Kuzushi Judo Off Balance

Classic Ippon Seoi Nage

Let’s be honest here, this “blog” is not about “training and competition” any more than Playboy is about the articles. It’s really just a place where I ramble on about seoi nage on every other post. It’s the throw which I’ve chosen to center my judo around, and it’s the throw that I have come back to for comfort when the world feels like a sad and lonely place. I put Koga’s “A New Wind” video on repeat, open a cold beer, and let my troubles slip away. Okay, not really, but close…

This post is just a quick comment about a revelation I got from a guy that came in to judo yesterday. Name was Bennett, green belt, and hasn’t done judo in a while. We were working on seoi nage the whole class. Bennett started doing fits. He pulled my sleeve like his life depended on it and stepped far in front of me on the turn. At first, I thought this guy was just another clumsy novice whose technique has gone rusty and so he tries to make up for it with drastically over-exaggerating the kuzushi and tsukuri of a classic seoi nage. That’s what he was doing, and he was a bit rusty, but when he started throwing, the technique felt flawless. I felt light as air. It seemed effortless, and these were the least painful seoi nage throws I’ve ever taken.

Kuzushi Judo Off Balance

His pull was strong, and I was letting it happen as a good uke, but as I walked home I realized what everyone has been telling me: that this kind of pull is the key to throwing good people successfully. Movement, timing, speed, power, combinations all create the opportunity for an effective pull, but without training my body to pull every time with exceptional power, I will never be able to throw any good opponent in competition.

Thank you Bennett for demonstrating the fact that is so often told to me, but I always seem to neglect.

0 thoughts on “Classic Ippon Seoi Nage

  1. Zander

    I saw the thread on the Judo Forum on your seoi nage.

    It’s good to see that you saw for yourself what a little space will do for a throw like seoi nage. However, I think your conclusion about pulling power is inaccurate. Perhaps I am misreading you but you are making it sound like you need to be “stronger” and pull “harder” to be successful with your seoi nage. It’s a common approach with many people in Judo and I think it’s unfortunate. Many people tend to look toward increasing strength and power with weights or other routines that makes one physically stronger while neglecting the fact that debana and kuzushi *is* the real strength and power in Judo. There’s a fellow at my club who’s twice my size (literally) and I can easily throw him with standing ippon or morote seoi nage in randori and it’s not because I’m exceptionally strong or have exceptional pulling power. This is just some food for thought.

    Good training to you.

    1. lexfridman Post author

      Thanks for your comment. I wasn’t suggesting that hitting the weights is the solution to achieving great kuzushi. Functional power is necessary but there are a lot of elements to a good off-balance, most of which take a long time to learn: timing, etc.


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