle goes with hooks. You do not hit the target, rather you hit through the target.

Kneeling throws

A twisted throw can be carried out by supporting your knee to the ground. This way the twist becomes tighter and harder for the opponent to counter. But also it becomes faster. Be aware of not putting your knee into the ground with full power as this may generate an injury. Also be conscious about quickly returning to your initial standing position so that you regain full control over the opponent. A raising throw can also be performed when having one knee on the ground for the same reason as the twisting throw, in order to get a tighter movement. What happens is that you use your back and thigh muscles and less of your calf muscles. Another variation of the kneeling throw is that you first move down with one of your knees but then return to standing position during the throw.

Kneeling throws can be used as a complement to regular throws when the desired effect is not reached.

Shovelling throws

The shovelling throws means that you solely use lifting to move the opponent (by lifting up his feet). The throw itself is then based on you lifting (“shovelling”) the person in any direction using your hips. The reason for why you use the hip is because you don’t want to put too much pressure on the back when carrying out the technique. To lift up the opponent is one thing, and to move him side wards while he is in the air is another thing which puts a heavy pressure on the back. If you use your arms the lift will put pressure on your shoulders, back, hip, all the way down to your feet.

Within physics they say that no work is done as long as you do not lift something. If you imagine your opponent “sit” on your knee and you trying to lift his feet as much as you can without them leaving the ground. What really happens is not that you move his feet, you rather reallocate the weight which is supported on the feet. The weight is instead distributed to your knee where he is sitting. Finally he will have all is weight resting on one point, namely your knees. If you know push his upper body he will lose his balance and fall off. Alternatively you let him “sit” close to your hip, you can then use your hip to shovel him forward or sideward. Keep up his feet so that he can’t support them and then release them when you’ve completed the shovelling. The result will be that he falls to the ground.

Throw with a lock

Arm bars can make the opponent flee from the pain and then lose his balance.

Ex: imagine that you perform a shoulder throw, keeping the opponents arm so that his elbow is pointing downwards. At this stage you have a straight arm lock with pressure on the elbow. The result of the technique is that the opponent will follow more easily than in a regular shoulder throw. Alternatively he won’t follow and then risks getting his arm broken. You should be careful when you practise these techniques and make sure to always have an instructor present in order to avoid damages.

Heavy throws

With heavy throws we mean that you follow your opponent down to the ground and make a heavy landing on top of him. These throws can be similar to sacrifice throws, with the particular difference that sacrifice throws uses your weight to take down the opponent, while heavy throws uses your weight to get a greater effect in the technique when landing. The aim of the heavy throws is to make the opponent lose his breath or to chock him. Make sure that your body lands on his chest and that you breathe out. The opponent’s best chance to tackle the throw is to breathe out himself. If this is not done the experience will be unpleasant and it can continue into feeling of suffocation.

Shovel throws can be executed as heavy throws if you during the shovelling remove one of your legs and let your entire body land on the opponent’s as he hits the ground.

Throws can cause much damage if you make a mistake. Remember to always start gently and slowly perform the techniques. You rarely get a good movement in a throw if you do not carry it with speed, but it is better to put safety first.