Seoi Nage With Sagi Muki
Seoi Nage (meaning shoulder throw in English) is one of the core forty throws in Jigoro Kano’s Gokyo of Kodokan Judo. It’s a part of the Dai Ikkyo (first group) of techniques that all Judoka learn and therefore is a staple of Judo’s tachi waza (standing techniques). Seoi Nage is a very powerful throw with great transitional options for ne waza (ground techniques).
Silver Olympic medalist Judoka Travis Stevens notes that Sagi Muki has one of the best Sode (hip throws) on the circuit today, so who better to show us a Sode variation of Seoi Nage than Sagi Muki himself?
Traditionally Seoi Nage is executed from an orthodox sleeve and lapel grip with kuzushi (breaking balance) attained by pulling your opponent forward onto the balls of their feet or forward and to their right. This pulling is done using both sleeve and lapel being drawn towards you and up while the lapel side foot moves to it’s opposite side as you rotate so that your back is against you opponents chest. Your lapel grip arm’s elbow moves deeply through to the opposite side of your opponents body and your sleeve grip maintains tight control of your opponents arm close in to your body.
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As you step through to gain back to chest contact with your opponent it is important that you maintain your own weight in the balls of your feet so that it’s easier for you to sink your hips down underneath your opponents center of gravity. A common way of thinking about this is to make sure your belt line is below your opponents belt line. A second reason it’s good to slightly float your heels and stay on the balls of your feet is that if while stepping through for the throw your weight is in your heels you will tend to lose your balance backward and be vulnerable to counter throws from your opponent.
Now your opponent is loaded onto your back and their balance is broken we are in the perfect position to finish Seoi Nage. We bring both arms and hands through the throw with a circular motion pulling our opponent through the throw to complete our shoulder throw. One important point to note here is working on this with a partner is to pull them upwards as they land to reduce the impact on your partner. This also ingrains the positive habit of maintaining control of your opponents arm for transitions to ne waza (ground techniques).
Sagi Muki shows us his powerful variation of Seoi Nage, which utilises a hip throw and throwing with both grips on one side of your opponent, instead of the regular set up of having a grip on each side of the kimono. This gripping on one side of our opponents body opens up more space and distance between ourselves and our opponent.
Sagi sets up the Seoi Nage by using a one handed kuzushi (breaking balance) by pulling with the sleeve grip he has with his lead hand. His opponents weight is brought onto his lead foot and also as Sagi is opening the gripping side of his body up this helps break or minimise the grip his opponent has on Sagi’s lapel. This initial pulling by Sagi opens up the distance between Sagi and his opponent as well as opening up the chest of his opponents kimono, making the second part of gripping for this easier and more accessible.
Once the kuzushi and grip has been set up Sagi is now open to take a grip on the same side as his sleeve grip into the opponents lapel. Under current rule sets this double grip on the same side means Sagi has to make a throw immediately, which he proceeds to do by stepping through as per orthodox Seoi Nage, with his variation of throwing over the hip instead of the shoulder. The hip throw requires a different body positioning than orthodox Seoi Nage as we need more rotation through our body to make our hips the fulcrum of the throw rather than our shoulder, but the basic mechanics and dynamics of the throw remain the same.
The biggest adjustment you will need to make for this variation if you are already familiar with orthodox Seoi Nage is the double grip on a single side and the timing needed to switch grips to successfully access the kimono. Through drilling this move with your partner this will become second nature and open up a new avenue of attack in your standing game! This is especially true when you combine this variation of Seoi Nage with Sagi’s recommendation to practice this throw on both left and right sides for a fully dynamic Seoi Nage gameplan.
If you want to learn more game changing details for your standing game then check out Isreali Judo legend Sagi Muki’s full course on Judo Fanatics here!