Uchi mata and hane goshi are two throws that when performed at high velocity in a contest situation may appear very similar, but are mechanically very different.
Many judoka mistakenly believe that the difference between the two techniques is that in uchi mata tori’s right leg (assuming a right handed throw) makes contact with uke’s left leg, whereas in hane goshi it will make contact with uke’s right leg. Whilst this is often true, it is not what distinguishes one throw from the other.
Uchi mata is one of the most popular and instantly recognisable of all judo throws, despite this, it is often misunderstood. This misunderstanding stems from the fact that there are two distinctly different variations of the throw that are seen fairly regularly on the competition circuit.
The first of these is the traditional variation. This posits uchimata as an ashi waza (foot technique). In this variation the attacking leg tends to make contact with the lower part of uke’s left thigh, assuming a right handed technique is being performed.
The second of these uchi mata variations is viewed as more of a koshi-waza (hip technique). In this variation of the throw, tori’s attacking leg tends to go directly between uke’s two legs, or brushes against his right leg, due to the fact that tori’s hip is much deeper. This variation was famously used by Kosei Inoue throughout his competitive career. It is this variation that is often mistaken for hane goshi.
Though these two variations may cause confusion as to whether uchimata is an ashi-waza or koshi-waza, this is irrelevant. They are both uchimata because in both variations the throw is completed through the zempo-kaiten (forward rolling breakfall) motion, wherein the attacking leg swinging backwards is what completes the throw, irregardless of where it makes contact with uke.
Hane goshi is one of the more esoteric judo techniques and requires a high degree of hip flexibility to perform correctly. Hane goshi translates as ‘hip spring throw’, and this is exactly how the throw operates. After maneuvering their centre of gravity below that of uke, with chest, hip and leg all making contact with uke along a single plane, tori’s hip springs directly upwards, launching uke into the air. Tori’s hands then rotate uke as he falls to the ground. Many judoka struggle with hane goshi because they concentrate too much on the action of their leg, as opposed to their hip. In hane goshi the leg acts as a guide, unlike uchimata wherein it is what completes the throwing action.