To move from an average international competitor to being inside the world’s top five in his weight, Colin Oates made some significant adjustments to his Kumi kata.
The biggest transformation against right handers came when he started to dominate the back of his opponent. Rather than fight for the inside lapel grip, Oates was happy to let his opponent take the lapel first and maintain their inside grip. From here, he started a gripping sequence which allowed him to control from a deep back grip.
The sequence is the same that he uses to set up his standard variation of Sumi gaeshi, pushing their elbow in and taking an outside lapel grip with his left hand, then a cross grip with his right hand, before the left arm comes around the back to take a deep grip.
Oates says that this is a very effective way of preventing your partner from throwing, whilst being in a position to throw yourself. The pressure against the partner’s elbow from the outside lapel grip makes it very difficult for them to turn in with their hips. And once his arm is around the back he is in a position to attack.
If Oates feels like he is dominating on the lapels his next move is to fight for the sleeve grip. He describes this as his ideal gripping situation. From a defensive point of view, having the arm around the back and the sleeve enables Oates to crush any attacks from his partner.
At the same time he is in the position in which he launches most of his Tachi waza. Notice how the pull on the sleeve draws in his partner. Oates feels so confident in this situation that he deliberately tempts his opponent in for them to attack. By pulling and squeezing he puts the partner in a position where they naturally feel like they want to throw forwards, and when they do, he is ready.
His left arm is so tight around the back that he can feel the pressure release from his partner as he enters with Uchi mata. It’s this anticipation, combined with the tight grips that enable him to counter attack.
From behind you can see how deep and tight Oates is with the back grip, and how he is to able to maintain such strong and close control of the right side of his opponents body.