I'm 1,91m tall and stronger built than most of my opponents. Right now I'm trying to improve my strategy in Judo, as so far I'm mostly passive and use Tani Otoshi as I can, or Ippon Seoi Nage or Seoi Otoshi if I see a chance and variations of Sumi Gaeshi/Tomoe Nage against more aggressive opponents.

Yet in none of these can I actually use my size as an advantage. Sure, Seoi Nage and Sumi Gaeshi are a beginning already, but there have to be more?

My trainer recommended the usage of throws in which I grab the back of the collar of an opponent - which makes sense to me. After some research I came up with Uchi Mata, Harai Goshi, Ashi Waza, O Uchi Gare and Osoto Gari with Hiza Guruma.

  • Uchi Mata and Harai Goshi seem to be a good idea as my legs, which are pretty heavy (I'm doing a lot of bicycling), accelerate fast - yet are they good for tall practitioners?
  • Ashi Waza and Osoto Gari with Hiza Guruma seems to take advantage of my long legs
  • O Uchi Gari seems to be an interesting choice, as I can use the volume of my body

What I'm completely lacking are useful strategies. I'm in Karate and Ju-Jutsu as well, but except for some handy blocking and freeing techniques, I'm not able to use much to my benefit. I realize my opponents usually try to aim for my legs, as my balance point is low and mostly avoid techniques that require grappling my collar or shoulders (especially when I'm keeping them at a distance).

The benefit of my long arms usually helps me to avoid leverage by keeping everyone away, but it puts me in a passive position and is a huge waste of energy. Yet, any kind of take-down from the default position is tricky, as my movements require a longer distance and come with more force, which can be used against me easily.

Ideas and combinations would be much appreciated.

  • 2
    This is multiple questions. At a minimum, you should separate the question about identifying techniques for tall people from strategies.
    – mattm
    Jun 1, 2017 at 20:45
  • 2
    What competitive rules are you using? Morote gari has not been legal in judo competition for several years.
    – mattm
    Jun 1, 2017 at 20:49
  • 1
    @mattm - corrected, thx
    – Qohelet
    Jun 1, 2017 at 20:54
  • 2
    Except o-uchi-gari (needs close contact, smooth movement, low base for hip mobility), you pretty much answered your own question. In fact, you need several, situationally applied, techniques anyways and the ones you mention are kind of the standard-pattern. This will not help anything if you do not know about grips, tactics, distances, how to move your body, how to posit depending on opponent's grip, .... => your question misses the point and - no offence - reflects your level of (in-)experience. This needs personal coaching. Jun 2, 2017 at 0:10
  • 2
    I'm a hair shorter at 1.83m but I find makikomi works well for me. Additionally with your longer leg reach you would have an advantage performing most foot sweeps. Jun 2, 2017 at 15:48

4 Answers 4


The prevailing wisdom seems to be to utilise your longer reach by taking a dominant high grip, and using throws which primarily involve the legs (e.g. tai-otoshi, uchi-mata, hiza-guruma):

For example, a judoka who is tall can use reach and the leverage created in throws such as tai-otoshi and uchi-mata.


High Lapel Grip

Grip high but not around the collar. Make quick adjustments with your hand so that you can switch from controlling your opponent's head to a lower basic grip position. The high lapel grip and the behind the neck grip are used by uchi-mata specialists. They are often used by taller opponents. A shorter person using these grips would be stretched out and therefore vulnerable.


Until fairly recently, judo was taught primarily by short men who did not fully appreciate the style of play which tall men could use to their advantage. A tall player who has long legs could use leg throws against a shorter opponent, gaining a simultaneous defensive/offensive advantage. Long-legged tori can apply leg throws without becoming vulnerable to uke's defensive actions or counter-throwing attempts.

There are tactical actions which a tall man can use in contest, provided that they are applied with skill and in conjunction with a good throw. If the following actions are applied with force, they might invalidate an otherwise point-winning throw.

  1. A tall player puts his shorter opponent into awkward balance by lifting up at the back belt.
  2. Against the opponent working in a low crouch, grip the pant leg and pull him up into poor balance.
  3. A taller man can grip the opponent player at the back of the collar and pull up and forward.
  4. Grip the opponent player's belt at the front and pull up and forward.

Hiza-guruma is a technique for throwing shorter people. When I was learning we practiced the standard hiza-guruma in the approved manner, and although we tried to learn it, it would not work properly however much we tried. After a lot of research, we found that hiza-guruma is a technique best executed by a tall person on a shorter person.

A taller judoka will naturally tend to grip higher up on the jacket. If, however, this difference in height is substantial, tori may find it extremely awkward to lower his body sufficiently to utilize the orthodox form. In this event, he may compromise by gripping the jacket at the side of or even behind the neck, and drawing directly forward with the right hand.


I'm certainly no Judo Master, but did practice, beginning at age 25-26 (now 66). I was 6'3" and 180 lbs. I was rather awkward at that age, starting late, with a stiff and weak body, not ready for the vigors of Judo; However, I did seem to find some success in some of the techniques meant for taller players:

  • O-Soto-gari - utilizing my long legs; foot sweeps on smaller opponents
  • Believe it or not, my favorite and best was (usually successful from smaller guys, on bigger opponents): Ippon Seio-nage. I seemed to like to turn my back on the other guy, while having to get very low, the biggest challenge.
  • If I ever went back to Judo practice, I would try to get into the "drop-down" Tai O-toshi; the appearance of an Ippon Seio nage entry - but followed by reversing toward him w O-soto-gari (and vice-versa).

I prefer the older jujutsu teachings and putting your opponent's thumb UP when pulling it over your shoulder. If anything, being taller gives you an advantage in most throws because the basic concept is the same; get them on their tip toes & trap their leg with your own.


You can try a range test to find what suits your body and taste the most. This range test I am talking about is an uchikomi training of:

Tai-otoshi Harai-goshi Ashi-guruma O-guruma ... and any technique you'd like to compare

As you can see, your impact foot will go up your opponent's leg and your balance foot will be changing position between techniques.

EDIT: Here is a video showing an example of what I meant.

  • 3
    Could you expand on what you mean by a 'range test'? Are there any links you could add to support your advice?
    – Mike P
    Jun 14, 2017 at 8:53
  • Sure thing. Let me record a short video doing this, or a variation of this test. I'll edit my answer and post the link to the video as soon as possible.
    – rtrigo
    Jun 15, 2017 at 21:27

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