The te-waza or hand techniques comprise some of the major contest techniques such as seoi-nage, tai-otoshi,and various leg grabs, as well as some of the most difficult of all judo throws such as sumi-otoshi and uki-otoshi. The inclusion of eminently practical techniques alongside others considered by many practicing judoka with years of experience to be extremely difficult is no accident. The hand techniques require whole body co-ordination as well as precision timing. No one is a master of every technique; judo is such a deep subject that you can spend a lifetime practicing and never stop learning.
Tai-otoshi is one of the main attacking throws in judo and, although difficult to master, is a good technique for beginners to practice as it teaches them to turn the whole body and bend the knees, which requires co-ordination of hands, hips, feet and head movement. The Japanese regard it as a choishi-waza or timing and rhythm technique and it is a throw that can be adapted by the individual to suit his particular strengths. Variations of tai-otoshi can be used against opponents who walk forwards or backwards or move sideways.
The classic tai-otoshi is performed from the basic right-hand grip and is usually taught as a three-step movement. Tori steps forwards on his right foot, pulling uke's sleeve up in the air away from his body. He pivots on the right foot and throws the left leg behind about 6 in (15cm) outside of uke's left leg and a couple of inches in front of it. The right leg is then stabbed across in front of uke, both knees bending to ensure tori gets his weight below uke's centre of gravity. The back of tori's calf blocks uke's right leg just above the ankle at the shin, and there is no body contact between tori and uke. The hands transfer tori's dropping body weight and the momentum developed by the fast turn into a dynamic throwing action which whirls uke over tori's leg. The legs usually straighten as tori throws uke, and it is very important that tori keeps the body-weight moving forwards and down, without collapsing so that he cannot be pulled over backwards if the throw is unsuccessful.
Tai-otoshi combines very effectively with o-uchi-gariand many experts try to make the entry forthetwo techniques indistinguishable until the actual moment of completion. The beauty of this is that they can then feint with one or the other technique to provoke a strong defensive reaction from uke and exploit that reaction to throw him. If tori attacks with tai-otoshi and uke blocks by bracing strongly backwards to resist the throw, the next time tori makes as if to do tai-otoshi but switches to o-uchi-gari, which is a rear throw, at the last moment. In this way uke's defence actually assists tori with the throw.
The reverse of this is equally feasible. Tori attacks with o-uchi-gari, attempting to throw uke to his rear, so uke pushes against tori to try and keep him out. Tori can then switch to tai-otoshi, slipping under uke's arms to throw him in the direction he is pushing. Quite often it will not be apparent to the spectator that tori has signalled the partner technique to the one he actually throws with. Tori must give uke the feeling that he was about to be attacked with the other technique. Against an opponent who steps over a tai-otoshi the ability to do uchimata is useful, as uke can be caught in mid step and thrown very cleanly.