Kote Gaeshi: Aikido’s Famous Wrist Throw
Kote Gaeshi (sometimes spelt kotegaeshi) is a powerful and effective wrist lock made popular by Aikido. Kote Gaeshi is also present in some form or another in judo, jujutsu, kung fu, karate, and other martial arts. In Aikido though, Kotegaeshi is one of the major techniques. In Aikido, kotegaeshi is part of the Taijutsu or Jujutsu curriculum.
Before I tell you more about kotegaeshi, let me just say that this information is meant to add to what is taught in the dojo.
To properly understand kotegaeshi, you need to learn them from a good responsible Aikido instructor who can give you an in-depth explanation of the technique, correct your mistakes, and detail how the technique should be done.
All martial arts techniques should only be practised under the supervision of a good martial art instructor in order to prevent injuries.
In addition, all martial arts techniques and training should be used safely and responsibly.
Kote Gaeshi by Morihiro Saito Sensei
A wristlock is a technique that can be applied from a stand-up position, simply by grabbing the opponent’s hand and twisting and/or bending it in a non-natural direction.
Kote Gaeshi is considered to be a relatively safe technique to practice with a willing opponent, however, if applied suddenly and/or forcefully, Kote Gaeshi can cause ligament tears or possibly even dislocation or bone fractures.
In this article, you will learn and read what Kote Gaeshi is all about. At the end of the article are videos of Aikido masters demonstrating Kote Gaeshi.
Kote Gaeshi is a supinating wrist or forearm lock
The supinating wristlock (in budō referred to as ‘Kote Gaeshi’ or “forearm return”) is a rotational wristlock, and arguably the most common wristlock.
It involves rotating the hand so that it becomes maximally supinated, often referred to as ‘externally rotating’ the wrist, and hence putting a joint lock on the wrist and radioulnar joint.
This can be done by grabbing the opponent’s hand with one or both hands, and twisting the hand so that the opponent’s thumb points away from the opponent.
A supinating wristlock performed from a stand-up position can be used to force the opponent to the ground on his or her back.
Straightening the arm does not alleviate the pressure since the shoulder joint does not allow further supination of the hand.
Does Kote Gaeshi Work?
According to Bas Rutten, it doesn’t work. However, according to the police, elite forces, SAS, soldiers, marines and all the Aikidoka around the world that has used it for self-defence, kotegaeshi works.
Like every Aikido technique or martial art technique, it depends on your execution it depends on the Aikidoka.
In practice, the bones of the forearm, and eventually, the shoulder are the focus of the lock.
If performed harshly Kotegaeshi will break or injure a person’s wrist, elbow and dislocate the shoulder.
In practice, uke will turn over his own arm, in order to prevent his wrist from breaking.
A word of warning, like all effective Aikido techniques, Kotegaeshi is a martial art technique.
During Keiko, If you are uke and the one receiving the technique, do ukemi and learn how to fall or escape from Kote Gaeshi properly rather than stopping it.
I have seen ‘tough and macho’ guys injure their wrist because of they resisted too much. To keep training and master kotegaeshi, you need to keep training. So practice good ukemi.
By the way, a properly executed Kote Gaeshi does not apply torque to the wrist itself. A painfully applied kotegaeshi is actually inferior to one subtle kotegaeshi that locks the whole body. A good kotegaeshi doesn’t need to be painful. A good kotegaeshi though can control and disbalance the whole body.
This technique works best when you apply it behind uke. Have a look at the photo of Osensei above. This is a fundamental point with this Aikido technique.
If you do Kotegaeshi at the front or front-side, uke can punch you. If you turn (gaeshi) high above the shoulder it’s (Shiho Nage) and uke can swing and possibly punch you.
When the throw becomes too acrobatic, uke may accidentally kick you or worse land on you.
I cannot highlight this enough, as much as possible (unless it is technique-specific), please apply kotegaeshi behind uke.
Aikido Masters Demonstrate Kote Gaeshi
Hitohira Saito Sensei
Shirakawa Ryuji Sensei
Christian Tissier Sensei
Joe Thambu Sensei
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