Here are a list of shihonage （四方投げ） concepts that have helped me a lot. Please note that I am not claiming that any are the One True Way. Rather, this is my understanding at this moment. My understanding is subject to regular, painful (to me), evolution. As such, when next I write about Shihonage I may hold the belief that it can only be performed under the influence of grass hula-skirts and coconut shells.
I remember being taught shihonage by a sempai who insisted that nage has to be shoulder-to-shoulder with uke when executing the technique. That’s fine and dandy but it is possible to gain significant mechanical advantage for nage if they enter deeply enough to place their shoulder slightly behind that of uke. This will allow nage to use their own shoulder as a fulcrum. Really, this is cool, try it.
There is a saying among jujutsuka: “Attack pain”. Cranking on uke’s elbow can work but it may also telegraph an intention thus providing uke with a focal point to resist and attack their pain. I believe that the goal of this technique should be for uke to not feel as though anything is wrong until it is catastrophically too late.
With that in mind, extending Uke’s arm is what I see as key to the core of shihonage. Cranking up uke’s elbow can work and there is some serious martial validity in doing something that makes uke feel as though their arm is about to break but they will know that something is going on that is bad for them. If nage forms their arms into a broad circle with uke’s arm resting on top nage’s they can then lower their center and smoothly rotate from their hips. At all times through this rotation, nage’s hands should be directly in front of their own body with feeling of forward extension.
At the ultimate point of rotation and extension, nage should end up facing uke’s back or at worst their ear. If you nage does not rotate that far and winds up trying to throw against the direction uke is facing then uke is in a much stronger position to escape or counter.
One ugly counter from this position is for uke to simply reach around with their free hand and grab the back of nage’s gi. If uke can maintain their grip, nage’s throw will take both down with momentum in uke’s favor.
Finally, to cut down or cut out? Both work and I think both should be practiced. Lately, I have preferred to cut down to my foot as that keeps me in position to hold uke by putting my weight on their elbow while holding it across their face.
When executed properly, even shihonage can leave uke with that irritating “Why am I on the ground?” feeling.
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