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BSnyder's picture
Throws, Locks, and Chokes

How of you introduce throw, locks and chokes as part of your kihon or do you only teach it as part of your bunkai? 

For example in the Jujutsu I practice in each kyu rank you would have a several to learn. At Dan ranks you learn the Traditional kata (two-person), here you learn the formal patterns of the ryuha. In those kata you will see the kihon techniques you learned along with variations. 

In my Karate I learned it was pretty much 3K so while we would them it was in the self defense techniques.


Bruce Snyder

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

BSnyder wrote:
How of you introduce throw, locks and chokes as part of your kihon or do you only teach it as part of your bunkai?

I teach them here and there, but consider them way down the "priority list" of Karate strategy as I understand it. I think they are an important thing for a well-rounded Karate education, but they take a big backseat to impact-based stuff. I guess they are not really kihon in the way that I view it. To me they are more in the category of "miscellaneous skills".

In my experience a Karateka does not really have the physical delivery system for these sorts of approaches without real crosstraining, so while I teach them in bunkai when appropriate, like I said, I am not confident in their usefulness to Karate as anything but supportive material. Funnily enough, I came to this conclusion after Judo and Jujutsu training, prior to that I was somewhat fascinated with "grappling in kata"...as I think a lot of Karateka were at one time. It's "there" in the kata, but in my view mainly as variations.

I spend more time on simple throws and takedowns than I do these kids of techniques, and think they warrant greater consideration in Karate's overall strategy than chokes or locks, which tend to be more time-dependent. So if anything, a throw like osoto-gari or tani-otoshi (though different from the Judo versions) is more a part of my Karate 'kihon' than something like chokes or locks are.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi All,

BSnyder wrote:
How of you introduce throw, locks and chokes as part of your kihon or do you only teach it as part of your bunkai?

Those methods are obviously found in kata, so the related kata sequences done in isolation would be throws, locks and chokes done as kihon.

It is also possible to perform other grappling motions solo too. This video has an example of that for throwing (4:50).

All the best,


BSnyder's picture

Hi All,

I don't think I explained my question very well based on the responses I got. Hopefully I get it right this time. 

What I was interested to know if you include throws, locks, chokes etc in your curriculum seperately away from the bunkai. An example is say Pinan Sandan you have several versions of hip throws in the kata that you may teach as the bunkai, do you show alternative throws in your curriculum that could be used in place of your primary bunkai as part of the curriculum?

I realize that in Karate we don't study throws as deeply as say a Judoka or Traditional Jujutsu person, but I was curious how much is incorporated. Speaking of the throws I really like those drill Iain showed.

As far as locks and chokes, there are several in the Pinan kata so the same question. While I like chokes because if you get it, its over. Some people are pretty tough, add in drugs and they can eat allot of shots. Chokes solve that problem, but getting them is still a challenge in that type of situation.

Locks are different because they require a high degree of skill (standing) to get and again that pain thing comes into play where they may not feel it. You can just use the locks as breaks as in the old jujutsu systems or also to set up strikes. They would be low on my list for self defense, especially the ground locks which even if you break the arm you are now flat on you back and he is still on top of you. The only except would be leg locks like heel hooks, if you really put those on he probably isn't going to run after you.

All this said I think every Karateka should be versed in grappling. Here in the USA wrestling is very common so you could definately run into a former high school or college wrestler. Best way to not be taken down is to learn takedowns.

Anyway I hope that cleared up my question somewhat.


Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

I teach all of them "outside" of bunkai, but only throws to a significant degree. I cover things like standing locks, small joint locks etc. as standalone technique also, but rarely. Most of that kind of material I draw from my Jujutsu training as it was far superior to the  standing locks etc. I learned in Karate.

Throws I've spent time on with people are:

Osoto-Gari, Ogoshi, Harai Goshi, Tai Otoshi, Seio Nage then lots of trips and sweeps Kouchi and Ouchi gari, De Ashi Barai etc. Tai Otoshi, Osoto, Seio Nage and the sweeps "fit in" with Karate technique more easily as "basics" for me. There are "Karate versions" of those in my Kata. The other throws I try to start with the Judo style grips specifically because I think  it is a good way to understand the leverage of the throw. I even teach a combo throw I learned in Judo which is essentially attempting osoto gari and reversing to a foot block takedown - I think called tsurikomi ashi; and it's opposite, start with the foot block and reverse to osoto when they resist.

I also don't do the Pinans, and minus Naihanchin I mostly stick to a Goju Ryu kata curriculum. So, by my reading there are only a couple places where locks exist in Goju Ryu kata. So for me, most of the locks (though not the throws) are a thing that is mostly "outside kata" tactically.

I agree about grappling. My Karate completely changed from training in Judo and Jujutsu. Just knowing how to manipulate another persons body comfortably (and how to not freak out when someone is trying to manipulate yours) is invaluable to a Karateka. Definitely the best way to understand "grappling defense" is simply to experience grappling. Beyond that, learning to operate solely from tactile information was a whole new dimension to Karate for me. The whole "husband and wife hand", framing, or whatever you want to call it make all the sense in the world now, they would have seemed more abstract to me previously I think.

Ideally after that though I've trained grappling in a Karate-oriented context, mainly focused on functional ground skills for self protection.  In my experience this is something which you are unlikely to get in Judo or Jujutsu, and it changes grappling quite a bit. I teach "groundfighting" in my class in the sense of learning basic positions in order to regain your feet, how to deal with things like punches and kicks on the ground, etc. But not much time on ground submission, and certainly no submissions from the guard, just being there as a failsafe and trying to kick off or sweep. Basically paired-down groundfighting focused on self-defense. Admittedly I do not feel qualified to teach submissions anyway, whereas the basic positional grappling I am fairly familiar with. To date, the only other places I've seen this are other Karate classes, and a "groundproofing" seminar I did by one of Tim Cartmell's students - which is what inspired me to formally add it to my curriculum. I'm sure you can get it at MMA schools since it's directly relevant to their competitive format. I don't think I'm the best at it, but it rounds out my Karate curriculum and my students at least are familiar with what it's like to do a buck and roll when mounted, kick someone off from the guard and attempt to get up etc.

This conversation is really making me miss my class:(

colby's picture

In my dojo it was introduced in the self defense portion of the system, my sensei had black belts in judo and Japanese juju jitsu so on self defense.day he would have us defend against something, we would use an ippon kumite as the entry point, then from that point on strikes directed to the neck tie, before finishing with a take down.

Al you would start doing that type of stuff relatively early in your training and it would gradually escalate in complexity.