Morote Seoi Nage: Tips and Details

I have the good fortune of knowing, and being friends with, a couple of people who have a deep understanding of their art and the ability to teach and explain it to stubborn assholes like me. Josh Vogel is a good example of that in jiu jitsu. Niko Dax, an excellent judo black belt, is an example of that in judo. He often teaches me tiny details about throws that end up changing the way I see the throw. He did that with koga-style ippon seoi nage, with uchi mata, and now with morote seoi nage.

Morote seoi nage has been a mystery to me. As for many people, this technique when done incorrectly can wreak havoc on your shoulder. Every high level competitive black belt I’ve ever talked to always said that it shouldn’t hurt your shoulder, and yet every time I tried it I could feel how it could destroy my shoulder. As a basic rule I don’t do techniques that have a higher than normal risk of injury. It ain’t worth it. Still, the reason I’m very interested in morote seoi nage is that it’s one of the variations of seoi that are good for jiu jitsu in that the grips prevent the opponent from taking your back on a failed or successful throw. This is in stark contrast to my favorite throw: ippon seoi nage.

Niko explained a lot of details about morote to me, but he also put out a quick video, that has some of the excellent tips we talked about:

I like how he suggests to think of morote seoi nage as more like kata guruma (fireman’s carry). He also emphasizes that the kuzushi (off-balance) is done not with a strong pull, but with a turning of the torso while keeping a strong frame.

Of course, as with all judo techniques, knowing the correct details is just the beginning of the journey. You have to drill the crap out of those details. I’ve been focused on wrestling in past few months, but I will start working on morote seoi nage after the upcoming stint of July tournaments is over.

Here is a highlight of morote seoi nage. Some of the throws here are either variations of morote or not morote at all so take the highlight with a grain of salt. But you can clearly see many of the judoka execute the technique the way Niko explains it. In fact, Niko has worked with and learned from some of the best judo competitors in the world. I think that’s the best way to learn the basics: from the masters who have beat the best in the world using those very basics.

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