Thursday, December 23, 2004


The term Gaeshi means 'reversal' in Japanese. Pretty much any and all of the throws that have this name applied to them are actually counter techniques that can be used against an opponent. For example O-Uchi Gaeshi - is a counter to the major inner reap.

I have been thinking a bit about counters and reversals lately, and although they may seem pretty easy in theory they are very difficult to do in practive. I also have been realizing that they embody many of the thinks that I like about Judo including the principal of Maximum Efficiency, and I would like to share some of that insight.

First off, we need to take into consideration that Judo is about constant attack. In fact, competitors are often penalized for being too defensive. Even from a self-defense standpoint Judoka always want to be making the first move, if not for anything else than for surprise. Given that, it would seem surprising that it even had reversals, but the tao of Judo is embodied in the principal of Seroku Zenyo or Maximum Efficiency.

If you are attacking me, I could thwart your attack with counter force, but all that will do is prevent me from being thrown. At the same time, by opposing your efforts, I am stopping your momentum and cancelling the energy that you are using to try to throw me. At that point, if I want to attack you back, I will need to mount another attack and build momentum to do so, but the smarter move is to basically help your momentum along and get out of its way so that you get thrown and I remain standing. This is where Gaeshi throws come in.

The concept of a Gaeshi technique is simple:

  1. Detect the technique being used against you
  2. Get out of its way
  3. Use your attacker's momentum to throw him

Of course applying this is much more difficult. You need to be able to anticipate the attack and reverse it all in a manner of seconds to make the Gaeshi work! These are obviously not beginner's techniques, and it takes years of practice and reflex building to be able to execute this types of reversals accurately and effortlessly.

By learning these techniques, your defense becomes an offesne of its own. Ultimately, as a Black Belt, you will probably have the ability to not only turn an attack around with one of these ,but to bait your attacker into springing your trap at the same time.

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