A question came last night about why a coach on a Youtube video taught a certain throw a certain way when that way didn’t seem to feel comfortable or balanced to the person attempting the technique in practice (the watcher of the video). This brought up one answer in my mind and also an observation so I thought I’d share them in case you ever experience a similar dilemma.
Please keep in mind that this is an opinion piece.
As I see it, a throw is somewhat of an abstract concept (although it can feel pretty concrete when you receive one) in that when you strip it back there is a kind of essence of that throw, you know it’s that throw because it isn’t another one. It has some core ideas that your own coach, a book a video or any other channel, has described to you. It may however be cloaked by many kinds of variations that have developed from a teachers preference, the way they themselves were taught, the kind of body type they possess or for other reasons known only to them. As long as the essence of the throw is there and thought has been put into execution so that it is logical and as efficient as possible, then what you are doing will be the throw. The variations contribute to innovation and learning in our art / sport.
To help with clarifying this idea of the essence, let’s use a dog as an example. Most people can determine what a dog is. You learned from your parents, from books, from TV. You know it is not a cat or a horse even though some may be tiny, some huge, some are hairless and some have deadlocks (perhaps read Hairy McLarey to check out some more variations), regardless of the superficial differences, dogs retain the essence of dog. So does o-goshi or uki-goshi or any other throw.
The observation is that some (certainly not all) teach ‘their’ way as ‘the’ way. In learning from these people try to absorb all you can about ‘their’ way but treat it as ‘a’ way. From there, practice, practice, practice; perform lots of repetitions in a variety of circumstances, experiment with variations on the theme, and find ‘a’ way that works for you. Of course in some circumstances there is less room for play such as when performing kata or being graded by someone who believes it should be done ‘their’ way. I’ll let you negotiate those situations ‘your’ way.
Anyhow, that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.