Eteri Liparteliani (GEO)

If you had come across the name Eteri Liparteliani of Georgia for the first time, you’d be forgiven for assuming she was related to the famous Varlam Liparteliani. Perhaps a sister or maybe a cousin? But they are actually not related. Liparteliani, it seems, is a fairly common name in Georgia. There is also a Soso Liparteliani who was a bronze medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Eteri Liparteliani is not quite as accomplished as either Varlam or Soso but she is quickly making a name for herself in the -57kg division.

She recently got her first European bronze at the 2022 European Championships in Sofia. She had previously gotten 5th in 2021 Europeans in Lisbon. In 2021 she also got a creditable 5th place at the Tokyo Olympics. She has yet to win an IJF World Tour title though she has gotten silver twice, at the 2022 Tel Aviv Grand Slam and the 2021 Tblisi Grand Slam.

Liparteliani in some ways has all the classic characteristics of Georgian players: Strong gripping, massive tsuri-goshi, big ura-nage and other pick-ups. But two things really stand out about her tachi-waza.

Firstly, she is extremely good with her feet, capable of doing a wide range of timing-based foot sweeps.

Secondly, she does the Khabarelli technique (officially-known as obi-tori-gaeshi). This, of course, is the world-famous pick-up technique that came out of Georgia but is now practiced all around the world.  

There are a few famous practitioners of this technique: Mikita Sviryd (BLR), Ivaylo Ivanov (BUL), Frank De Wit (NED) and Anri Egutidze (POR) to name a few. Notice something? All of them are men.

Eteri Liparteliani stands out as probably the only female player who consistently does this technique. Not only that. She has two variations of it.

She is able to do what can be described as the “standard” version, which involves taking a belt grip over uke’s right shoulder with her right hand, taking hold of uke’s belt around the waist with her left hand, lifting uke up with the aid of her right leg, and throwing uke over her (Liparteliani’s) right shoulder.

See Eteri Liparteliani do the “wrong leg” version of the Khabarelli, followed by the “standard” version, all in the same match!

This is how most versions of Khabarelli is done these days. It’s actually a modification of the “classic” Khabarelli which involves a leg grab (rather than a belt grab) with the left hand. But ever since the IJF banned leg grabs, this version has spread around the world.

Liparteliani however has an unusual variation which can best be described as a “wrong leg” Khabarelli. In this version, she takes a normal grip with her right hand, a belt grip around the waist with her left hand, lifts with her left leg (instead of her right leg), but throws uke to the right. Normally a lift with the left leg would result in a throw to the left. This approach defies all convention about what a Khabarelli is supposed to look like.

See Eteri Liparteliani do the “wrong leg” version of the Khabarelli that scores ippon.

In one competition, against a French player, she actually did both versions of the technique, scoring first with the “wrong leg” Khabarelli for waza-ari and then using the “standard” Khabarelli for waza-ari-awasete-ippon. It was an incredible performance.

Liparteliani, who is only 22 years old and already ranked 5th in the world, has incredible potential for the future. In the coming years she is likely to be a real top prospect in the -57kg weight category.