I’m relatively new on the martial arts scene, but I’ve enjoyed learning judo, wrestling, pretty much anything involving grappling, in stand-up or on the ground. Being sort of small (5’9” and 145 lbs.) compared to the majority of 6’ and up practitioners I’ve found in the gyms and dojos, it raises this question for me. I understand that some throws are easier if you are shorter than your opponent, but that’s not quite what I’m asking. More so, I’m asking which throws or takedowns can move the heaviest opponent? So, if I tried all these throws and executed them properly, which technique could I use on the tallest, heaviest opponent?

4 Answers 4


Foot sweeps

Assuming that your objective is to put the opponent on the ground and not actually lift them, foot sweeps are the throw that will work for the greatest size disparity.

Foot sweeps work on the principle of attacking your opponent's foot at the instant they are changing weight on a foot, either lifting it up or placing it down. At this instant, there is weight over the foot, and removing the foot will cause the opponent to fall as they are unsupported. Timing the sweep for this instant is the critical element.

Slipping and falling on ice is the basic foot sweep situation. You take a step and expect to be supported but you are not because your foot is moving unexpectedly, and you fall. It does not matter how tall or massive you are; you can still slip on ice.

To throw someone with a foot sweep, you only need to generate enough force to make your opponent move their feet. This is easier than unbalancing or lifting your opponent to perform other throws, where their defense is to move their feet. The sweep itself does not require much force, but speed and timing.


Being the shorter party is an advantage when trying to preform hip throws because it's easier to get under your opponent center of mass, there are other specific throws who use the same principle but they don't all sit under one category. While it's true that foot swaps demand lass power and more timing then most throws a taller opponent will have a reach advantage over you allowing him to execute foot swaps of himself outside of your reach. If the opponent is also heavier than you timing and clean technique will compensate for your disadvantage


If the throw is executed by an experienced judoka, the weight would not be a problem. A smaller build judoka can throw a very heavy judoka using judo scientific principles: movement, balance, and leverage. Using the attackers aggression to your advantage, you should only feel the weight if you stop the throwing movement in the middle of the throw. If a throw is executed correctly, you wouldn't feel any weight, so if you are feeling the weight when throwing uke, go back and look at your throwing technique. Rebuild your throw and practice, you will know when you have got it right.

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    – JohnP
    Jan 3, 2019 at 14:30

I would say a self defense application would be to lock the person before the throw. The real ippon seionage breaks the opponents arm and he flies over like a bird. As you get older parlor tricks might not work on experienced bad guys. This is the point of locking him up or disorienting the opponent first. After that then you throw a much bigger guy.

  • 4
    This "the real ippon seoi nage breaks the opponent's arm" part used to be taught in Nage no kata with the throw being the result of uke avoiding his arm being broken, but this turned out to be a modern myth and is not taught by the Kodokan. Think about it: breaking the arm is more powerful and easier without throwing, and throwing when you broke the arm is much harder than you might think. Dec 30, 2017 at 15:30
  • If like can move that arm then the lock is not correct. I emphasize control with the lock first and then the throw. Uke has no choice but go over because he would already be on his tippy toes and unbalanced. The position of ukes arm makes it that way.
    – Logikal
    Dec 30, 2017 at 16:19
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    Ippon seoi-nage is not executed locking the arm, Uki's arm is rapped tight across Tori's chest going with the elbow joint NOT against it, Tori has there inner elbow joint tight under Uki's armpit. Uki is rapped tight on Tori under Uki's armpit and Uki's arm across Tori's chest so Uki's chest is tight on to Tori's back . The original Ippon seoi-nage was a self defence move in Jiu Jitsu from a over head blow not locking the arm. Check out the Kodokan Judo Kata Nage-no-Kata
    – user9785
    Jan 2, 2019 at 12:32

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