Regardless if you watch international judo competitions or you train in your local judo club, it’s common to see judokas use Uchi Mata for their attacks. Uchi Mata is one of the 40 original throws developed by Jigoro Kano. This throw is part of the second group, Dai Nikyuo of the traditional throws of the Kodokan Judo. And not only that, it is also part of the current 67 throws listed in the Kodokan Judo. Uchi Mata is classified as a foot technique or Ashi Waza.
Uchi Mata, otherwise known as inner thigh throw, generates the power of the throw using the hip. It is quite popular considering how it is also used not only in Judo but even in Sumo, Mixed Martial Arts, and BJJ.
What Makes Uchi Mata Popular?
Uchi Mata is quite popular for several reasons. Since it is an Ashi Waza, it can be used smoothly with other foot techniques. You can use foot sweeps to set the Uchi Mata. Though it looks beautiful when executed properly by a judoka in randori or actual competition, it isn’t a throw that can be used by everyone. For instance, it makes a lot of sense to use Uchi Mata if you are taller or larger than your opponent.
How to Execute an Uchi Mata
Traditional Uchi Mata requires a collar and a sleeve grip. In some instances, some judokas tend to grab on both sleeves. First, you need to off-balance the person from his standing position. Using the collar and the triceps or sleeve grip, you will tilt the Uke to one side.
Next, once you felt that the Uke is no longer standing on both feet, the Tori should properly cut the distance by doing a cross step. This means that the Tori’s right foot will be in front of the Uke’s right foot. Next, the Tori will then have to face the same direction as the Uke while continuously twisting the body of the body using the collar and tricep grip.
Next, the Tori will be facing the same direction as the Uke. Be sure that the hip is close to the Uke’s hip. If executed properly, at this point, the opponent is already trying to find his balance. You can complete the throw by extending the same leg that did the cross step. You will extend it to hit the inner thigh of your opponent. To generate maximum torque on your Uchi Mata, bend your forward and balance on one foot. This will drive the opponent to the mat.
Novice judokas typically forget the fact that this move is hip-centric. Those who are still trying to learn the art think that it relies on the leg reap. Because of this, many are performing the move relying simply on their leg. If your hips are far from the opponent’s hip, it could lack the power to knock the Uke’s center of gravity.
Next, you also have to accept the fact that Uchimata requires you to stand on one leg. It means that without a good balance, you can easily fall. You will need to do your conditioning and build a solid core in to have a good balance.
How to Fix Your Uchi Mata
Uchi Mata isn’t meant for everyone. You have to accept the reality that if you’re short in your division or if you have a stocky built, Uchi Matas are most likely useless against most opponents unless you are dealing with someone who is just as tall as you or someone smaller.
You also have to make sure that you do your conditioning outside Judo. Though judo is considered the gentle art, this martial art involves throwing bodies. You have to accept the fact that athleticism and strength are factors that can help give you the edge when hitting power moves such as the Uchi Mata.
Uchikomi or repetition training is also helpful when it comes to fixing your Uchi Mata. It helps in making off-balancing and the entry to be more precise giving you a higher chance of hitting Uchi Mata successfully against your opponent.
And of just like any other Ashi Waza, it is a good idea to also combine Uchi Mata with different attacks. You can start things off with a De Ashi Barai before you go for an Uchi Mata. Another good combo for the Uchi Mata is an Osoto Gari. You can do this make the Uke to step back making it easier to twist your hip and take out the inner thigh using your Uchi Mata.
Another feasible throw that can be used as a prelude to Uchi Mata is a hip throw. A hip throw is usually done without the use of legs taking out the Uke’s base.
In addition to this, if you’ve developed the athleticism needed for the throw, you can even dive to increase the force that could knock the Uke’s base. However, if the Uke decides to find his or her base and step out, you can always follow it up with your leg hitting the inner thigh of the Uke.
Counters for An Uchi Mata
You have to understand that there are some counters to the Uchi Mata. Since you will need to twist and somewhat give your back to execute the throw correctly, you are at risk of getting thrown using a Sumi Gaeshi. Outside the realm of judo competition, it is possible that someone catches you with a wrestling counter. Most likely, you are open for a single leg takedown.
Uchi Mata Translated Beyond Judo
You also get to see Uchi Mata being used even by other martial arts. Roger Gracie is known for using the Uchi Mata during his active years competing in Brazilian jiu jitsu tournaments. You also have Judo practitioners that have transitioned to MMA that successfully used Uchi Mata to throw their opponents. But unlike in judo where you get to rely on a fabric, you get to depend on clinches. Typically, MMA fighters use the hip and tricep control to torque the opponent to the side. Karo Parisyan even has an alternate grip grabbing the lats of an opponent who has double under hooks.