How to Do a Hip Throw Correctly
How to Do a Hip Throw Correctly
If you’ve studied any variety of martial arts or self-defense options, chances are you’ve learned how to do a hip throw. The hip throw is designed primarily to avoid injury and get an attacker away from you quickly. As I grow older, I find myself teaching my children self-defense based on my own years of training in various martial arts styles, including American Kenpo Karate, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, Wing Chun, Zanjishikiryu, and others.
The hip throw is one maneuver that many modern martial arts schools would have you believe even some of my smaller children could do. They want you to believe the hip throw is simple with minimal contact. They want you to believe they are teaching you how to do a hip throw correctly. The fact is: they are not.
The Wrong Way to Do a Hip Throw
Most self-defense systems I have seen today show people to do a hip throw in an ineffective and potentially dangerous way. The maneuver starts with an attacker stepping into a right punch (it could be left as well). As the punch comes in, the defender steps to the right, grabs the attacker’s right wrist or forearm, plants their butt in the attackers abdomen, and completes a spin that started with the sidestep to add to the attacker’s momentum, sending the right hand/arm first away and then the rest of the body onto the ground.
Why is this wrong? In all honesty, the wrong way to do a hip throw is not all that much different from the correct way to do a hip throw. The major point of difference is, the maneuver is called a hip throw—not a butt throw—and there is very good reason for this.
The Right Way to Do a Hip Throw
The correct way to do a hip throw is, as mentioned earlier, very similar to the incorrect way. When you do a hip throw correctly, though, you are minimizing risk to yourself and maximizing the effectiveness of its purpose—to distance yourself from an attacker.
First, when an attacker steps in with a right or left punch, you have to react quickly. Granted, this can be done if the aggressor is not throwing a punch, by trying a grab or other hand maneuver, but it is a bit more difficult. If we continue with the premise that the aggressor's right hand is coming in, to do a hip throw, you are going to step to the side and pivot as you do so. If done properly, you can either step inside—which would be to the right in this example—or to the outside (left in this example). As you are stepping and pivoting away from the punch, you want to reach up and take hold of the attacker’s right hand at the wrist. In actuality, grabbing the arm anywhere below the elbow will work. If you grab by the fingers, however, there is a greater chance of breaking, dislocating, or otherwise injuring the attacker's fingers.
The Right Way to Do a Hip Throw Continued
While you’re taking hold of the attacker’s right hand/arm do so with both of your hands. At the same time, you are going to drive your hip back into the attacker with the continued pivoting motion. Your hip will land in the abdomen, leg, or pelvic area. This is a very important differentiation between an improper and proper hip throw. Your hip is a hard surface and you are slamming it into soft flesh when you do a hip throw correctly. I was once thinner than I am today and had very boney hips. I was known for leaving grapefruit sized bruises on attackers when using a hip throw, even sparring partners. I’m sorry, there’s no way to do it right without causing a little bit of pain, and this is the key to a proper hip throw.
When you drive your hard hip into their soft leg or gut, they automatically exhale. The pelvic and gut area is better for this, because it forces air out. The pain also wants to make them get away. Because, if you’ve done everything properly so far, you have their arm extended forward, they are off balance, leaning forward. They have two options, drop down or fall toward their arm, which helps build extra momentum for the hip throw. After your hip knocks the wind out of them, you should feel the body go only slightly limp and that’s when you finish the hip throw by continuing to pivot in the same direction.
It’s like golf or basketball here. Follow through matters…a lot. Remember, you are throwing your opponent. You are not flipping them. Straighten your arm out and keep it straight when you actually complete the throwing part of the maneuver. This will help to send your opponent further. Also, don’t simply let go of your opponent during the throw, complete closing your hands into a fist and quickly slide them away from the attacker. This is going to add extra pressure, which adds energy to the hip throw and pain to the attacker as the grip gets tighter.
After Doing a Hip Throw Correctly, What to Do
There’s a few ways the execution of a proper hip throw can play out. Earlier, I mentioned how the attacker, when you drive your hip into them, wants to get away. I also said they had two options. One of those options was to drop to the ground. If this happens, it’s a very unfortunate circumstance for the attacker. They are going to drop flat right at your feet. It’s at this point that you want to drop a knee. You’re knee is going to be somewhere between their shoulder and their face. So, you can use your knee to deliver a devastating blow to the jaw or orbital or you can drop the knee down and apply pressure to either the neck or the shoulder. Pressure to the neck is going to cut off air supply and restrict movement. Pressure to the shoulder is going to restrict movement, pull at tendons, and possibly dislocate the joint if pressure is continued to that point.
This is why most people aren’t going to drop down. They want to get away from you. They do not want to drop down to the ground at your feet. It is a very poor tactical decision. Instead, most are going to go with the flow and into the hip throw. Those with martial arts and survival style training will accept the throw and go into a roll to absorb some of the force of impact. This also allows them to recover faster, often coming to their knees in the same movement. On the upside, this also puts them further away from you.
Note: If you pivoted outside the punch, your throw isn’t going to go as far. You will be aiming more at a downward motion, which lessens the chance of a roll and enhances damage done from hitting the ground.
Now, if the hip throw is for practice, great. You’ve done what you need to do. If it is sparring, you will allow your opponent to get to their feet and continue. If this is a real life self-defense situation, you have two options. The wiser option is—if at all possible—get away. You’ve put distance between yourself and your attacker, now put more distance by getting away as quickly as possible. The other option, when there is no choice, is to follow your opponent as quickly as possible after releasing them in the throw, so you are on top of them before they can recover.
That’s Not a Hip Throw
The study of martial arts is wide and varied. There’s almost as many martial arts styles as there are languages in the world. Many will be familiar with the typical judo style hip throw, which extends itself from a grappling maneuver. The same principle of hip throw taught here will work in the same situations. However, realize that judo is a sport. It can be effective in combat, if you learn to twist the rules. Most styles out there today are sport arts. They don’t teach full contact. They don’t teach effective self-defense. They teach competition rules and techniques. The reason I work with hip throws from an incoming attack and not grappling is so that they can build off of momentum and be more effective. In a grappling situation, you’re working harder to have physics and physiology on your side to do a hip throw.
A Pretty Close Example
The problem with most martial arts demonstrations is you’re doing them with friends and dojo mates. You are doing everything possible to make sure no one gets hurt. This is hard when you’re doing something that will actually launch your attacker some distance away. Furthermore, trying to capture a throwing maneuver that actually propels your opponent away is hard to catch with a simple video set up for instructional purposes. The below video shows the essential hip throw maneuver without the force and distance as we talk about here.