Tag Archives: Hiza-Garuma

The Ol’ Knee Wheel

What am I doing, sitting here, going through nooze items, when I have a Newswithviews column to write? I’d better get to it.

Meanwhile, allow me to indulge you with one of my favorite judo throws, “Hiza Garuma.” The name means “knee wheel.”

The beauty of this throw is, I could teach any of you to do it in a matter of minutes. Just block your partner’s knee with the sole of your foot, make like you’re turning the wheel of your car, and down he goes. I learned it from a book when I was 13 or so, and taught it to all my friends that summer. There was a whole lot of hiza garuma goin’ on in my neighborhood.

While I’m working on my column, feel free to teach yourselves hiza garuma. Find a loved one or a business associate who doesn’t mind taking a fall. But don’t try it on strangers you pass on the sidewalk: that’s more trouble than it’s worth.

 


My Judo Career

I got picked on a lot, once upon a time. But one day, when I was 13 or 14, I bought a paperback called Combat Judo Made Easy by Claude St. Denise, and was immediately intrigued by a throw called O-Goshi (“major hip throw”), I think because I really dug the name: as in “Oh, gosh!”

I studied this for a while, and when my friend Jimmy came back from a summer vacation in Florida, I suggested, “Let’s wrestle.” And, wonder of wonders, I tried an O-Goshi and it worked like a charm. Jimmy was impressed. With all my friends, we practiced a lot of other throws out of the book: Hiza-Garuma (“knee wheel,” “as if you were turning the steering wheel of a car”), Seoi-Nage (“shoulder throw”), and all the other basics.

My father got interested and signed me up for lessons at Judo-Kai, with great instructors who had trained in Japan. I took to it, and halfway through high school, I won the only trophy I ever won in my life–the Judo-Kai school championship, with three schools competing. Meanwhile, I got great prestige in high school by throwing guys around. One former enemy thought it was so cool, he had me throw him several times.

In college I joined the Rutgers judo team and, in a state tournament, had my proudest moment. Our team was going to win a third-place trophy, if only we could beat a very tough team from Menlo Park–anchored by one Dr. G., a 5th-degree black belt. We were half a point ahead, and it was my lot to go up against the doctor. If I could manage a draw against him, our team would win the match–and probably the only trophy that any Rutgers team would win that year (we got clobbered in the NIT basketball tournament). I did it, and Rutgers won the trophy.

But I got soured on the whole business by a special brown belt promotional tournament, sponsored by judo’s regional governing body. It was set up so that all I had to do, to win the right to take the brown belt test–which I would have easily passed–was to win three matches in a row against guys who knew as much judo as I did and were as big as dinosaurs. This, I thought, was a very raw deal. The dinosaurs won, and I dropped out of organized judo.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve thrown anybody, and I’d probably do myself a mischief if I tried it now. But I do think I’ve still got a few O-Goshi’s left in my bag of tricks. You don’t forget the basics.

It was fun while it lasted, and it did get the bullies off my back.


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