Some years ago, while attempting standard Uchi Mata in randori (live practice), I noticed that I had a tendency of getting stuck on the leg raise portion of the throw (not uncommon) and wound up finishing the throw by pulling on the arm and hopping in a circle to my left. Now, the best solution to this problem (with the gi or without) is to ensure that your pulling hand is doing enough work to pull uke overhead (with the gi) or that the underhook is being used to shift uke’s weight onto his stabilized foot (without the gi).
However, even with a significant pull, it’s quite common to find yourself getting stuck on the leg raise against a game Judoka or experienced submission grappler, who always seems to have a rock solid base. I still love standard Uchi Mata as a high percentage technique, but it doesn’t come without risk. Getting stuck on the leg raise provides your opponent with an opportunity to waist lock you, or worse, get a waist lock, pivot towards your stabilized leg, arch back and hit a suplex.
Those familiar with IJF/Olympic Judo would argue that you shouldn’t be stuck if you commit 100% to the throw, meaning: dive to the ground whether the opponent goes with you or not. This is correct, for that particular competition style where the rules incentivize such an action. If you attempt Uchi Mata under Freestyle Judo rules or in various submission grappling contests such as IBJJF, Submission Only, or NAGA, and especially in MMA or the street, missing the throw at the risk of landing on your knees, turtled up with your back to your opponent, can have disastrous consequences.
For me, there was merit to figuring out a variation on this very effective throw that would leave the attacker in a position to defend himself or reset to a neutral position in case of failed execution.
It went back to the hop around finish: what if I just made my opponent’s back heel the destination to begin with? So the way I altered the throw was to turn my cross-step into a super wide pivot as far behind my opponent as possible, in the direction of his planted heel.
The pull is still crucial – I still need to lighten up the leg that is being lifted by shifting enough of his weight onto his stabilized foot – but the added momentum that I am now generating behind him is too much for him to balance against. The throw can wind up looking nice, almost indistinguishable from classic Uchi Mata, or it can look like a sloppy standing wizzer. But unless you’re an Olympic Judoka where style counts and can make the difference between Wazari and Ippon, we’re not concerned with the cleanliness of the throw. We just want him on the ground for a quick two points (IBJJF), because we want to start to pass and winding up in half guard is preferable to working from his full guard, or because it’s MMA or the a self-defense scenario where the throw itself can legitimately hurt him after landing on a hard surface, and it puts us in a nice position from which to land strikes.
Hence, the name of the technique, “Dirty Uchi Mata.”
Like classic Uchi Mata, it works better on opponents who aren’t much taller than you, but from experience using the technique in competition, Dirty Uchi Mata is more likely to throw a taller opponent than the classic version. Another finishing option you have is dropping to post your left hand (assuming a right-sided throw). In this case, you should swing your hand back before posting it, just like you did with your pivot leg. It’s a way of adding a little more momentum to get the finish.
Check out my demonstration of Dirty Uchi Mata in the video above, and if you like the technique, please subscribe to Earthbound Judo’s channel and share the video with those who you feel would benefit. If you have any feedback, positive or negative, please leave that too, as honest feedback helps us raise our level.
Quick disclaimer: I’m not claiming to have invented this throw variation. I certainly came up with it, which is different from invention. It is possible for many different people to “come up with something” that they haven’t seen before, regardless of whether it has been done. And as history shows us, just about everything has been done before. I watch a lot of Judo, BJJ, MMA and wrestling matches, and I haven’t seen this particular throw, so I named the variation for lack of reference on what to call it. But it’s such a simple, effective technique, close in principle to many wizzer variations that I’m sure somebody else has figured it out too. Enjoy!