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I am relatively tall - when practicing many Jiu-Jitsu throws I am frequently given the advice to "bend my knees more" or to "get lower".

When I really focus I find this is very effective (especially with a shorter Uke), however I also find it very uncomfortable and as a result as soon as I stop concentrating I tend to stand up again.

What exercises can I do to make this easier / less uncomfortable?

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Also see: martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/271/… –  Guy Feb 6 '12 at 16:12
    
as a question to your question: why do you wish to get lower? I find being tall a great advantage for throws (easier to throw, but more important the opponent falls from higher). Is it only to make practice "softer", or is there another technical reason? –  Scrollmaster Feb 14 '12 at 5:13
    
@Mikalichov Its not to make the throw "softer" - it genuinely makes the throw easier. The more stood up I am the more effort it takes as I can feel that I am essentially having to lift people up / over me because I'm in the wrong position. –  Justin Feb 14 '12 at 10:45
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This is almost an exact duplicate of this question. –  Dave Liepmann Sep 27 '12 at 19:53
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6 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I've had the same problem for my whole judo and jiu jitsu career!

Squats and lunges. When your coming in for your o-goshi (hip throw) or seoi nage (shoulder throws) be sure to be stepping in low, not waiting until your turned in to get low. This makes the motion a lot easier. The other thing is try to keep it all one fluid motion. I found when I was breaking things down into obvious steps, it was more awkward and difficult than when I do techniques fluidly.

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I'm not going to say why it's happening in your situation. Instead, I'll describe when I was in a similar position.

I couldn't get down low comfortably because I was weak. Weak people who wish to train martial arts should use heavy weights to become strong. I used barbell squats and deadlifts--the most effective methods known for increasing the strength of the human legs and torso.

I recommend embarking on a general-purpose strength program, such as Gant Grime's judo lifting program, which is structured after Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength model. You lift heavy barbells using the squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, and power clean. You do chin-ups. You get immensely stronger.

With newfound strength, one becomes able to get low, as in jiu-jitsu throws, without discomfort.

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Practice your squats, keeping your back straight and head up. Repeat until you die :)

I think your instructor is reminding you to 'bend your knees' and not 'bend your back' when lift or need to get low. A common call at many dojo's I'm sure!

If you're tall (I'm 6 foot and skinny) you will find it difficult to "lift" an opponent with, let's say "a low centre of gravity" but it can be done. The good news is when you get it right, it's a lonnngggg way down for uke!

Concentrate on improving your strength and flexibility in your ankles, knees and back. Don't worry too much about achieving the perfect "throw" (i.e. up and over via the hip) - it might be a bit messy (i.e. the uke slips off your hip or falls around your legs) but with practice, technique and timing you'll find the "sweet spot".

Be realistic, if you can develop a strong low squat and take their balance (by getting your CoG below their's), then they will be thrown.

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I recommend not thinking much about bending the knees but rather to try bending your ankles.

That will help you achieve a low stance in a much more natural way and improve much your connection with the ground.

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@Patricia makes a good point. It's all about being low. By that I mean don't step in and then try to get low, because that doesn't work. I'm 6'2" and I can vouch for that. Even back when I was young and fast, trying to get low after getting inside my opponents guard was time consuming.

What worked for me was any attack where being low was a natural part of the turn in. To that end, I worked up a pretty successful drop Seoi-nage where I would turn while dropping to my knees. My drop Tai-otoshi wasn't as good an experiment, but then I figured a way to squat real low on my left leg and shoot my right leg out to trip their legs and that worked better for me.

All of that said, I also worked very hard on improving my "tall man" Judo. Height can be an advantage if you learn how to use it. That's for another question on another day.

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The best 'drill/exercise' I've used for getting low is to make sure I'm the balls of my feet with my knees bent. Whenever my heel touches I find it impossible to bend my knees enough.

I spent a few years doing all of my hip-throw repetitions with duct-tape over covering my heels. This gave me an extra little reminder every time my heels touched. After a few months i was able to get my hips an extra six inches lower which made a world of difference.

As for exercises, I would suggest frog-hops. Start with your knees bent to the point where your hips are BELOW your knees. Then do an explosive leap forwards and land with your hips below your knees. For a little more difficulty you can do it while holding a weight above your head. This really helped me to learn to EXPLODE up and to get enough 'spring' in my knees to get low quickly.

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