Kawazu-gake as an application for Nami-gaeshi of Naihanchi

Kawazu-gake 河津掛け is one of the techniques found in sūmō and jūdō. Literally, it means “Kawazu entanglement.”


The notation of kawazu 河津 has no meaning that can be interpreted in terms of the technique’s execution. Rather, it seems to be a mere phonetical use of the characters for the town of Kawazu.

However, an old notation is kawazu-gake 蛙掛け, i.e., “frog entanglement.” If you look at the technique from this perspective, you can at least recognize the underlying visual language.


Elementary and junior high school students in amateur sumō are prohibited to use the kawazu-gake, and if used, the match will be immediately canceled and has to be retaken. On a second attempt by the same player, disqualification follows immediately.

In professional sumō, the kawazu-gake is a technique rarely seen. Notwithstanding, I have found the following example:


The kawazu-gake is a technique known to both Kōdōkan Jūdō and the International Judo Federation (IJF). In jūdō, the kawazu-gake is categorized as a “sideways sacrifice throw” (yoko sutemi waza).The IJF abbreviation is KWA / P26.

The kawazu-gake is prohibited by the rules of both the Kōdōkan and the IJF since May 1955. The reason is that the knee of the receiver is easily injured when the technique is carried out fast and hard.

Despite its prohibition, kawazu-gake is included in the name lists of throwing techniques of both the Kōdōkan (1982) and the IJF (1995).

The kawazu-gake is perfectly suited as a counter technique in case the legs get entangled. Typically, it is used when the opponent attempts entries such as for ōuchi-gari or uchi-mata. For execution of the technique in judō, see the following video:


While the kawazu-gake became prohibited in amateur youth sumō as well as in Kōdōkan and IJF jūdō matches, it continued to evolve in Sambo, which originated in jūdō. The execution is a little different though, as can be seen here:

Advanced forms of kawazu-gake are also used in freestyle wrestling and in professional wrestling. For instance, Japanese wrestler Rikidōzan once prevented Lou Thesz’s attempt for a back drop by countering it with kawazu-gake. Later, Japanese professional wrestler Giant Baba devised a derivative technique called kawazu-otoshi or “frog drop,” which became known as the “Giant Buster,” and in reference to pro-wrestler Nikita Koloff it also became known as the “Russian Leg Sweep.”

Application in Karate

The kawazu-gake and its derivatives are perfectly suited to be used as an application for the nami-gaeshi as found in Naihanchi.

In case of matches with protective gear, you can see an example here from Nippon Kenpo.

© 2022, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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