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How To Do Harai Goshi

judo | 09/18/2018

Do you remember learning Harai Goshi when you first began? Think back for a moment and recall what you were taught.

Harai Goshi gets taught in a multitude of different ways. In the tips that follow, you're sure to remember learning the technique initially, and maybe pick up a few new and improved methods for executing them as well. What's more is we have Kelita Zupancic, 2x Olympian, executing the lesson here! Who better to learn from than she? Ultimately, regardless of whether or no you like Harai Goshi or feel like you can utilize and identify with the throw, the video, Kelita, and the FUJI team put together a really effective step by step. Think twice before you write Harai Goshi off!

This video highlights the main fundamental principles of Harai Goshi as a throw. The details Kelita speaks to in this video are what your focus should definitely be on when drilling. When you are drilling Harai Goshi, make sure you focus on the smaller finite parts of the throw.

Have you ever heard the phrase "The beauty is in the details?" That old adage applies to life, sports, and especially judo more than anything! Once you drill the basics of Harai Goshi over and over, the rest of the big picture can be applied much more easily. Focus on the key technical points Kelita outlines, hit the mats, and then let us know how it goes!

Harai Goshi Breakdown:

In this video, Kelita Zupancic, 2x Olympain from Canada is going to teach you how she likes to utilize Harai Goshi.

A few things to pay super close attention to before we get started:

The grips she is using as well as how she manages to get the proper reaction out of her opponent.

Kelita has been using Harai Goshi for years on the international competitive stage. Make no mistake, she's an absolute animal when it comes to executing it. And without a doubt, the best person to learn this technique from. Here are some of the key details that this former World #1 athlete has when executing Harai Goshi:

Harai Goshi Step 1:

The first step to Harai Goshi is starting with a proper grip! The hand on the sleeve should be rolled underneath your opponent's arm rather than on top. Also, notice that Kelita likes to pull the head down so that her partner is forced to stand up. If you are struggling to get to this grip. When you're first starting out with Harai Goshi it's easiest to learn standing in a static position with our partners stationary. With such a technique and so many moving pieces, it is best to learn step by step and when there are limited distractions.

As with anything, we add speed as we continue drilling it and getting more and more proficient at it. As we get better and you think you might be ready for randori, take a moment and try it moving first. Ultimately, the power from this throw comes from having impeccable timing. So make sure that you are a master of each component before adding speed and complexity to it.

Harai Goshi Step 2:

Once Kelita's opponent starts to stand, she focuses on a big high pull, using her opponent's momentum against them. A common mistake made here is pulling forward and not up. It is super important that you pull UP and not forward with this technique. Reason being, we do not want our opponents reacting in a backward direction. Which will be the case if we pull forward. An upward pull will get our opponents to squat or try and move out of the way as a reaction. Think about what you want your opponent to do, and what you'd need to do in order to get them to react as such. That's the basis for any good technique, and it is true here as well!

Harai Goshi Step 3:

The key to getting this throw is to make sure you have a good strong rotation into the throw. Make sure that your back is to your partner's chest and you sweep low on the leg to finish the technique. This is the number one most common mistake for most athletes when attempting Harai Goshi. Now while we are trying to do randori we may not need a full rotation to score. It is super important to note that when you're drilling, you have to train a full range of motion. This will ensure that we strengthen all the possible muscles in their deepest respective ranges needed in order to get the technique to work.

Training Harai Goshi

There are a lot of different ways to do Harai Goshi. Every elite level athlete takes the basics and tweaks them just a little to fit their own body. This is to better suit their particular strengths, and avoid any weaknesses simultaneously. Kelita, in particular, does an exceptional job at bringing the focus of each technique back to it's very young roots. She then viciously executes the basics in order to get the most out of each technique. She does this especially well with one of her all time specialties seen here, Harai Goshi.

A Final Thought

Something to keep in mind for novice to elite level athletes: If a technique is not working for you make sure you take a step back and look at the basic principles. This will help you to see where and how you went wrong. More often than not, a simple examination of mainstay techniques will lead you right back to the problem. For complicated techniques with so many moving parts, those very finite principles and basic components to the throw are usually what we leave off when we lose focus. Make sure you return to your starting point and execute the basics exceptionally well. And, when you do, you may just be the next up and coming Kelita Zupancic. But you'll have to bring it up with her!


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