Harai Goshi

The Harai Goshi is one of the basic throws in the martial art of Judo. It’s a simple yet powerful throw that’s great to add to your grappling game.

Here’s what you need to know about the Harai Goshi throw. We’ll go over different setups and important tips for hitting the pitch.

Who invented Harai Goshi?

Harai Goshi was of course developed by the creator of Judo, Grand Master Jigoro Kano. This is one of the basic hip throws that judokas need to know to progress through the belt rank.

When Kano developed throwing, he based it on the same principles as all other techniques in the martial art. Using the principles of leverage and timing to perform Harai Goshi.

The simplicity of the throw is what makes the move so effective. So much so that many other forms of grappling have adopted Harai Goshi into their martial arts.

Today there are many configurations in the Gi and No-Gi.

How does Harai Goshi work?

Like all judo throws, Harai Goshi works on the same principles. It’s all about timing, body positioning and footwork.

For Harai Goshi to work, you need to push the opponent forward and place your hips under their hips. When you are able to unbalance them, it gives you the opening to launch the throw.

You move your opponent up and down as they move forward harvesting at or below their knee. When done correctly, your opponent passes easily.

Harai Goshi vs. Uchi Mata

Those new to judo or grappling often confuse Harai Goshi with Uchi Mata. Although they have similar configurations, there are two big differences between them.

The most obvious is the legs you sweep. With the Harai Goshi you sweep the outer leg, while with the Uchi Mata you sweep the inner leg.

You also go a little further with the Uchi Mata setup than with the Harai Goshi. The two throws complement each other very well, and it would give you an advantage to know them.

It will allow you to create different configurations and simulations, switching from one throw to another.

Harai Goshi Basic Setup

The basic Harai Goshi setup, like all basic throwing setups in judo, begins with a neck and sleeve grip. You grab your opponent’s collar high with one hand and grab his elbow with the other.

Once you get the hang of it, you start the setup by pulling and lifting your opponent. Each handle will move in unison to unbalance your opponent.

Your sleeve hand lifts his arm and pulls him forward. It’s important to rotate your elbow up to give yourself the necessary opening to throw the throw.

UFC promo

At the same time, you also unbalance your opponent with your collar hold. Turn your elbow inward and strike slightly upwards to the side to unbalance them.

The footwork will be a 180 degree pivot where you will face your opponent the same way. Step in and turn with your sweeping foot first, with your landing foot behind.

Remember to always stand between your opponent’s feet for this throw. Stepping out is incorrect and will open up an easy counter for your opponent.

When you sweep the leg, you should harvest/kick at the knees while keeping your toes pointing down.

To complete the throw, you complete all of these steps in one quick motion while continuing to move forward.

Harai Goshi counter defense

The common defense against Harai Goshi is to drop your hips and lock your knees. This prevents your opponent from doing the basic Harai Goshi setup.

If your opponent makes this defense, you can always make an alternate version of the Harai Goshi. You won’t be able to lift your opponent, so you’ll have to shift your weight differently.

Connect the calf of your sweep leg to your opponent’s outside knee to lock it in. Then, instead of trying to lift your opponent, you’re going to lean them forward and rotate them.

Use your grips to pull them down as you roll to get the upper hand on your opponent.

No-Gi Harai Goshi

The No-Gi version of Harai Goshi is commonly used in freestyle wrestling and has also proven effective in No-Gi Jiu Jitsu. Since you don’t have a Gi to grip, the grip will be slightly different.

You start the setup by grabbing a tie over your opponent’s head with your backhand. Use this collar clip to pull his head down and take a hook with your other arm.

Naturally, when you get this tie, your opponent is going to lock their elbow to prevent a go-around. Your free hand will take control of the wrist on your opponent’s other arm.

Once these two checkpoints have been obtained, you can proceed to the stages. Step back and twist while pulling your opponent forward, then sweep below the knee and complete the throw.

O Soto Gari in Harai Goshi

You can easily set a trap for your opponent by tempting O Soto Gari to get Harai Goshi. Start by grabbing the opponent’s elbow and reaching behind their body to grab their belt.

Once you grab those handles, you’ll quickly step in and hook your leg behind your opponent’s leg. They will instinctively defend O Soto Gari as they prepare, creating an opening for your Harai Goshi.

Step back with your planted foot between your opponent’s feet as you turn and knock them down.

Harai Goshi Vs. Dominant Collar Grip

When your opponent takes a high-necked dominant grip, you can use it as an entry into a Harai Goshi variation. Start the setup by blocking the upper grip by grabbing under the arm.

Next, bring your back elbow up and over your opponent’s arm. Be sure to lower your weight and grab your own backhand to hold the arm in place.

When you do this, the opponent will try to regain their posture, giving you the opening for Harai Goshi. Pull his arm down and sweep the leg to complete the throw.

Misdirection Harai Goshi

This Harai Goshi setup has slightly different footwork to create misdirection before attempting the throw. Take a collar hold with your lapel and cross your body with the same side leg.

This first step is a fake to create a wrong direction. You will then step back with your other foot and grab your opponent’s head. Keep breaking their posture by pulling them forward and completing Harai Goshi.

This video shows you the steps of the previous three variations of Harai Goshi.

Important Tips for Harai Goshi

The mechanics of Harai Goshi are simple but must be exact to complete the throw. Here are the important tips to remember.

  • Handle grip: When you start your Harai Goshi, remember to rotate the elbow of your sleeve upwards. This gives you the opportunity to intervene while throwing your opponent off balance.
  • Collar handle: You should turn the handle of your collar inward while striking at an upward angle. This, along with pulling on your sleeve grip, helps throw your opponent off balance.
  • Walk and turn: For footwork, step in and turn with your foot planted behind.
  • Stay between the opponent’s legs: Always keep your feet between your opponent’s legs when attempting Harai Goshi or any other hip throw.
  • Be on your guard: It is important to stay on the toes of your sweep leg. This will allow you to execute your throw with more speed.
  • Do not line up with the opponent: Never stand directly in line with your opponent. Always be at an angle and more in line with their back hip.
  • Hook below the knee: Always crochet below your opponent’s knee and never above.
  • Break the opponent’s posture: For Harai Goshi to work, you need to break your opponent’s posture. Pull their head down by pulling on their collar or squeezing their head.
  • Pass under the hips of the opponent: For Harai Goshi and all hip throws, you place your body under your opponent’s hips. This allows you to lift and lift them to complete the throw.
  • Keep moving forward: Remember to keep moving forward until you complete your throw.